say if you were designing a good old landline phone...?

Say if you were designing a good old landline phone what interesting approach would you take?

Thanks -

  1. I would make sure the reversible latch functions well in both orientations. We’ve got a corded land line phone (hey, I want to minimize my kids’ brains’ exposure to bad wireless radiation) that hangs on the wall. However, the latch that the phone is supposed to hang on is too small (otherwise, you couldn’t reverse it to the latchless position, apparently) and the handset either gets wedged on it or doesn’t hang at all.

  2. I’m make sure the switch the handset sits on is larger than the space it occupies. Ours is basically the same size as the void that it sits in, so when you pick up the phone the line stays closed because the switch is wedged into the void. Very annoying.

  3. I’d incorporate 4 earpieces that can pull out of the phone for conferencing or when grandma calls and you have 2.5 kids.

  4. I’d ruggedize it like an old army field radio.

  5. Go crazy old school and incorporate a TFT for videophoning where the notepad used to sit on those old, old wooden phones that looked like the cartoon character Arthur.

Should this be a one hour design competition subject?

I’ve actually be looking for a good corded landline phone, you need one when the power goes out kind of thing, right next to the bed, I don’t know, it just seems like something I should have. There are not many good ones outside of a few high end Japanese ones that you can’t get here, so I’ve been looking at going vintage because of the sculptural nature of some of the old 50’s-70’s phones like these:

The Sculptura, usually called the donut.
A bunch more:

The point is I think a landline phone has an opportunity to be something of a sculptural item.

now that im going through all my pics from my retro collection, how about this. Contempra phone? I still use one today (touch tone though) for my loft door buzzer (have no landline).

actually have about 5 in the collection. nice thing is the sculptural look is nice when not in use.

question i’d have is WHY are you designing a landline phone? surely its a product nearing its lifecycle with mobile and VOIP…


well kid, they still use sound powerd phones on warships, ya know why?..cause tjey will work whe all else fails.

My ‘interesting approach’ would probably be to maximize the unique user needs of a landline v. mobile and minimize the equivalent needs. This would give people a clear reason to buy one. Today more and more people are questioning this need (including me: I haven’t had a landline phone in 4 years.)

so you are designing a phone for a warship? All I was questioning is what is the real issue here? the majority of primary functions for a landline phone are the same as any other phone (making calls, receiving calls, etc.) so I would assume the design approach would be similar.

is there a specific use for the landline phone to consider (ie. emergency use, extreme envrionments, ?), or is “landline” a red herring?


land line are self powerd, so when the power craps out like in a ice storm and your cell phone batt is dead you still have communication. A land line phone as not being portable has no need to be uber small, so the a large group of people whom are vison impared (reading glasses, malacular degeneration) have the option of very large buttons and display.

all valid points, but i’d say you’d be really limited yourself to only consider a “landline” phone for the above problems.

  1. if an emergency phone, what about a self powered or alternate power source home mobile phone. landline phones are also vulnerable to the lines getting cut and not very mobile if you need to relocate inside a house if there is a storm or other problem. the dead cell phone battery alone is not a reason to only go landline.

  2. visually impaired is a worthy target group, but again nothing says landline is the only solution. large buttons, alternate interfaces etc. can also be implemented on voip and other phones.

im just saying that for a design brief (if there was one), and exercise to design a landline phone is a pretty weak problem. a landline phone is one solution, not really a problem or issue. if you work for at&t and have to design an landline phone, that’s another issue :slight_smile:


Just reading this thread makes me proud to be a designer! Bravo, gentlemen, bravo!!

A LOT of good ideas coming from this discussion. Challenge everything.

Gold stars for everyone today.

What powers a cell tower? In a general power outage they are KAPUT, so your land line is it.

There are more unique needs than emergency use and the visually impaired.

Yo is onto one: home phones can add beauty to your home.

Here are some more:

  • Children vs. adult use
    More than one family member on the line
    Size and ergonomics
    Convenience, at arms reach
    Paging system
    Shared answering machine
    Shared memo machine
    Better Speakerphone (all-house speakerphone?)
    No battery to die on long or important calls
    More secure for confidential calls
    Ability to connect to your home WiFi

I think there are more user-need benefits in the ‘home phone’ category than in the ‘landline’ category. I’d separate those two.

exactly what i was trying to say, in not as elegant a way.

home is home. user, power supply, environment are all variable unless further defined.


All good thoughts, how about simplicity, a phone and just a phone. The concept of feature creep is rampent, not every thing has to be a swiss knife.

There’s some irony in that statement: a phone and just a phone.
In other words, it’s been done is already and available in a fleamarket near you.

I think the challenge here is how to make home phones relevant again in an age of mobiles. Perhaps its just a matter of freshening the aesthetic. The last time we saw ‘just a phone’ was in the early 1980’s.

But for me, that’s not compelling enough and seems wasteful. Why have two products when I can just have one (my mobile?)

Here’s my ideal home phone:

Runs on my home network (VOIP) for free.

Is high quality stereo. Uses a simple wireless stereo headset that I can put on quickly when the phone rings. With this setup, I can listen to music (or share music) while talking, comfortably, while multitasking around the house. Comes with two headsets to allow my wife and I to be on the same call.

Has a separate wireless keypad, so I can navigate voicemail systems without taking the phone away from my ear.

Has a hot-swappable AA battery, so i never have to worry about interrupting a call.

The dock is a shared digital photo frame, making it super easy for me to share pictures and receive pictures with my family. Add a touchscreen shared sketchpad.

Route my mobile calls to it, so I only need to think about answering one thing, not deciding between the two, or hunting down my mobile (which might be in my bag or something.

And of course it needs to look great in my home and not take up any space.

Maybe it’s a wall-mounted mirror that hides the headsets and mobile phones inside, complete with chargers.

This setup would make up for a lot of the shortcoming of my mobile when I’m at home.

Wasteful, when you swap out and toss away cellphones at the rate of 1 a year? Remember kiddies the big bubble of the market (and the ones with most of the cash) is the boomers, so if you designing for a market ask THEM. Mutil functionality is often just a indecator of poor core thought “wait theres more” thinking. What features do people really use, what features give tanglebe bennifit to the target group. Your idea of a head set that is viop a head phone a toaster, a car waxer and a pooper scooper may have merrit, but all your really doing is taking a over featured cell phone and saying its a land line.

Maybe I’m a safety nerd, but I like a corded landline next to the bed to dial out 911 quickly if I ever needed to without having to dig my mobile out of the drawer, unlock the keypad, and then call in… I know it’s silly, not like I’ve ever had to do it, but I like the idea of it being there. But for that, I’d just go vintage, no need to buy a brand new one, unless it was really sweet looking, but that market again is small.

what i’d like to see is a low-cost landline for basic use- emergency, some local calls, etc. something interesting would be a per-use rate charge (as they do in UK, I believe), to avoid the cost of a monthly charge if you dont need it. another good use is for hardwired monitored alarm systems.

for me, i’d be interested in something that has the clarity of landline calls (VOIP/mobile) is still lower quality compared to landline, that i’d use while at home. a simple way of forwarding automatically my cell to the landline when im home would be useful too.

perhaps a solution of a basic terminal phone, but a smart central switcher that could hook into to other networks and features. i’d also like to see something more nice looking, esp. slim, wall mounted.




Those Jensen phones are nice, and reasonable: