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Gizmodo Product Review: 1987’s Unisonic Clear Telephone (Model 6900)

To mark the upcoming launch of Apple’s newest iPhone X, Gizmodo is republishing this review of Unisonic’s groundbreaking Clear Telephone, originally published in the September 1987 print edition.

Perhaps no phone has been more eagerly anticipated this Fall season than the Unisonic 6900 Clear Telephone. The see-through skeleton made of durable plastic reveals the candy-colored electronic components contained within, bringing the user closer than ever to the heart of this decade’s bodacious telephonic revolution.

The stunning aesthetics of the 6900 almost distract from the powerful features which include a handset (both earpiece and mouthpiece), a keypad, and the plunger thing to hang up. Unisonic is known for their legendary attention to detail, and true audiophiles will certainly appreciate the care put into injecting just a touch of retro static into the ultra-modern digital ring tone.

Unisonic is clearly courting the coveted 13- to 15-year-old girl market with their new “redial button” feature. Nicole, a self-identified power user, estimates that the button has saved her, “like, a whole bunch of time” as she obsessively calls Josh, hangs up when his mom answers, and calls back.

We had our product testers try out both vertical and horizontal orientations. Stephanie, 14, was able to get Mr. Greenfield’s math homework assignment from Samantha while standing completely upright in the kitchen. Tiffany, 15, was able to learn the details of Nick and Jessica’s first date while flopping down on her bed with her legs crossed in the air, with no noticeable difference in audio quality.

The Clear requires the user to master one new gesture, the ‘push-button,’ which is widely considered an improvement over the gnarly swipe-clockwise gestures of older rotary models. The Clear also brings a whole new level of customization — the already-iconic coiled handset cord is available in a variety of righteous color combinations similar to those you would find in a box of Nerds candy.

The Unisonic 6900’s radical design makes it easy to forget every other phone released over the past year, including the Red Lips phone, the Red High-Heel Shoe phone, and even last year’s Garfield phone where the eyes open when you pick up the handset.

In a press release, Unisonic CEO Roger Barkin acknowledged recent controversy around the company’s product launch timeline. “We are not purposefully withholding features in order to create an artificial market for upgrades in the near future. We believe the Clear will be a flagship product for us for years to come. We certainly do not expect light-up neon phones to flood the market next spring.”

When asked if Unisonic was considered expanding their reach to include the sought-after teenaged boy market, Barkin said, “Boys are simply not interested in phones. We’ve realized that girls are in the vanguard of modern communications technology.”

Bottom line: The Unisonic Clear Telephone is the phone to buy this year (if you’re in the market; telephones typically need to be replaced every 7–10 years). It’s well worth the $29.99 price tag, and there’s no doubt consumers will enjoy the innovative design and range of features (receiving calls, calling others, hanging up).

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