Dial an Extension with an X

I bumped into an acquaintance on the weekend that I haven't seen in a long time, and before parting ways we did the good 'ole exchange of contact information. Thankfully he was a BlackBerry user and was sporting a Curve 8900 (which btw he loved). I didn't want to send him my full vcard, so dictated him my office line to save directly into his address book. When I gave him my extension, I got a little miffed to see him hit the menu key and then the Add Pause option before typing in the extension digits. I couldn't help but say... you know you don't have to do that, you can just type an X (alt X) after the main number (before the extension) and the BlackBerry will automatically put in the pause for dialing the extension. It's quicker!

Reflecting upon the event made be realize that putting in an X might not be the most intuitive thing, and that even the Add Pause / Add Wait thing can be a bit confusing. It's not really standard lingo considering most people think of dialing either extensions or passwords or menu option numbers after the main number is called. Below is a quick walk through.

Add Pause

To insert a pause, you can hit the menu key and Add Pause. This inserts a three second pause before the next set of digits (extension) are dialed. In this case no option is given to not dial the extension. This method works fine most of the time if you're always going to be calling the same contact on the same number/extension. I have found the Add Pause to not be perfect though in the case of using it for saving an extension, especially when roaming. For example, right now (while writing this post I did some tooling around) I found that on my Verizon BlackBerry Tour (with native OS it shipped with, curently roaming in Canada and calling back to a US line) that the three second pause begins shortly after you hit the dial key, and in this case the pause is over and extension is dialed even before the call has been connected. The biggest benefit of adding a pause is not for dialing extensions, rather menu options (press one for this, two for that... now press one for this, two for that). You can add multiple strings of pauses and digits to dial very complex sequences. If you add pauses side by side the totals will sum up (two three-second pauses will count down from six, vs. from three twice). 

Add Pause
Add Pause or Add Wait

Dial with Pause
Inserting a pause into a contact's number

Three Second Pause
Three second pause before dialing next set of saved digits

Add Wait

Adding a wait is another option (better option?) for dialing an extension. When a wait is inserted, you'll receive a prompt on the screen asking you to either dial the saved extension, skip it, or end the call. This is very handy - in the case where the initial connection may be slow and three seconds is not enough (while roaming) you can wait until you're connected before dialing the extension. Or in some cases, you may not want to dial the saved extension for the contact.

Insert a Wait
Inserting a wait into a phone number

Dial Extension?
Once connected, you can choose whether to dial the saved extension or skip it

Saving Extension with an X

So this one is interesting and you'll want to do some quick testing to see how your device tretas the X. Playing with some of the BlackBerry smartphones lying around me, it seems RIM has changed things up a bit. On my Curve 8900 for example, when I save an extension with a contact and use an X it's equivalent to inserting a pause. When dialing there is a tree second pause and then the extension is dialed. On my BlackBerry Tour however, when I save a contact with an X before the extension, it actually prompts me when calling to either dial the extension or skip it (same as Adding a Wait). I'm guessing RIM has switched to X equallying a Wait instead of a Pause on newer OS builds, but am not quite sure what the verdict is here. Suffice to say, Alt X before an extension is still the fastest when saving a new contact!

Dial Extension
Depending on your phone/OS, saving a contact with an X may insert either a Pause or Wait

When it comes to dialing extensions, I sort of wish RIM would just put a extension field with the contacts app itself (especially with the work fields), so you could fill it directly without the need for hitting the menu key and or inserting an X. Or even changing Add wait to Add Ext would be a bit more clear.