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It would make sense if it had T9 built in, but it doesn't. So why?

They should really implement that btw. I know it exists in custom roms.

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You might also find this of interest. –  Dennis Williamson Mar 17 '12 at 23:34
    
The word of the day is "skeuomorph." –  jwodder Mar 18 '12 at 0:02
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2 Answers

up vote 11 down vote accepted

I would assume it's because there are still phone numbers that are distributed with convenience letters (e.g. "phonewords") in them, and there are probably still automated call answering programs that use them. The letters on the numpad far predate T9.

For the US specifically, Wikipedia also has an article that explains the history of telephone numbers and the various ways that letters have been used over time (it was different in other countries, but I can't find a detailed article for that at the moment).

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Alright, but it still doesn't make sense, because i can't seem to be able to type with the letters anyway. I tried long pressing and everything, but nothing happens. Thanks for the answer though! –  qwerty Mar 18 '12 at 11:34
    
@qwerty: Well what I'm saying with my answer is that it has nothing to do with typing. It's for dialing phone numbers with letters in them, since otherwise you'd have to memorize where all of the letters are (or get the number without letters in it). –  eldarerathis Mar 18 '12 at 16:43
    
Yes, i see what you're saying, but what i mean is that you can't actually use the letters. There's no way to type the letters out, you can only use the numbers. See what i mean? –  qwerty Mar 20 '12 at 20:54
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@qwerty in American ads (and probably other countries) you will something like call 401-buynow, so what you will do is just press the number that corresponds to the letter in this case 401-289669 –  tidbeck Mar 22 '12 at 9:43
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They're also useful as a mnemonic for some voice-prompt systems. (I know "3" deletes a voicemail message at work, because that's the button for "D".) –  Al E. Dec 12 '12 at 13:40
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You can search your contacts easily by "typing letters".

The dialer instantly interprets the input phone number also as text input (just like T9 does) and shows contacts that match below the actual number.

For example if you want to dial Smith you should dial 76484.
No need to press 4 three times to get "I".

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