Does "Natel" mean the same thing as "Handy" (cell phone) in German? Why and how?

  • 11
    Of course, "Handy" in German doesn't mean "handy" in English. To rephrase the question: "Does Natel in Swiss German mean the same as Handy in German (i.e., cell phone)?"
    – marquinho
    Apr 21, 2022 at 22:21
  • 1
    Of course, «Natel» is not Swiss German, but German – Swiss Standard German, to be more precise.
    – mach
    Apr 22, 2022 at 17:23
  • 1
    I believe there was a comment to the answer, earlier, that's now deleted, that pointed out that Duden lists the word Natel: duden.de/rechtschreibung/Natel. Did you look it up? Apr 22, 2022 at 22:55
  • en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duden Apr 23, 2022 at 11:28
  • 3
    I also wonder how you not managed to find this just by googling.
    – Carsten S
    Apr 23, 2022 at 13:26

1 Answer 1


Yes, it is used that way in Switzerland. Note that you will most likely not be understood if you use the word outside of Switzerland. It is a Swiss Standard German word (cf. Duden | Natel).

The origin is the Swiss brand NATEL ("Nationales Autotelefon") of Swisscom (or originally of the Swiss Mail & Telecommunications service PTT).

Wikipedia has more.

  • 1
    As someone who lives in Switzerland, I'd also comment that Natel has become far less common with time. As shown by this Google Trends graph - trends.google.com/trends/… Apr 23, 2022 at 13:21
  • 1
    Do the Swiss use any alternatives now to "natel", "mobil" and "handy"?
    – user610620
    Apr 23, 2022 at 20:13
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    Most people use "Handy" when speaking Swiss German. Only a few people use "Natel", most of them are 50+ years old.
    – bb1950328
    Apr 24, 2022 at 20:59
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    @user610620 Do the Swiss use any alternatives now to "natel", "mobil" and "handy"? - "mobil" should not be on that list. I have never heard any of my swiss fellows refer to their phone as "Mobil" or "Mobile". In fact, not even "Mobiltelefon" is used, which (I believe) is sometimes said in Germany. And no, there are no real alternatives. In my experience, ~95% say "Handy", the rest says "Natel".
    – kscherrer
    Apr 29, 2022 at 13:59

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