What Is A Smartphone?

Okay, here’s something that’s been bugging me for a while now. I’ve mentioned this several times in other posts but never had anything written down anywhere that could show people what I mean. Without going into further details on why this is important to me, the following points are how you define a smartphone. This list was originally compiled years ago, has been agreed on by mobile experts all over the world, and was more recently put forward by Christy Wyatt. If a phone is missing any of these points then it really can’t be classified as a smartphone.

There is one extra point that I believe is important in a smartphone, but that really would apply to most phones these days. That point is that every smartphone needs an advanced personal informatation management (PIM) suite. This includes, but is not limited to, a multiple details per entry contacts book, a decent calendar and tasks system, and the ability to keep notes, preferably ordered categories or folders.

  • High resolution screen. The exact specifications vary depending on whom you talk to but a 320×240 pixel screen at 2 inches is considered the absolute minimum needed by a current smartphone, with recent releases expected to have larger ones and smaller sizes being accepted depending on the year of release.
  • Full HTML browser over broadband. Whether through 3G data speeds, Wi-Fi, or another mobile broadband technology, a smartphone needs to be able to connect to the web and maintain fast and secure connections with a robust browser.
  • Over The Air Software Updates. Again this is a feature where each person has their own idea of how to define it. For some, simply the ability to update the phone’s first and third party applications to the latest versions counts, while others expect full firmware updates to be available over the air. I believe both should be available on a modern smartphone but, whichever is believed to be true, these must be available without using a PC. One note on this is that it doesn’t matter if OTA Updates are offered by the manufacturer or network so long as the phone is capable of them.
  • Rich messaging and media capabilities. Personally I only fully believe in the first part of this. A smartphone should be able to easily access multiple e-mail accounts, instant messaging solutions and, in some cases, social media options. This should be available out of the box or through a third party application. Others believe that a smartphone should have higher media (video, camera, music, etc) capabilities than feature phones, but most of those people work for companies that have concentrated on their products’ media capabilities at the expense of building a good smartphone, plus many feature phones are released with higher media capabilities than smartphones as these are cheaper to produce. A good smartphone should at least be able to keep up with contemporary feature phones in the media stakes though.
  • Good voice quality. My thoughts on this are as follows: Every bloody phone should have good voice quality.
  • Multi-threaded, multi-tasking, graphical Operating System. In short, if getting a call shuts down an application then you don’t own a smartphone. If you have to exit an application before you can open another one, you don’t have a smartphone. If you can’t willingly send an application to the background while you do other things, and count on it to keep working, then you don’t have a smartphone. We buy these things to increase the amount of things we can do at once, after all.

“A smartphone is essentially a computer in your pocket. It’s a cellular phone that does more than just make calls to the point that it can actually serve as a functional laptop or desktop replacement.”

So, there you have it: six points that have been discussed in various places and agreed on as the core features that everything that calls itself a smartphone should have. There were seven points at Christy’s original seminar at OSiM, but I combined the browser and connectivity into one point as the browser is pretty useless without connectivity. How many of these features does your smartphone have? How many of these features does the next phone you want have? Most importantly, how many do you actually need to make your life easier?


40 thoughts on “What Is A Smartphone?

  1. A phone that can do all that a laptop or a desktop does, is a smartphone, according to me. I think, no phone is a smartphone yet. PIM, Multitasking and multimedia is a must in my next smartphone.

  2. What pisses me off is that networks, particularly American networks, put up their own definition of smartphones based on what they're carrying so they can improve sales. AT&T for example carries the iPhone and has it's definition of smartphones as a high resolution screen along with the ability to download third party applications. According to their rules anything with java and a high-res screen counts as a smartphone. Networks that carry Blackberry phones tend to emphasise e-mail and QWERTY keyboards which a lot of basic feature phones have on board.It's due to this artificially created and advertising based fragmentation that Wikipedia says there's no industry accepted standard for a smartphone despite these guidelines having been agreed on universally for years before Christy Wyatt talked about them at a Motorola conference.

  3. Kiran, no phone can do all that a current laptop or desktop can do. Current feature phones can do more than desktops and laptops from ten years ago, and current smartphones match up to about five years ago, but the rate all technology moves forward means that everything advances and phones wont catch up completely. Basically, when technology is developed to be smaller and more mobile, then better and faster things will have come out for desktops and laptops.These are industry agreed guidelines for smartphones. Anything that fits them, including your own phone, counts as a smartphone. Your problem is that you expect too much from your phone, thinking that it should match up to today's desktop hardware perfectly and that's an unrealistic view that ultimately leaves you dissatisfied with what you've got.

  4. When they develop a phone with as much going on behind it's screen as behind that forehead, the world is in trouble. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  5. I think I'm getting a smartphone at work soon-ish. I'll blog about it and let you guys decide what you think. :up:

  6. The older it gets the more new shiny things appear to tempt you. :(.A real smartphone costs as much as a feature phone if you go mid to high tier. :up:

  7. I'm very much tempted for a new phone right now but that'll have to wait a while yet. And everyone has shiny things but me.. :awww:

  8. I can supply you with many broken things. ๐Ÿ˜† ok not many. But one that some git is "fixing" and not getting fixed. ๐Ÿ˜ก

  9. When you finally get online with your PC, i'm curious whether your phone demands will change much when you're inevitably going to use one less. On the plus side, you can save your over-sized thumbs for gaming :p

  10. I have done the whole page now, but i'm not commenting on everything because it's annoying when people just post ๐Ÿ™‚ to say 'i read this' ๐Ÿ˜›

  11. Ha, you haven't been able to buy a phone incapable of connecting to data since 2005. That's when the last phone without data capabilities stopped being sold here. These must be the sort of people who walk around holding ancient phones out at arm's length so everyone can see their new toys.

  12. Brits are ignorant? I don't think so. The article says it might be becoz the cost of surfing on a phone is more than on a PC and the ease of surfing. Plus it says most of those who surf on a mobile use an iphone for it. ๐Ÿ˜€

  13. The cost difference unless you're on a really dumb deal is effectively nothing now. I can surf all month on my phone for half the price of pc broadband. Most people are still ignorant about their phone can do. In part it's because on most phones the browsing experience is dreadful without either Mini or a 3G connection. Even in the IT part of my company, the only one other than me who uses his phone online in any regular way is the guy with the iPhone ๐Ÿ™„

  14. The cost of surfing on a phone is cheaper than a pc if you've got the right network ๐Ÿ™„ . As for your opinion on Brits not being ignorant, well… I live here and I've met a lot of them. Most of them ignorant to some extent.

  15. Frankly, I never owned a PC. The first time I accessed the net was through the computers in internet caffes. Now I access the net only through my mobile. It's more convenient. You don't have to bring a telephone cable in your home. A desktop takes at least three to four feet in your house. You can access the net from anywhere in your city. I don't know anyone other than me who accesses the net on his phone yet. But I hear that for most of the people in developing countries a mobile phone would be the main device to surf the net.

  16. The difference with the iPhone in this country is the British mentality. The iPhone only comes on contracts with unlimited web and they started off at ยฃ40 per month, so of course those paying that and more get as much as they can for their money. It's the reason that o2 (who had iPhone exclusivity) went down all over the country at the end of last year, at least the reason they put out.For the rest of us in this country we can get mobile web access for as cheap as 16p per day even on pay and go options. That comes up to ยฃ5 per month and, with it being so cheap and nowhere near as overpriced as the iPhone contracts, the users don't feel obligated to get their money's worth so don't continually look for new ways to use it. Personally I'm cheap, so I'm always looking for new ways to use my data even when it costs eight times less than the cheapest iPhone contracts.The main problem comes, not just from a bad experience, but from the networks not pushing the good experiences. You constantly see adverts for music and videos or even maps and navigation for phones here. Yet when it comes to browsing, most people still think the web browsers on their phones are only capable of green screen browsing of limited WAP sites. The only phone that got advertised on it's browsing capability here was the iPhone, and they had to pull those adverts because they lied about it's capabilities. If the networks advertised phones as Best For Browsing and showed people how then there'd be more widespread knowledge of the things phones have been capable of for years now.

  17. (first comment lost due to Firefox crashing! :irked:)Most of my colleagues have newer, more advanced smart phones than I have, but the best they can think of using them for is MXIT! :yuck:.Here in Umzinto, phones that cannot access the internet are easily available brand new! :pTen Million Dollars to the first person to link to a write-up about the phone pictured here! :p.

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