In 2005, an email titled “Five Things you Never Knew Your Cell Phone Could Do” went viral; everyone was talking about it and sharing it with their friends and family. Since then, it randomly makes its round in various versions and with different subject lines.
The email consisted of secret cellular tips and tricks that can be beneficial during an emergency. To this day, people who come across articles that contain these “secret iPhone codes” or "secret Android codes" still question if they’re true.
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Five Things you Never Knew your Cell Phone Could Do
Some of the tips are pretty wacky, others are misrepresented, and a few are partly true.
During times of grave emergencies, your mobile device can be a lifesaver or an emergency tool for survivable. Check out the thinks your phone can do:
- Dial 112: This tip states that the emergency number worldwide for mobile is 112. It suggests dialing 112 if you find yourself out of the coverage area of your mobile network during an emergency. Dialing the number allows the phone to search for an existing network to connect your call with local emergency service personnel. True and False. 112 is the European emergency number. In addition to Europe, it’s also used by some non-EU countries and available on GSM networks. If dialed from a GSM network (devices from AT&T and T-Mobile) in the United States, your call will be redirected to 911. In contrast, this tip does not work with CDMA networks (devices from Verizon and Sprint). So, if you're in the United States, you're better off dialing 911.
- Locked Keys in Car: Suggests you can unlock your car through a cell phone. If you lost your keys or locked them inside the car, use your cell phone to call someone at home that has access to the spare key. Hold your phone about a foot from the car door and have the person at home press the unlock button near their cell phone to successfully unlock the car. False. That is simply not how cars with remote keyless entry systems (RKE) work.
- Hidden Battery Power: Promises to increase your phone’s battery life by 50%. Simply press the following digits to activate the "reserve battery power": *3370#. False. This tip has been misinterpreted in the email.
- Disable a Stolen Phone: Dial *#06# on the keypad of your smartphone to see your mobile phone’s serial number – a 15-digit code that is unique to your handset (also known as IMEI or MEID) – and write it down. If your device is ever lost or stolen, call your service provider to report the device and give them the IMEI number. They will block the phone and the thief will not be able to activate it with a different company's SIM card or sell it. Partly true. Dialing *#06# only works on some devices. Besides, you don’t NEED the IMEI code to block a phone, all you have to do is give your service provider your account information and tell them the phone was stolen.
- Free Directory Service for Cells: Since not everybody has a telephone directory handy, people usually call 411 for information. Unfortunately, cell phone companies charge the user for using the 411-information option. To avoid 411 information call charges, dial (800)-FREE411 or (800)373-3411. People who try this should know that FREE411 provides directory information to callers at no charge, BUT cellular providers might still charge for such calls.
Visit snopes.com to check out the complete email.
Out of the 5 tips, the one that blew up the most was the secret *3370# code. How exactly does it work and how was it misinterpreted?
What is *3370# and What does it Do?
According to the email, the secret *3370# code is supposed to improve your phone's battery life. So, if you ever find yourself with very low cell battery and without a charger at hand, simply press the *3370# keys to activate the secret battery reserve.
After pressing the keys, the phone will restart and the instrument on your device will show a 50% increase in battery. What instrument are they talking about? No clue, I’m assuming they mean the battery logo.
The secret battery reserve will automatically charge the next time your device is charged.
The original intent of this tip was to inform people on how to improve their phone’s battery life. But, with so many people sharing the information, it evolved into a secret code that boosts cell phone signal.
Does the *3370# Code Improve Battery Life?
No, pressing the *3370# keys on your Apple or Android device does not improve cell phone battery life.
The hidden battery claim originated from Nokia phones. Some Nokia phones had the ability to switch to a different mode after the user punched in a “secret code”. One mode enhanced voice transmission, while the other enhanced battery performance.
Pressing *3370# activated the Enhanced Full Rate Codec (EFR). EFR mode improved sound quality at the expense of shorter battery life (reduced battery life by approximately 5%), which is the exact opposite of the claim.
If the goal is to improve battery life, then you would want to enable Half Rate Codec by pressing the *#4720# keys. This mode provides about 30% more talk time on a battery charge at the expense of lower sound quality.
Remember, these codes only work on specific Nokia phones. They do not work on iPhones, Samsungs, Google Pixels, LGs, or any other iOS and Android devices. If such code did work on all devices, why would cell phone companies keep such functionality a secret?
Does the *3370# Code Boost Cell Signal?
No, pressing the *3370# keys on your iPhone or Android device does not improve your cell phone signal.
As mentioned, the code *3370# activates Enhanced Full Rate Codec (on specific devices). Since users would experience better voice quality after entering the code, many assumed it was due to better signal. But, the code doesn’t do anything to mitigate dropped incoming or outgoing calls, unsent SMS messages, or spotty signal in areas with poor service.
Truth be told, there are far more reliable ways to improve your cell phone signal.
Reliable Ways to Improve your Cell Phone Signal
These gadgets are designed to capture your existing signal (even if it’s just a sliver), amplify it, and broadcast it into your home, office, or vehicle. Plus, they don’t just improve your cell phone's signal strength, they also improve your phone’s battery life. How? Many people don’t know that having poor signal is one of the main reasons behind fast battery drainage. Phones have to work extra hard to capture a signal in areas with poor cell reception, which drains your phone’s battery a lot faster.
Cell signal boosters are not the only things that can improve your cell phone signal, but they are the only long-term solutions. You could also try:
- Eliminate obstructions: Anything sitting between your phone and a cell phone tower negatively affects your signal. Try moving to an area with the least amount of signal blocking obstacles to improve your cell reception. To find the best spot set the phone to Field Test Mode. This will show you your phone's signal strength in dBm measurements. dBm measurements range from -50 to -100, the closer you are to -50 the better the connection is between your phone and the closest tower.
- Turn airplane mode on and off: This will reset your signal and hopefully improve it.
- Turn off WiFi and Bluetooth: These tools use up a lot of energy, which your phone might need to look for and maintain a reliable signal.
- Don't block your phone's antenna: Heavy duty cases, orientation, and your hand can negatively interfere with the signal. Most smartphones work best when help with one hand (or hands-free) and in an upright position - not sideways or upside-down.
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