Pause and Wait on Blackberry, iPhone and Droid

| January 8, 2011 | 15 Comments

Have you ever thought about how many numbers you dial over and over? For example, your voicemail password, phone banking system menus, or a significant other’s office phone extension? Wouldn’t it be easier if the phone could just remember to dial those extra numbers for you? Well it can. A lesser-known feature of cell phones is the “pause” and “wait” options which can be appended to phone numbers. Although phones vary in their implementation of both features, they are generally available on every mobile phone. A “wait” is typically inserted into a phone number – i.e. saved into your phone’s contact list – to allow time for a phone system to answer and then the phone can proceed with automatically entering additional numbers. For example, if you have your voicemail number saved in your contacts list, the number would look something like this:

(555) 555-5555;123456#

In this case, the all-fives number is the imaginary voicemail number, the “wait” is indicated by a semi-colon (this indicator will vary by phone), and the voicemail password is saved directly into the number and followed by a pound sign. If this number was dialed, the phone would immediately show a prompt message on the screen asking the user if they would like the phone to automatically dial the remainder of the number – i.e. the password and pound sign. The user would listen for the voicemail system to ask for the password and simply click “Yes,” “OK,” or “Continue” – depending on the particular model of phone. Rather than typing 7 digits, the user has just hit one button. The amount of time saved becomes even greater for systems that require more digits. For instance, my employer’s voicemail system which requires a voicemail account number (7 digits) and a voicemail password (6 digits).

A “pause” is similar to the “wait” feature described above, except it does not prompt the user; it automatically proceeds after 2 or 3 seconds. The problem with using a pause, is that many phone systems – such as a voicemail system – may take longer than 2-3 seconds to initiate or there may be inconsistent delays due to service reception. Fortunately, most phones are able to handle multiple pauses in one number. For example, using the same voicemail situation above:

(555) 555-5555,,123456#

In this case, the pauses are represented by commas and the phone would delay 4-6 seconds before automatically entering the imaginary voicemail password and pound sign. The result is even more saved time than using a wait since there is no user intervention. However, this takes experimentation to ensure the pauses allow enough time for the system to work. I’ve included instructions on how to setup a pause and wait on the Blackberry, iPhone and Droid smartphones.

Blackberry

  • Pause – The Blackberry will wait 3 seconds and continue dialing the numbers in the stored number.
  • Wait – The Blackberry will wait until a keystroke is pressed, then continue dialing the numbers in stored number.

How to insert a PAUSE on the Blackberry:

When editing a contact’s phone number and you are ready to insert a pause, tap the menu button to show a menu of options in the lower left of the screen. To insert a pause, simply select the “Add Pause” option on the menu. After you select this option, a black “P” icon will be inserted into the phone number to represent the 3 second pause. Similarly, if you insert a wait, then a black “W” icon will be inserted into the phone number to represent the wait.

Blackberry Pause Menu

Screenshot from a Blackberry showing the menu to add a pause or wait

Blackberry Pause and Wait

Screenshot from a Blackberry to show the pause and wait icons in a phone number

iPhone

  • Pause – The iPhone will wait 2 seconds. You may need to enter more than one.
  • Wait – After the call is made, the iPhone will wait until the “Dial” button is pressed to continue dialing the digits in the stored number.

How to enter a PAUSE on the iPhone:

When editing a contact’s phone number and you are ready to insert a pause, tap the “+*#” key at the lower left of the screen. To insert a pause, simply tap the “Pause” key that appears. After you tap this key, a comma will be inserted into the phone number to represent the 2 second pause and the keyboard will revert to the normal layout.

Droid

  • Pause – The Droid will wait 3 seconds. You may need to enter more than one.
  • Wait – The Droid will wait until a keystroke is pressed, then continue dialing the digits in the stored number.

How to enter a PAUSE on the Droid

When editing a contact’s phone number and you are ready to insert a pause, tap the “+*#” key at the lower left of the screen. To insert a pause, simply tap the “Pause” key that appears. After you tap this key, a comma will be inserted into the phone number to represent the 2 second pause and the keyboard will revert to the normal layout. Please note the slide out keypad seems to cause problems when entering pauses and waits in phone numbers. For this reason, make sure to use the virtual keyboard when inserting pauses or waits in numbers on the Droid.

Droid phone dial

Screenshot of the Droid dialing pad

Droid Dial Pad Pause Wait

Screenshot from the Droid showing the Pause and Wait buttons

 

Enjoy never having to dial account numbers and extensions again!

Update: Corrected iPhone wait functionality thanks to reader “FM”.

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Category: Productivity

Comments (15)

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  1. bellamy says:

    i couldn’t figure out how to do this with my droid x… thanks!

    • Joe says:

      No problem – glad I could help!

      • Damon says:

        Are there generic codes that work with Blackberry and iPhone? Usually the “w” for wait can be replaced with a character….for instance if I was building this dialing sequence from within my outlook contacts…
        I’m looking for a universal way to set up pauses and waits that will work the same way on more devices.

  2. Remi says:

    Any idea how to add comments after a phone number? For instance, to identify members of a family without having to create multiple contacts. Thx

    • Joe says:

      Remi,
      Generally, you cannot put comments in numbers. The number fields are limited to numbers and pause/wait symbols. If you would like to distinguish between numbers, you should make them separate contacts in your phone and name them accordingly.
      I hope that helps!

  3. Sonny says:

    Thanks for putting this together. I knew this could be done on blackberry but I did not know how on iPhone. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Joe says:

    Sonny,
    Thank you for visiting and commenting! The difference between the smart phones continues to narrow. Despite all the marketing we’re bombarded with, I think they’re all very similar with regard to performance and core features. They’ll be competing only on carriers and apps in the future.

    Joe

  5. FM says:

    Note: the iPhone does have wait functionality (accessed in the same way as Pause mentioned above). Once the call is made the phone screen shows a “Dial xxxx” button which should be pressed at the appropriate time.

    • Joe says:

      @FM: Thank you for pointing that out – I updated the post accordingly.

    • Eduardo says:

      Joe,

      I couldn’t find the wait button on iPhone 4. I have just the + * # signs and pause. Do you know what should I do to have the wait function in Iphone?

      Thanks!

      • Joe says:

        @eduardo
        I don’t currently have an iPhone to verify this information, but based on the last comment, iPhone has “wait” functionality. Per the comment, once the call is made the phone screen shows a “Dial xxxx” button which should be pressed at the appropriate time.

  6. Harry Coogan says:

    Can’t a person just add a comma without going through a menu to get to “pause”? Thank you.

  7. Steve says:

    I’m a long time BlackBerry user who just switched to iPhone. I’m simply amazed that iPhone doesn’t see “x” as a wait — and that a semi-colon is needed instead.

    For business users, it’s common for a phone number with an extension — e.g. “415-555-1212 x123” — to flow from a CRM system out to an email address book and then to a mobile device. BlackBerry handles this perfectly, as it prompts the user to push out the extension number and the user can decide when, based on what they’re hearing. iPhone throws the entire string at the carrier and the carrier chokes on all the digits.

    This is probably because BlackBerry is traditionally a business device and iPhone is a consumer device. However, Apple should really address the business user…

  8. Randy says:

    What is the N on the Droid virtual keyboard?
    And what are all those other keys for?

  9. Shez says:

    Seems like various OS version seem to represent the PAUSE and WAIT differently. For example, some Blackberry phones recognize ‘x’ for PAUSE. Does anyone know OR can point to some consolidated list of the variations of PAUSE and WAIT characters for various versions of iOS, Android, Blackberry, Windows and Symbian.

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