Cell phones and pagers have different uses, cost structures and technology that enables them. While a cell phone is used for full duplex two-way radio telecommunications (for both voice and data) over a cellular of stations known as cell sites, a pager (also known as a beeper) is used primarily for sending and receiving short messages. Cell phones are by far the most popular electronic device, with over 4.6 billion cell phones in the world.

Comparison chart

Cell Phone versus Pager comparison chart
Edit this comparison chartCell PhonePager
Definition and basic function A cell phone is an electronic device used for full duplex two-way radio telecommunications over a cellular of stations known as cell sites. A pager, also known as a beeper is a simple personal telecommunications device for sending and receiving short messages.
Types Basic phones, touchscreen phones, smartphones Voice/Tone pagers, Numeric, Alphanumeric and two way alphanumeric pagers.
Handset Features and software Uses built-in software to make and receive calls. Features may include GPRS, GPS, camera, games, compass and accelerometer. No additional features.
Areas of use Anywhere except where specifically disallowed. e.g. gas stations, hospitals, movie halls, air planes. Hospitals, fire stations, hospitality industry etc
Power supply Rechargeable battery, car chargers, USB Rechargeable batteries only
Privacy Can be traced Cannot be traced
Price $20 or even free with service agreements with wireless carriers Typically start at around $40

Types and Features

Cell phones have evolved and have come to serve purposes for a wide variety of audience. Cell phones range from inexpensive devices that support only basic functionality like calls and text messaging to smartphones that enables the user to surf the internet, send and receive emails, and make voice and video calls. They even have operating systems that can run applications to let you double up the phone as a mini-computer.

Pagers serve a limited purpose and yet, there are four different categories of pagers to choose from:

Areas of use

Cell phones are used by people of all ages. There are certain areas where cell phones cannot be used and those include gas stations, hospitals, air planes, theaters etc. However, to combat these restrictions, cell phone manufacturers have developed an ‘in-flight’ mode in cell phones where the device can remain switched on but the ability to make and receive calls is restricted.

A pager is primarily used in hospitals, any office that is bound by emergencies and time constraints like fire stations, security services, coastal agencies, police and lifeboat crews.

Power supply and other add ons

A cell phone uses a rechargeable battery that needs to be charged via an electrical outlet. Other means of charging include USB ports, car chargers, dynamo or portable batteries. To let the cell phone work effectively, a SIM card is needed that aids in acquiring signal from towers for clear voice quality and reception.

A pager uses rechargeable batteries as well. However, there is no need for any supplementary devices to be connected to the pager.


Due to the portability of the cell phones and the availability of GPRS on it, companies can track the exact location of the device if the need arises. This is a very powerful tool for governmental agencies that can hope to eliminate crime if used correctly.

A pager on the other hand, has no such capabilities. One cannot track a one-way pager.


A cell phone with fixed plans from service providers can be purchased for as low as $20 or may even be offered free. However, as you go looking for a cell phone that satiates every technological need, the prices can increase and go upto $200.

Pagers are usually purchased in pairs or in bulk. Since they are distributed to many people in a work building, one may have to spend as much as $900 for a set. This amount can vary from pager to pager and company to company.

Cell Phone as a Pager

With features like SMS and MMS, it is possible to use a cell phone as a pager to exchange short messages. Most cell phone voicemail systems also allow the caller to leave a call back number instead of a voice message. This results in the receiver getting a short text message on their mobile phone with the caller's phone number and a short message such as "Please call 206-555-1234".


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"Cell Phone vs Pager." Diffen.com. Diffen LLC, n.d. Web. 23 May 2019. < >