The language of mobile phones

June 18, 2014

by Liz Walter
mobile_phone1According to a United Nations report, more people now have access to a mobile phone than to a toilet. Phones are an important tool for most of us, but the kind of everyday vocabulary we use to talk about them is rarely learned in an English class. So here are some of the most important words you need.

When you buy your phone (called a mobile phone in British English and a cell phone in American English), you will need to decide whether you want a contract that will give you a certain number of texts, calls, etc. per month, or whether you prefer a pay-as-you-go arrangement (where you pay for services as you use them). A contract often lets you upgrade your phone for a better one after a period of time.

Most people prefer to have a smartphone which gives you internet access (allows you to go on the internet). Nowadays, we use our phones as cameras, diaries, alarm clocks, satnavs, and many other things, and you can download apps for almost anything, from improving your English to (apparently) finding ghosts!

Many people use a passcode to unlock their phone, but if you don’t have one, you may be able to swipe (push) the lock away with your finger.

You can choose or change your phone’s ringtone, which is the sound it makes when you get a call. You can change the settings, for instance making the volume louder or quieter. If you don’t want it to make a sound at all, you can put it on silent, or on vibrate so that it makes small movements to tell you that you have a call or a text. You can also add people to your contacts – the list of people whose numbers you have.

Many of us can’t imagine living without a mobile phone, but they do have their problems. If you run out of credit, you don’t have enough money to make calls, and will need to  top up your phone (pay to use it again). You need to remember to charge your phone (put electricity in it) using your charger, because it won’t work if it is out of charge. Also, there are still places where you can’t get a signal. If that happens, you will need to go somewhere else, or make your call in the old-fashioned way – by using a landline.


  1. Thank you very much for sharing this information. Much appreciated

  2. I love that notion that mobile phones are now easier to find than toilets….and so the new vocabulary starts….really like this post.

  3. ” Phones are an important tool for most….” I am not sure if this is grammatically correct, or is it?

  4. Phones are essentials for us in this modern world. aren’t they?

  5. […] – The language of mobile phones […]

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