The better question is, are there any that currently DO NOT support auto linking of phone numbers by default? Main support for iPhone, Android, BB, Windows Phone, Palm.

I'm trying to determine if I should be adding href tags to the phone numbers on multiple client sites (e.g. <a href="tel:+1-800-555-1212">800-555-1212</a>). The only reason I would be doing such a thing at this point is to allow for backwards mobile (or future) compatibility, however, I'm having a hard time determining if it's worth the time or effort, as these links currently don't do much in a normal browser (FF, IE, Chrome, Safari, etc).

  • I feel like I need to clarify... by default, some mobile browsers (Android, for instance) automatically crawl a page, and if it determines a certain block of text is in the format of a phone number, it links it as such automatically. This allows for the user to just click on the number to go right to the dialer.
    – Sparky
    May 23, 2011 at 18:51
  • 2
    Using a word like "all" is a bad idea in reference to asking about browsers supporting anything. There are probably many more mobile browsers than you think, with ridiculously complicated compatibility tables. Specify a list you actually intend to support. (Note: browsers; you listed operating systems.) Don't think I've seen anything comparing this specific feature, but Mobile Safari does, and Opera Mobile seems to try but be messy about it.
    – Su'
    May 23, 2011 at 19:34

1 Answer 1


It's a good idea to wrap phone numbers in tel URIs because:

  1. Mobile browsers often parse numbers incorrectly, especially with unusual formats. All they're doing is attempting to wrap phone numbers in anchor links and tel URIs; doing it for them reduces the chance of error.

  2. It's a vendor-neutral, official proposed standard that desktop VOIP phone clients (e.g. Skype, Vonage etc.) may one day see sense and come to adopt.

  3. It is not ideal to create linked text which does nothing in some cases, but it serves to highlight important contact information on a page, and does no irreversible damage if a visitor without tel: support clicks a link. (It may be frustrating for mobile phone users without tel: support, but they are already used to typing numbers found on web pages.)

  4. Crucially, you can use tel: URIs to prevent mobile browsers attempting to link numbers that definitely aren't phone numbers. Apple recommends this method: wrap your phone numbers in tel: URIs, then include the following meta tag to prevent the iOS device from looking for additional numbers to convert:

`<meta name = "format-detection" content = "telephone=no">`

In short, it doesn't really matter which mobile browsers support auto discovery of phone numbers today. It's still a good idea to adopt the format.

  • Well said, Nick. Thanks for the insight - that was exactly the answer I was looking for.
    – Sparky
    May 24, 2011 at 13:44

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