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Culture

Annoying cell phone myths

No, your cell phone can't do everything, especially these things.

Last week I received an e-mail that I've received many times over, particularly since I've been writing about cell phones. Just one glance at the subject line, "5 Things You Never Knew Your Cell Phone Could Do" and I knew what was inside.

If you have an e-mail account, I'm sure you've received this e-mail at least once. It probably came form one of your "forwarding friends." You know who they are--they mean well, but they insist on forwarding every chain letter and spam e-mail they receive.

Unfortunately, this specific e-mail is hardly worth the time it takes to open it. While it is true you can get free directory assistance by dialing 1-800-FREE-411 (you'll still use calling minutes and you have to listen to a bunch of grating ads), and that a GSM phone's IMEI can help if your handset is stolen, the other three tips are not only completely ridiculous, but also kind of annoying.

Your phone as a key The most preposterous tip promises that you can unlock your car door with the magic of a cell phone. It goes something like this: "If you lock your keys in the car and the spare keys are at home, call someone at home on their cell phone from your cell phone. Hold your cell phone about a foot from your car door and have the person at your home press the unlock button, holding it near the mobile phone on their end. Your car will unlock. Distance is no object. You could be hundreds of miles away."

Even if the e-mail says something like "It works fine!", this is pure fantasy. Keyless entry works on a radio frequency, and a radio frequency cannot travel over a phone line. Also, as anyone who has a car with keyless entry can attest, you have to be close to the car for it to work.

Magical battery life This tip, which promises additional battery life for your cell phone is so bad, it's laughable. "Imagine your cell battery is very low. To activate, press the keys *3370#. Your cell phone will restart with this reserve and the instrument will show a 50 percent increase in battery. This reserve will get charged when you charge your cell phone next time."

No, this does not work, and I don't think that I have to justify why not. I'd only say that if this was really true, why would cell phone manufacturers keep such functionality secret? And if it was true, don't you think they'd just include that additional battery capacity in the first place?

Emergency! Do you have an emergency? If so, be careful when reading this tip. "The Emergency Number worldwide for Mobile is 112. If you find yourself out of the coverage area of your mobile network and there is an emergency, dial 112 and the mobile will search any existing network to establish the emergency number for you."

This is both true and false. The 112 number is the emergency number for European Union countries, but if you dial it on a GSM phone while in the United States, your call will be redirected to 911. Indeed we tried it on both an AT&T and a T-Mobile, phone and we got through. On the other hand, it doesn't work for CDMA phones from Verizon Wireless or Sprint. And I have no idea of it will work in other non-EU countries. In any case, you're better off dialing 911.

Have you heard any ridiculous cell phone myths? What are they?