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.
- 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.
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?