These days, you’d be hard pressed not to have heard the term ‘smartphone’ bandied about when mobile handsets are discussed. The following guide will let you get to grips with what this type of device means exactly, how it differs from traditional mobile phones and what it can offer you.
Introduction to smartphones
To put it simply, a smartphone is a mobile handset that not only allows you to make and receive telephone calls and texts like the traditional phones, it also comes enhanced with a range of trendy and handy features similar to a PC or PDA (personal digital assistant), such as the ability to receive or send e-mails, download music and other media plus edit documents.
The operating system (OS) is the key feature that defines smartphones. This determines what programs you can run on your phone, what services are available on your handset, and what the user interface (UI) that the phone uses looks like. Without getting too techy, smartphones are evolving to have advanced operating systems much like computers. In other words, they are equipped to run productivity applications, rather than simply receiving and making calls. Different manufacturers use different operating systems which aim to compete with each other and the technology is developing at a rapid rate.
Even the most basic mobiles have some form of software which allows for such features as an address book that stores numbers. Smartphones take this to a significantly raised level, so that you can use them in similar ways to a PC. Plus you can download a range of exciting applications that allow you to seamlessly multitask with your phone. Then there is the software that allows you to edit photos and other media much as you were used to doing with other advanced devices. The latest smartphones even come complete with GPS.
While all mobile phones allow you to send and receive texts, what makes smartphones stand out is their ability to access and manage email. Much like a PDA, they can synchronise with your personal or professional email accounts so that you can receive and send messages on the fly. You can also stay fully connected to your instant messaging accounts such as Yahoo Messenger and MSN.
Due to the evolution of mobile internet networks such as 3G data, smartphones can now see you online, browsing and downloading at ever increasing speeds. These days you’re even able to have Wi-Fi access on many handsets.
Smartphones include what is termed a QWERTY keyboard. What this entails is keys laid out in the same way as your PC keyboard, rather than the traditional mobiles which were in alphabetical order on top of a numeric keypad, so that you’d have to tap the number 1 to enter an A, B, or C. With the added introduction of touchphone technology, more and more smartphones allow you to lightly touch the keys as you would on your PC. All this makes for greatly advanced communications.
The above information lists the main features that define smartphones. With the range of new offerings being increasingly released on the marketplace, you will be wise to thoroughly research the wealth of models and features available from different manufacturers to date. All in all, your choice must be based not only on budget size, but more importantly on your individual needs and usage habits.
Peter Williams: mobile phone consultant and smartphones retailer.