What Are the Functions of Mobile Phones?

By Rob Callahan

There are many styles and brands of mobile phones and other handheld devices available, from simple two-way voice-enabled phones to extravagant handheld computers that also can serve as a phone. Because of the variety in designs and functions in these devices, a comprehensive list of every one of their capabilities might be longer and more extensive than would be practical, but a basic summary of the most common functions of mobile phones includes voice communication, data and some other common applications.

Voice and Traditional Phone Functions

The primary function of a mobile phone is voice communication. Like traditional landline phones, mobile phones allow one user to call another and talk from afar. Functions related to voice communications include automatic redial, last number recall, caller ID, logging of incoming and outgoing calls, speakerphone or hands-free capabilities, and speed dialing. Some phones also are equipped with voice-activated dialing and features like a silent mode, which disables ringing or indicates incoming calls and alerts by vibration. Many mobile phones also feature the ability to block calls from unwanted numbers or customize ringtones to send an audible indication of the source of an incoming call.

Data Functions

In addition to voice functions, most modern mobile phones offer some degree of text or data transfer as well. Users can send brief, typed messages to other mobile phones, share files such as pictures and video or access the internet through the use of integrated Web browsers and other Internet applications optimized to function with a small screen.

Other Applications

Some standard non-communication functions of mobile phones include contact lists, calendars and clocks to help the user keep track of their appointments and obligations. Most modern mobile phones include simple calculators and some offer more advanced calculators, such as scientific calculators. Word processing, spreadsheets and document viewing also are available on some phones. Many phones contain a camera capable of capturing and sending still images or video. An array of video games has been developed for mobile phones as well, transforming the phone into a portable game console, and software development allows for potentially limitless other applications to be created and used on mobile phones in the future.