Why Does My Phone Only Let Me Call Emergency?

Written by scott damon
  • Share
  • Tweet
  • Share
  • Pin
  • Email
Why Does My Phone Only Let Me Call Emergency?
Sometimes your cell only allows emergency calls. (cell phone image by CraterValley Photo from Fotolia.com)

Cell phones have revolutionised the world. No longer are people tied to a landline to receive communication. Now you can receive e-mail, texts, surf the Web and receive phone calls almost everywhere in the United States and throughout the world. However, if you have ever stared at your phone and wondered why it is only allowing you to make an emergency call, there is probably a good reason why.

Locked Screen

Cell phones are very personal to the people who own them. To maintain that sense of privacy, many cell phone companies have installed a phone lock. After several seconds where the phone is not used, it will lock up. This means that to access the phone, the user must plug in a code or trace a pattern with their finger (in the case of touch-screen phones.) However, when the phone is in lock mode, there is usually a tab on the screen for emergency calls. This will allow the user to dial 911 or the equivalent in the case of an emergency. This can be very beneficial in an instance where the owner of the phone is injured and someone else needs to use it to call the authorities.


Some cell phone companies will extend your emergency call service even if you did not make your monthly payment. So while you cannot call friends or family, you will be able to make an emergency call in a pinch. If your phone is just allowing you to make emergency calls, make sure that you have paid your cell phone bill.

Prepaid Phones

Prepaid cell phones must be recharged when they run out of cell phone minutes or money. However, some prepaid cell phones will allow you to make a call even if you have not recharged your cell phone minutes. This will allow you to call the authorities in a time of need. Check to see if your phone needs recharging if your prepaid cell phone only lets you make emergency calls.

Emergency Plan

Some cell phone providers, or municipal governments, will issue a cell phone for users to call only 911 in a time of need. These calls are usually free to the owner of the cell phone and are meant solely for that purpose. For instance, the town of Farmington Hills, Michigan, issued cell phones to seniors over 50 so that they can call 911 in case of emergency.


When some cell phones are out of range for your network provider, they will not make calls. This is usually a predetermined setting that saves the consumer money because they would have to pay "roaming" or "out of area" charges." However, in the case of emergency, when a user dials 911, they will be connected using an analogue system or other network to make sure the call goes through. If you can only dial 911, then it might be because you are out of a service area for your provider.

Don't Miss

  • All types
  • Articles
  • Slideshows
  • Videos
  • Most relevant
  • Most popular
  • Most recent

No articles available

No slideshows available

No videos available

By using the eHow.co.uk site, you consent to the use of cookies. For more information, please see our Cookie policy.