I’m not usually the nostalgic type, but I do miss landlines. Cell phones can do eight billion things, but they’re tiny and inconsequential – artificial, semi-disposable black rectangles – while old phones pack weight, substance and style. They come in many colors. The receiver feels great in your hand. He feels great when you hang up the handset to hang up on a jerk, angrily pushing the hangup button on your iPhone doesn’t even come close. Old phones sound even better: ringtones come from bells– so much more real than a little melody or digital squonk—and the sound of a voice on a cell phone is terrible compared to the same voice on an analog phone.
If you want to revisit the old days of our pre-digital past or experience it for the first time, you don’t need to sign up for a landline. It’s easy to convert an old push-button or rotary phone to a Bluetooth receiver that works with your cell phone, and almost as well as a dedicated landline. Here’s how to achieve it.
How to turn an old landline phone into a cell phone Bluetooth receiver
Get an old phone. If there aren’t any in your attic, there are thousands of old phones on eBay that can be purchased at very reasonable prices, covering the full range of ubiquitous beige push button templates from the 1980s, to classic black rotary phones at pink phones “princess”and new cheeseburger phones.
Get a specialized jack. There are a few out-of-the-box devices that instantly turn your old phone into an old phone that receives cell calls. Cell2Jack retails for around $30, and the Xlink BT Bluetooth gateway lets you connect three different cell phones to the same landline and costs around $90.
Plug it in. Most older phones don’t have separate power sources because the power comes from the same wire that carries the sounds (such a sleek design) so you’ll have to plug the plug into a power outlet and plug in a phone cord in the socket and the telephone. Once you’ve done that, just press the “Pair” button and pair the Bbluetooth from your mobile phone, and that’s it. Now you have an old-fashioned telephone, with an old-fashioned ringer, rotary or push-button dialing, a tone when you pick up the receiver, and even a busy signal.
Make a few calls. Now you can experience the joy of mechanics chunka-chunka-piecea sound of a rotating dial, or the satisfying discordant sounds of a push button phone making a connection. Your new phone has the same phone number as your cell phone, and when someone calls, you’ll be amazed at how strong telephones used to ring. Spend many hours talking to your friends. Note how right the handset feels in your hand and how well the earpiece cradles your ear. Remember to absently wrap the coiled cord around your finger as you speak.
The only way your Bluetooth phone will remain inferior to old school phones
Calls made through POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service) sound better than calls made through cell phones. Cell phones convert sound into electrical signals and send it thousands of miles away, then instantly convert it back to sound. To minimize latency, cell phones limit the signal of the sound they convert. But that’s not all: to make speech more intelligible in a smaller “space,” cell phones cut out some frequencies and boost others, giving people’s voices a compressed, robotic feel. Old school phones offered richer, less quiet and more natural sound because they didn’t have the space limitation of digital phones.
Your new franken phone will play this compressed signal over a different type of speaker, so it won’t sound as rich as landline-to-landline calls used to. The speaker is likely to be louder and less “tinny” than your cellphone speaker.