As far as I’m aware, rotary cell phones never existed. The two technologies didn’t overlap much in time, with rotary dials getting replaced by push-button alternatives a decade or so before portable cell phones became popular. But that doesn’t mean rotary cell phones can’t exist now, and YouTube tinkerer Mr. Volt has created his own. It’s beautiful, minimalist, and looks heavy enough to smash a window.
The cell phone itself has six basic functions: it can make calls, store a single phone number, text (very slowly), tune into the radio, display system settings, and go to sleep. There’s a 96 x 96 OLED display, its case is made from a mixture of aluminum, brass, and 3D-printed plastic, and the whole thing is powered by an Adafruit microcomputer. It would also make a hell of a statement piece.
After all, anti-phones of one sort or another have been in counter-cultural fashion for a while now. Some are purpose built like the credit card-sized Light Phone, which can only make and receive calls. And some, like Nokia feature phones, are just the best phone at a certain price range that might be adopted for reasons other than price. (“I don’t want to deal with apps,” “I hate being distracted by my phone,” etc.) The rotary cell phone would be a different beast altogether: not just restricting functionality, but actively hobbling the user with its weight and unwieldy controls.
Still, if some people choose to ride penny-farthings instead of regular bikes, presumably someone would like to try out the rotary cell phone for a while. Wouldn’t you, just for fun?