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What is a Smartphone?

Two people using smartphones.
Smartphones can store digital information on micro SD cards.
A smartphone with a touch screen.
A smartphone.
A smartphone with apps.
Article Details
  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 18 July 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2014
    Conjecture Corporation
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Smartphones are telephones that provide features that are above and beyond the simple ability to make telephone calls. While the term can be properly applied to any type of telephone, a smartphone is normally understood to be a mobile phone and not a land line telephone. Over the years, the concept of the smart phone has continued to expand as hand held devices have become more sophisticated.

The first mobile phone to be considered a smartphone was designed by IBM in 1992. Given the name of Simon, the device made an appearance at COMDEX that year, and was offered to the public the following year. Several helpful features that up to that time had only been available on desktop and laptop computers were included in the functionality. Simon included a calculator, simple note pad, the ability to send and receive faxes, and an email component. In short order, the device also provided a few games for the user to enjoy, as well as a handy world clock that allowed the user to view current times in major cities around the world.

Throughout the remainder of the 1990’s, various types of advanced mobile phone devices appeared on the market. Touch screens began to replace keysets on many smart phones. The games and email functions became more sophisticated as new models were released. Speakerphone capability on many versions of the smartphone began to rival the quality found with handset speakerphones.

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Today, the smartphone functions as a feature rich communication device. The addition of Internet access is the latest innovation in smartphone technology. Today, users may surf the Internet with the same ease as when using a laptop or desktop computer. At the same time, many manufacturers of smartphone lines have worked to enhance the clarity and integrity of the basic audio signal of the phones. This helps to ensure that even with the addition of all the extra features, it is still possible to use the smartphone to make a simple telephone call and expect the sound quality to be crisp and clear.

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Discuss this Article

anon195509
Post 4

I like to call them fantasy phones. They're so amazing!

hidingplace
Post 3

@goldenmist - You're right in a sense that your choices are somewhat limited. Basically it comes down to the operating system of the phone. There's Google Android, iOS (for iPhones), Blackberry and a few other less popular ones like Windows Phone. So your best bet is to research the operating systems rather than the features of the phone themselves to find out what would suit you best.

For example, iPhones are reliable and easy to use especially if you have an Apple computer, but a lot of apps cost money, whereas Android is open source which means a lot more free apps.

goldenmist
Post 2

What separates smartphones from one another? It seems like there's a handful of major ones and the smartphone reviews are so full of jargon I don't know which would be the right choice for me.

softener
Post 1

It's amazing how many of the things we thought of as futuristic to carry around in our pockets are now possible. I remember when cell phones weren't even in color!

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