If you are new to mobile technology or simply need to know more about it and the most commonly used terms, here are some quick mobile facts for you. Regularly updated.
This page provides useful information about mobile technology in general. The mobile phone has evolved from a voice apparatus to a multi-functional device that offers increasingly sophisticated applications. No other device has come close to the sophistication, the versatility and the power of the mobile phone.
Convergent technologies have now combined the mobile phone and various services – web, email, mobile TV, FM radio, card reader, camera, mobile computer, e-books, music player, voice recorder, flash drive, games, and GPS navigation, among others.
Actually, there’s no point calling it “phone” any longer. Perhaps just “mobile” will do.
Smartphones, Phablets and Tablets
A smartphone is a mobile device with voice and data capabilities and which runs an operating system that allows the installation and running of third party native applications. Smartphones have displays of 5 inches and less.
Some of the currently available smartphone operating systems are:
- Android OS
- BlackBerry OS
- Firefox OS
- Windows Phone OS
A phablet is a large smartphone with a display of between 5 and 7 inches in size. It is a hybrid between a phone and a tablet. Phablets run same operating systems that smartphones run.
2019 update: The use of the name “phablet” is going out of fashion now, as most smartphones have screens bigger than 5 inches. We now call phones with 5 inches and less “compact smartphones“.
A tablet is a new type of internet-enabled computer that works in a similar way to a smartphone, having a touchscreen display and downloadable apps, smaller than a laptop and bigger than a smartphone or phablet. Displays range between 7 and 14 inches. Most tablets run same operating systems that smartphones and phablets run, but some others run full desktop operating systems.
Glossary of GSM Terms & Data Speeds
Global System for Mobile communications (GSM) is the most popular standard for mobile phones in the world. Below are the data services currently available.
- 2G/GPRS – General Packet Radio Service; theoretical top speed: 115 kbps
- 2.5G/EGPRS – Enhanced General Packet Radio Service; theoretical top speed: 384 kbps. EGPRS is popularly known as EDGE (Enhanced Data rates for GSM Evolution)
- DVB-H – Digital Video Broadcast – Handheld. A mobile broadcast technology that allows for the digital terrestrial broadcast of live television channels to a mobile phone.
- 3G/UMTS – Universal Mobile Telecommunications System; theoretical top speed: 384 Kbps
- 3.5G/HSDPA – High Speed Data Packet Access; theoretical top speed: 7.2 Mbps
- 3.75G/HSPA+ – High Speed Data Packet Access; theoretical top speed: 42 Mbps
- 4G/LTE – High Speed Data Packet Access; theoretical top speed: 150 Mbps.
- 5G – The 5th generation of mobile technology promises much faster speeds than 4G LTE does. Commercial 5G really began to take off around the world in 2019. So, how fast is 5G? It has a theoretical speed of 20 Gbps. Read more about 5G.
Glossary of CDMA2000 Terms & Data Speeds
Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) is a competing mobile technology to GSM. Below are the data services currently available on CDMA networks.
- 1x – theoretical top speed: 153 Kbps
- EVDO Rev. 0 – Evolution-Data Optimized; theoretical top speed: 2.4 Mbps
- EVDO Rev. A – Evolution-Data Optimized; theoretical top speed: 3.1 Mbps