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Wireless Basics
Core Features

Wirefly Learn » Resources » Wireless Basics

May 31st, 2009


Core features describe the essentials of each cell phone model, such as how many displays it has and what their resolution is, whether or not it has a speakerphone, what the phone book capacity is or whether the phone includes such personal information management application as calendar, calculator, currency converter, etc.

Color main display

A cell phone can have one or two displays. Phones with two displays have a main one–generally the one to the inside–and an auxiliary one on the outside.

With the greatest majority of phones available today, the main display is in color. A standard color main display shows around 65,000 colors, while displays of more advanced models can show as many of 264,000 colors.

External display

Clamshell phones–also called flip-phones–normally have an auxiliary display to the outside. This is usually smaller than the main display, and may be either in color or black and white (monochrome).

The purpose of a cell phone’s external display is to show the user information like time, caller ID, battery life, etc. without opening the handset.


A growing number of cell phones are becoming available in colors other than gray or black, so as to better fit the taste and the lifestyle of the users.


Applied to cell phones, the word “style” refers to whether or not (and how) the unit opens. Today’s cell phone fall into four main style categories:

  1. Candy-bar phones: phones that are more or less rectangular in shape and do not open
  2. Flip-phones (or clamshell phones): phones that open and close like a clamshell, through a hinge located above the keypad
  3. Slider phones: phones that open by sliding the cover and exposing the keypad
  4. Swivel phones: phones that open by swiveling the cover away from the keypad
  5. Touch screen. Some larger cell phones allow the user to operate the unit by touching the screen–either with a finger or with a special stylus. Touch-screen operations can range from navigating the phone’s various menus to writing as one would do on a palm pilot.


Most cell phones on the market today feature a speakerphone, which is a built-in microphone and loudspeaker that allow the user to carry out a conversation or to listen to messages without bringing the unit up to the ear.

There are two levels of sophistication of this feature. More advanced cell phone models allow more than one talker to speak at the same time, while on basic models only one talker can speak at a time.

Also, some speakerphones are stereo–especially on phones that feature FM radio or music-playing capability.

Push to talk

This is a communication feature that works like a walkie-talkie.

Voice dialing

Voice-dialing enables you to dial your phone by voice command (e.g. Call home/Call Jennifer/Call 911/Call 555-1212).

There are two levels of sophistication of voice-dialing. The most basic is requires that you “train” your cell phone to recognize the specific way you pronounce your entries. This usually requires you to speak the command a number of times so as to “lock” the entry into the cell phone recognition. The more advanced requires no training and enables the phone to recognize or understand the entries even if spoken by someone other than you.

To do list

This is a reminder function that allows the user to enter and manage a list of things to do. Different cell phone models offer different options for this feature; in some cases, the user can sort the items by priority and assign deadlines.

Voice memo

Some cell phones have a built-in recorder feature that lets you capture notes to yourself or to record parts of a phone conversation.

Standard 2.5mm headset jack

This is a cylinder-shaped jack that fits the small pin-shaped plug of many cell phones. This is a rather standard jack for headsets and car-kits.


Cell phone alarms can work in different ways, depending on the model. The most basic version of this feature allows you to preset a single alarm to sound at a given time–but the unit has to be on. The more sophisticated version allows for multiple alarms and to coordinate them with the phone’s calendar or to-do list–and the alarms will sound even when the cell phone is turned off.


Most cell phone calculators are rather basic, and perform only additions, subtractions, divisions and multiplications. In some models, the calculator also includes a currency converter and a tip calculator.


Called “datebook” in some cell phone models, the calendar lets you see and manage your schedule for the month, week or day. Depending on the sophistication of the feature, this may be linked to a reminder or an alarm function.

Mini USB port

USB is a standard way to connect various electronic devices (including cell phones) to a laptop or a computer hard-drive. A cell phone with a mini USB port can therefore be linked to a computer via this standard connection, thereby enabling downloads, synchronization with calendar entries, etc.


Most cell phones give the user the capability of switching off the audible ringer and put the phone on “vibrate.” When on vibrate, the phone alerts you of calls, messages, etc., by vibrating rather than ringing. This function is useful in environments where a cell phone ringing would not be appropriate–such as a library or a business meeting. Vibrate is sometimes called “quiet mode.”

Phonebook capacity

A cell phone’s phonebook capacity refers to the maximum number of contacts the user is allowed to enter.

Multiple numbers per name

More advanced cell phones give the user the option of entering more than one number per phonebook entry. This way, each contact can include home number, work number, cell number, fax number, etc. This feature allows the phonebook capacity to be maximized–so that each name does not require multiple entries for different numbers.

Shop Now for Phones from AT&T Wirelesss, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless.

Related posts:

  1. Advanced Features
  2. Cell Phone Messaging Features
  3. Cell Phone Plan Special Features
  4. Rumor: T-Mobile to Get 4.3″ Dual-Core Android

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