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Things You Never Knew Your Cell Phone Could Do

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Viral message purports to clue readers in on a number of little known tips and tricks for mobile phone use, including dialing 112 to access a worldwide emergency network.

Description: Viral text / Forwarded email
Circulating since: Sep. 2005 (multiple versions)
Status: Mostly false (see details below)


Example:
Email text contributed by Greg M., Feb. 15, 2007:

THINGS YOU NEVER KNEW YOUR CELL PHONE COULD DO.

There are a few things that can be done in times of grave emergencies. Your mobile phone can actually be a life saver or an emergency tool for survival. Check out the things that you can do with it:

FIRST
Subject: Emergency
The Emergency Number worldwide for Mobile is 112. If you find yourself out of the coverage area of your mobile; network and there is an emergency, dial 112 and the mobile will search any existing network to establish the emergency number for you, and interestingly this number 112 can be dialed even if the keypad is locked. Try it out.

SECOND
Subject: Have you locked your keys in the car?
Does your car have remote keyless entry? This may come in handy someday. Good reason to own a cell phone: If you lock your keys in the car and the spare keys are at home, call someone at home on their cell phone from your cell phone. Hold your cell phone about a foot from your car door and have the person at your home press the unlock button, holding it near the mobile phone on their end. Your car will unlock. Saves someone from having to drive your keys to you. Distance is no object. You could be hundreds of miles away, and if you can reach someone who has the other "remote" for your car, you can unlock the doors (or the trunk). Editor's Note: It works fine! We tried it out and it unlocked our car over a cell phone!"

THIRD
Subject: Hidden Battery Power
Imagine your cell battery is very low. To activate, press the keys *3370# your cell will restart with this reserve and the instrument will show a 50% increase in battery. This reserve will get charged when you charge your cell next time.

FOURTH
How to disable a STOLEN mobile phone?
To check your Mobile phone's serial number, key in the following digits on your phone: * # 0 6 # A 15 digit code will appear on the screen. This number is unique to your handset. Write it down and keep it somewhere safe. When your phone gets stolen, you can phone your service provider and give them this code. They will then be able to block your handset so even if the thief changes the SIM card, your phone will be totally useless. You probably won't get your phone back, but at least you know that whoever stole it can't use/sell it either. If everybody does this, there would be no point in people stealing mobile phones.
And Finally...

FIFTH
Cell phone companies are charging us $1.00 to $1.75 or more for 411 information calls when they don't have to. Most of us do not carry a telephone directory in our vehicle, which makes this situation even more of a problem. When you need to use the 411 information option, simply dial: (800) FREE 411, or (800) 373-3411 without incurring any charge at all. Program this into your cell phone now. This is the kind of information people don't mind receiving, so pass it on to your family and friends.


Analysis: Beware forwarded emails offering esoteric tips and tricks "you never knew." Most of the claims in this message are either false or have limited applicability in the real world. We'll examine them one by one.

CLAIM: The worldwide emergency number for cell phones is 112.
Not quite. 112 is the Europe-wide emergency phone number. Throughout most of the European Union and some neighboring countries, dialing 112 will connect callers to local emergency services. The system doesn't include North and South America, Asia, or Africa.

According to some sources, many, but not all, cell phone models are pre-programmed to redirect calls made to any of the most common emergency numbers (e.g., 911, 999, 000, 112) to the proper local services regardless of the caller's location. And many, but not all, cell phone models and service providers will allow the most common emergency numbers to be dialed even if the caller is outside his or her regular service area, or the phone lacks a SIM card. However, no mobile phones can put through calls, emergency or otherwise, from locations where no cell service exists at all.

Within the U.S., dialing 911 remains the most direct and reliable way of contacting emergency services regardless of what kind of phone you use. Don't dial 112 unless you want to play Russian Roulette with your life.

CLAIM: Unlock a car door with your cell phone and a spare remote key.
False. As discussed previously in these pages, cell phones and remote keyless entry systems work on entirely different radio frequencies. Therefore, cell phones are incapable of re-transmitting the signal from a remote key to unlock a car door.

CLAIM: Press *3370# to access 'reserve battery power.'
False. On some Nokia phones, users can punch in special codes and toggle between speech codec modes to 1) enhance voice transmission quality at the cost of diminished battery performance, or 2) enhance battery performance by decreasing voice quality. Apparently, some users have misconstrued the latter as "tapping into reserve battery power." On that score the email is doubly erroneous because *3370# is the code for enhancing voice quality — so using it actually decreases battery life!

CLAIM: Press *#06# to disable a stolen cell phone.
Not exactly. On some cell phone models, but not all, pressing *#06# will cause the phone's 15-digit International Mobile Equipment Identity to be displayed. Some service providers, but not all, can use that information to deactivate the handset. In any case, it isn't necessary to supply an IMEI number to cancel your cellular account in the event of theft; simply call your provider, give them the appropriate account information, and tell them the phone was stolen.

CLAIM: Make 411 calls on your cell phone without charge by dialing (800) FREE 411.
Basically true (see previous comments on Free 411), though cell phone users may still incur a charge for minutes used, depending on the specifics of their plan.

Sources and further reading:

Emergency Telephone Number
Wikipedia

About 112
Information about the 112 emergency number in Europe

Emergency Contact Numbers
Listing of country-specific emergency numbers internationally

Nokia Codes
Unofficial listing of user codes for Nokia phones

Last updated: 10/03/13

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