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Mobile Phone English

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In British English they are called mobile phones; in American English they are called cell phones. Whichever term you prefer, I'm sure you have one! I've noticed English students arriving at our English schools usually bring their phones with them and if they don't, getting one as soon as they arrive is one of their first priorities!

There are two main ways to pay for mobile phone calls:

Contract - If you pay by contract you will pay the network money every month so that you can make calls. Usually you can talk for a lot of time for the monthly fee, but if you do not use the phone a lot you still pay the same money.

Pay as you go/use - If you pay as you use, you will pay for a fixed amount of call time credit which you then use up when phoning people. Once the credit is used up you must buy some more to use the phone. This can be cheaper if you do not use the phone a lot.

Here are some English mobile phone terms:

Billing - When calls are billed by the minute, any call that uses a portion of a minute is rounded up and billed for the whole minute. For example, if you make a call that lasts 3 minutes and 2 seconds, you are billed for a 4-minute call.

Bundling - The practice of joining related products together for the purpose of selling them as a single unit.
"This bundle includes unlimited text messages and 3 hours of talk-time per month."

Coverage Area - The area within which you can make and receive calls.
"I couldn't make any calls from our cabin in the mountains - the coverage was awful."
The word signal is also used when you do not have coverage, "There's no signal in here, I'll have to go outside".

Hands-Free - A safety feature that allows drivers to use their mobile phone without lifting or holding the hand-set to their ear.

Locked/Unlocked - Many phones sold by moile companies are "locked" to that company. An unlocked phone can be used with any mobile phone provider. The word crack is also used.
"Someone at work unlocked my phone for me."

Off-Peak Hours - Usually evening and night hours - after the business day - and on weekends, when there is less demand. Telephone companies often offer lower rates to calls made and received during off-peak hours. The opposite is Peak Hours.

Roaming - The ability to use your phone in another area. This usually means using your phone when you are in another country.

SIM Card - Subscriber Identity Module; a small, removable card which stores mobile phone data such as contact names and numbers, SMSs and security information.

Talk Time - The length of time you can talk on your portable or transportable cellular phone without recharging the battery.

Text Message - messages sent using SMS and MMS.
"She sent me a text message to say she won't be coming."
"I texted him to arrange a meeting time."

Top-Up - This idiom / phrasal verb means to add credit to your phone.
"I need to go to the shop and top up my mobile phone."

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