How to Get More Out of Your Cell Phone

A cellular phone can do more than just make and receive calls. Even simple analog phones can store numbers in memory. But it seems that no one I talk to even uses the phone book, much less any other productivity feature found on cell phones. Below, I list some features that are available on many phones that I consider important to learn, features that make the phone a versatile and powerful business communication tool.

Phone book
This is the most useful basic feature of any phone. As the name implies, the phone book is the place to store phone numbers. Some phones can store up to 250 numbers with names. By storing numbers in a phone book, you don't have to remember anyone's number. I even store the numbers for take-out restaurants, because I am usually on the road when I want to pick up a take-out order. On my Nokia 5160, it is easy to program and edit phone book numbers. Also, I can dial a number from the phone book with a few clicks. I have tested some phones where interacting with the phone book is an exercise in frustration. The phone book itself can be tied to other call features, such as one-touch dialing, Caller ID, and call log.

One-touch dialing
Every phone I have seen (analog or digital) has had a one-touch dialing feature. This feature allows you to program some digits on the dialpad to automatically dial a number when the key is held for a few seconds. This is how to program the "911" button and, on my 5160, the voice mail button. One-touch numbers are an obvious place to program frequently dialed numbers.

Call log
Some phones maintain a list of incoming, outgoing, and sometimes, missed calls. The incoming numbers require Caller ID. This list provides a short term record of calls received and sent and is handy for redialing or capturing a number for the phone book. If a number is in the phone book, the 5160 will list the name instead of the number (the 5160 does this with incoming calls, also). Use this feature to rapidly dial recently used numbers.

Dialpad lock
Many phones come with a flip cover to protect the dialpad from accidental dialing. But for those phones without a flip cover (like the 5160), locking the dialpad is important. It may seem like a hassle, but at least for me, it is an automatic process. With this feature, I can be sure that I won't accidentally call my mother or make a 911 call from my pocket.

OK, so headsets are more accessory than feature. But whether the phone has a 2.5 mm headset jack or not, a headset is an important accessory, and is, in some states, mandatory. A headset allows for hands-free talking during driving, walking, or long chats.

A cellular phone comes with many features that can make the phone easier or more efficient. A basic feature, such as the phone book, can transform your phone into a miniature contact database. Take the time to sit with your user's guide to see what features your phone has and how to use them. It is worth your time.