The Rotary Un-Smartphone – The Retro Smartphone You’ve Been Looking For

If you’re a millennial who misses the old rotary phone that was such a big part of your life growing up, the Rotary Un-Smartphone Kit may be just what you’ve been looking for.

Smartphones are cool if you like carrying a miniature computer everywhere with you, but if you only care about making calls and all the other stuff is just getting in the way, the mobile rotary phone designed by space engineer and brilliant inventor Justine Haupt is just perfect. Featuring the familiar plastic dial that most of us 90s kids grew up with, the Rotary Un-Smartphone is basically a barebone smartphone that only includes the absolute essentials that the average anti-smartphone user might like, but with a cool, retro look.

Photo: Sky’s Edge/Justine Haupt

“The point isn’t to be anachronistic,” Haupt wrote on her website when she first unveiled the rotary smartphone concept. “It’s to show that it’s possible to have a perfectly usable phone that goes as far from having a touchscreen as I can imagine, and which in some ways may actually be more functional.”

Technically, the Rotary Un-Smartphone Kit is the second version of the rotary mobile phone, a new and improved variant of the one originally unveiled to great fanfare last year. This one looks a bit nicer and has a few more bells and whistles that its brilliant inventor thought people might like.

Photo: Sky’s Edge/Justine Haupt

Apart from the rotary dial, this cool-looking handheld features a mechanical ringer bell made gold or silver-coated brass, two displays – front-side OLED and back-side ePaper – and mechanical power switch, and external antennas for better reception.

Having to rotate the plastic dial every time you want to call someone might seem tedious, but that’s not really how the Un-Smartphone works. According to the project’s website, “you can store your contacts list and then dial up your friends with just two spins of the dial. When the less frequent need to dial a new number arises, the novelty of the satisfying-to-use rotary dial is fun rather than annoying.” Plus, you can assign two buttons to be hard-coded for quick dialing your favorite people.

Photo: Sky’s Edge/Justine Haupt

The Rotary Un-Smartphone is currently being sold as a kit that Justine Haupt is easy to put together by virtually anyone. She lists a number of reasons for not offering it as a ready-to-use device, with the most important one being FCC licensing. Selling a pre-assembled cellphone also requires a level of customer support that its creator isn’t ready to offer at the moment.

But the kit Haupt is currently selling for $390 does come with everything you need to easily put together the Rotary Un-Smartphone, minus the SIM card. All you need is a screwdriver, a steady hand and some patience.

Photo: Sky’s Edge/Justine Haupt

For more information on the cool-looking Rotary Un-Smartphone, check out Justine Haupt’s website, Sky’s Edge.