iPhone Gets Long-Awaited T9 Dialer with iOS 18; Here’s How to Use

In Short
  • Apple demonstrated a bunch of new iOS 18 features at the WWDC, one of them being - a new T9 Dialer on the Phone app.
  • With the T9 dialer, you can type someone's name on the numeric keypad like on old keypad phones and your iPhone will suggest matching entries.
  • To use it, navigate to the Phone app > Keypad > type letters corresponding to someone's name on the keypad > tap on their name to dial their number.

Apple’s WWDC keynote brought in a slew of features in the form of iOS 18, macOS 15 as well as the new Apple Intelligence. However, for many iPhone users, the most exciting news is actually a basic feature – T9 dialer, which is finally coming with iOS 18!

This might sound surprising for younger users, but T9 (or Text on 9 keys) was a game-changer for texting on old phones with numeric keypads. This allowed people to type using single key presses for a letter, with the OS “cleverly” predicting the intended word. Android users have had T9 dialing on their phone apps for years, but this is the first time we’re seeing it inside iOS.

Thanks to the updated Phone app on iOS 18, you can now type a contact’s name on the keypad, and the app will suggest matching entries. This negates the need to look up a contact inside the Contacts tab on the Phone app, which requires manually typing their name on the search bar. With a T9 dialer, you can do that right from the Keypad screen.

How to Use T9 Dialer on iOS 18

To use the new T9 dialer, your iPhone needs to run on iOS 18 which is currently in developer beta. You can enroll on the beta program by checking out this guide. If you’re already using iOS 18, here’s how to you can use the T9 dialer:

  1. Launch the Phone app and go to the Keypad screen.
  2. Now, let’s say, I want to call up our editor, Anmol. To do that, I’ll just type “26665” and his contact details will appear at the top of the keypad straightaway.
  3. When you tap on the suggested entry, the keypad will load their complete phone number. This way, you can conveniently reach out to them by tapping the Dialer button.
iOS 18 T9 Dialer
  1. If you have multiple contacts with matching entries, you can tap on more… underneath the suggested contact. This will take you to the Names screen, from where you can locate the designed contact and call them by tapping on the Phone icon beside their name.
iOS 18 T9 Dialer

It’s good to see iOS finally catching up, although this should have been out a decade ago. It’s a much-needed upgrade over manual search, plus you no longer need to use Spotlight as a workaround to make quick calls. The T9 dialer inside the Phone app is currently available in iOS 18 beta for developers. If you’re eager to test it, we suggest you wait a few more weeks when Apple releases the public beta for regular users.

What do you think about the T9 dialer on iOS 18? Is it something you had been waiting for all these years? Let us know in the comments.

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