I need to know what this non-QWERTY keyboard is called in English, i.e. the one with the grouped [ABC] and grouped [DEF] etc.

Nokia N70

EDIT I have asked this question just to know how do I enable this [ABC] keyboard on my smartphone (if this is possible at all).

  • 16
    As an aside, it would be more natural to ask "what is it called" not "how". You could maybe ask "how is it known" I suppose, but I'd stick to "what is it called"
    – Rup
    Jul 20, 2020 at 9:20
  • QWERTZ, QWERTY and AZERTY are terms used only for keyboard on computers or tablets.
    – Lambie
    Jul 20, 2020 at 16:29
  • Some call it alphanumeric keyboard/keypad. Jul 20, 2020 at 19:00
  • I'd just call it a "mobile phone keyboard", but I suppose modern mobile phones don't have this type of keyboard Jul 21, 2020 at 21:41
  • 1
    The instruction booklet of my old phone said "T9 keyboard". Jul 22, 2020 at 11:11

5 Answers 5


If you want to Google how to enable/disable this keypad, you might want to Google "3 x 4 keyboard" or "3 x 4 keypad". It's certainly called by this name in some of the online documentation.

  • Your answer is the shortest, but for me the most useful one. Your name is exactly the same as that of a famous IT scientist. Any relationship between you two ? Aug 2, 2020 at 17:22
  • I am indeed the scientist. (And I figured out the name because I needed to Google to find out how to change my phone out of the 3x4 keyboard when it somehow accidentally got into that configuration. It took me a while to figure out the right keyword.) Aug 2, 2020 at 17:23
  • But are you the famous Peter Shor known for his alogrithm ? My aim was the opposite to yours, I needed to enable 3x4 because the original keyboard qwerty is densely designed and I cannot with certainty touch the right key. It does not work as I supposed but it's quite good still having tried it in the shop. Aug 2, 2020 at 17:42
  • I am the Peter Shor who discovered the algorithm. The only other Peter Shor I know of on the internet is an artist. Aug 2, 2020 at 18:02
  • That's both,an honor and a surprise for me. I'm a mathematician, but not famous at all. Aug 2, 2020 at 18:11

It's a telephone keypad. There is a standard, E.161 which defines which letters correspond to which number keys.

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By derivative work: Marnanel - Image:Telephone-keypad.svg: Silsor, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

  • 3
    While this may be technically correct, I think I can count on one hand the number of times I've heard the word "telephone" used colloquially in the last 5 years. Unless the OP is using this for technical writing, I'd suggest against telling all your friends about your cool "telephone keypad" you've been messaging with.
    – scohe001
    Jul 20, 2020 at 14:14
  • 2
    @scohe001 While that may be true, it does suggest the "older style" of a phone's text entry. A "phone keyboard" or even "phone keypad" as one might suggest as more modern terms may end up bringing to mind a smartphone, which could lead to ambiguity with the full QWERTY keyboard. I think "telephone" accurately points to the basic voice communication function, and with it, this 3x4 pad of buttons. Jul 20, 2020 at 14:44
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    @maxathousand I think "keypad", as opposed to "keyboard" is an important distinction to make. Keyboard does bring to mind modern smartphone keyboards, while keypad suggests the numeric layout of older phones.
    – Stephen R
    Jul 20, 2020 at 15:01
  • 6
    @scohe001 Sounds like you don't talk to many old people. My grandmother always calls it the telephone.
    – user91988
    Jul 20, 2020 at 15:18
  • 1
    Telephone keypad or touch-tone keypad
    – Void
    Jul 20, 2020 at 16:47

As others have said, this is a "numeric keypad", but as a mechanism for typing words, you will sometimes see it referred to as a "T9 keyboard". T9 is a predictive text algorithm that lets people use the nine numeric keys to efficiently "type” words, but any phone that uses that algorithm can be said to have a "T9 keyboard".

  • 9
    This answer is a bit misleading. Not all phones with the telephone keypad also had the option to use T9 as an input method (in fact, I remember the T9 feature being a late addition to pre-smartphone-era mobile phones)
    – crizzis
    Jul 20, 2020 at 12:05
  • 2
    This answer is wrong: not all phones with such keypads had T9 (predictive) input. You just had to click through the buttons to get letters you needed. T9 is just a software feature to make using the hardware (keyboard) easier. Jul 20, 2020 at 15:29
  • 3
    @crizzis Furthermore, for decades, phones with this keypad had no text input method whatsoever. It was simply seen as an easier way of remembering telephone numbers.
    – phoog
    Jul 20, 2020 at 15:51
  • 1
    @crizzis no, I was thinking more of the PEnnslyvania 6-5000 numbers.
    – phoog
    Jul 20, 2020 at 16:04
  • 8
    This answer may not be correct in a technical, official sense. But it is correct in a colloquial sense. I know I for one see that layout and my first thought is that it's a "T9 keyboard". When OP's goal is to install such a keyboard on their smartphone, I suspect searching T9 keyboard is likely to be the most fruitful option.
    – Jim Cullen
    Jul 20, 2020 at 22:57

As other answers have said, the 3-by-4 grid of numeric keys is a telephone keypad.  But that doesn't usually include the surrounding keys.

There's no single word for that exact arrangement, as there were umpteen variations of that sort of feature-phone keypad.  (All had an ‘answer’ button and a ‘hang up’ button, and most had at least one ‘soft’ key, but some had many soft keys, in various arrangements; some had two arrow buttons, or four, with or without a centre button, while some had a mini-joystick in its place; some even had dedicated buttons for calendar, contacts, email, &c.)

So I'd call it a phone keypad.  (To me, that's less specific than telephone keypad, and could include all the varieties above.)

Or, even more generally, just keypad.  (Which would also include door-entry keypads, lift/elevator buttons, ATM keypads, and the like.)


@Glorfindel's answer is technically correct, and @CanadianYankee's answer would be good for someone who remembers what texting with T9 input is.

However, both of those run the risk of not being easily or immediately understood by people these days.

Most people have smart phones, and direct manipulation of contacts without entering phone numbers is becoming widespread. For example, you might call someone on your smartphone through a contact that was provided by a website, an app, or forwarded to you through email or a text message. The concept of dialing itself outside of certain business settings is less and less of a given anymore.

So this type of phone keypad as well as the old-school notion of having to actually dial numbers to make a phone call is becoming sufficiently away from being a shared experience that the onus is on you to create a context where this is easily understood.

I would refer to it using phrases like the below, for the first time:

Old-school numbers-only keypad for dialing phone numbers or T9-style text messaging.

Thereafter you can refer to it as a keypad, numeric keypard or number keys.

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