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Different Types of Phones

Updated on May 20, 2014
A Traditional Telephone
A Traditional Telephone

Over the last hundred years or more telephones have become an important part of many people’s daily lives. There are now three main types of phone or phone like devices available; landline telephones, mobile phones and VoIP phones. Each of these has come onto the market at a different moment in time, and they have all developed (and continue to do so) throughout their existence.

The traditional landline telephone has been around in some form since 1876, when Alexander Graham Bell first got a patent for an electrical phone. The technology had been developing previous to this, but 1876 was really the beginning of the telephone.

Landline Telephones

A phone system is connected by insulated wires that connect the entire network. Originally this was in the form over overland cables but over time having the cables underground has become more commonplace. Landline phones have a microphone and speaker like all telephone devises. This speaker allows the user to hear what the person they are communicating with is saying, while the microphone allows the users voice to be transmitted to the other end of the line. In the past it was necessary to call an operator, as the technology was not advanced enough for users to directly call each other. You would phone an operator stating who you would like to talk to, and they would then connect you to that person. Nowadays telephone users just call the number of the person they require.

To call people with traditional telephones a dialling system was used. This coined the term “dialling” a number that is still used to this day. Numbers one to zero (with two to nine in between) were on a dial, and when calling it was necessary to move the dial round from the required number to the end. This was necessary for each digit within a phone number. Each time the dial was turned a signal would be sent down the telephone line. This now works digitally; and it is only necessary to press the required buttons.  

Mobile Phones

Mobile Phones (also referred to as Cell Phones) are phones that are, as the name suggests, mobile, and do not have to be physically connected to a telephone line. It works by sending radio waves. The progression towards some sort of radio wave technology had been experimented with since the 1940’s. The first device that really resembled a mobile phone wasn’t until 1979 though, in Japan. The technology greatly expanded during the 1980’s. Their mainstream popularity really took off in the mid 1990’s and from the late 90’s to the early 2000’s they had a major impact.

With a mobile phone you can do a lot more than make calls. The first text message was sent in 1992, and the technology available within the small mobile phone device has expanded ever since. Organisers, diaries, calculators and alarms are found on most modern mobiles, and they can even come with cameras, video recorders, the internet, and email capability. Advanced models are like mini computers.

Mobile phones send radio signals to a ‘base camp’. The signal travel from the phone device to base camp, and then from base camp to the phone device of the receiver.

VoIP Phones

VoIP phones are likely to be the next major step in mainstream phone technology. VoIP is voice communication over the internet. The signal travels over a broadband connection, and is much like email but with voices.

VoIP has a reputation of being poor in quality. It is, though, improving all the time. It is dependant on the quality of the internet connection, which is the reason why the quality varies. The most common form of VoIP is to use a computer with a microphone and speakers. There are now VoIP phones on the market though, that look just like regular telephones. To the user they work in the same way, just with different technology. With some VoIP Providers it is now possible to use it as the main home telephone or as a Business VoIP solution.

Andrew Marshall ©


A Modern Mobile Phone
A Modern Mobile Phone
A VoIP Phone
A VoIP Phone

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