Whether you have a smartphone or a featurephone (a.k.a. "plain" or "dumbphone"), to the best of my knowledge every cell phone has the ability to text – even if you have a dirt cheap off-the-shelf prepaid phone bought from a convenience store.
The key to knowing what your cell phone’s email address is to know its SMS (simple messaging service) gateway. When you know that, you can email yourself a test text message, and if it phone receives it, you then know the phone’s email address.
A very comprehensive list of all SMS gateways is here:
And yes it does list them for just about every carrier on the planet.
Notes on MMS
You’ll notice for some carriers there are SMS and MMS addresses. The difference between SMS and MMS is that MMS can handle things like attached photos whereas SMS is plain-text-only. If your phone is MMS-capable, read the notes to see if there are any prerequisites in order to use it before trying it out.
Notes on sending messages to SMS addresses from traditional email
You have to remember that SMS is plain-text-only and has a 160-character limit. When sending email to an SMS address, don’t use an email signature and if possible send without any text formatting whatsoever.
Hotmail and Yahoo! Mail fortunately make this fairly easy.
In Hotmail, when composing an email to an SMS address, choose Plain Text, then compose your message:
In Yahoo! Mail, you’ll see the link Switch to Plain Text on the far right when composing an email:
What happens if you send formatted/rich text to an SMS by mistake?
There’s a chance the message will fail to send, or it will send but the recipient will receive nothing but a bunch of garbage characters.
Need a quick character counter so you don’t go over 160?
Not a problem. Bookmark this site: www.lettercount.com
Type your message in there and hit the "Count Characters" button, then copy/paste the text out of there into your email.
What are the advantages of sending SMS messages this way?
It is true that most major webmail systems have a way of directly sending SMS messages to phones, however it does not work with all carriers. A real email address on the other hand can always have a message sent to it.
For most major webmail systems, SMS messaging is treated exactly the same as instant messaging, meaning a conversation history usually isn’t kept. With traditional addresses all messages received are kept, and all messages sent are placed in the Sent folder for easy access later to review conversation history.
What are the advantages to knowing this information?
If you hate texting but know people that "live by their cell phone", so to speak, now you have a way to communicate with them using a typing method you’re comfortable with, as in a real keyboard.
If you love texting and want to keep in touch with people that don’t text, you can give them your cell phone’s email address and inform them of the limitations (as in short messages only, no email signature, etc.)
Some bosses don’t like seeing people "playing" with their cell phones, but don’t care if you’re using email because it at least looks like actual work. Yes, it’s true all mail sent through the company’s mail system is monitored, but it’s nothing the IT mail administrator will care about being they’re super-short plain-text messages that won’t tax the network at all. It’s advisable however not to send/receive anything too personal just to be on the safe side. Also note that there is the slight chance your company’s mail system may have SMS addresses blocked. It’s doubtful they would be, but if the messages don’t come through, it’s safe to assume SMS addressing isn’t allowed for whatever reason.
Is it good to "know SMS"?
Cell phones are wildly popular and everyone has one, but not everyone has a smartphone or a phone capable of multimedia messaging. Plain-text SMS works on any cell phone anywhere in the world, takes far less bandwidth to use and has a solid track record of reliability.
Eventually we’ll all be using phones that are smart-capable, but that won’t happen for a good long time. For the time being, SMS is still the #1 way to send messages on wireless networks.