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What Are the Different Types of Caller ID Devices?

Daniel Liden
Daniel Liden

There are many different types of caller ID devices available, and they are generally classified based on which services they offer and how they offer those services. Some, for instance, only tell the phone number of the person calling, while others identify the caller's name and location. Additionally, some devices are separately attached to a phone or phone line while others are fully integrated with the existing phone service. Different ones work on analog, digital, and Internet-based phone services, though most modern caller ID systems are not separate devices. Some phone service providers require customers to pay extra for caller identification, but others include it as a basic service.

Some caller ID devices, particularly older ones, are separate from the phone itself. The separate devices are generally responsible for decoding the incoming call in order to determine the number of the phone at the call's origin. In many cases, such devices also display the number, though others simply transmit the information to the phone, allowing it to display the phone number.

Most telephone handsets have caller ID built in to the unit.
Most telephone handsets have caller ID built in to the unit.

These devices may also be integrated with a call waiting service that allows someone talking on the phone to identify a second caller and to decide whether to switch calls while leaving both callers on the phone, to terminate one call in favor of the other, or to choose one of a variety of other options. Most modern phone services include some form of call waiting as a built-in feature.

Many telephone service companies offer caller ID as an add-on feature.
Many telephone service companies offer caller ID as an add-on feature.

Different types of caller ID devices are optimized for different types of devices. Some voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) programs use software-based caller ID and do not require dedicated devices at all. Many phones, particularly cellular phones, have built-in caller ID software or use an external service from the phone company. Many offer caller ID without any additional cost, and some do not even allow the option to turn it off. Others offer a basic caller ID service but charge for additional functionality, such as identifying the geographic origin of a call.

In some cases, these devices can be used with a variety of different household electronics. An incoming telephone call, for instance, may register with an individual's telephone, television, and computer. The information can be displayed on all of these devices, and in many cases, the individual can choose to answer the phone or terminate the call without ever reaching for the phone itself.

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Discussion Comments


We don't get the best reception on our cell phones in the house, so still have a landline phone number as well.

All of the landline phones I have in the house are cordless phones that have a caller ID feature on them.

This is nice so I don't have to get up and physically go to the room where the phone is to see who is calling me.

This really comes in handy when you start getting a lot of political calls. I don't know what it is, but so many of those types of calls come when you are trying to eat dinner as a family.

It is nice to know you don't have to take the call and have your meal interrupted.


I remember when caller ID was first becoming popular, my friend had a separate machine that sat by her phone to keep track of who was calling her.

This worked just the same way the caller ID phones work today, but it was quite the novelty back then.

The first thing she would do when she got in the door was scroll through the machine to see who had called.

I like the machines that show the name of the person as well as the number. This is very helpful if it is a number you don't recognize.

The only drawback to this is that cell phone numbers don't show up with a name. Only the calls that are coming from a landline phone will show the name.


Caller ID just seems like the norm these days. Since most people have cell phones now, almost everyone has free and easy access to information about who is calling.

You can set your phone to show a photo of the person who is calling. You can even assign friends their own ringtones, so you know who is on the other line before even glancing at your phone.

I am a little lazy when it comes to fancy caller ID programming. The only person I have a photo and special ringtone for is my husband, so when my regular ringtone goes off, I know it’s someone besides him. Everyone else just pops up as a name and number.


I remember the thrill of seeing a new boyfriend’s name on the caller ID when it rang. I always checked it before I answered, and my heart would get warm and beat faster when I saw his name.

I can remember when caller ID was not automatically included in cell phone packages. Before I got that new boyfriend, I didn’t have this feature, because I didn’t think it was worth the money. After we started dating, I couldn’t bear the thought of missing a call from him and not knowing it, so I added the feature to my mobile package.


Though I no longer have a land line, I remember the days of waiting for a call on my cordless phone. I had the kind of caller ID that flashed up on the display of the phone itself, so I could be outside with the phone and still see who was calling before I answered.

The battery didn’t last too long in that phone, and on more than one occasion, I remember being frustrated because I missed calls due to the dead battery. However, once I recharged the phone on the base, I could see who had called earlier by navigating back through the caller ID.


I had the old type of caller ID attached to the phone line in my room as a teenager. I used it both to avoid certain people and to prepare myself before answering the phone when more desirable people called.

The display would show the name of the person or business, as well as their number and the time and date of the call. If I happened to be away when I received the calls, I could just check the device to know exactly who called when.

I absolutely loved my caller ID! It was so much better than using the answering machine to screen calls from unwanted people.


The thing about caller ID is it raises whole new etiquette issues. Will the person think you're rude if they can tell that you sent their call straight to voice mail? When you can see who's calling, should you say, "Hi, Jim," or just "Hello?" What if it's not Jim, but another friend who is using Jim's phone?

I have my parents' phone number programmed into my phone as "Mom." I used to pick up and say "Hi, Mom," but sometimes it was my father. Oops. Now I just say, "Hello."


Caller ID is one of those things that is really relatively new, but now I don't know how we ever did without it! I remember my first encounter with it being when I prank-called a classmate, circa 1994 perhaps, and was quite surprised that they had caller ID. (Whoops. Slumber party got out of hand!)

I use only a cell phone now, no landline, so I always know who's calling me. Sooo nice. I love not always having to answer the phone at dinner, for instance, if I am waiting for an important call; I can check to see if it's my call or just, say, my mother before picking up!

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    • Most telephone handsets have caller ID built in to the unit.
      By: Michael Shake
      Most telephone handsets have caller ID built in to the unit.
    • Many telephone service companies offer caller ID as an add-on feature.
      By: Konstantin Sutyagin
      Many telephone service companies offer caller ID as an add-on feature.