Gadgets and Mobile Tech Glossary

Gadgets and Mobile Tech Glossary





The name usually given to original GSM, CDMA, and TDMA networks. It uses the spectrum more efficiently than analog (1G) systems, and offers digital encryption of conversations. 2G networks introduced data services for mobiles starting with SMS.




Analog cellular phones were the first generation while digital marked the second generation.


3G is loosely defined, but generally includes high data speeds, always-on data access, and greater voice capacity.


The high data speeds are possibly the most prominent feature, and certainly the most hyped. They enable such advanced features as live, streaming video.


There are several different 3G technology standards. The most prevalent is UMTS, which is based on WCDMA (the terms WCDMA and UMTS are often used interchangeably).



3GP video

3GP is a simplified version of the MPEG-4 Part 14 (MP4) container format, designed to decrease storage and bandwidth requirements in order to accommodate mobile phones. It stores video streams as MPEG-4 Part 2 or H.263 or MPEG-4 Part 10 (AVC/H.264), and audio streams as AMR-NB, AMR-WB, AMR-WB+, AAC-LC or HE-AAC.


3GP is designed for effieciency to make it suitable for Streaming across mobile phone networks and storing on mobile devices with very littel storage capacity. Video rarely exceeds a QVGA resolution of 320 x 240 pixels but there are VGA or even D1 resolution exceptions. Audio is usually encoded as either MP3 or AAC-LC (Low Complexity). Framerates for most mobile devices are Limited to 15fps.


There are two different standards for this format:


3GPP (for GSM-based Phones, may have filename extension .3gp)

3GPP2 (for CDMA-based Phones, may have filename extension .3g2)


Both are based on MPEG-4 and H.263 video, and AAC or AMR audio.


When transferred to a computer, 3GP movies can be viewed on Linux, Mac, and Windows platforms with MPlayer and VLC media player. Programs such as Media Player Classic, Totem, RealPlayer, QuickTime, and GOM Player can also be used. Some cell phones use the .mp4 extension for 3GP video.




802.11 is a set of IEEE standards for wireless local area networks (WLAN). The most common variant is 802.11g, which is backwards compatible with the older B variant. 802.11g devices are sometimes marked as 802.11b/g to indicate this compatibility. There is a newer version – 802.11n – that provides higher maximum speeds and better range.


The 802.11g standard’s typical speeds are rated up to 54 Mbps.



A-GPS (Assisted GPS)

Assisted GPS (A-GPS) is used to speed up start-up times of GPS-based positioning systems. GPS may have problems getting a lock when the signal is weak and in such a case A-GPS would assist in getting a lock.


This, however, is achieved by the use of an Assistance Server, so a data connection is required and charges may apply for the data transfer.



A2DP (Advanced Audio Distribution Profile)

A2DP is used for streaming stereo music wirelessly to headphones or speakers over Bluetooth.


Unlike other Bluetooth profiles (Headset and Handsfree), A2DP is one-way only and streams a stereo signal.



AAC (Advanced Audio Coding)

AAC is a file format for storing digital audio. It’s commonly used for storing music on the Internet, PCs and portable music players and phones.


It is similar to MP3, but it was designed to be its successor and offers better quality and smaller file sizes. It also supports DRM, which enforces copyright.


AAC+ and AAC++ are newer versions of the standard.




The accelerometer is a built-in electronic component that measures tilt and motion. It is also capable of detecting rotation and motion gestures such as swinging or shaking.


The most common use for it is to activate auto screen rotation on mobile devices when the user changes their orientation from portrait to landscape or vice-versa.


Another modern application for the accelerometer is to control the mobile device music player with gestures (Sony Ericsson Shake control or Samsung Motion play technologies).


Accelerometers are also utilized for enriching the gaming controls (navigating by tilting the device instead of by pressing keys).


Another popular mobile phone feature based on an accelerometer is turn-to-mute. It allows user to mute an incoming call, silence an alarm or pause the mobile music player simply by turning the device face down.



Airplane mode

Flight mode

Known also as Airplane mode, this mode disables all radio parts of a mobile phone but leaves other functions available. These include music player, organizer and everything that doesn’t require the radio transmitters.


This mode is required because most airlines forbid the use of wireless devices during flight. Some airlines do not allow the use of such devices even in Airplane mode.


There is an industry standard icon to signify that airplane mode is on but not all phones use it.


This mode is required for several reasons. Preventing interference with the airplane equipment is the best known one but another reason is that cell towers cannot handle phones moving at high altitudes and speeds.



Alarm Clock

This is a feature allowing a mobile phone to act like a common alarm clock but with more flexibility.


Currently, all mobile phones offer this functionality with varying feature sets. For example, most devices allow you to set an unlimited number of alarms and set them to repeat on a daily or weekly basis. Some even allow a customizable snooze period and with the most advanced devices you can silence an alarm just by turning the device face down.


Using a favorite FM radio station as an alarm tone is also an option with some handsets.


Some phones require the device to be on for the alarm to work while others do not.




A string of characters containing both letters (A-Z) and numbers (0-9).


An alphanumeric text entry field will accept both letters and numbers. An alphanumeric keypad is one with both letters and numbers on the keys.



AMOLED display (Active-matrix organic light-emitting diode)

AMOLED is an emerging display technology used in portable devices like mobile phones. Active-matrix OLED displays provide the same performance as their passive-matrix OLED counterparts, but they consume significantly less power.


This advantage makes active-matrix OLEDs well suited for portable electronics where battery power consumption is critical.




A method of transmitting information using energy waves. It doesn’t have discrete levels but is a continuously variable wave. Human voice for example is transferred by directly converting the sound wave to electricity.


Analog cell phones (known also as 1G) used this technology. However virtually all modern cell phones use digital signals (2G or later).




Android is a Linux-based smartphone operating system and software platform created by Google.




The physical device used for sending/receiving radio waves. Older phones used external antennas while most current phones use an internal antenna. The size and shape of the antenna is designed according to the type of radio waves being used.



APN (Access Point Name)

APN is the name (web address) of an access point for GPRS/EDGE/UMTS data connection. Usually wireless carriers provide the APN to their end users.



Apple iOS

Previously iPhone OS, Apple’s iOS is the company’s own mobile operating system developed and originally released on the Apple iPhone and the Apple iPod Touch back in 2007.


Several years later it was renamed to iOS and was extended to support other Apple devices such as the iPad and the Apple TV.


Unlike Google’s Android and Microsoft’s Windows Phone, Apple does not license iOS to other manufacturers and it is the sole maker and seller of iOS devices.



Audio jack

A common connector for plugging in a standard pair of music headphones such as the ones found on music players, computers and most other electronic devices with audio outputs.


It can support stereo and/or microphone, depending on the number of separate connector rings on the jack.


Some phones offer only a 2.5 mm jack, which is a smaller variety of the same principle.


Headphones supplied with mobile phones usually have a mic somewhere along the cable and a remote button that allows for managing calls without using the phone.


Some manufacturers opt for placing a 3.5mm audio jack on this remote control instead of directly on the phone itself. The reason for this is that 3.5mm jacks take up quite a lot of internal space; plus, in this way the user gets to keep the remote control/mic functionality while using third-party headphones.




Auto-focus is a feature of digital cameras that allows them to focus correctly on a subject. It enhances the quality of the photo over fixed-focus cameras and allows for close-ups (or the even closer macro shots).


Phones use passive auto-focus with contrast measurement. This means that the camera needs contrast to focus and have problems focusing on a blank wall or in low light conditions.


Some phones can use their camera LEDs as a focus assist light to help deal with the latter case.



AVRCP (Audio/Video Remote Control Profile)

AVRC is a Bluetooth profile that allows remote control of media playback on other devices. Supported functions are play, pause, stop, next, and previous.


It is usually coupled with A2DP so that, for example, wireless headphones use A2DP to stream the music and AVRC to control playback.



Bada OS

Bada OS is a proprietary operating system for smartphones, developed by Samsung and presented in 2009. The first Bada phone – the Samsung Wave – was launched later on, in 2010.


Samsung uses Bada OS alongside Android OS and Windows Phone, but in 2012 the development of new smartphones using Bada has been quietly halted in favor of the more popular Android OS.


Samsung markets all Bada devices under the Wave brand name; similar to how all of their Android-powered devices are branded under the Galaxy name.




A specific range of frequencies (for example those between 1850 MHz and 1995 MHz) are called a band.




Bandwidth is used to measure the data throughput of a channel or connection. It’s the amount of data that can be sent over a connection in a given amount of time without distortion. It should not be confused with band.




The bar form factor is the most common and simple form factor for a mobile phone. The body of a bar phone is one, single block and has no moving parts (aside from the buttons). “Locking” the keyboard is done to prevent accidental key presses when the phone is carried in a pocket, purse, etc.



Base Station

A fixed station that uses radio waves to communicate with mobile devices. It serves as the link between the user’s device and the carrier’s network.


Base stations range in size and area of coverage. Some may cover a radius of several kilometers while others cover only a few city blocks. Most stations transmit in all directions but there are also directional antennas aimed at a specific direction.


Usually base stations are owned by a single carrier but may offer roaming coverage for other networks.




A binary digit. The values of a bit are either “0″ or “1″. Eight bits form a byte.



BlackBerry OS

BlackBerry OS is a proprietary mobile operating system developed by Research In Motion (RIM) for its BlackBerry line of smartphones.


The BlackBerry platform is perhaps best known for its native support for the corporate communication environment, which allows complete wireless activation and synchronization of email, calendar, tasks, notes, and contacts.


Currently deployed versions include the BlackBerry Device Software v5.0, the BlackBerry 6 OS, and the BlackBerry 7 OS.


BlackBerry 10 OS is a QNX-based operating system, similar to the one found on RIM’s Playbook tablet. It will replace the BlackBerry OS on smartphones and tablets in 2013. Details are yet to be disclosed.



BlackBerry Playbook OS

The BlackBerry Playbook OS was developed by Research in Motion (RIM) for its Playbook tablet. It was based on the QNX Neutrino real-time operating system designed to run Adobe AIR and BlackBerry WebWorks applications.


The OS has been received really well by reviewers worldwide despite the lacking features in the original release. Later on, most of these have been added and the OS even got a native Android app launcher (though app support is rather limited).


The Playbook OS is no considered an evolutionary dead-end as no new generation of tablets have been released by RIM.


However, RIM’s latest endeavor – the BlackBerry 10 OS – is similarly based on QNX and it will replace the long-standing BlackBerry OS on smartphones in 2013.




Bluetooth is a wireless protocol for exchanging data over short distances from fixed and mobile devices, creating personal area networks.


There are two important parameters of Bluetooth devices – class and supported profiles.


“Class” signifies the distance at which a Bluetooth connection is possible. Most mobile devices are Class 2, which means they have a range of up to 10 m. Class 1 devices are rare and have a range of up to 100 feet.


A “profile” is a type of Bluetooth connection. The most common are the Headset (HSP) and Handsfree (HFP) profiles that enable the device to connect to a wireless headset or handsfree.


Some other profiles are OBEX (OBject EXchange) which allows transfer of files, contacts and events; A2DP, which adds support for streaming of stereo sound and AVRC, which allows remote control of playback.



bps (Bits per Second)

A measure of data transmission speeds, the amount of bits transferred in a single second. Typically, speeds are measured in kbps (1000 bits per second).


Note: kBps (with a capital B) denotes bytes per second.




Not necessarily the same thing as a manufacturer, as most carriers do not fabricate their own devices, but rather acquire them from manufacturers and sell them under their own brand. This is called re-branding.




In data communications, a “broadband connection” is a connection with a high speed of data transfer (greater than 56 kbps). Generally, it is fast enough to support streaming video.




A piece of software that allows the user to access Internet sites.


Most current handsets are equipped with browsers capable of viewing common websites (those intended for a desktop browser).


Web browsers on budget cellphones may be capable of viewing only websites specially made for mobile devices. The most advanced devices currently have web browsers with full Flash support that allows them to play even embedded Flash video (such as the videos from YouTube).




A string of 8 bits.


Typically, one byte equals one character of text but in some cases (especially with non-Latin alphabets), two or more bytes are used. Because of this, an SMS written in Cyrillic or Chinese alphabets has shorter maximum length than one written in the Latin alphabet.




The basic functions (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division) are included in all calculators but some offer more advanced options such as square root or trigonomic functions.


Some calculators have the option to convert currency and can calculate mortgage payments.




Calendars (also known as PIM – Personal Information Manager) allow you to store information about events such as meetings or reminders (e.g. to remind you of someone’s birthday). Usually an alarm can be set to sound an alert.


Some devices offer the ability to synchronize the calendar with the one on your computer or your online clendar/task manager.



Call alerts

The mobile phone can alert you of events such as an incoming call or an incoming message in a number of ways. The two most popular ones are vibration and ringing.


While vibration is pretty much self-explanatory, the ringing alerts can be of several types depending on the mobile phone.


In the past mobile phones used to allow only monophonic tones to be set as ringing alerts. With the advancement of technology, polyphonic ringtones also became supported.


Later on as mobile phones further evolved, they started using MP3 tones for various alert purposes. As more (presumably superior) audio formats became available (such as AAC), they were also added to the mobile phones’ alert system.


Recently, mobile phones have even started to use short video clips as call alerts (not to be confused with video calls).


No matter what kind of ringing tones the mobile phone uses, users have always enjoyed customizing their ringtones by expanding the preset ones supplied by the manufacturer.



Calling Plan

Services offered by the wireless service provider as a package. These usually include activation, monthly charges, per-minute voice call charges, roaming terms, voicemail, data, and international roaming.




Some phones feature a camera that gives them the ability to work as a digital camera. Often (though not always) the camera is also able to shoot video.


The most important characteristics of a camera are the resolution (measured in megapixels), lens focus type (either fixed or automatic) and the presence of a flash. The flash could be either LED (single or even double) or xenon.


The number of megapixels is not always a good measurement of the quality of the photos, but if you plan to print pictures, you would generally get higher quality ones out of higher megapixel cameras.


Auto focus lens are not a guarantee of better image quality, but fixed focus cameras are usually inferior. Most importantly, only auto focus cameras can allow shooting of really close objects – i.e. macro shooting.


Some phones offer optical zoom but those are rare. Most use digital zoom, which degrades the quality of the photo.


Cameras that can work in “video mode” are characterized by the maximum resolution and framerate (frames per second or fps) of the recorded video.



Capacitive Touchscreen

Capacitive touch sensors are used either as buttons or on touchscreens. They work by sensing the electrical properties of the human body instead of pressure and generally they don’t work with a stylus so they don’t allow handwriting recognition. However, capacitive touchscreens feel more sensitive than their resistive counterparts.


Capacitive touch screens are also considered more durable than resistive touch screens.



Car Kit

In some countries, it is prohibited to use a mobile phone while driving so special accessories are sold which let you make a call without holding the phone in your hand.


Such accessories are sold as kits that may include a holder for the phone, a battery charger, connections to an external speaker and microphone for better audio quality, an external antenna for better reception and a junction box with data port for optional fax/modem connections.




Carriers (sometimes service providers, operators) are the companies that sell the use of a wireless network. Usually they own the network though some (called MVNO) do not.


The network consists of base stations (cell towers) and the infrastructure linking them.


The service allows the user to access the network and they are billed by the minute (for calls) or by kilobytes (for data transfers). Such services are sold as packages known as “calling plans”.



CDMA (Code-Division Multiple Access)

CDMA is a digital technology for transmitting data. It is a general technology utilized through various standards.

CDMA has no limit on capacity but the base station will only connect users upon determining that the call quality would fall bellow a predetermined limit.


The term is often used to refer to one specific family of technologies – IS-95 (often referred to cdmaOne) and CDMA2000. Networks using this technology operate in the 800 and 1900 MHz frequency bands and are primarily used in the Americas and Asia.




A 3G wireless technology, evolved from cdmaOne. Improvements over the old standard include faster data rates, always-on data service, and improved voice network capacity.


There are three types of CMDA2000:


1xRTT doubles the capacity of cdmaOne and supports up to 144 kbps data speeds

1xEV-DO supports data rates up to 2.4 Mbps but needs to be deployed in a separate spectrum. This standard doesn’t support voice calls and needs to be combined with 1xRTT.

1xEV-DV supports data rates of around 3-5 Mbps and voice capabilities




Wireless networks are comprised of many overlapping cells (the area covered by a base station).


“Cell” can also refer to one or more connected base stations.




Mobile phones run on so-called embedded chipsets, which are designed to perform one or a few dedicated functions, often with real-time computing constraints. They are embedded as part of the complete device including hardware and mechanical parts.


The ever popular smartphones are equipped with more advanced embedded chipsets that can do many different tasks depending on their programming.


Thus their CPU (Central Processing Unit) performance is vital for the daily user experience and people tend to use the clock rate of the main CPU that’s in the heart of the chipset to compare the performance of competing end products.


As we already pointed out, the clock rate of a processor is only useful for providing performance comparisons between computer chips in the same processor family and generation.


Also, as mobile gaming is increasingly gaining popularity, users have become more aware of the various types of GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) chips that come as part of the mobile chipsets and sometimes even consider their performance when making buying decisions.



cHTML (Compact HyperText Markup Language)

cHTML is a simplified version of HTML with features such as the accesskey attribute for numpad-optimized web navigation, phone number shortcuts for links, and emoji pictorial characters.


cHTML is used exclusively for iMode, a service that is offered only in Japan and several European countries.


Most phones use the older WML format or the newer XHTML Mobile Profile.



CIF (Common Intermediate Format)

A standard resolution – 352 x 288 pixels – used by some digital cameras for either images or video.


Variations include QCIF (Quarter CIF) – 176 x 144 pixels – and SQCIF (Sub Quarter CIF) – 128 x 96.




The phone consists of two halves connected with a hinge in the middle. The hinge allows the phone to be folded close (much like a sea clamshell, hence the name). When the phone is closed, the keyboard is protected from accidental key presses.


The top half usually hosts a small external display and a large internal main display, while the bottom half incorporates the keyboard.


The camera (if present) can be on either half.



CMOS (Complementary metal-oxidesemiconductor)

CMOS is one of two major types of image sensor technologies used in digital cameras (the other being CCD). The image sensor of a digital camera serves as a digital substitute for film in ordinary cameras.


The camera sensor captures light, converts it to electric charge and processes it into electronic signals.


Generally, CMOS sensors are smaller, cheaper and more energy efficient and currently deliver the same image quality as CCD sensors.



Color depth

This refers to the number of different colors a display is able to produce. A higher number results in a broader range of distinct colors. It is commonly accepted that the human eye can discern up to 10 million colors.



Concatenated SMS

Typically, an SMS is 160 characters in length (using Latin characters) but a concatenated SMS has a longer maximum length. The message is composed as a single message and the phone splits it into several shorter messages that are reassembled by the receiving phone. Maximum length varies between 300 and 1,000 characters depending on the device.



CPU (Central Processing Unit)

CPU (Central Processing Unit) – otherwise known as a processor – is an electronic circuit that can execute computer programs. Both the miniaturization and standardization of CPUs have increased their presence far beyond the limited application of dedicated computing machines. Modern microprocessors appear in everything from automobiles to mobile phones.


The clock rate is one of the main characteristics of the CPU when performance is concerned. Clock rate is the fundamental rate in cycles per second (measured in hertz, kilohertz, megahertz or gigahertz) for the frequency of the clock in any synchronous circuit. A single clock cycle (typically shorter than a nanosecond in modern non-embedded microprocessors) toggles between a logical zero and a logical one state.


With any particular CPU, replacing the crystal with another crystal that oscillates with twice the frequency will generally make the CPU run with twice the performance. It will also make the CPU produce roughly twice the amount of waste heat.


Engineers are working hard to push the boundaries of the current architectures and are constantly searching for new ways to design CPUs that tick a little quicker or use slightly less energy per clock. This produces new cooler CPUs that can run at higher clock rates.


Scientists also continue to search for new designs that allow CPUs to run at the same or at a lower clock rate as older CPUs, but which get more instructions completed per clock cycle.


The clock rate of a processor is only useful for providing comparisons between computer chips in the same processor family and generation.


Clock rates can be very misleading since the amount of work different computer chips can do in one cycle varies. Clock rates should not be used when comparing different computers or different processor families. Rather, some kind of software benchmarks should be used.


Smartphones are equipped with more advanced embedded chipsets that can do many different tasks depending on their programming.


The performance of the CPU that’s at the core of the chipset is vital for the daily user experience and the general computing performance of the smartphone. People tend to use the clock rate of the main CPU to compare the performance of competing end products. But as we already pointed out, the clock rate of a processor is only useful for providing performance comparisons between computer chips in the same processor family and generation. For all other purposes, it’s best to use software benchmarks for determining comparative performance.




A phenomenon by which a signal transmitted on one circuit or channel creates an undesired effect on another circuit. Generally rare in modern digital wireless phone systems but not entirely eliminated.


Stereo crosstalk for example is one of the parameters of audio quality we test when reviewing mobile phones. The crosstalk measurement is made to determine the amount of signal leaking across from one channel to another or – in purely non-technical terms – it measures how good the stereo is.



CSTN (Color Super Twisted Nematic)

STN is a type of LCD display technology. STN is black and white while CSTN is the color version. (C)STN displays are used on lower end devices.


Typically an STN display has worse image quality and response times than a TFT LCD, but is cheaper and more energy efficient.




CTIA is the International Association for the Wireless Telecommunication Industry, an international organization dedicated to expanding the wireless frontier.


It’s basically an international industry trade group representing all wireless communication sectors.



Custom ringtones

Phones come preloaded with a selection of ringtones, yet some phones also allow the user to load a new ringtone. This could be done by writing the notes in a built-in composer, or by downloading the ringtone via a special SMS/MMS or from the internet.


An easy way to transfer custom ringtones to your mobile phone is via a USB data cable, Bluetooth or a memory card reader.


When you want to use custom ringtones, you should check the phone supported file formats beforehand.



D-Pad (Direction Pad)

A circular- or square-shaped pad that provides navigation keys for the four directions: up, down, left and right. These are the equivalent of the “arrow keys” on a computer keyboard and are used for navigating the user interface.


An enhanced version of the D-pad called an 8-way D-pad allows for scrolling diagonally as well.


Some D-Pads have a center button usually called “select” or “OK”. It is used to select a highlighted item in the user interface.



DC-HSDPA (Dual Carrier or Dual Cell High-Speed Downlink Packet Access)

HSDPA technology has its limits and to further enhance its performance, the DC-HSDPA technology was introduced.


An advanced HSDPA+ network can theoretically support up to 28 Mbit/s and 42 Mbit/s with a single 5 MHz carrier. Doubling the bandwidth to 10MHz results in theoretically, double the sustained data rate.



Digital Zoom

Zoom is a feature common among cameras and is used to make the subject appear closer. Cameras on mobile phones often have a zoom feature as well but most often it is digital zoom.


Digital zoom is implemented in one of two ways:


Cropping – the software crops the image so that the subject would appear bigger on the screen of the phone but the resulting image is smaller than the maximum resolution of the camera. The photo of the subject does not have any more detail than a non-cropped photo would.


Stretching – this is similar to cropping but instead it stretches the cropped photo to the selected resolution. Since the stretching is done by an algorithm that uses just the information from the cropped photo no additional detail is visible.



Display type

There are lot of display types used in mobile phones. They can be either color or monochrome. Monochrome displays on the other hand can be alphanumeric or graphic. Alphanumeric displays can show only symbols with a constant size, while graphic displays can show fonts of different sizes and animations.


The color displays usually are CSTN, TFT, TFD or OLED with a predominant use of TFT displays in current mobile lineups. There are also two types of touchscreen displays – capacitive and resistive, which are both based on TFT technology.


CAPACITIVE touchscreens work by sensing the electrical properties of the human body, while RESISTIVE ones operate by sensing direct pressure applied by the user.


The RESISTIVE type can be activated by pressing not only with human skin but also with a stylus and thus allow handwriting recognition input.



DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance)

DLNA refers to both an organization and the technology they created.


The DLNA standard is used for sharing music, photos and video over an existing home network.


For example, by using DLNA you could stream video from your phone to a compatible TV-set using a Wi-Fi network.



DNSe (Digital Natural Sound engine)

DNSe or the Digital Natural Sound engine is a DSP audio enhancement technology developed by Samsung in 2003 and further on implemented throughout many of their product lineups – from TVs and DVD players to portable music players and lately – mobile phones.


As Samsung puts it, the aim of DNSe is to restore the best sonic experience to the end user. Purportedly, the sound engine yields higher quality sound with more natural effects than conventional methods by reproducing the ‘genuine’ stereo sound intended by the music content creators. It achieves this by actively working on overcoming the limitations of earphones and less-than-ideal speakers to offer realistic stereo and deep bass sounds.


In addition, Samsung have created ideal listening presets that further compensate for the native restrictions of portable multimedia players. The system uses several basic processing methods aiming at various imperfections of the sound produced by portable players.


Concert Hall recreates life-like reflected and reverberated sounds to simulate the experience of a live performance in a concert hall. 3D speaker separates and combines sound to create realistic sense of both space and distance through small-sized speakers. Clarity enhancement tries to electronically restore the distorted harmonics of the digitally compressed music. Bass Extension applies an electronic harmony logic to correctly play hi-fidelity sounds at an ultra-low frequency through earphones or small-sized speakers. And finally, Street mode selectively adjusts volume so that the tiny notes are audible even in the loud street environment without the uncomfortable boosting of the general volume level.


The DNSe sound enhancement system combines those sound enhancements with different equalizer settings to create various user-centric presets to suit the most common listening scenarios. If that is not enough, the system alows creating custom presets as well.


Samsung DNSe is not to be confused with the Samsung proprietary DNIe (Digital Natural Image engine) technology. DNIe is used in Samsung plasma and high definition television sets (HDTV). Purportedly, DNIe offers better detail than conventional televisions by using four proprietary processes that optimize and enhance image quality: a Motion Optimizer, a Contrast Enhancer, a Detail Enhancer, and a Color Optimizer.




The one-way connection from a server (such as the cellular network) to the user device (such as a mobile phone).


Mobile phones typically utilize a two-way connection consisting of downlink and uplink (the connection from the user device to the server) which is asymmetrical – that is, the downlink is much faster than the uplink.



DRM (Digital Rights Management)

Manages the use of copyright-protected data such as music, graphics, videos etc.


For example, DRM can prohibit you sending a downloaded media file to other media such as CD, DVD, or even PC.




Mobile phone networks work using signals on specific frequency bands and a phone must support those bands in order to work with the network. Dual-band refers to the phones ability to work with two different bands. It is important to specify which bands exactly.


Networks in different geographical locations work on different bands – GSM networks in the Americas use the 850 MHz and 1900 MHz bands while networks in Europe, Brazil, Asia and Africa use the 900/1800 MHz bands.


For example an 900/1800 dual-band phone won’t work in the US and an 850/1900 phone won’t work in Europe. A 900/1900 phone should work on at least one network in most countries around the world.




A dual-mode phone is a phone capable of sending/receiving data in two different ways. For example, a dual-mode phone could support both GSM and CDMA.




This specifies whether a device is capable of supporting two SIM cards. The two major types of dual-SIM phones are active and standby. Dual-SIM Standby (DSS) requires the user to specify which of the two SIMs is able to make and receive calls, while Dual-SIM Active (DSA) enables both cards to receive calls at the same time. This latter feature usually requires an additional transceiver for the secondary SIM card, and as such consumes more battery life. More recent models feature Dual SIM Dual Standby (DSDS) technology which enables them to have two active SIMs with only one transceiver.



DVB-H (Digital Video Broadcasting – Handheld)

A European standard specifically for the broadcasting of television content to hand-held devices based on DVB-T.


As of 2007, live trial runs of DVB-H have started in many European countries, as well as other countries around the world.



Dynamic Memory

A way or organizing different types of data in the phone’s memory. Also referred to as Shared memory.


Dynamic memory means that all types of data are stored in the same memory (there is no separate memory for photos, ringtones etc.).


An advantage of dynamic memory over partitioned memory is that it is more flexible – with partitioned memory, you can fill up the photo memory for example and you won’t be able to take any more photos even if other types of memory are free.



EDGE (Enhanced Data for Global Evolution)

EDGE (also known as Enhanced GPRS or EGPRS) is a data system used on top of GSM networks. It provides nearly three times faster speeds than the outdated GPRS system. The theoretical maximum speed is 473 kbps for 8 timeslots but it is typically limited to 135 kbps in order to conserve spectrum resources. Both phone and network must support EDGE, otherwise the phone will revert automatically to GPRS.


EDGE meets the requirements for a 3G network but is usually classified as 2.75G.



EDR (Enhanced Data Rate)

An optional part of the Bluetooth specification that provides a faster data rate (speed) and possibly improved battery life. Not all Bluetooth devices support EDR and will depend on the Bluetooth version and supported profiles. Both devices need to support EDR, in which case EDR is used automatically.




A synonym for EDGE.



EGSM (Extended GSM)

EGSM extends the frequency bands of GSM 900 giving it added network capacity.


Most new phones listed as GSM 900 also support EGSM.



Email client

Some phones provide a full email client that can connect to a public or private email server via a wireless data connection(cellular or Wi-Fi).


There are different protocols used by the servers and some may not be supported by the phone’s email client.



EMS (Enhanced Message Service)

EMS or the Enhanced Messaging Service is an extension of SMS, which allowed mobile phone to send and receive messages that have special text formatting (such as bold or italic), animations, graphics, sound effects and ringtones.


EMS is an intermediate technology between SMS and the rich multimedia messages otherwise known as MMS.




A 3G technology add-on for CDMA networks that allows for theoretical download speeds as fast as 2.4 Mbps, though actual rates tend to be far slower.


There are two major versions: Release 0 and Revision A.


Release 0, the original release, is widely deployed. It offers data rates of 2.4 Mbps, with real-life speeds averaging 300-600 Kbps.


Revision A is capable of slightly faster downlink speeds of 3.1Mbps and significantly faster uplink speeds of 1.8Mbps. Rev. A also introduces enhancements that allow features such as VoIP and video calling. Although EV-DO does not support voice calls natively a future upgrade may enable VoIP.




EV-DV is part of the same family of CDMA connectivity as EV-DO. Unlike EV-DO, however, EV-DV also supports voice calls. EV-DV is essentially a combination of EV-DO and 1xRTT.


Development of the technology stalled before launch and was superseded by EV-DO plus VoIP.



Exchangeable covers

Some phones have been designed to let the user remove the covers (front and back) and replace them with others, changing the color, pattern or even the styling of the phone.


Some examples include Nokia Xpress-On covers and Sony Ericsson Style-Up covers.



External Antenna Jack

A connector that allows an external antenna to be connected to the phone to improve reception indoors or in a car. The jack is usually hidden in some way, most commonly with a rubber plug.


Note: not all antenna jacks are the same



External Display

Since the display of clamshells is hidden when the phone is closed, many phones include a secondary display on the outside.


This display is of lower quality than the main display (lower resolution, may be monochrome, etc.). It is used to display various notifications such as the time, Caller-ID, missed calls.


In many camera phones, the external display can act as a viewfinder to help frame self-portrait photos.



FCC (Federal Communications Commission)

Known also as the FCC, the Federal Communications Commission is a US government agency controlled by Congress. The FCC monitors and regulates interstate and international communications by radio, television, satellite and cable.


The FCC also certifies all mobile phones intended for use in the US, insuring compliance with spectrum allocations, technical standards, and safe radiation levels.



Feature Phone

A mobile phone that is not smartphone. It has operating system firmware, but third party software support is limited to only Java or BREW applications.


Recently feature phones have begun to offer similar features to those of smartphones, so the main difference between the two groups now is the third-party software support.




A small cellular base station, typically designed for use in residential or small business environments. The benefits of these portable base stations are similar to the ones of using, for example, regular Wi-Fi access points. They allow the expansion of the corporate telephony and intranet network so it can be used by regular mobile phones.


Femtocells are the size of a regular broadband cable router. The small size offers a small area of coverage – in most cases a large-spaced room or two or three separate small rooms.


The femtocell can be easily installed by end users, while cellular towers are only installed by the carrier.



Firefox OS

Firefox OS (codenamed Boot to Gecko) is an open-source mobile operating system for smartphones and tablets, developed by Mozilla.


It’s unusual with the fact that it is designed to run HTML5 applications with direct access to the device’s hardware using JavaScript.


The Firefox OS was announced in July 2012.




Fixed software programs that internally control various electronic devices or individual hardware parts of these devices (such as mobile phones). They involved very basic low-level operations of the device, without which the device would be completely non-functional.


More simple firmwares are usually stored on ROM or OTP/PROM, while more complex firmwares occupy flash memory to allow for updates. Common reasons for updating firmware include fixing bugs or adding features to the device.


Doing so usually involves loading a binary image file provided by the manufacturer into the device, according to a specific procedure. More often than not this is meant to be done by the end user.




The camera focus is set to a specific distance by the manufacturer and can’t be adjusted.


Fixed focus digital cameras limit the photo quality and the minimum shooting distance (no close-ups are possible). The fixed focus technology uses a very small lens with a tiny aperture, thus making all visible subjects in focus no matter their distance from the camera.


Basic mobile phones cameras are usually of the fixed-focus type.



Flash Memory

Flash memory is non-volatile computer memory that can be electrically erased and reprogrammed. Non-volatile means that no power is needed to maintain the information stored on the chip.


It is a technology that is primarily used in memory cards and USB flash drives as solid state storage and its main purpose is an inexpensive way of storing or transferring data between computers and other digital products. It’s used as primary storage memory on various portable devices due to its low cost, compact size, great physical endurance and low power consumption.


The most popular types of flash memory are NAND and NOR.



Flight mode

Known also as Airplane mode, this mode disables all radio parts of a mobile phone but leaves other functions available. These include music player, organizer and everything that doesn’t require the radio transmitters.


This mode is required because most airlines forbid the use of wireless devices during flight. Some airlines do not allow the use of such devices even in Airplane mode.


There is an industry standard icon to signify that airplane mode is on but not all phones use it.


This mode is required for several reasons. Preventing interference with the airplane equipment is the best known one but another reason is that cell towers cannot handle phones moving at high altitudes and speeds.



Flip-down phone

It’s a mobile phone form factor that’s a cross-over between the Bar and Clamshell form factors.


In this case the device is mainly a bar, but a thin “flip” part covers the keypad and/or display when not in use.



FM Radio

The built-in FM radio tuner is now considered a basic feature. It allows the user to listen to most of the live-broadcasted FM radio stations. Almost all phones with FM radio tuner require a wired headset to be connected to the unit as it’s used as an antenna.


Most FM radio tuners can receive basic radio station info over RDS. The use of FM radio does not interfere with the network carrier and it’s free.


Nokia enhance their FM radio interfaces with the Visual Radio enhancement that adds visuals and text as an additional info layer to normal radio broadcasts.


A presentation of graphics and text, synchronized to the audio programming, gets downloaded to the phone over a data connection; the FM transmission chain is unaffected by the addition of Visual Radio.


Here’s the type of content that Visual Radio can offer:


Information on the song and artist currently playing on air

View images related to presenters or news stories

A weather map during the weather broadcast

News, weather and traffic alerts while songs are playing

Listen in to a talk show and see what has been discussed so far

Join in audience votes, Big Brother style

Participate in on-air competitions


You can only use the Visual Radio enhancement via a cellular data connection, as using it over Wi-Fi is not an option.



FM Transmitter

An FM transmitter allows a phone to broadcast music stored in its memory on FM frequencies, so that it can be tuned into a nearby FM receiver such as a a car radio.


FM transmitters are not a common feature on mobile phones, but such modern models do exist. The mobiles transmit at low power so interference with regular FM radio stations is highly likely – especially in dense urban environments where most of the FM spectrum is already populated by live radio broadcasts.


Some embedded FM transmitters allow for transmitting the music details over RDS.



Form factor

The general look, or size and shape, of a mobile device.


All mobile phones are similar at the physical style level. Most devices fall into one of the following categories: Bar, Clamshell, Flip down, Slide or Swivel. Mobile manufacturers come up with new designs, but the base they use is normally one of these form factors.



FOTA (Firmware Over-The-Air)

This is a special feature supported by some phones, where users can update their handset firmware over the carrier network. It removes the need of special cables, computers or third-party programs.



FPS (Frames Per Second)

This measurement is the video resolution measured in time. 24-30 fps is the normal level for good picture quality. A video with lower framerates appear as “choppy” on screen and fail to capture fast moving objects properly.



Frame Error Rate

Ratio of data received with errors to total data received. Used to determine the quality of a signal connection. If the FER is too high (too many errors), the connection may be dropped.




Measured in hertz (cycles per second), rate of repetition of changes / waves.


The term frequency is also used for range (band) on the radio frequency spectrum, such as 800 MHz, 900 MHz or 1900 MHz.



FTP (File Transfer Protocol)

A standard for transferring files over the Internet. Not commonly used on phones, although there is FTP software available for most smartphone platforms.



GB (Gigabyte)

1GB is equal to approximately 1 billion bytes or exactly 1024 MB.




Geo-tagging is a function, where GPS-enabled devices can insert metadata with geographical information (coordinates) into a file such as photo, associating it with the geographic location it was taken at.


Some new cameraphones support automatic geo-tagging of any pictures taken.


Geo-tags can be read by any device or desktop computer software which reads geo-tagging metadata, such as image editors and online image galleries.




General Packet Radio Service is a packet-switching technology that enables data transfers through cellular networks. It is used for mobile internet, MMS and other data communications. In theory the speed limit of GPRS is 115 kbps, but in most networks it is around 35 kbps. Informally, GPRS is also called 2.5G.



PS (Global Positioning System)

Global Positioning System was developed by the United States’ Department of Defense. It uses between 24 and 32 Medium Earth Orbit satellites that transmit precise microwave signals. This enables GPS receivers to determine their current location, time and velocity. The GPS satellites are maintained by the United States Air Force.


GPS is often used by civilians as a navigation system. On the ground, any GPS receiver contains a computer that “triangulates” its own position by getting bearings from at least three satellites. The result is provided in the form of a geographic position – longitude and latitude – to, for most receivers, within an accuracy of 10 to 100 meters. Software applications can then use those coordinates to provide driving or walking instructions.


Getting a lock on by the GPS receivers on the ground usually takes some time especially where the receiver is in a moving vehicle or in dense urban areas. The initial time needed for a GPS lock is usually dependent on how the GPS receiver starts. There are three types of start – hot, warm and cold.


The hot start is when the GPS device remembers its last calculated position and the satellites in view, the almanac used (information about all the satellites in the constellation), the UTC Time and makes an attempt to lock onto the same satellites and calculate a new position based upon the previous information. This is the quickest GPS lock but it only works if you are generally in the same location as you were when the GPS was last turned off.


The warm start is when the GPS device remembers its last calculated position, almanac used, and UTC Time, but not which satellites were in view. It then performs a reset and attempts to obtain the satellite signals and calculates a new position.


The receiver has a general idea of which satellites to look for because it knows its last position and the almanac data helps identify which satellites are visible in the sky. This takes longer than a hot start but not as long as a cold start.


And finally – the cold start is when the GPS device dumps all the information, attempts to locate satellites and then calculates a GPS lock. This takes the longest because there is no known information.


The GPS receiver has to attempt to lock onto a satellite signal from any available satellites, basically like polling, which takes a lot longer than knowing which satellites to look for. This GPS lock takes the longest.


In an attempt to improve lock times, cellphone manufacturers and operators have introduced the Assisted GPS technology, which downloads the current ephemeris for a few days ahead via the wireless networks and helps triangulate the general user’s position with the cell towers thus allowing the GPS receiver to get a faster lock at the expense of several (kilo)bytes.




gpsOne is the brand name for a mobile GPS chipset manufactured by Qualcomm that allows mobile phones to lock a user’s position faster by using a technology referred to as A-GPS or Assisted-GPS.



gpsOneXTRA Assistance technology

Qualcomm’s new gpsOneXTRA Assistance technology provides enhanced operation by enabling a user to download a small assistance data file through a brief Internet access session.


Network operators who have not yet deployed A-GPS systems can provide their subscribers with enhanced GPS performance on mobile handsets by using Qualcomm’s gpsOneXTRA Assistance technology.



GPU (Graphics Processing Unit)

The GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) is a specialized circuit designed to accelerate the image output in a frame buffer intended for output to a display.


GPUs are very efficient at manipulating computer graphics and are generally more effective than general-purpose CPUs for algorithms where processing of large blocks of data is done in parallel.


Modern smartphones are equipped with advanced embedded chipsets that can do many different tasks depending on their programming. GPUs are an essential part of those chipsets and as mobile games are pushing the boundaries of their capabilities, the GPU performance is becoming increasingly important.




A video codec standard originally designed as a low-bitrate compressed format for videoconferencing. It has been widely adopted as the standard for video streaming over mobile networks.


Standard image sizes specified by H.263 include SQCIF (128 x 96 pixels), QCIF (176 x 144), and CIF (352 x 288) resolutions.


H.263 handles only the visual part of a video stream, the audio is encoded using audio encoders such as AMR.



Half-QWERTY keyboard layout

A keyboard layout similar to QWERTY but having two letters per key. The basic arrangement is the same, however the keyboard is narrower which makes it suitable for use with one hand and it fits more easily in the lower part of a bar-shaped device.


Predictive text is almost always used auto-suggest words allowing users to press a button only once.



Handwriting recognition

The ability of a device or software program to analyze the shape of cursive or printed handwriting drawn on a touchscreen and then translate it into letters, words, numbers, and punctuation marks.


Most devices that have touchscreens have built-in handwriting recognition capability. Input is best done using a stylus.


It should be noted that only devices using resistive type of touchscreen readily allows for input with various objects. The capacitive touchscreen devices can accept only human finger input.




A category of technology that provides physical feedback when the user interacts with virtual things. This could be “pressing” a button on a touch screen or “feeling” the rough edge of the road in a racing game.


The feedback is implemented as vibration.



Hot Spot

An area where users can access Wi-Fi services to access the Internet if they have the appropriate device. Hot spots vary in area of coverage. They are usually public and many charge users by the day or month. However, some are free – for example privately owned in restaurants or cafes or public in universities and schools.



Hot Swap

Inserting or removing an external peripheral device (such as flash memory or hard drive) from a host (a mobile phone or desktop computer) while the host is still operating.


“Hot swappable” refers to a component’s ability to be operated in such way.


In mobile phones, this usually refers to the ability to insert or remove the memory card without switching off the device.



HSCSD (High-Speed Circuit Switched Data)

A system for data calls on GSM networks that came before packet based systems such as GPRS and EDGE.


HSCSD is the “high-speed” variant of CSD (maximum speed of 9.6 kbps) that has better error-correction codes that give a boost in speed of about 50% and allows several call channels to be used as one – up to four channels – resulting in a maximum speed of 57.6 kbps.


HSCSD was never widely adopted outside Europe.



HSDPA (High-Speed Downlink Packet Access)

An upgrade for UMTS networks that doubles network capacity and increases download data speeds by five times or more.


The service was initially deployed at 1.8 Mbps but upgrades to the networks and new user devices led to increased rates of 3.6 Mbps, followed by 7.2 Mbps and further down the road, 14.4Mbps and even 21Mbps.


HSDPA only handles the downlink while the uplink is handled by a related technology called HSUPA. The combination of both technologies is usually called HSPA.



HSDPA (High-Speed Downlink Packet Access)

An upgrade for UMTS networks that doubles network capacity and increases download data speeds by five times or more.


The service was initially deployed at 1.8 Mbps but upgrades to the networks and new user devices led to increased rates of 3.6 Mbps, followed by 7.2 Mbps and further down the road, 14.4Mbps and even 21Mbps.


HSDPA only handles the downlink while the uplink is handled by a related technology called HSUPA. The combination of both technologies is usually called HSPA.



HSP (Headset Profile)

A Bluetooth profile that enables wireless connection between a phone and a Bluetooth headset. It supports simultaneous two-way audio but not stereo.


It is one of the most common profiles with only a small number of phones supporting only the similar Handsfree profile.


HSP is used by other devices as well, a Bluetooth-enabled PC with VoIP software such as Skype for example.



HSUPA (High-Speed Uplink Packet Access)

An upgrade for UMTS/HSDPA networks that increases upload data speeds up to 5.76 Mbps. HSUPA together with HSDPA are sometimes referred to as HSPA.


The standard is backwards compatible with UMTS and HSDPA and will work with devices supporting only those standards.


HSUPA only handles the uplink while the downlink is handled by a related technology called HSDPA.



HTML (Hypertext Markup Language)

A standard markup language used to create web pages.


It was designed with desktop computers in mind and web pages may have reduced usability when viewed on devices with smaller screens and limited input options (as is the case with most mobile phones).


There is a newer format called XHTML that is better suited for mobile devices.



Hz (Hertz)

A unit of frequency measurement equal to one cycle per second.



iDEN (Integrated Digital Enhanced Network)

A TDMA based digital mobile network system. It was developed by Motorola, which remains the main manufacturer for iDEN devices. The main advantage of iDEN is the Push-To-Talk system, which enables mobile phones to be used as walkie-talkies.


Newer iDEN phones use a SIM card that is compatible with GSM phones for international roaming, but only a few phones support both standards.



IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol)

An Internet protocol used by email clients to access messages from a server. IMAP is a newer alternative to POP3.


Unlike POP3, which only downloads the messages, IMAP synchronizes them with the email server and tracks changes in their status. Another feature of IMAP is that it allows messages to be organized by folders and the email client setup to use IMAP access will also synchronize the folders beside the emails themselves.



IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity)

IMEI is a unique 15-digit serial number that uniquely identifies a GSM or UMTS mobile phone. It consists of four parts and provides information, such as the manufacturer, to the mobile network. It is usually printed on the device under the battery.


IMEI can be used to “ban” a stolen phone, making it hard to use by the thief with a new SIM card.



IP (Internet Protocol)

IP is the the protocol used for communicating data across a packet-switched network used in most publicly accessible networks today. Connections that mobile devices make to GPRS, 3G and similar networks are made using IP.



IrDA (Infrared Data Association)

A standard for transmitting data using an infrared port. Transfer speeds are roughly the same as traditional parallel ports.


The industry group that created the IrDA technical standard.


Infrared connectivity is an old wireless technology used to connect two electronic devices. It uses a beam of infrared light to transmit information and so requires direct line of sight and operates only at close range.


IR was superseded by Bluetooth, which has the advantage of operating at longer distances (around 30 feet) and being omni-directional.


Many home devices such as TVs and DVD players still use IR remote controls. Some smartphones are capable of using their IR port to control these devises but that usually requires third-party software.




Often stands for “Java ME” (the new name of J2ME, Java 2 Platform, Micro Edition). Java ME is a platform for applications running on mobile phones. These, mainly small, applications (e.g. games) can be downloaded from the Internet directly to the phone using its built-in web-browser.



KB (Kilobyte)

A unit of digital information equal to 1024 bytes. Also abbreviated as kB, K and Kbyte.



Kbps (Kilobits per second)

A unit of data transfer rate equal to 1024 bits per second.



Key Guard

A feature allowing you to lock the keyboard to avoid any accidental dialing of a number or pressing of keys while carrying the phone in a pocket or bag. The keyboard is unlocked by a special sequence of keys unlikely to be pressed accidentally.



Key Lock Switch

A dedicated switch/key/button that locks (and unlocks) a device’s keypad.



Land line

Non-wireless telephone connection.



LCD (Liquid Crystal Display)

A liquid crystal display is the most common display type among mobile phones because of its low power consumption and good image quality. They are generally easy to read, even under direct sunlight.


The smallest element of an image displayed on a LCD is the pixel. Each pixel normally consists of a layer of molecules aligned between two transparent electrodes, and two polarizing filters.


Some of the types of LCD displays are STN, TFT and TFD. The first one, STN, offers low cost and low power consumption, but low image quality. TFT features greater image quality and response time, yet its displays are more expensive and need more power.


Three other types of LCDs are transmissive, reflective, or transflective. Transmissive displays offer nicer image quality in low or medium ambient light, while reflective ones work best in bright ambient light. Transflective displays combine the best of both.



LED (Light-Emitting Diode)

A semiconductor diode that emits light when charged with electricity. They come in diverse colors and some LEDs even contain multiple elements and are therefore capable of emitting light with different colors.


LEDs are used for displays, for keypad or display backlighting, etc. Bright white LEDs also can be used as flashlights and flashes for mobile phones. Even if they are not as bright as the xenon flash, LEDs are much more compact and require less energy – and also can be used as video light.



Li-Ion (Lithium Ion)

This stands for a type of rechargeable battery. They are much lighter than earlier battery types (NiCd and NiMH), have a long life cycle and generally don’t suffer from the so-called “memory effect”.



Li-Polymer (Lithium Polymer)

This stands for a type of rechargeable battery which has evolved technologically from Lithium-Ion batteries.


Current lithium-polymer batteries are actually Lithium-Ion Polymer and perform similarly to Lithium-Ion batteries. The advantage however of Li-Polymer batteries is that they can be made much thinner.


Generally, they don’t suffer from the so-called “memory effect” common to NiCd and NiMH batteries.




LiMo OS (short from Linux Mobile) is an open-source Linux-based operating system for handhelds, developed by the LiMo Foundation. The LiMo foundation was founded by a group of mobile phone makers and network operators – Motorola, NEC, NTT DoCoMo, Panasonic Mobile Communications, Samsung Electronics, and Vodafone.


In September 2011 the project was renamed into Tizen. Intel and the Linus Foundation joined in on the bandwagon.


LiMo wasn’t implemented on many consumer smartphones. The few examples include the Vodafone branded 360 M1, 360 H1, and 360 H2 handsets, which were developed and manufactured by Samsung by Vodafone’s requirements.




A family of open-source operating systems. There are a lot of variants of Linux available and they are developed and maintained by diverse working groups. There are also some Linux-based OSes for mobile devices (e.g. Android or Maemo).



Location-Based Services (LBS)

A term that refers to a wide range of services based (or enhanced by) information about the physical location of a user and/or device.


Typical examples of location-based services for consumers are real-time turn-by-turn navigation, the location of the nearest restaurant or hotel, vehicle tracking etc.


For a location-based service to work there are some requirements to be fulfilled. The network must support it, and certain technologies must be built into the mobile phone (such as GPS and A-GPS).



Lock code

A code preventing the unauthorized use of a mobile phone. the user isn’t given access to the phone without entering the right sequence of numbers using the keypad. Only emergency or other predefined numbers may be dialed while the mobile phone is locked.



Long SMS

Also known as “Concatenated SMS”.



Long term evolution (LTE)

LTE is the next-step of the evolution of UMTS (3G) and HSDPA (3.5G). It’s the only wireless network technology that’s correctly called 4G. Some carries may market their high-speed HSDPA+ networks as 4G, but that’s not technically correct.


Some of the improvements LTE brings along over the currently used wireless mobile radio technologies are a better spectral efficiency, lower costs, higher transfer speeds, improved services, etc.


LTE networks are widely available in the USA by carriers such as AT&T, Sprint and Verizon. In Europe, the network standard is not as widely spread and have limited coverage.


Theoretically, LTE networks should provide wireless data downlink speeds of up to 300Mbps and uplink speeds of up to 75Mbps.


Originally, LTE was conceived as an IP-based wireless system used purely for carrying data traffic. Network carriers were supposed to provide voice communication via their concurrent 2G/3G networks or by using VoIP. By popular request however, Voice over LTE (VoLTE) was a standardised system for transferring voice traffic over LTE. Currently, the availability of Voice over LTE (VoLTE) depends on the carrier implementation.


Unfortunately, the current implementations of LTE use different frequency bands in different countries, making interoperability an issue. LTE networks throughout the world can be seen utilizing one or several different network bands such as:


Band 1, 2100MHz (Japan, Philippines, South Korea);

Band 3, 1800MHz (Australia, Belgium, Finland, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, Italy, Singapore, Slovenia, Slovakia, South Korea, United Arab Emirates, UK)

Band 4, 1700MHz (AT&T in the United States)

Band 7, 2600MHz (Austria, Brazil, Canada, Finland, Germany, Hong Kong, Russia, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland)

Band 17, 700MHz (AT&T and Verizon in the United States, Canada)




The loudspeaker is a small sound driver fitted within a mobile phone, or other communication device, which is used to produce sound. Traditionally, loudspeakers on mobile phones are used to produce sound alerts for events such as incoming calls, incoming messages and alarms.


Since mobile phones have started doubling as portable music players in recent years, users have begun using their built-in speakers for playback of music. Acknowledging this new type of use of the mobile phone loudspeaker, manufacturers have begin to equip their music or video-centric mobiles with more powerful loudspeakers or even a pair of loudspeakers for accurate stereo reproduction and enhanced spatial effects.


Loudspeakers are also used to reproduce voice calls out loud, thus allowing users to deal with calls hands-free or even have conference calls with others in the same room (that use of the mobile phone is called a speakerphone, which is not to be confused with a loudspeaker).


Loudspeaker implementation can vary from model to model. For example, in order to save space and make phones thinner, some manufacturers don’t use a dedicated loudspeaker but instead use the earpiece speaker to produce sound alerts as well.


One way or another, whether you use it for fun, conference calls or just for plain ringing, there is one single thing that’s important – loudness. We had explored this in depth in our reviews besides the casual subjective remark, but in 2007 we decided it was time we took a more scientific approach.


So we got ourselves a handy piece of equipment – a digital noise/loudness meter – in order to start measuring objectively that all-important aspect of modern handsets – how loud is the loudspeaker in reality.


So, for the record, here is how our test setup goes. We do our tests in one and the same quiet room taking sound measurements with the handset loudspeaker facing the microphone at a distance of exactly 1 m.


We do three different tests. For each test we make several consecutive measurements – we usually disregard the highest and the lowest readings and we take the average value of the rest.


The three tests are as follows:


1) A phone ringing. We use an old-school ringtone, resembling the ringing of an old phone. It seems that most phones do well when we use it.


2) Pink noise. We use a sample of pink noise. Our readings with it are pretty indicative on how well the handset loudspeaker would fare with standard music. Teenagers definitely appreciate a handset that will allow them to crank up the volume as high as possible.


3) Human voice, male. This is an important test, since if you tend the use the loudspeaker for speakerphone purposes, loudness is really important, regardless of whether you are in a conference room or in your car.




Most often this term is use to describe the macro mode of a camera. This mode allows the taking of photos from extremely short distance unlike close-ups, which also need an auto focus lens but are shot from a slightly greater distance.



Maemo OS

Maemo is an open-source Linux-based operating system for smartphones and tablets, developed by Nokia and improved with community effort.


The Maemo OS was initially designed for Nokia Internet Tablets, a lineup which started in 2005 and ended in 2008 with the Nokia N810 WiMax edition. These internet tablets feature similar chipsets to Nokia’s high-end N-series and E-series smartphones, but lack the telephony, have a landscape UI, which runs on 4.1-inch touchscreens with the relatively high resolution of 800 x 480px.


The last iteration of Maemo was called Maemo 5 and was featured on the Nokia N900, which was not marketed as an Internet tablet. It had a telephony functionality, a 3.5-inch screen and a slide-out keyboard. A portrait user interface was introduced for the first time.


In 2010 Nokia announced it will be merging the Maemo project with Intel’s Moblin OS (another Linux-based open source mobile OS) to create a new OS, called MeeGo.




An ampere-hour or amp-hour (Ah) is a unit of electric charge. Smaller batteries however, such as those in mobile phones and digital cameras, are often rated in milliampere-hours.


The milliampere-hour (mAh) is one-thousandth of an ampere-hour and is a technical term for how much electrical charge a particular battery will hold. As an example, using higher mAh batteries in a device with constant electrical consumption will theoretically give you longer operating times.



Mass Storage mode

A standard mode allowing compatible phones to be connected to a computer’s USB port and be used as a removable storage drive without the need for any special drivers.


Usually, in Mass Storage mode, the phone’s memory is mounted as a removable drive by the computer OS and cannot be used by the phone itself. That’s the reason why some phones only allow an inserted memory card to be mounted in Mass Storage mode thus keeping their system partition inaccessible on the computer in this mode.



MB (Megabyte)

A unit of digital information equal to 1,048,576 bytes or 1024 kilobytes.



Mbps (Megabit per second)

A unit of data transfer rate equal to 1,048,576 bits per second or 1,024 kilobits per second.



MeeGo OS

MeeGo is an open-source Linux-based operating system for smartphones and tablets, developed initially by Nokia and Intel as a common successor of their Maemo and Moblin OS projects.


MeeGo is intended to run on a variety of hardware platforms and it supports both ARM and Intel x86 processors.


MeeGo uses several user interfaces depending on the device it runs on. The MeeGo OS v1.2 Harmattan was designed for smartphones and saw the light of day on products such as the Nokia N9 and the dev device Nokia N950.


Nokia abandoned the MeeGo project in the early 2011 and its development was left to the open source community, the Linux Foundation and Intel. In September 2011, however, the Linux Foundation and Intel canceled MeeGo in favor of Tizen OS.


A new Finnish company called Jolla announced in 2012 that it’s ready to continue the development of the Meego branch (Mer), to develop a new operating system called Sailfish OS, and launch a smartphone in 2013.




One million pixels. Pixel comes from “pix” (for “picture”) and el (for “element”). A pixel is the smallest piece of information on an image. This is a unit for measuring image resolution, and the more pixels a picture consists of, the more detailed it is.



Memory card slot

A special slot for inserting a memory card. Memory cards allow you to expand the phone’s built-in memory (or in the past these slots have been used to add some missing features such as Wi-Fi connectivity).


Memory cards have different capacities and are used to store and transfer files between compatible devices. There are several types of memory cards. The most popular and frequently used by mobile phone manufacturers is microSD; however, up until recently Sony Ericsson exclusively used the Memory Stick Micro (M2) card type developed by Sony.


Memory card slots can have various supported memory card capacities. Depending on the device, card slots can support capacities of up to 2, 4, 8, 16 or even the yet unavailable 32GB.


As manufacturers rarely test their products for compatibility with newer and larger cards that come out after a specific handset is out on the market, whenever it is possible, we try to verify that larger capacity cards run on older phones.


When we confirm that a mobile phone works with a larger capacity memory card than what the manufacturer has advertized, we usually put that down in the phone specs sheet in our database.


That way, when you see the word “verified” in the Card slot field, you will know our reviewing team has personally tested the device for compatibility with the stated capacity and they are compatible even though it may not be officially stated so by the manufacturer.


Still, you should take that information with a pinch of salt, as your mileage with your specific unit may vary.



Memory effect

Describes the gradual shortening of a battery’s life if the battery is recharged before it is completely discharged. It is most common with nickel-based batteries such as NiCd and NiMH types.




In addition to pure voice calls, all GSM carriers also offer messaging services and messaging has been a core service since the beginning of GSM mobile telephony. Mobile messaging ranges from SMS, through EMS, to IM and Email.


For more information, please visit the relevant glossary articles.



MHz (Megahertz)

Herz is a measure of frequency per unit of time, or the number of cycles per second. The most common uses for hertz are to describe radio and audio frequencies. It`s abbreviated as Hz. 1 Megahertz, or 1 MHz, is equal to 1 million Hz.



Micro USB

A type of USB connector. USB stands for “Universal Serial Bus”. Devices connected to the computer using a USB cable can easily exchange files and information (if the device supports Mass Storage mode, the files can be transferred without the need for special drivers or software).


Some devices can be charged via the USB cable when connected to the computer. There are different USB interfaces: MicroUSB (with two subtypes – Micro-A and Micro-B) is one of them, and was developed to replace the older MiniUSB interface. However, the latter is still the most popular connector type in portable devices.




A memory card is a flash memory data storage device used in a wide range of digital devices such as mobile phones, digital cameras, PDAs, music players, etc. They are small, rugged and offer high re-record ability.


There is a wide range of memory card formats. MicroSD (SD stands for “Secure Digital”) and M2 (memory Stick Micro) are the smallest at the current time. The microSD format was originally called TransFlash or T-Flash.




The microSDHC cards (HC as in High Capacity) upgrade the microSD standard. They have the same physical dimensions but offer higher capacities (4-16 GB) than the regular ones (64MB-2 GB).



Microsoft Exchange (Server)

A messaging and collaborative software product developed by Microsoft as a PC-based e-mail server. Targeted at the corporate world, Exchange’s major features consist of electronic mail, shared calendars and tasks, and support for mobile and Web-based access to email accounts and information, as well as support for very large amounts of data storage.



MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface)

A set of specifications allowing computers, synthesizers, MIDI controllers, sound cards, samplers and drum machines to control one another and exchange system data.


MIDI files keep information that describes the instruments, notes and timing of the music. This can then be recreated on MIDI-capable devices as music.


More sophisticated MIDI devices can not only reproduce consecutive notes (monophony) but are able to create realistic-sounding music by synthesizing several notes simultaneously – polyphony. The more notes the synthesizer can play simultaneously, the nicer it sounds.


MIDI files were commonly used as mobile phone ringtones before the support for the MP3/AAC standard was widely adopted.



MIDP (Mobile Information Device Profile)

A standardized runtime environment allowing the use of Java on embedded devices (e.g. mobile phones). It is based on J2ME. Newer versions of MIDP (e.g. MIDP 2.0) increase functionality by adding additional APIs.



Mil-Spec (MIL-STD)

Comes from “Military Specification/Standard”. With regards to mobile phones, it normally refers to the US Army’s set of standards, called MIL-STD 810.


These standards specify the requirements that a rugged device must fulfill, such as surviving certain environmental conditions.


There are lots of sub-categories of the MIL-STD 810 referring to different extreme conditions. As only a few devices support all sub-categories, it is important to note exactly which of them is supported by a certain device. A capital letter added to the name indicates which specifications are met – MIL-STD 810F for example means resistance to rain, shock, vibration, dust, humidity, salt fog and extreme temperatures.




A type of USB connector. USB stands for “Universal Serial Bus”. Devices connected to the computer using a USB cable can flawlessly transfer files and information between the phone and the computer (if Mass Storage mode is supported files can be transferred without the need of special drivers or software).


Some devices can be charged when the USB cable is connected to the computer. There are different USB interfaces: Mini-USB (with two subtypes – Mini-A and Mini-B) is one of them,but it’s in the process of being replaced by the newer and slimmer Micro-USB interface.


The miniUSB connector however is still the most popular connector type in portable devices.




A memory card is a flash memory data storage device used in a wide range of digital devices such as mobile phones, digital cameras, PDAs, music players, etc. They are small, rugged and offer high re-record ability and power-free operation.


There is a wide range of memory card formats, miniSD (SD stand for Secure Digital) being one of them. It’s now considered an outdated standard and in the current generation of portable devices has been replaced by the microSD and microSDHC formats.




A memory card is a flash memory data storage device used in a wide range of digital devices such as mobile phones, digital cameras, PDAs, music players, etc. They are small, rugged and offer high re-record ability and power-free operation.


There is a wide range of memory card formats. MMC (which stands for “Multi Media Card”) is one of the oldest formats and has been replaced by newer ones like SD, microSD and microSDHC. Physically, it’s fully compatible with SD cards.




A memory card is a flash memory data storage device used in a wide range of digital devices such as mobile phones, digital cameras, PDAs, music players, etc. They are small, rugged and offer high re-record ability and power-free operation.


There is a wide range of memory card formats. MMC (which stands for “Multi Media Card”) is one of the oldest formats and has been replaced by newer ones like SD, microSD and microSDHC.


MMCmobile cards are based on the RS-MMC cards and share the same mini form factor. The difference between them is that MMCmobile cards are dual-voltage and can operate in older phones with a high-voltage (3V) slot as well as in newer models with a low-voltage (1.8V) slot.


The MMCmobile standard is now considered an outdated standard and has been replaced by newer ones like microSD and microSDHC.



MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service)

Abbreviated as MMS, the Multimedia Messaging Service is a store and forward messaging service that allows subscribers to exchange multimedia files as messages.


MMS supports the transmission of various media types: text, picture, audio, video, or a combination of all four. The originator can easily create a Multimedia Message, by snaping a photo with the phone camera, or by using images and sounds stored previously in the phone (or downloaded from a web site).


If the recipient phone is not switched on or it has not been setup to receive MMS messages, the Multimedia Message will be stored in a special repository offered by the GSM carrier.


In order to send or receive a MMS, the user must have a compatible phone that is running over a GPRS or 3G network. Most current mobile phones and operator networks support MMS.


The maximum message size (along with the attachments) is generally limited to 300KB (MMS 1.2), but recently the MMS 1.3 standard has allowed for a maximum size of 600KB. Wireless carriers however can impose their own size restrictions. Whenever possible we will try and state the MMS version supported by the individual handsets in our database.



Mobile games

Many phones include simple games for the user to pass the time. The games referred to here are ones preinstalled on the phone and do not require a wireless connection to play.


With mobile phones getting ever more powerful, the games are following suit in terms of complexity and graphics. Some phones even have dedicated gaming keys and even look like portable mini gaming consoles.


Some of the latest phones have a built-in accelerometer sensor, which can be utilized by games to provide more interactive gameplay. In those so-called motion-based games, you can steer, for instance, by tilting your phone in the respective direction.


Usually, when there are some games preinstalled, more can be downloaded over the air using the phone’s built-in web browser or they can be downloaded onto a desktop computer and then transferred to the mobile phone via a data cable.


There are several different technologies for downloadable games for feature phones, including Java, BREW, Mophun, and WGE. The technologies are incompatible between each other, although some phones support more than one of them.


Additionally, native mobile games for smartphones with their respective mobile OSs also represent a large share of the mobile game market.


Bear in mind that a certain mobile phone model can be bundled with different games depending on the regional market or even the network carrier.



Mobile IM (Instant Messaging)

Mobile Instant Messaging is the ability to engage in Instant Messaging services from a mobile handset. Mobile IM allows users to address messages to others using a dynamic address book full of users with their online status updated constantly. That allows anyone participating to know when their “buddies” are available for chat.


The advantage of mobile IM is that messages are sent and received in real-time via mobile handsets on-the-go without a stationary computer. Mobile IM is seen as a natural evolution of the popular SMS service.


Mobile IM is available from some operators or mobile phone manufacturers now, but unfortunately, it is not always possible to use IM services between different operators.


When we state IM in our specs sheet that usually means the phone is equipped with a proprietary IM solution. Those solutions frequently rely on either carrier support or can be used between users with handsets of one and the same make.


Fortunately, popular third-party IM providers such as ICQ, Skype, Google Talk, MSN, AOL, Yahoo, etc. are alleviating the situation by making their own mobile applications allowing mobile phones to engage in Instant Messaging independently of their carrier or mobile phone manufacturer. The only prerequisite is having internet access on the go – over GPRS or 3G.



Mobile WiMAX

Mobile WiMAX (WiMAX comes from “Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access”) is a technical wireless standard allowing web browsing and wireless data transfer on the move. It’s an another way of calling the 802.16e protocol.


WiMAX technology provides the equivalent of broadband speeds without the need for cables, and service coverage can extend over an entire city, region or even a whole country.


Access to the WiMAX wireless service is subject to a monthly subscription and it requires the use of a dedicated WiMAX modem, which is usually supplied for free by the operator.


WiMAX technology allows for data transfer speeds of up to 75Mbps, but in reality they tend to be a lot lower than that, at around 1-10 Mbps tops.




Comes from “MOdulator/DEModulator”. A device or a component of a device used for transferring information. Information is encoded (the modem modulates the signal) and decoded (the signal is being demodulated) so it can be transmitted easily over a network (wireless, as well).




Literally “one color”. A monochrome display is commonly known as a black and white or grayscale display. In mobile phones such black-and-white displays often utilize a colored backlight such as green, blue or orange.


Monochrome displays are no longer used for primary displays in mobile phones, but some are still used as external secondary screens.



MP3 (MPEG Layer 3)

An audio storage protocol that stores music in a compressed format with very little loss in sound quality.


MP3 is the most common MPEG format for audio files. MP3 files can be played using the music player of the mobile phone or set as a ringtone.



MPEG (Motion Picture Experts Group)

A wide range of formats for digital audio and video files. The most common among them are MPEG-4 (for video) and MP3 (for audio).



MPEG-4 video

MPEG-4 is one of the latest video/audio compression method standardized by MPEG group, designed specially for low-bandwidth (less than 1.5MBit/sec bitrate) video/audio encoding purposes.


MPEG-4 is designed to deliver DVD-quality video (MPEG-2) at lower data rates and smaller file sizes.


It should be noted that unlike MPEG-1 and MPEG-2, the MPEG-4′s predecessors, MPEG-4 itself isn’t just one unified encoding mechanism, but rather a group name for several flavors of video and audio encoding methods that share certain same characteristics. These “flavors” are often referred either as “profiles” or “layers” in MPEG-4 compression scheme and each new profile should be backwards compliant to the older, “lower” versions of MPEG-4 in terms of playback capability.


Probably the best-known MPEG-4 video encoders are called DivX and XviD, which both are nowadays fully standard-compliant MPEG-4 encoders. The most common MPEG-4 profiles that both XviD and DivX use extensively are called “simple profile” and “advanced simple profile”.


Beside those two standardized video encoding profiles, the MPEG-4 group has standardized several other profiles. The most important ones are H263+ (which is used widely in mobile phones, dubbed as 3GP) and H.264 (often also called as AVC or more technically known as MPEG-4 Part 10).


Since MPEG-4 is a container format, MPEG-4 files may contain any number of audio, video, and even subtitle streams, making it impossible to determine the type of streams in an MPEG-4 file based on its filename extension alone.


The official filename extension for MPEG-4 Part 14 files is .mp4, thus the container format is often referred to simply as MP4. However various file extensions are also commonly used to indicate the content inside the MP4 container:


MPEG-4 files with audio and video generally use the standard .mp4 extension.

Audio-only MPEG-4 files generally have a .m4a extension. This is especially true of non-protected content.


MPEG-4 files with audio streams encrypted by FairPlay Digital Rights Management as sold through the iTunes Store use the .m4p extension.

Audio book and podcast files, which also contain metadata including chapter markers, images, and hyperlinks, can use the extension .m4a, but more commonly use the .m4b extension. An .m4a audio file cannot “bookmark” (remember the last listening spot), whereas .m4b extension files can.

Raw MPEG-4 Visual bitstreams are named .m4v.


Mobile phones use 3GP, a simplified version of MPEG-4 Part 12 (a.k.a MPEG-4/JPEG2000 ISO Base Media file format), with the .3gp and .3g2 extensions. These files also store non-MPEG-4 data (H.263, AMR, TX3G).


The common but non-standard use of the extensions .m4a and .m4v is due to the popularity of Apple’s iPod, iPhone, and iTunes Store, and Microsoft’s Xbox 360 and Zune. Without mods, Nintendo’s DSi and Sony’s PSP can also play M4A.



Multitouch input method

In mobile computing, multi-touch refers to the capability of a touchscreen (or a touchpad) to recognize two or more points of contact on the surface concurrently. The constant tracking of the multiple points allows the mobile phone interface to recognize gestures, which enable advanced functionality such as pinch-to-zoom.


The multi-touch sensing doesn’t work on the resistive type of touchscreens (budget touch phones), the capability comes inherited in capacitive touchscreens (majority of touch phones nowadays).


Apple is considered the pioneer of multi-touch technology on mobile phones with their first iPhone. They introduced the pinch-to-zoom gesture that is now available across various platforms.



Music playback time (battery life)

Music playback time is the officially quoted longest time that a single battery charge will last when you use the phone as a music player only.


Usually those numbers are only achievable when the phone is set to Flight mode (i.e. all transceivers are off) and the headphones are used (as opposed to the loudspeaker). These numbers are best used as reference when comparing phones from the same manufacturer because battery life measurement methodology will probably vary from manufacturer to manufacturer.



Music Player

A mobile phone application that allows you to listen to music files stored in the phone’s internal or external memory



NAND Memory

NAND memory is a popular type of flash memory.


Flash memory is non-volatile computer memory that can be electrically erased and reprogrammed. Non-volatile means that no power is needed to maintain the information stored in the chip.


Flash memory is a technology that is primarily used in memory cards and USB flash drives as solid state storage and its main purpose is being an inexpensive way of storing or transferring data between computers and other digital products. It’s used as primary storage memory on various portable devices due to its low cost, compact size, high physical endurance and low power consumption.


Another popular type of flash memory is NOR flash memory.



Network capacity

Network capacity is the amount of traffic that a network can handle at any given time. This includes the number of simultaneous voice calls and maximum data speeds. Capacity varies by area.



Network coverage

The geographical area covered by the network of a service provider. Within this area, the phone will be able to complete a call using the carrier’s network or a partner network.



NFC (Near Field Communication)

NFC is a short-range high frequency wireless communication technology that enables the exchange of data between devices over about a 10 cm distance.


NFC is an upgrade of the existing proximity card standard (RFID) that combines the interface of a smartcard and a reader into a single device. It allows users to seamlessly share content between digital devices, pay bills wirelessly or even use their cellphone as an electronic traveling ticket on existing contactless infrastructure already in use for public transportation.


The significant advantage of NFC over Bluetooth is the shorter set-up time. Instead of performing manual configurations to identify Bluetooth devices, the connection between two NFC devices is established at once (under a 1/10 second).


Due to its shorter range, NFC provides a higher degree of security than Bluetooth and makes NFC suitable for crowded areas where correlating a signal with its transmitting physical device (and by extension, its user) might otherwise prove impossible.


NFC can also work when one of the devices is not powered by a battery (e.g. on a phone that may be turned off, a contactless smart credit card, etc.).



NiCd (Nickel Cadmium)

Used to describe an early inexpensive rechargeable battery type which, if not completely discharged before charging, can suffer from the so called “memory effect” that reduces the battery’s life.



NiMH (Nickel Metal Hydride)

Used to describe a rechargeable battery type which, if not completely discharged before charging, can suffer from the so called “memory effect” that reduces the battery’s life. The NiMH-batteries can hold more power than the NiCd-ones, and also suffer much less from the “memory effect” than NiCd-batteries.



NOR Memory

NOR flash memory is one of the two popular types of flash memory. The other is the newer NAND flash memory.


Flash memory is non-volatile computer memory that can be electrically erased and reprogrammed. Non-volatile means that no power is needed to maintain the information stored on the chip.


Flash memory is a technology that is primarily used in memory cards and USB flash drives as solid state storage and its main purpose is an inexpensive way of storing or transferring data between computers and other digital products. It’s used as primary storage memory on various portable devices due to its low cost, compact size, high physical endurance and low power consumption.



Numeric keypad

A standard phone keypad consisting of the numbers from 0 to 9 and including the signs “*” and “#”.


Alphanumeric keypads are an upgrade to those and are used to enter text as well as numbers. They include alphabet characters – usually several letters are assigned to each of the numeric keys – and you can toggle their input by pressing the corresponding key several times, often referred to as “multi-tap” input.


OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer)

A company manufacturing products that are branded and sold by another company. Often if the product was originally designed by the OEM that is called an ODM (Original Design Manufacturer).



OLED (Organic Light-Emitting Diode)

A display technology that consists of small dots of organic polymer which emit light when charged with electricity.


OLED displays have several advantages over the LCDs. They are thinner, lighter, brighter, need less power, have better viewing angles, contrast and response time for video and animation. OLEDs are also cheaper and easier to manufacture.


On the other hand, LCDs offer better legibility in bright ambient light.


Optical Zoom

The zoom-feature found in many cameras and camera phones that makes subjects appear closer than they actually are (so they fill more of the image area). To create that magnification effect cameras use a set of moving optical lenses – hence the name “optical zoom”.


The alternative to optical zoom is digital zoom, which is a highly advertized feature on many consumer devices equipped with a camera, but it doesn’t offer many real advantages.


Digital zoom generally influences quite negatively the image quality of the captured images.



OS (Operating System)

The Operating system is a base infrastructure software component of a computerized system. It controls all basic operations of the computer (or other electronic devices such as PDA, smartphone, etc.). The Operating System allows the user to install and execute third-party applications (commonly called apps for short), usually adding new functionality to the device.


Among the most popular computer operating systems are Microsoft’s Windows and Apple’s Mac OS, along with the various distributions of Linux.


The most popular OS’s for mobile devices (smartphones and tablets) are Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android and they are the only ones that still show growth. Down the ranks there are RIM’s BlackBerry OS and Microsoft’s Windows Phone. Symbian holds a distant fifth place, while merely a year ago it was still the most widely used mobile OS.


Symbian held its top position for years but its market share has been slowly fading away ever since touch-operated smartphones became the norm and Symbian failed to deliver an intuitive touch UI. Almost ten years ago, Microsoft’s Windows Mobile was a strong player too, offering the first touchscreen smartphone experience with the PocketPCs powered by their OS.


Today mobile devices with a proper OS are called smartphones and users have a wide choice of applications, such as games, productivity apps, communication or social media apps, digital maps, etc.


Standardized operating system platforms make it possible to provide a consistent user interface (and experience) across devices from different hardware manufacturers. Yet, Android smartphone manufacturers like to customize the user experience so each offers a slightly modified version of the stock Android UI.


While the major players these days are clear, over the years we’ve seen the emergence of numerous mobile OS projects including but not limited to Palm’s webOS, Samsung’s Bada OS, Nokia’s Maemo OS, Nokia’s MeeGo OS, LiMo OS, Tizen, BlackBerry’s Playbook OS and more recently, the Jolla’s Sailfish OS and Mozilla’s Firefox OS.



OTA (Over-The-Air)

Over-the-air is any method of making data transfers or transactions wirelessly using the cellular network instead of a cable or other local connection.


Most commonly, this term refers to downloading or uploading content or software (such as downloading ringtones, uploading images, etc.).


If the term is used for updating a phone’s firmware this is also known as FOTA (Firmware Over-The-Air).



Packet Data

Packet Data – small pieces called packets. This allows users to consume a network’s resources only when they are actually transferring data. In mobile phones, data is used for functions requiring Internet access (including video or audio streaming).


Generally all technologies for wireless data transfer used by operators (except WAP) rely on packet data – GPRS, EDGE, UMTS.




A small pocket-sized one-way or two-way radio receiver that rings and/or vibrates when a transmission is received. Optionally, it can also display a numeric and/or alphanumeric message. Some pagers are capable of not only receiving but also sending messages.



PC Sync

A feature allowing the user to connect the mobile phone to a computer (via cable or wirelessly using Bluetooth for example) and synchronize contact information, calendar and notes between the phone and a specific computer application (such as MS Outlook on PC).



PCS (Personal Communications Service)

PCS or Personal Communications Service is the name for the 1900 MHz radio band used for digital mobile phone services in Canada, Mexico and the United States.


All CDMA, GSM, and D-AMPS systems can be used on PCS frequencies.



PDA (Personal Digital Assistant)

A handheld device with basic computing and organizing functions. Most of them have a large touch screen, a stylus and support handwriting recognition.


Normally, they also have faster processors than typical mobile phones and can run more complex software. Most of the PDAs run a standardized OS such as Windows Mobile for Pocket PC or Palm OS.


Today, PDAs are being pushed aside by capable smartphones, which can do all the same functions but also offer telephony.



Phone Book Access (PBA)

A Bluetooth mode/profile allowing the phone to make its phone book (contact) information available to another authorized and PBA compatible device (car or car accessory e.g.). PBA allows the authorized device to handle phone book browsing and dialing (including voice dialing by the car or car accessory).




Mobile phones are equipped with a quite detailed phonebook. The available information fields usually cover all the customary PIM requirements. Most of the times users can even add custom fields when the default options are insufficient.


Computer synchronization with a PIM application is quite important and most recent mobile phones offer synchronization with Microsoft Outlook or through a proprietary sync application.


Whenever possible we will try and list the contact capacity for each mobile phone in our database as accurately as possible.


Bear in mind that the number of entry fields listed concerns only the handset memory, SIM cards will usually offer an additional capacity of about 200-250 contacts.



PIM (Personal Information Manager/Management)

A whole range of software functions which organize personal information. A standard PIM suite includes a scheduler for events, address book for contacts and a to-do list. Email, text notes and/or voice notes, and alarms (reminders) may also be included. Some mobile phones allow PIM data to be synchronized (also automatically) with a PC and/or web-based PIM-service.



PIN code (Personal Identification Number)

In mobile devices, the PIN acts like a password preventing other people from gaining unauthorized access to your device. This is a numeric code which must be entered each time the device is started (unless the PIN security feature is turned off).


In GSM mobile phones, the PIN is normally associated with the SIM card (not the phone) and must be entered each time the phone is switched on. If a wrong PIN is entered three times in a row the handset is locked until you enter another code, called a PUK code.


Both the PIN and the PUK codes are supplied by the operator, but only the PIN code can be changed by the user.




Pixel comes from “pix” (for “picture”) and el (for “element”). A pixel is the smallest piece of information on an image. This is a unit for measuring image resolution, and the more pixels a picture consists of, the more detailed it is.



Pixel density (PPI)

Refers to the concentration of pixels on a particular display, measured in pixels per inch (ppi). Pixel density is calculated by dividing the diagonal pixel resolution of a display by its diagonal size.



Polyphonic ringtones

With polyphonic ringtones more than one musical note is played at the same time.


Unlike regular ringtones, which can only reproduce consecutive notes (monophony), the polyphonic ringtones are able to create realistic-sounding music by synthesizing several notes simultaneously – polyphony. The more notes the synthesizer can play simultaneously, the nicer it sounds. Usually mobile phones synthesizers can reproduce from 4 to 72 simultaneous tones.


Polyphonic ringtones should not be mistaken with the so called “True tones” (also known as “Real tones”) which are simply audio recordings, typically in a common format such as MP3, AAC, or WMA.



POP3 (Post Office Protocol)

An Internet protocol used to download messages from an email server to an email client (a desktop computer or mobile device application).




A term that is generally used to describe a physical connector that docks with another connector (a type of plug on the end of a cable) to electronically connect two devices. It is also called a “connector” or “jack”.



Predictive text input

Allows the user to enter text by pressing only one key per letter on a keypad where multiple letters share keys. As a word is entered, the phone automatically compares all possible letter combinations against a built-in dictionary of words, and determines which word was intended to be typed by the user.


It is possible to scroll (without re-typing) through all possible matches until the right word is found. This feature allows faster and easier typing than the standard typing method where some keys must be pressed several times until the right letter is displayed on the screen (a.k.a. multi-tap).


The most popular types of predicative text entry are T9 and Motorola’s iTAP.



PTT (Push-To-Talk)

A two-way communication service which works like a “walkie-talkie”.


PTT is half-duplex so communication can only be transferred in one direction at a time in contrast to mobile phone calls which are full-duplex and both parties can hear each other.


PTT requires the person speaking to press a certain button while talking and to release it when they are done so the listener can answer by repeating the same steps. In this way people control which one can speak and be heard and the system knows in which direction the information should be transferred.


Most PTT systems allow group calls (one person speaks to all the members of the group).


The newest PTT systems use VoIP technology and the signal is transferred over the 2.5G or 3G network.



PUK Code (PIN UnlocK Code)

A PUK code is required if a GSM SIM card was locked after entering the wrong PIN code three times in a row. Entering a wrong PUK code ten times in a row disables the SIM card permanently. Both the PIN and the PUK codes are supplied by the operator, but only the PIN code can be changed by the user.




A general term referring to technologies which allow a central system (such as the network) to “push” (send) information spontaneously and quickly to a user without any action on the part of the user or the mobile device.


A very common “push” technology is email. “Push” emails are directly “pushed” to the mobile device as soon as the email server receives them and it is not necessary for either the user or the device to manually or automatically check for new emails at regular intervals.



QCIF (Quarter Common Intermediate Format)

QCIF images or videos are 176 pixels wide and 144 pixels tall (176 x 144 pixels). The name Quarter CIF is written as QCIF and the resolution is four times smaller than the CIF resolution (352 x 288 pixels). QCIF is smaller than CIF, QVGA, and VGA.




Refers to a mobile phone that supports the four major GSM frequency bands (850/900/1800/1900 MHz), making it compatible with all the major GSM networks in the world. The 850/1900 MHz bands are mainly used in the US, while the 900/1800 MHz ones are available in most other countries worldwide.



QVGA (Quarter Video Graphics Array)

QVGA images or videos are 320 pixels wide and 240 pixels tall (320 x 240 pixels). The name Quarter VGA is written as QVGA and the resolution is four times smaller than VGA resolution (640 x 480 pixels).



QWERTY keyboard layout

Stands for a standard layout for letter keys on text keyboards. This term comes from the first six letter on the top row of a standard English keyboard and refers to devices that offer a keyboard with that kind of layout.


Such a keyboard makes typing much easier and faster even though sometimes (on mobile devices such as mobile phones) keys are small and placed too close to each other.



RAM (Random-Access Memory)

This is the memory where the software resides while it is running along with the data it is using. RAM is used by both OS and application software.


RAM is very fast but volatile, meaning that all information is lost when electric power is cut off. That makes it useful for temporary storage of data that requires fast access.


Normally, devices with RAM also have another type of storage memory (flash memory or a hard drive) that stores the information while the power is off.


Devices with more RAM can run more complex software and multiple applications at the same time.



RBDS (Radio Broadcast Data System)

Radio Broadcast Data System is the official name used for the U.S. version of RDS, though the “RDS” name seems to be at least as common in daily usage. The two standards are nearly identical, with only slight differences, mainly in which numbers are assigned to each of the 31 music and other program formats the RBDS system can identify.


Generally, mobile phone RDS implementations make use only of Radio Text info. It’s 64-character free-form textual information that can be either static (e.g. station slogans) or in sync with the programming such as the title and artist of the currently-playing song.


Mobile phone FM tuners don’t receive some of the RDS information that may be available, such as time, program type (PTY) or traffic announcements (TA/TP).



RDS (Radio Data System)

Radio data system or RDS is a standard for sending small amounts of data through conventional FM radio broadcasts. The RDS system standardizes several types of information transmitted, including track/artist info and station identification.



Resistive touchscreen

Resistive touchscreens operate by sensing direct pressure applied by the user. It can be activated by pressing it not only with a finger but also with a stylus (unlike the competing capacitive technology).


A resistive touch screen consists of a touch layer placed on top of a standard display. The touch layer normally includes two transparent electrical layers separated by a small gap.


Pressing the display’s surface causes the two separate layers to come into contact, which creates an electrical connection that can be sensed and located.




A term that refers to the number of pixels on a display or in a camera sensor (specifically in a digital image). A higher resolution means more pixels and more pixels provide the ability to display more visual information (resulting in greater clarity and more detail).


Resolution does not refer to the physical size of the display, camera sensor or image. For example, two displays with the same resolution can have different physical dimensions. And since there will be more pixels per inch on the smaller one, the image provided by it should be clearer and more detailed (although graphics will be physically smaller).



Ringer ID

Allows users to assign specific ringtones to individual phone book entries so they can be identified by the ringtone when calling.



Ringing profiles

Features allowing users to create distinct profiles consisting of detailed ringer settings. Those profiles can be easily accessed and activated when needed.


A wide array of options can be changed by the user in each profile (such as tones, vibration, melodies, ringer volume, etc.) and changes take effect all at the same time when this profile is activated.




That is the sound that a phone makes to indicate an incoming call.




Refers to using a mobile phone outside of your service provider’s coverage area. Typically, service providers charge higher fees for calls, messages and access to the Internet.



ROM (Read-Only Memory)

A form of data storage. This type of memory keeps the saved data even if the device power is off. The data on the ROM can be loaded into the RAM if needed.


The word Read-Only identifies it as “read-only memory”, since the reprogramming process is generally infrequent, comparatively slow, and often does not permit random access writes to individual memory locations.



RS-MMC (Reduced-Size Multi Media Card)

A type of memory card that was popular in the past.


Memory cards are based on Flash memory and are used as solid state storage, their main purpose being an inexpensive way to store or transfer data between computers and other digital products.


RS-MMC are based on the MMC standard and share their form-factor and size with MMCmobile cards. The difference between the two formats is that MMCmobile cards are dual-voltage and can operate in older phones with a high-voltage (3V) slot as well as in newer models with a low-voltage (1.8V) slot. Traditional RS-MMC cards can only work in devices with a high-voltage (3V) slot.



RSA (Rural Service Area)

A geographic area of population defined by the US Census Bureau. RSA stands for areas which are not within an MSA (Metropolitan Statistical Area). Both divisions were used by the FCC to geographically separate cellular frequency licenses granted to wireless carriers in the 1980s.



RSS (Rich Site Summary)

A family of XML-based web feed formats used to publish frequently updated information such as news headlines, blog entries, etc.


RSS feeds are very lightweight (especially compared to full web pages) and are ideal for mobile devices which often suffer from limited bandwidth and screen size.


A special software (called RSS-reader) is needed for the RSS feeds to be displayed.



Ruggedized (Rugged)

Ruggedized devices (e.g. mobile phones) offer protection against rough use and/or a rough environment. For example, such devices are normally resistant to shock, water and dust. In order to measure the level of protection manufacturers usually get standard certificates in one or several of the available systems. Such standardization systems include the US Military Standard (MIL-STD or Mil-Spec) or the Ingress protection rating (IP).



S60 user interface

S60 (formerly known as Series 60) is one of the major smartphone user interfaces. It is developed mainly by Nokia and uses the Symbian OS as its base. Besides using it in all of its own smartphones, Nokia also licenses S60 to other manufacturers such as Samsung and LG.


S60 is capable of running native third-party S60 applications as well as regular Java applications.


There are several releases of the S60 UI and chronologically they include Series 60 (2001), Series 60 Second Edition (2004), Series 60 3rd Edition (2005) and S60 5th edition (2008).


Thrid-party software written for S60 1st Edition (S60v1) or 2nd Edition (S60v2) is not compatible with S60 3rd Edition (S60v3) and later because it uses a new version of the Symbian OS (v9.1).


The latest S60 5th edition was announced in October 2008. Nokia decided to move directly from the 3rd Edition to the 5th Edition “as a polite gesture to Asian customers” since the number four is considered bad luck in some Asian cultures.


The major feature of S60 5th Edition is support for high-resolution 640×360 touchscreens. Before the 5th Edition, all S60 devices had a button-based user interface.


S60 5th edition has some support for third-party software developed for S60 3rd edition but, it’s currently limited and somewhat hit-and-miss.



SAP (SIM Access Profile)

SIM Access Profile is a Bluetooth profile allowing a GSM phone to share its SIM card with another device of the same type.



SAR (Specific absorption rate)

Each GSM handset has a radio transmitter and receiver in order to operate in the wireless GSM network. That transceiver is manufactured so that when used next to the ear and when worn on the belt, it won’t exceed the limits for exposure to radio frequency energy set by the authorities.


The authorities in question here are the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) of the U.S. Government, Industry Canada of the Canadian Government (IC), and the Council of the European Union.


These limits are part of comprehensive guidelines that establish permitted levels of RF energy for the general population. The guidelines are based on standards that have been developed by independent scientific organizations through periodic and thorough evaluation of scientific studies.


The exposure standard for wireless devices employs a unit of measurement known as the Specific Absorption Rate, or SAR. Unfortunately the limits set by the FCC/IC and the Concil of the European Union are measured over different amount of tissue so they are not directly comparable.


The SAR limit set by the FCC/IC is 1.6W/kg averaged over 1 gram of actual tissue.

The SAR limit recommended by the Council of the European Union is 2.0W/kg averaged over 10 g of actual tissue.


Although the SAR is determined at the highest certified power level, the actual SAR level of the device while operating can be well below the maximum value. This is because GSM phones are designed to operate at multiple power levels so as to use only the power required to reach the network. In general, the closer you are to a wireless base station antenna, the lower the power output of the device and vice versa.


As of 2010, we at GSMArena.com have added the officially set SAR values for most models in our database.


You will find we list several SAR values. The reason for that is the FCC/IC have stipulated that SAR should be measured at both hip level (making calls while carrying the phone at the waist) and at head level (making calls with the phone put next to ear). So you are almost certain to see two SAR values for the FCC/IC standard.


The Council of the European Union only requires the measurements at ear level so most manufacturers don’t measure SAR at hip level for European models. So in this case you are almost certain to see a single SAR value only for the EU standard.



Screen protection

As touchscreen displays are growing larger in recent years, the need for enhanced scratch resistance and protection of the screens created the demand for usage of screen covers of increased resistance including chemically hardened glass.


Corning’s Gorilla Glass is a popular brand of hardened glass used for high-end handset in the mobile industry.


Additionally, manufacturers has started applying oleophobic coating on top of its screens to make finger smudges less of an issue.



SD (Secure Digital)

Secure Digital or SD is a popular type of memory card. Memory cards are based on Flash memory and are used as solid state storage, their main purpose being an inexpensive way to store or transfer data between computers and other digital products.


The dimensions of an SD card are 24 x 32 x 2.1 mm, which makes it smaller than CompactFlash but larger than miniSD, microSD (TransFlash) and RS-MMC.


SD cards are about the same size as MMC but a bit thicker. They provide a bit more speed than MMC at the expense of higher power consumtion. SD cards also provide a hardware lock that can protect the stored data from being erased.



Secondary camera

This refers to a second, usually lower-resolution camera, typically positioned on a device so as to face the user in applications such as video conferencing.




Modern mobile phones come with a variety of sensors that automate or easy many of our daily tasks. This field takes into account the presence of an accelerometer, a gyroscope, a compass, and a barometer.



Accelerometer and gyroscope

Accelerometers in mobile phones are used to detect the orientation of the phone. The gyroscope, or gyro for short, adds an additional dimension to the information supplied by the accelerometer by tracking rotation or twist.


An accelerometer measures linear acceleration of movement, while a gyro on the other hand measures the angular rotational velocity. Both sensors measure rate of change; they just measure the rate of change for different things.


In practice, that means that an accelerometer will measure the directional movement of a device but will not be able to resolve its lateral orientation or tilt during that movement accurately unless a gyro is there to fill in that info.


With an accelerometer you can either get a really “noisy” info output that is responsive, or you can get a “clean” output that’s sluggish. But when you combine the 3-axis accelerometer with a 3-axis gyro, you get an output that is both clean and responsive in the same time.”



Digital compass

The digital compass that’s usually based on a sensor called magnetometer provides mobile phones with a simple orientation in relation to the Earth’s magnetic field. As a result, your phone always knows which way is North so it can auto rotate your digital maps depending on your physical orientation.




And finally, you may see a device sporting a barometer in its specs sheet. Contrary to what you may suggest, it has nothing to do with weather. Instead, the barometer is there to help the GPS chip inside the device get a faster lock by instantly delivering altitude data.



Side Keys

The side keys are the buttons situated on the sides of the phone that you can use while holding the phone in one hand.




A subscriber identity module is a removable smart card for mobile phones. SIM cards store the required information to identify the mobile device. It also contains data required for voice encryption to make listening in on calls almost impossible (except when the wireless carrier itself is doing the eavesdropping).


In this way the customer ID (and personal number) is tied to the SIM card and not to a certain mobile phone. This allows for a seamless interchange of the same SIM card between different GSM mobile phones.


SIM cards also serve as storage for SMS messages and the user’s contacts. Current SIM cards can store up to 250 name/number pairs and up to 50 SMS text messages.


The SIM card cannot store multiple numbers per contact or other more complex information. This means that if you copy your contacts info from the phone memory to the SIM memory, contacts get broken up into as many entries as there are numbers for each individual contact and discards the other information.


All GSM phones and most iDEN phones require a SIM card to operate.


There are certain types of phones (CDMA, TDMA, AMPS) that do not use a SIM. Instead, the required data is programmed directly into the phone.


The SIM cards come in four standard sizes:


Full-size (85.6mm × 53.98mm × 0.76 mm)

Mini-SIM (25mm x 15mm x 0.76mm)

Micro-SIM (15mm x 12mm x 0.76mm)

Nano-SIM (12.3mm × 8.8mm × 0.67mm)


The first to appear was the full-size or 1FF (1st Form Factor), the size of a credit card (85.60 mm × 53.98 mm × 0.76 mm). It was followed by a mini-SIM or 2FF (2nd Form Factor), which has the same thickness but is 25 mm long by 15 mm wide, with one of its corners cut to prevent misinsertion. Next came micro-SIM or 3FF (3rd Form Factor), with dimensions of 15 mm × 12 mm.


In 2012 the nano-SIM or 4FF (4th Form Factor) was introduced, which measures 12.3 × 8.8 × 0.67 mm. Nano-SIM cards can use adapters to gain compatibility with devices with Micro-SIM and Mini-SIM slots. A Micro-SIM card can also be fitted in Mini-SIM slot with an adapter.


There are two numeric passwords associated with a SIM card. One is the Personal Identification Number (PIN) that the user must input each time they start the device (this can be turned off via the phone settings).


When entering the PIN number the user has only three input attempts. If all three are incorrect, the card gets locked and a PUK (Personal Unblocking Key) must be entered in order for the card to work again. Only ten attempts to enter the PUK are permitted before the card is permanently locked and made unusable.



SIM lock

GSM phones can be “locked”, that is made to accept only SIM cards belonging to a specific network. Typically, this is done so that phones will work only on the network of the carrier.


SIM-locked phones are usually locked to a carrier when the carrier sells the device at a subsidized price in order to attract new subscribers to its services.


Some carriers offer a SIM unlock option to their subscribers after a certain amount of time has passed. Unlocking the phone can be done by entering a special code which is generated based on the phone’s unique IMEI number.


Some third-party shops offer unauthorized unlocking of SIM-locked phones, but using their services usually voids the official warranty of the phone.




A single-band phone is one that operates on one frequency only. This makes the phone unable to operate in areas where the service providers do not support its frequency.




See Theme.




A smartphone is a term used to describe a category of mobile devices with computer-like functionality. These devices sport complete operating system and have a platform for application developers.


Currently, the two major smartphone platforms in use are Android (by Google) and iOS (by Apple). An application written for a specific platform can usually work on any smartphone using the same platform.


Applications for smartphones are also faster and better integrated with the phone’s UI than Java applications. Smartphones have larger displays and faster processors than so-called feature phones or dumb phones .




Synchronized Multimedia Integration Language is a standard for interactive audiovisual presentations and is commonly used in mobile phones’ MMS messaging. These messages integrate text with images and audio/video streaming. The abbreviation SMIL is read as “smile”. A typical SMIL presentation consists of multiple “slides” playing in sequence.



SMS (Short Messaging Service)

SMS or the Short Messaging Service allows users to send and receive personal text messages directly between mobile phones or sometimes to email adresses. Each message can be up to 160 characters long (when using the default character set) and can be sent to and from users of different operator networks. All mobile phones support SMS.


Recently mobile manufacturers have started offering special reading layouts for SMS inspired by Instant Messengers such as ICQ, Skype, and MSN. The so-called threaded message layout or conversation-style layout displays the incoming and outgoing messages between two participants in a single pane ordered chronologically.


This enhancement reflects the recently prevalent use of SMS as a type of instant messaging much like you would chat on a computer. When possible we try to explicitly state that a mobile phone supports this enhanced messaging view.



SNS (Social network service)

A social network service or social networking service, most often called SNS, is a medium for establishing social networks of people who share interests and/or activities.


Social networking sites allow users to share ideas, activities, events, and interests within their individual networks. Most social network services are web based and provide means for users to interact in various ways, such as e-mail and instant messaging.


Modern internet-connected always-online phones stake a lot on SNS connectivity and integration with the various services getting more popular than ever.



Soft keys

Soft keys (a.k.a context keys) are keys with varying functionality depending on the context they are used in. These are usually situated right under the display and their current function is shown above it.



Soft Reset

A Soft Reset is the act of rebooting or restarting your device in order to clear its internal (non-storage) memory of running programs. This is a way to start afresh if an application is causing problems and is normally only used on smartphones.


Windows Mobile smartphones usually have a dedicated soft reset pinhole that can only be pressed with a sharp, pointed object such as a stylus. It’s designed to perform a soft reset when the device becomes unresponsive.



Speed Dial

A feature present on all mobile phones that allows the user to program a button from the alphanumeric keypad to automatically dial a custom phone number upon a longer press.



Stand-by time (battery life)

Stand-by time is the officially quoted longest time that a single battery charge will last when the phone is constantly connected to the GSM network but is not in active use.


The stand-by time is highly dependent on the cellular network environment, such as the distance to the closest GSM cell tower (base station). Moving the phone (as in a vehicle) also negatively affects battery life.


Manufacturers measure talk time in controlled conditions and the quoted numbers are rarely reached in real-life scenarios. These numbers are best used as reference when comparing phones from the same manufacturer because battery life measurement methodology will probably vary from manufacturer to manufacturer.


Quite often you will find the Stand-by time field in the specification pages of new phones empty as the manufacturers sometimes fail to disclose the info at the official announcement. Later on when the handset hits the market, the figures are usually revealed and accordingly, we take the care to add them to the database.



Stereo Speakers

Stereo speakers are two speakers built into a single device. They are usually positioned on the left and right side of the device and each speaker uses the respective channel of stereo sound, thus producing a stereo effect.



Streaming Video

Streaming video is a feature that allows real-time viewing of web video on a mobile device. This allows users to enjoy a video without downloading it prior to watching.




A small mechanical tool used to work with touch-screen devices. It is usually a simple stick of plastic or metal in the shape of a thin pen which has a softened tip so that it does not damage the screen.


Because of its familiar shape, handwriting and drawing on the touch-screen is much easier for the user, and it achieves far greater accuracy than a fingertip.




Sub-quarter common intermediate format is the smallest standard image size. With its resolution of 128 x 96 pixels, it provides low-resolution video clips and streaming video on mobile phones.




Super video graphics array is a standard size for images and displays. SVGA indicates a resolution of 800 x 600 pixels.




Symbian OS is an operating system designed for mobile devices. Symbian was the leading smartphone platform up from 2003 up until 2010 (even 2011 for Europe). After that Google’s Android OS took the lead.


The core Symbian OS originally provided no user interface. Instead, it was used as the underlying base for two major smartphone UI platforms: S60 and UIQ. These can be regarded as development branches, each backed by different companies. Unlike Android OS with its different cosmetic UIs, Symbian UIs ran deeper in the code and apps written for one of these platforms were not compatible with the other directly. Visually, the S60 and the UIQ had nothing in common and UIQ was created with touchscreens in mind.




SyncML is a standard for personal organizer data synchronization between different devices. This can cover any type of personal organizer data, such as contacts, to-do lists, notes etc.


The devices synchronized can be mobile devices (phones, PDAs) as well as stationary ones (PCs). SyncML even enables synchronization with web sites as it features an XML-based standard that all SyncML-compatible devices can recognize.



Talk time (battery life)

Talk time is the officially quoted longest time that a single battery charge will last when you are constantly talking on the phone.


The talk time is highly dependent on the cellular network environment such as the distance to the closest GSM cell tower. Moving fast while talking (as in a vehicle) also negatively affects battery life.


Manufacturers measure talk time in controlled conditions and the quoted numbers are rarely reached in real-life scenarios. These numbers are best used as reference when comparing phones from the same manufacturer because battery life measurement methodology will probably vary from manufacturer to manufacturer.


Quite often you will find the Talk time field in the specification pages of new phones empty as the manufacturers sometimes fail to disclose the info at the time of the official announcement. Later on, when the handset hits the market, the figures are usually revealed and accordingly, we take the care to add them to our database.




Transmission Control Protocol and Internet Protocol are in fact two cooperating protocols that are essential parts of the Internet protocol set. The TCP breaks the data into packets while the IP routes them.



TD-SCDMA (Time Division-Synchronous Code Division Multiple Access)

TD-SCDMA is a 3G format of choice for the national standard of 3G mobile telecommunication in China. TD-SCDMA was chosen as an attempt to escape dependency on the already implemented Western spread spectrum technology as using Western 3G formats calls for payment of high patent fees to a large number of western patent holders.


The launch of a national commercial TD-SCDMA network in China is still postponed and the technology is currently undergoing extensive field testing.


On January 7, 2009 China granted TD-SCDMA 3G licence to the national GSM carrier China Mobile. Networks using other 3G standards (WCDMA and CDMA2000 EV/DO) have still not been launched in China, as these are delayed until TD-SCDMA is ready. The two standards, WCDMA and CDMA-2000, are assigned to China Unicom and China Telecom, respectively.




UMTS or the Universal Mobile Telecommunications System is a third generation wireless network technology which allows speeds of up to 2Mbps.


UMTS is based on the WCDMA technology, which is why these terms have become interchangeable.




In the context of GSM mobile phones, tethering describes the process of connecting a phone to a computer so that the computer can access the internet via an EDGE/UMTS/HSDPA network. In this way, the mobile phone acts as a modem for the computer.


That specific use of the word “tethering” stems from the fact that to be used as a modem, the mobile phone usually has to be connected to the computer via a USB data cable. In recent years however the same thing has become possible without cables by using a Bluetooth connection.


Thus, tethering has turned into a generic term for using your mobile phone as a GSM modem for your computer.

Some carriers require that you sign up for special plans in order to use your phone for tethering, while for others it’s simply a matter of paying the data traffic used, much like you pay for browsing on your mobile phone.



Text messaging (texting)

Text messaging is a service allowing text messages to be sent and received on a mobile phone. This is also known as SMS (Short Message Service).



TFD (Thin Film Diode)

TFD is a kind of Liquid crystal display (LCD) technology. It is an active-matrix technology which means that a diode is situated next to each pixel making it possible for the pixels to be turned on and off individually. This allows a quicker response time and more contrast than passive-matrix technologies.


TFD takes the excellent picture quality and the fast response of TFT displays and combines them with the low power consumption and cost of the STN ones.



TFT (Thin Film Transistor)

TFT is one of the best Liquid Cristal Display technologies in terms of image quality and response time. However, it also consumes more power and is more expensive.


TFT, like TFD, is an active-matrix technology. This means a transistor is located next to each pixel, allowing it to be turned on and off individually. This ensures faster response time and greater contrast.




A theme is a motif used in the user interface of a device. It usually consists of set of matching elements to create the look of the menus, text boxes etc. Another popular term used to describe this is ‘skin’.


Themes or skins allow the user of the device to customize the interface to reflect their own tastes.



To-Do list

The To-Do list is a type of organizer application available on most mobile phones. It allows the user to write down a list of personal tasks. These can also be prioritized and, if needed, assigned a due date.




Refers to a display which responds to direct touch manipulation, either by finger, stylus, or both.




A trackball is pointing device allowing four-axis control. It consists of a small ball embedded on the device surface, partially exposed so the user can move a finger across it to rotate it in any direction. This allows fast scrolling in any direction.




Refer to microSD.




A transflective – also known as transreflective liquid crystal – display (LCD) is one that is able to reflect most of the sunlight it is exposed to and automatically adjust its backlighting depending on the amount of light shining on it. This strongly reduces the need for manual light adjustment of the screen.


Transflective LCD displays combine the benefits of transmissive and reflective ones, which makes them equally readable in both bright sunlight and low-light conditions.




A Tri-band GSM phone is one that supports three of the four major GSM frequency bands, allowing it to work in most parts of the world. The two most common kinds of tri-band GSM phones are the European type, which support the 900, 1800 and 1900 frequencies and the American type, which cover the 850, 1800 and 1900 frequencies.



UI (User Interface)

User Interface is the software front for interacting with the technical features of a mobile phone.


Although the term can also be used for hardware input such as controls or keys, in the area of mobile phones it’s most frequently used to refer to the software-controlled elements displayed on the screen that are used to interact with the device. That includes icons in the menus, text boxes, etc.


User Interfaces that are easier to use than others are referred to as more user-friendly.




UIQ is a touchscreen user interface for the Symbian OS. Owned and developed by Sony Ericsson and Motorola, the user interface is now outdated and the software company UIQ Technology filed for bankruptcy on 5 January 2009.




Unlicensed Mobile Access enables access to cellular mobile voice and data services over unlicensed spectrum technologies such as Bluetooth or Wi-Fi (802.11).


The idea behind this technology is the following: when there is an accessible Wi-Fi hotspot near you, the UMA-enabled device can connect to it and use the broadband connection for making and accepting calls and sending and receiving data. It is very similar to using wireless VoIP-telephony on your GSM mobile phone.


The UMA-enabled phone is also be able to use regular GSM base stations as any normal mobile phone can. The handset is able to seamlessly change connections between the licensed cellular radio access network and the unlicensed IP network, even in the middle of a call.


All you need to use the new technology is a UMA-enabled device, an operator that supports UMA, and an Internet broadband connection that you can access via Wi-Fi (WLAN).


The most important difference from the widely known VoIP technology is that UMA is tightly linked to the mobile radio network, which is used for routing, authentication and billing. A call initiated using the Wi-Fi interface reaches the 2G core network through the UMA Network and once the signal is transferred, it becomes indistinguishable from the rest of the cellular traffic.




UMTS or the Universal Mobile Telecommunications System is a third generation wireless network technology which allows speeds of up to 2Mbps.


UMTS is based on the WCDMA technology, which is why these terms have become interchangeable.



Unlocked phone

A phone without a carrier SIM lock.




Upload is also known as uplink and means the one way connection from a device (phone, PDA, laptop computer) to a network or server (mobile phone network, internet etc.).



UPnP (Universal Plug and Play)

Universal Plug and Play represents a couple of standards used to connect digital devices to both wired and wireless networks. It’s intended for use in PCs, TVs and some other types of devices. In mobiles, UPnP is used to allow the sharing of media files through Wi-Fi networks as well as to connect the device to a PC or a TV.



USB (Universal Serial Bus)

USB is a standard for a wired connection between two electronic devices, including a mobile phone and a desktop computer. The connection is made by a cable that has a connector at either end. One end, the one that plugs into the computer, is the same across all USB cables while the one that plugs into the mobile device can be of various types such as miniUSB, microUSB or a proprietary connector.


USB version 1.1 provides maximum speeds of up to 1.5 MB/s while the current version 2.0 is about 40 times faster. The versions are backwards compatible and the speed is limited by the slower device. Transferring data may require drivers to be installed on the desktop computer but some phones offer “mass storage” mode which means they appear as thumb drives to the computer and no special drivers are needed.


In addition to their data transferring application, USB cables also carry an electric charge that can be used to power peripherals (such as USB mice or keyboards), and many mobile phones can be charged through their USB port.




Refers to SIM card.



VGA (Video Graphics Array)

One of the resolution standards used for images, videos and displays. VGA means a resolution of 640 pixels x 480 pixels.



Video call

Video call is a 3G network feature that allows two callers to talk to each other while at the same time viewing live video form each other’s phone. To make a video call, both users should have 3G phones which support this feature and they both need to be in range of a 3G network.



Video Codec

A video codec is the part of the software that handles converting stored digital information back to images and vice-versa. Different codecs have different capabilities, making them suitable for different applications.


Regular feature phones come with a fixed set of video codecs, while the capability of smartphones to playback different codecs can usually be expanded by installing third-party solutions.


The most popular mobile codecs are H.263 used in 3GP videos, H.264 in MPEG4 videos, and DivX and XviD for avi files.



Voice dialing

Voice dialing is a feature most modern phones support. It allows the user to dial a number by a voice command.


There are two ways this is done. The first way is for the user to record the commands in advance and then use them. This normally means that only the user who has recorded the commands may apply them.


The other kind of voice-dialing enabled phones use text recognition and no prerecording is required. When someone issues a command these devices simply match it to the nearest contact in the phone book.


This feature does not depend on the speaker and usually performs better than the former method. However, it is not commonly avaible, especially in older phones.



Voice mail

Voice mail is a network feature offered by most networks. It is similar to an answering machine and allows the caller to leave a voice message if the person called is unavailable.


This feature means that the person who received the message can listen to it whenever necessary.



Voice memo

Voice memos allow the users of devices that support them to record a note that can be heard whenever and wherever necessary. Some devices limit the duration of such memos whereas other allow recording until they run out of memory.



VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol)

Voice over Internet Protocol is a technology which allows the transmission of voice over data networks. This makes normal phone calls over such networks possible.



VPN (Virtual Private Network)

A set of communication protocols that allows remote users to securely access a remote network. An example of this technology is when you access your corporate Intranet remotely from your mobile phone.


If your company has a VPN server set up, you can enter the connection details on a supported device and join the corporate Intranet with all user rights and privileges you would have if you were physically there. At the same time, the connection remains secure from unauthorized access.



WAP (Wireless Application protocol)

WAP is an international standard for applications that use wireless communication. Its most common application is to enable access to the Internet from a mobile phone or a PDA.


WAP sites are websites written in or converted to WML (Wireless Markup Language) and accessed via the WAP browser


WAP websites are now considered outdated as most modern phones have web browsers with HTML support.



WCDMA(Wideband Code Division Multiple Access)

Wideband CDMA is a third-generation (3G) wireless standard which allows use of both voice and data and offers data speeds of up to 384 Kbps.


The frequency bands for WCDMA are as follows: Europe and Asia – 2100MHz, North America – 1900MHz and 850MHz.


WCDMA is also called UMTS and the two terms have become interchangeable.


Some parts of the WCDMA are based on GSM technology and the networks are designed to integrate the GSM networks at some levels.




WebOS is a proprietary operating system, based on a Linux kernel, and developed by Palm for its last generation of smartphones.


The first WebOS device was the original Palm Pre, released by Sprint in the US in June 2009.


The webOS offered some innovative UI features, which gained lots of popularity. Unfortunately, the platform didn’t provide the traction Palm needed on the smartphone market.


In 2010 HP acquired Palm and later on in 2011 released a tablet using the OS – the HP TouchPad. After some restructuring changes, it was decided that HP will no longer develop webOS and the TouchPad project was abandoned.


Later on HP released an open source version of the OS called Open WebOS.




Wi-Fi is a WLAN (Wireless Local Area Network) technology. It provides short-range wireless high-speed data connections between mobile data devices (such as laptops, PDAs or phones) and nearby Wi-Fi access points (special hardware connected to a wired network).


The most common variant of Wi-Fi is 802.11g, which is capable of providing speeds of up to 54Mbps and is backwards compatible with 802.11b (providing up to 11Mbps).


There is currently a new standard in the works called 802.11n (offering twice the speeds of 802.11b) and there are already retail networking devices that support its draft specifications.


Wi-Fi is much faster than any data technologies operating through the cellular network like GPRS, EDGE and even UMTS and HSDPA.


The range covered by a Wi-Fi access point is from 30 to 100 meters indoors while outdoors a single access point can cover about 650 meters.



Windows Mobile

Windows Mobile is one of the major smartphone platforms and until recently the only touch-enabled smartphone platform.


Windows Mobile actually has two distinct editions – Windows Mobile Standard and Windows Mobile Professional.


Software written for either of the editions is not compatible with the other.


The main difference between the editions is that Windows Mobile Professional supports touchscreen and handwriting recognition.


Windows Mobile is a product created by Microsoft but as the company does not produce any phones itself, it licenses the platform to hardware manufacturers.


Before version 6 was released the Windows Mobile Standard edition was known as Windows Mobile for Smartphone, while the Professional edition was referred to as Windows Mobile for PocketPC.



Windows Phone OS

Windows Phone is a proprietary mobile operating system developed by Microsoft. Windows Phone introduced a new design language, previously called Metro UI, but later renamed to simply Modern.


Microsoft licenses the software to third-party hardware manufacturers, but keeps a stringent list of minimum requirements for the hardware it runs on to ensure the best user experience.


In 2011 Nokia announced it has chosen Windows Phone as the OS for all its future smartphones providing a solid backing for the fledgling OS and in the same time betting all of its mobile phone business on its success.



Wireless email

Email is everywhere now and almost everyone has their own, password-protected email account. Wireless email however is the ability to send and receive email over wireless devices. As GPRS and 3G networks give users constant connectivity access to their email, wireless email services are recently becoming increasingly popular.


There are a wide variety of handsets available today that support wireless push email services.


Push refers to technologies that allow a central system, for example the mobile phone network, to send – or push – information to an end-user without any action on their part or on the part of the mobile device.


With push email, emails are sent directly to the mobile device as soon as the email server receives them rather than waiting for the user or email client to request the email.


Today’s push email devices range from mid-priced mobile phones through to smartphones and email-centric phones such as RIM’s Blackberry.


As wireless email solutions are widely integrated in corporate scenarios, support for the existing corporate email services such MS Exchange ActiveSync, Blackberry Connect or IBM Lotus as is getting more and more common in regular handsets.


Unfortunately, we usually don’t publish all the email services supported by the mobile phones in our database. As this is the case, you should always seek further information regarding support of specific services. When you see email support listed on our specs pages, please bear in mind that it only guarantees basic POP and SMTP protocols support and as manufacturers always like to point out, specifications can always be changed without notice.




Wireless Local-Area Network is a way of providing a wireless high speed connection between data devices or a data device and an access point over a short range. See Wi-Fi.



WMV (Windows Media Video)

WMV stands for Windows Media Video, a file format created for – and therefore most commonly used to work with – Windows Media Player software which is featured on almost all Windows platform-based devices.


Most third-party video players also support the format or at least some of its versions.



Xenon flash

A xenon flash produces an extremely intense full-spectrum white light for a very short duration. It consists of a glass tube filled with xenon gas which emits a short and very bright flash of white light when a high voltage is applied.


Usually, xenon flashes are brighter than the LED flashes found in most camera phones. However they cannot be used as video light and the condenser they use as a power source needs some time to recharge after each shot.


The presence of a xenon flash on a mobile phone doesn’t necessarily mean a more powerful flash performance. The power of the xenon flash is dependent on the size of the condenser used to power it up.

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