How to Select a Smartphone

A smartphone is a high-end mobile phone built on a mobile computing platform, with more advanced computing ability and connectivity than a contemporary feature phone.  The first smartphones were devices that mainly combined the functions of a personal digital assistant (PDA) and a mobile phone or camera phone. Today’s models also serve to combine the functions of portable media players, low-end compact digital cameras, pocket video cameras, and GPS navigation units. Modern smartphones typically also include high-resolution touchscreens, web browsers that can access and properly display standard web pages rather than just mobile-optimized sites, and high-speed data access via Wi-Fi and mobile broadband.

The most common mobile operating systems (OS) used by modern smartphones include Google’s Android, Apple’s iOS, Microsoft’sWindows Phone, Nokia’s Symbian, RIM’s BlackBerry OS, and embedded Linux distributions such as Maemo and MeeGo. Such operating systems can be installed on many different phone models, and typically each device can receive multiple OS software updates over its lifetime.

The distinction between smartphones and feature phones can be vague and there is no official definition for what constitutes the difference between them. One of the most significant differences is that the advanced application programming interfaces (APIs) on smartphones for running third-party applications can allow those applications to have better integration with the phone’s OS and hardware than is typical with feature phones. In comparison, feature phones more commonly run on proprietary firmware, with third-party software support through platforms such as Java ME or BREW. An additional complication in distinguishing between smartphones and feature phones is that over time the capabilities of new models of feature phones can increase to exceed those of phones that had been promoted as smartphones in the past.


Early years

The first smartphone was the IBM Simon; it was designed in 1992 and shown as a concept product that year at COMDEX, the computer industry trade show held in Las Vegas, Nevada. It was released to the public in 1993 and sold by BellSouth. Besides being a mobile phone, it also contained a calendar, address book, world clock, calculator, note pad, e-mail client, the ability to send and receive faxes, and games. It had no physical buttons, instead customers used a touchscreen to select telephone numbers with a finger or create faxes and memos with an optional stylus. Text was entered with a unique on-screen “predictive” keyboard. By today’s standards, the Simon would be a fairly low-end product, lacking a camera and the ability to download third-party applications. However, its feature set at the time was highly advanced.

The Nokia Communicator line was the first of Nokia’s smartphones starting with the Nokia 9000, released in 1996. This distinctive palmtop computer style smartphone was the result of a collaborative effort of an early successful and costly personal digital assistant (PDA) by Hewlett-Packard combined with Nokia’s best-selling phone around that time, and early prototype models had the two devices fixed via a hinge. The Communicators are characterized by a clamshell design, with a feature phone display, keyboard and user interface on top of the phone, and a physical QWERTY keyboard, high-resolution display of at least 640×200 pixels and PDA user interface under the flip-top. The software was based on the GEOS V3.0operating system, featuring email communication and text-based web browsing. In 1998, it was followed by Nokia 9110, and in 2000 by Nokia 9110i, with improved web browsing capability.

In 1997 the term ‘smartphone’ was used for the first time when Ericsson unveiled the concept phone GS88, the first device labeled as ‘smartphone’.


In 2000, the touchscreen Ericsson R380 Smartphone was released. It was the first device to use an open operating system, the Symbian OS. It was the first device marketed as a ‘smartphone’. It combined the functions of a mobile phone and a personal digital assistant (PDA). In December 1999 the magazine Popular Science appointed the Ericsson R380 Smartphone to one of the most important advances in science and technology. It was a groundbreaking device since it was as small and light as a normal mobile phone. In 2002 it was followed up by P800.

Also in 2000, the Nokia 9210 communicator was introduced, which was the first color screen model from the Nokia Communicator line. It was a true smartphone with an open operating system, the Symbian OS. It was followed by the 9500 Communicator, which also was Nokia’s first camera phone and first Wi-Fi phone. The 9300 Communicator was smaller, and the latest E90 Communicator includes GPS. The Nokia Communicator model is remarkable for also having been the most costly phone model sold by a major brand for almost the full life of the model series, costing easily 20% and sometimes 40% more than the next most expensive smartphone by any major producer.

In 2007 Nokia launched the Nokia N95 which integrated a wide range of multimedia features into a consumer-oriented smartphone: GPS, a 5 megapixel camera with autofocus and LED flash, 3G and Wi-Fi connectivity and TV-out. In the next few years these features would become standard on high-end smartphones. The Nokia 6110 Navigator is a Symbian based dedicated GPS phone introduced in June 2007.

In 2010 Nokia released the Nokia N8 smartphone with a stylus-free capacitive touchscreen, the first device to use the new Symbian^3 OS. It featured a 12 megapixel camera with Xenon flash capable of recording HD video in 720p, described by Mobile Burn as the best camera in a phone, and satellite navigation that Mobile Choice described as the best on any phone. It also featured a front-facing VGA camera for videoconferencing.

Symbian was the number one smartphone platform by market share from 1996 until 2011 when it dropped to second place behind Google’s Android OS. In February 2011, Nokia announced that it would replace Symbian with Windows Phone as the operating system on all of its future smartphones. This transition was completed in October 2011, when Nokia announced its first line of Windows Phone 7.5 smartphones, Lumia 710 and 800.

Palm, Windows, and BlackBerry

In the late 1990s the vast majority of mobile phones had only basic phone features and many people who needed functionality beyond that also carried PDA and/or pager type devices running early versions of operating systems such as Palm OS, BlackBerry OS or Windows CE/Pocket PC. Later versions of these systems started integrating cell phone capabilities with their PDA and messaging features and support of third-party applications. Today, high-end devices running these systems are often branded smartphones.

In early 2001, Palm, Inc. introduced the Kyocera 6035, the first smartphone to be deployed in widespread use in the United States. This device combined the features of a personal digital assistant (PDA) with a wireless phone that operated on the Verizon Wireless network. For example, a user could select a name from the PDA contact list, and the device would dial that contact’s phone number. The device also supported limited web browsing. The device received a very positive reception from technology publications, but the product line never became widespread outside North America.

In 2001 Microsoft announced its Windows CE Pocket PC OS would be offered as “Microsoft Windows Powered Smartphone 2002.” Microsoft originally defined its Windows Smartphone products as lacking a touchscreen and offering a lower screen resolution compared to its sibling Pocket PC devices.

In early 2002 Handspring released the Palm OS Treo smartphone, utilizing a full keyboard that combined wireless web browsing, email, calendar, and contact organizer with mobile third-party applications that could be downloaded or synced with a computer.

In 2002 RIM released their first BlackBerry devices with integrated phone functionality and shifted the positioning of their products from 2-way pagers to email-capable mobile phones. The BlackBerry line evolved into the first smartphone optimized for wireless email use and had achieved a total customer base of about 32 million subscribers by December 2009.

In February 2011 Nokia announced a plan to make Microsoft Windows Phone its main operating system of choice for new Nokia smartphones.



In 2007, Apple Inc. introduced its first iPhone. It was initially costly, priced at $499 for the cheaper of two models on top of a two year contract. The first mobile phone to use a multi-touch interface, the iPhone was notable for its use of a large touchscreen for direct finger input as its main means of interaction, instead of having a stylus, keyboard, and/or keypad, which were the typical input methods for other smartphones at the time. The iPhone featured a web browser that Ars Technica then described as “far superior” to anything offered by that of its competitors. Initially lacking the capability to install native applications beyond the ones built-in to its OS, at WWDC in June 2007 Apple announced that the iPhone would support third-party “web 2.0 applications” running in its web browser that share the look and feel of the iPhone interface. As a result of the iPhone’s initial inability to install third-party native applications, some reviewers did not consider the originally released device to accurately fit the definition of a smartphone “by conventional terms.” A process called jailbreaking emerged quickly to provide unofficial third-party native applications. There are many different functions of the iPhone including a GPS unit, kitchen timer, radio, map book, calendar, notepad, and many other features that replace objects we have to carry around each day. This allows for more ease in everyday life. For example, a college student can now keep track of every task and have all the gadgets he or she needs to function in everyday life.

In July 2008, Apple introduced its second generation iPhone with a lower list price starting at $199 and 3G support. Released with it, Apple also created the App Store, adding the capability for any iPhone or iPod Touch to officially execute additional native applications (both free and paid) installed directly over a Wi-Fi or cellular network, without the more typical process at the time of requiring a PC for installation. Applications could additionally be browsed through and downloaded directly via the iTunes software client on Macintosh and Windows PCs, rather than by searching through multiple sites across the Internet. Featuring over 500 applications at launch, Apple’s App Store was immediately very popular, quickly growing to become a huge success.

In June of 2010, Apple introduced iOS 4, which included APIs to allow third-party applications to multitask, and the iPhone 4, which included a 960×640 pixel display with a pixel density of 326 pixels per inch (ppi), a 5 megapixel camera with LED flash capable of recording HD video in 720p at 30 frames per second, a front-facing VGA camera for videoconferencing, a 1 GHz processor, and other improvements. In early 2011 the iPhone 4 became available through Verizon Wireless, ending AT&T’s exclusivity of the handset in the U.S., and allowing the handset’s 3G connection to be used as a wireless Wi-Fi hotspot for the first time, to up to 5 other devices. Software updates subsequently added this capability to other iPhones running iOS 4.

The iPhone 4S was announced on October 4, 2011, improving upon the iPhone 4 with a dual core A5 processor, an 8 megapixel camera capable of recording 1080p video at 30 frames per second, World phone capability allowing it to work on both GSM & CDMA networks, and the Siri automated voice assistant. On October 10th, Apple announced that over one million iPhone 4Ss had been pre-ordered within the first 24 hours of it being on sale, beating the 600,000 device record set by the iPhone 4, despite the iPhone 4S failing to impress some critics at the announcement  due to their expectations of an “iPhone 5″ with rumored drastic changes compared to the iPhone 4 such as a new case design and larger screen.  Along with the iPhone 4S Apple also released iOS 5 and iCloud, untethering iOS devices from Macintosh or Windows PCs for device activation, backup, and synchronization,  along with additional new and improved features.

There are about 35 percent of Americans that have some sort of smartphone. This shows that the market is spreading fast and there are also more capabilities for smartphones because of this spread.

Smartphones are also mainly valuable based on the operating system. For example, the iPhone runs on the iOS and other devices run different operating systems which makes the functionality of these systems different.



The Android operating system for smartphones was released in 2008. Android is an open-source platform backed by Google, along with major hardware and software developers (such as Intel, HTC, ARM, Motorola and Samsung, to name a few), that form the Open Handset Alliance. The first phone to use Android was the HTC Dream, branded for distribution by T-Mobile as the G1. The software suite included on the phone consists of integration with Google’s proprietary applications, such as Maps, Calendar, and Gmail, and a full HTML web browser. Android supports the execution of native applications and a preemptive multitasking capability (in the form of services). Third-party apps are available via the Android Market (released October 2008), including both free and paid apps.

In January 2010, Google launched the Nexus One smartphone using its Android OS. Although Android has multi-touch abilities, Google initially removed that feature from the Nexus One, but it was added through a firmware update on February 2, 2010.

Concerning the Xperia Play smartphone, an analyst at CCS Insight said in March 2011 that “Console wars are moving to the mobile platform”. In the same month, the HTC EVO 3D was announced by HTC Corporation, which can produce 3D effects with no need for special glasses (autostereoscopy). The HTC EVO 3D was officially released on June 24, 2011.



The Bada operating system for smartphones was announced by Samsung on 10 November 2009. The first Bada-based phone was the Samsung Wave S8500, released on June 1, 2010, which sold one million handsets in its first 4 weeks on the market.

Samsung shipped 3.5 million phones running Bada in Q1 of 2011. This rose to 4.5 million phones in Q2 of 2011.



Screens on smartphones vary largely in both display size and display resolution. The most common screen sizes range from 2 inches to over 4 inches (measured diagonally). Some 5 inch screen devices exist that run on mobile OSes and have the ability to make phone calls, such as the discontinued Dell Streak and the current Samsung Galaxy Note. Ergonomics arguments have been made that increasing screen sizes start to negatively impact usability.

Common resolutions for smartphone screens vary from 240×320 to 720×1280, with many flagship Android phones at 480×800 or 540×960, the iPhone 4/4S at 640×960 and Galaxy Nexus and HTC Rezound at 720×1280.


How to Select a Smartphone: Application stores

The introduction of Apple’s App Store for the iPhone and iPod Touch in July 2008 popularized manufacturer-hosted online distribution for third-party applications focused on a single platform. Prior to this, smartphone application distribution was largely dependent on third-party sources providing applications for multiple platforms, such as GetJar, Handango, Handmark,  PocketGear, and others.

The iPhone’s platform is officially restricted to installing apps through the App Store, through “B2B” deployment, and on an “Ad Hoc” basis on up to 100 iPhones. Through jailbreaking it can install apps from other sources. Other platforms may allow application distribution through additional sources outside of their manufacturer-provided app stores, such as third-party app stores and downloads from individual websites.

Following the success of Apple’s App Store other smartphone manufacturers quickly launched application stores of their own. Google launched the Android Market in October 2008. RIM launched its app store, BlackBerry App World, in April 2009. Nokia launched its Ovi Store in May 2009. Palm launched its Palm App Catalog for webOS in June 2009. Microsoft launched an application store for Windows Mobile called Windows Marketplace for Mobile in October 2009, and then a separate Windows Phone Marketplace for Windows Phone in October 2010. Samsung launched Samsung Apps for its bada based phones in June 2010.Amazon launched its Amazon Appstore for the Google Android operating system in March 2011.

The relatively high revenue of U.S. $1782 million in 2010 for Apple’s App Store compared to competitor’s stores can be attributed to a combination of factors. In large part this can be attributed to having the largest number of apps available and the highest download volume of any mobile app store in 2010, but besides that only 28% of the apps in Apple’s App Store were free apps, compared to over 57% in the Android Market. Similarly, Nokia’s Ovi Store and the BlackBerry App World both had only 26% of their apps available for free, but both generated higher revenues than the Android Market despite having much lower download volumes.

Malicious software attacks

As smartphone adoption goes up they have increasingly become subject to attacks by malicious software (malware).

Frequently this malware is distributed through application stores that have minimal or no review process for their content. In some cases malware has been hidden in pirated versions of legitimate apps, which are then distributed through 3rd party app stores. Malware risk also comes from what’s known as an “update attack,” where a legitimate application is later changed to include a malware component, which users then install when they are notified that the app has been updated. Additionally, the ability to acquire software directly from links on the web results in a distribution vector called “malvertizing,” where users are directed to click on links, such as on ads that look legitimate, which then open in the device’s web browser and cause malware to be downloaded and installed automatically.

Typical smartphone malware leverages platform vulnerabilities that allow it to gain root access on the device in the background. Using this access the malware installs additional software to target communications, location, or other personal identifying information. A common form of malware on mobile phones is the SMS trojan, which sends premium SMS messages, possibly while unknowingly running in the background of a legitimate application. These premium SMS messages run up charges on the owners phone bill which cannot be recovered.

In August 2010, Kaspersky Lab reported detection of the first malicious program for smartphones running on Google’s Android operating system, named Trojan-SMS.AndroidOS.FakePlayer.a, an SMS trojan which had already infected a number of devices using that OS. Over the spring of 2011 Android malware increased 76%, according to McAfee. A report from Juniper Global Threat Center notes that malware on the Android platform increased 400% from 2009 to the summer of 2010, and then saw a 472% increase between July and November 2011. The Juniper report indicates that 55% of Android malware acts as spyware, and 44% are SMS trojans.

While there have been and continue to be potential security flaws in iOS, as of at least August 2011 there were no known malware or spyware apps in Apple’s App Store, according to security firm Lookout. There are however commercial spyware applications available, outside the App Store, for jailbroken iOS devices. In June 2011 Symantec’s 23-page report “A Window Into Mobile Device Security” characterized (non-jailbroken) devices running iOS as having “full protection” against malware attacks.

Symbian and older versions Windows Mobile have had to contend with a degree of malware in the past, but as legacy systems it is believed that the people who previously targeted them have shifted their focus to Android. There were also a few Palm OS viruses.

The only mobile platform other than Apple’s iOS without reports of malware so far is HP’s (formerly Palm’s) webOS, but this may be explained by its relatively low adoption rate.

The best way to reduce a device’s vulnerability to malware attacks is to install the most recent versions of operating systems which include security patches. This can be complicated by long delays  in software updates for many devices which have had their software modified with custom “skins,” services, or promotional on-deck apps by their manufacturer or mobile carrier. In some cases a device may no longer be receiving updates from its manufacturer or carrier, leaving it vulnerable to exploits that have been patched in an OS version that’s more recent than the device’s last supported one.

Market share

Smartphone market share

For several years, demand for advanced mobile devices boasting powerful processors and graphics processing units, abundant storage (flash memory) for applications and media files, high-resolution screens with multi-touch capability, and open operating systems has outpaced the rest of the mobile phone market.

According to an early 2010 study by ComScore, over 45.5 million people in the United States owned smartphones out of 234 million total subscribers. Despite the large increase in smartphone sales in the last few years, smartphone shipments only made up 20% of total handset shipments as of the first half of 2010.

According to Gartner in their report dated November 2010, total smartphone sales doubled in one year and now smartphones represent 19.3 percent of total mobile phone sales. Smartphone sales increased in 2010 by 72.1 percent from the prior year, whereas sales for all mobile phones only increased by 31.8 percent.

According to an Olswang report in early 2011, the rate of smartphone adoption is accelerating: as of March 2011 22% of UK consumers had a smartphone, with this percentage rising to 31% amongst 24- to 35-year-olds.

In March 2011, Berg Insight reported data that showed global smartphone shipments increased 74% from 2009 to 2010.

A survey of mobile users in the United States by Nielsen in Q3, 2011 reports that smartphone ownership has reached 43% of all U.S. mobile subscribers, with the vast majority of users under the age of 44 owning one. In the 25-34 age range smartphone ownership is reported to be at 62%. NPD Group reports that the share of handset sales that were smartphones in Q3, 2011 reached 59% for consumers 18 and over in the U.S.

In profit share worldwide smartphones now far exceed the share of non-smartphones. According to a November 2011 research note from Canaccord Genuity, Apple Inc. holds 52% of the total mobile industry’s operating profits, while only holding 4.2% of the global handset market. HTC and RIM similarly only make smartphones and their wordwide profit shares are at 9% and 7%, respectively. Samsung, in second place after Apple at 29%, makes both smartphones and feature phones and doesn’t report a breakdown separating their profits between the two kinds of devices, but it can be intuited that a significant portion of that profit comes from their flagship smartphone devices.

Operating system market shares

2010 saw the rapid rise of the Google Android operating system from 4 percent of new deployments in 2009 to 33 percent at the beginning of 2011 making it share the top position with the since long dominating Symbian OS. The smaller rivals include US popular Blackberry OS, iOS, Samsung’s recently introduced bada, HP’s heir of Palm webOS and the Microsoft Windows Phone OS which is now supported by Nokia.

Over late 2009 and 2010 Android’s smartphone operating system market share increased very rapidly. In the fourth quarter of 2010, Android surpassed Symbian as the most common operating system in smartphones, with 32.9 million units sold versus 31.0 million. Android-equipped phones sold seven times more than in the prior year. According to Canalys, Google’s Android operating system, which is offered to phone makers for free, has raced to the top past operating systems by Nokia, Apple, RIM, and Microsoft. In Q1 2011 Google’s Android market share was 35 percent, increasing significantly from 10 percent the previous year, while Nokia’s Symbian dropped to 26 percent from 46 percent over the same time period. In the UK, which currently has one of the highest penetrations of smartphones in the World, Android achieved 50% market share in October 2011

Enterprise share by operating system

In a worldwide study of 2,300 workers at 1,100 businesses by iPass it was reported that Apple’s iPhones have displaced RIM’s BlackBerry devices in enterprise adoption in 2011. The share for iPhones increased to 45% from 31.1% in 2010, while the Blackberry share dropped to 32.2% from 34.5% in the previous year. Android phones also increased in share, to 21.3% from 11.3% in 2010, exceeding Symbian for the first time, which dropped to 7.4% from 12.4%. Windows Mobile and all other smartphone OSes also dropped in 2011 compared to 2010.

Customer loyalty by operating system

According to a survey of more than 6,000 smartphone users through 2010 by mobile analytics firm Zokem, the top five loyalty scores for smartphone platforms are the iPhone at 73%, followed by Google’s Android at 40%, Samsung’s Bada at 33%, RIM’s BlackBerry at 30%, and Symbian S60 at 23%. Windows Mobile and Palm follow at 10% each. Customer loyalty gauges the likelihood that the user of a smartphone platform whose contract has expired or who has broken or lost their phone will repurchase another one that uses that same platform.

Manufacturer market shares

From the launch of their Communicator model in 1996 until 2011 Nokia was dominant in the smartphone market, but as of Q2 2011 Apple, Inc. has become the worldwide number one single manufacturer of smartphones by revenue, profit, and volume, followed by Samsung, with Nokia now in third place and the remaining 48.9% of vendor market share split amongst all other manufacturers. Based on a report by Strategy Analytics, Samsung overtook Apple in smartphone shipments with an estimated 27.8 million units shipped in Q3 2011 (Samsung does not publicly disclose the numbers of their smartphone shipments and sales). Strategy Analytics compared this to the 17.1 million smartphones Apple announced they had sold (not just shipped) in Q3 2011. It is believed that one significant reason for the drop in sales of Apple’s smartphones from 18.5 million in Q2 to 17.1 million in Q3 was that consumers and operators were awaiting the launch of a new iPhone model in the fourth quarter. A reason for Samsung’s growth is believed to be because of their diversity of models, with both high and low-end smartphones, while Apple had been targeting only the high-end market. Along with the release of the iPhone 4S, however, Apple began offering the iPhone 3GS for free with contract on many carriers, providing them with a low-end offering to better compete in that space.

Market share among smartphone manufacturers does not resemble smartphone OS market share numbers due to the differences between the two major smartphone OS sales models: single manufacturer and licensed. Apple’s iPhone, Nokia’s Symbian, and RIM’s BlackBerry smartphones are currently only available from single manufacturers. Google’s Android OS and Microsoft’s mobile OSes are platforms that are licensed and used by a variety of manufacturers. As a result, manufacturers of smartphones using licensed OSes all split the total market share of that OS between them, while the total share for a single-manufacturer OS is held by that manufacturer alone.

Note that Nokia’s Symbian OS was previously available from several manufacturers under a licensed model, then later predominantly only by Nokia itself more like a single manufacturer model.

Samsung smartphones use a diverse portfolio of operating systems, including their own Bada operating system along with Android and Windows Mobile.

Apple surpassed Nokia worldwide by revenue and profit for the first time in Q2 2011, with Apple’s profit share of the total worldwide smartphone market increasing to 66.3% while Nokia reported a loss. Apple’s iPhone sales also overtook Nokia’s Symbian smartphone volume shipments by 20.3 million and 16.7 million respectively, although these figures compare Apple’s total phone sales to only Symbian which Nokia had already announced plans to phase out (Nokia have other platforms such as S40, not included in these statistics).

Between Q2 2010 and Q2 2011 Nokia’s worldwide Symbian smartphone sales dropped significantly from 38.1 percent to 15.2 percent, while Samsung smartphone sales increased significantly worldwide from 5.0 percent to 17.5 percent.

Nokia still remains the number one company in the worldwide mobile phone market with sales for Q2 2011 of 88.5 million when including feature phone platforms such as S40, compared with 16.7 million smartphones running Symbian.

According to Nielsen in July 2011, in the United States Apple is the top smartphone manufacturer at 28% of the market, with RIM at 20%. Google Android has 39% of the U.S. market as a whole, but this is split between HTC at 14%, Motorola at 11%, Samsung at 8%, and other remaining manufacturers at 6%. HTC’s total share of the U.S. smartphone market actually ties RIM at 20%, since sales of their smartphones running Microsoft’s mobile operating systems account for 6% of the total market. Samsung similarly gains 2% of overall U.S. market share due to their sales of Microsoft OS-based smartphones. In contrast to the worldwide market, Nokia’s share of U.S. smartphone sales is very small, at only 2%.  Nielsen’s Q3, 2011 survey of mobile users maintains Apple as the top U.S. smartphone maker with a continued 28% of the market, with RIM dropping from 20% to 18%. While Google Android increased in total operating system share from 39% to 43% of the U.S. market, it remains fragmented amongst many different manufacturers. Over the same quarter Microsoft managed a modest gain from 6% to 7% total U.S. smartphone OS share.

Checks with U.S. carriers by technology analyst firm Canaccord Genuity in April and August 2011 have found that Apple’s iPhone 4 has consistently been the top selling device at AT&T and Verizon. In addition, the second most popular spot at AT&T has been maintained by the iPhone 3GS, which was originally released in 2009 (and has never been sold on Verizon). In August 2011 the most popular smartphones on Sprint and T-Mobile in the U.S. were the HTC EVO 3D 4G and HTC Sensation, respectively. The other second most popular smartphones were the Samsung Charge 4G on Verizon, the Motorola Photon 4G on Sprint, and the HTC myTouch 4G Slide on T-Mobile. NPD Group reported that in Q3, 2011 the overall top 5 smartphones by sales across all carriers in the U.S. were, in order: the iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, HTC EVO 4G, Motorola Droid 3, and Samsung Intensity II.

Currently the vast majority of smartphones are manufactured in China, Taiwan and Mexico, for companies based in the U.S. (Apple, HP, Motorola), South Korea (LG, Samsung), Canada (RIM), Finland (Nokia), Taiwan (HTC) and the U.K. (Sony Ericsson).

In Q3 2011, Samsung became the world’s number one smartphone vendor, selling 24 million smartphones. Nokia’s Symbian platform remained in second place with 19.5 million Symbian smartphones, and Apple fell to third place, with 17 million phones. Android had 52.5% of the market, with 60.5 million Android phones being sold. In the US, HTC became the largest smartphone vendor.

Customer satisfaction by manufacturer

According to global marketing information services firm J.D. Power and Associates smartphones from Apple Inc. have been consistently ranking highest in customer satisfaction, with a late 2011 score of 838 out of 1000. Based on the responses to their most recent survey of 6,898 smartphone users, Apple was followed in ranking by HTC (801), Samsung (777), Motorola (775), RIM (762), LG (760), Palm (733), and Nokia (721).


Open-source development

The open-source culture has penetrated the smartphone market in several ways. There have been attempts to open source both hardware and software of smartphones.

In February 2010 Nokia made Symbian open source. Thus, most commercial smartphones were based on open-source operating systems. These include those based on Linux, such as Google’s Android, Nokia’s Maemo, Hewlett-Packard’s WebOS, and those based on BSD, such as the Darwin-based Apple iOS. Maemo was later merged with Intel’s project Moblin to form MeeGo.

Popular services

Location-based check-in services

According to a ComScore report released on May 12, 2011, nearly one in five smartphone users are tapping into check-in services like Foursquare and Gowalla. A total of 16.7 million mobile-phone subscribers used location-based services on their phones in March 2011.


Second Screen

The smartphones have introduced a new way of watching television. The second screen is a consequence of the media multitasking which is exploding.

How to Select a Smartphone

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