Orbitel - Citifone



950 grams


The Orbitel Citifone (Type RTP101) was one of the first transportable phones. It was also available as the Vodafone VP1. The Mobile Phone Museum also owns a very rare prototype version of this device. Very few Citifone phones were made and they were very big and terribly unreliable, as well as having very poor battery life. The phone had a nickel cadmium battery with an 800mAh capacity and could be charged in just one hour. The battery life was supposed to deliver eight hours of standby time and 20 minutes of talk-time but this was seldom achieved. The battery pack on the base of the phone was detachable but designed to look as if it was an integral part of the device. The first production units of the Citifone could be put into a control mode so that codes could be entered into the keyboard to manually select transmit and receive frequencies as well as other attributes to allow testing and additional functionality checks. The phone had a ten-digit display which could be illuminated by pushing a button on the right-hand side of the phone and the backlight stayed on for approximately 30 seconds. The Citifone's party trick was that if the self-diagnostic test failed it would play Chopin’s Funeral March, otherwise known as the death march. When it was launched in 1985 it retailed at an eyewatering £1795 plus VAT (equivalent to £5,600 / $7700 in 2021), which was much cheaper than the 8000X, but sadly it didn’t do the same job and was a commercial failure.


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