13 Tips to Supercharge Your 'Dumb' Phone

Don't own a smartphone? Here are 13 tips that will boost the IQ of any phone.

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Send a Text to a Landline

Ever needed to send a text to a friend or relative who refuses to get even a basic cell phone? You're not alone. Most carriers (including Alltel, Sprint, and Verizon) offer a text-to-landline service that will convert your text message into a computerized voice recording and deliver it to almost any landline in the United States.

To use this trick, first enter the 10-digit landline phone number into the 'To' field of your phone's SMS interface. Then enter your text message as you normally would, and send. The message will go to your friend's landline through a computerized transcription service that can even leave the message on voicemail if your friend doesn't pick up.

This service works with phones from most major U.S. wireless carriers except AT&T. Be sure to check with your wireless carrier about fees for text-to-landline, too: Sprint offers this service for free, but Verizon charges 25 cents for each successful text-to-landline delivery.

Perform Other Landline Tricks

You may have heard that pressing *69 when you've missed a call will tell you who the last caller was. Did you know that about 50 more "star codes" exist? How many your carrier offers varies, however; Verizon, for instance, offers only 12.

Here are a few.

  • Dialing *67 blocks your landline number from being displayed through Caller ID
  • Dialing *60 lets you block unwanted callers from calling you again (not all providers offer this service)
  • Dialing *66 (*69 on AT&T) if you get a busy signal will set up automatic callback--that is, when the other party is off the line, your phone will ring and your call will be put through

Some of these codes differ depending on your provider, and charges for many of the services apply.

Tweak Your Basic Phone via the Web

Looking to stop annoying text-message spam? Want to know how to send text messages for free from your wireless phone number? Wireless carriers each offer a Web page for accessing and managing your cell phone account.

At the My Verizon Homepage, for example, you can use the privacy controls to block up to 15 phone numbers from calling or texting you. Most carriers also allow you to keep tabs on usage and to send advanced multimedia messages embedded with animation or sound via SMS.

Sprint users can access parental controls to restrict calls to numbers entered in the phone book (you can block incoming text messages this way, as well).

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