Useful Phone Features
Both wireless phones and service plans come with a variety of calling features. Some are included in the base price of the phone and monthly plan fee; others are available on an à la carte basis. Familiarizing yourself with these features can help you choose a phone and plan best suited to your needs and help you get the most out of both.
When your phone is turned off or when you don't answer, calls are automatically sent to voicemail. Most phones displays will indicate if you have new messages. Just about all service plans allow you to check messages from either your wireless or landline phone.
- Caller ID
Caller ID displays the telephone number of an incoming caller on your phone screen. If the number is one that you've already entered in memory, caller ID will also show the caller's name. By alerting you to who is on the line, you can return non-urgent calls at a later time, as well as be prepared to accept important calls.
Also referred to as phone book, your phone's memory allows you to program names and numbers directly into your handset so that you can quickly dial frequently called numbers. Most phones store up to 99 names and accompanying numbers. Some phones, however, are capable of storing several hundred.
- Numeric paging and text messaging
This feature allows callers to enter numeric or text messages viewable on your phone's display. This feature is great for short and timely messages: you don't have to go through the process of dialing up your voicemail box to get information, but rather can see the message at a single glance.
- Ringing Options
Ringing options vary from phone to phone, but some allow you to choose from as many as thirty different chiming, beeping, and musical styles. In an environment where more and more people are carrying wireless phones, it's often handy to have a distinct ring.
Additionally, some phones offer a vibrating option: instead of ringing audibly, the handset vibrates when a call comes in. This way, you can keep the phone in hand or in a pocket, and receive calls without disturbing those around you.
- Locking and unlocking
On most phones you can lock and unlock the keypad by punching in a short numeric code. While this is convenient in preventing you from unintentionally dialing your phone, it can also prevent others from using your phone should it get lost or stolen.
- Call waiting
On a wireless phone, call waiting works the same way as it does on a conventional landline phone. If you are on the phone and receive an incoming call, call waiting allows you to put the first call on hold and answer the second. With this feature you can use your phone without fear of missing an important incoming call.
- Call forwarding
Call forwarding redirects all of your incoming calls to another number if your cell phone is turned off or already in use. This is particularly handy when you'll be away from your cell phone for an extended period or if you are outside of your calling area.
- Three-Way Calling
With three-way calling, you can talk to or "conference" two people at two different numbers at the same time. It is important to remember that when using this feature, you'll be charged airtime for not just one, but two calls.
- Calling history
Calling history, also known as a recent history list or callback list, maintains a record of the last set of calls made or received. It's an easy way return recent calls.
- One-touch emergency dialing
Some phones have a one-touch emergency dialing feature, which is a specially-marked or designated button on the phone that connects you to 911 emergency services wherever you are.