Advancing technology has made possible many things that once seemed impossible. In the telecom industry, huge advances have been made since Marconi transmitted the radio signal and Alexander Graham Bell invented the first telephone. As compared to the bulky wired instruments of the past, today's phones are getting smaller and slimmer each day. The invention of the mobile phone has allowed people to communicate like never before. Mobile phones - also called mobiles, cell phones, and wireless phones - have also gone through tremendous makeovers since they were first invented. From the big and bulky instruments with limited functionality, the phones today, besides being smaller and sleeker, can perform a very wide and impressive range of functions, leading to the term 'smartphone'.
What is a Smartphone?
So, what exactly is a smartphone? How is it different from a regular one? The major difference between smartphones and regular phones is that a smartphone offers way more advanced functions, such as email capabilities, internet browsing, personal organizers, ability to read popular document formats, and superior contact management. In comparison to this, a regular phone offers only text messaging and limited contact management, in addition to making and receiving calls. While there is no industry standard definition of smartphones, the closest meaning associated with this term roughly relates to 'a cell phone with superior functions, offering a somewhat PC-like experience for the user'. While the basic requirements to qualify as a smartphone - at least in the eyes of the user - are mentioned above, this does not stop the phone companies from going one step further. As such, with more and more features being available, expectations are on the rise, and so will be the requirements for a phone to qualify as a smartphone.
Do I Need it?
Though the need of a smartphone depends on the kind of use you plan to put it through, considering the advances in technology, smartphones have already become a need of the day, and their need and utility is only going to increase. Looking at the pace with which technology is advancing, and the way in which the web world is expanding, the day isn't far when every transaction small and big will happen only online. From grocery shopping to huge financial transactions, and from education to communication, everything will happen over the Internet and on the go. This will only increase our need of possessing smart technology - that which is portable, speedy, and efficient.
Let's take a look at some of the main features of a smartphone, the ones that lend it speed and efficiency and those which make using these phones, a pleasant experience.
Screen Size and Resolution: Smartphones have big screen sizes and typically high-resolution screens, making it easier to perform various functions. This is the very first thing people look for in a smartphone. On a smartphone with a small screen size and poor resolution, it is pointless running advanced applications. The bigger the screen and higher the resolution, the better, and consequently more expensive as well. In the size and resolution market, there are many variations and you can mix 'n' match, keeping the cost factor to a reasonable level. That being said, the screen is the main reason why most people go in for smartphones. So, if you are looking for a smartphone, going in for the best in this department will never be a bad choice.
Processor and Device Speed: Another requirement for a phone to qualify as a smartphone is the processor speed. To perform all its advanced tasks, a good, fast processor is necessary. Thus, all smartphones have fast processors, hiking the cost up a little. However, since regular phones do not offer much to do anyway, this factor depends on what you will be planning to use on your device. If you think you need a smartphone for the various other functions it has, like email and instant messaging for instance, then going in for a smartphone is the way to go.
Operating System: Usually, smartphones have an advanced operating system (OS). Resulting in pushing up the cost of the device even further, the OS is what contributes to the almost PC-like feel of the device. Most phone manufacturers are trying to make this a standard feature of their phones, tweaking it to suit the need of the users. The ultimate goal of a personalized OS on a device is to make the operation of the phone intuitive and easy to use for even first-time buyers. Obviously, to support an OS, the processor comes into play, and only phones that have high-end processors are able to support an OS without hampering the usability of the device. (read: frequent crashes, insufficient power to complete tasks, etc). Thus, all smartphones come with their own OS loaded on the device. If you think you need this, then a smartphone might be your only choice.
Memory: It would be of no use to have a good screen, a great processor, and tweakable OS if the device has no or limited memory to use the various applications. Thus most smartphones today come with gargantuan amounts of memory (at least for mobile devices), either installed or installable, to make the most of the device. This of course drives the cost of the phone even further, but is necessary. If you are going to be using all your features of the smartphone that you buy, you will quickly realize how important having adequate memory is.
Applications: This is the heart of a smartphone. All the other factors together add up so you can use these applications effortlessly on your smartphone. This is where you can actually decide if you need a smartphone or not. Applications come in various forms, the more important of which include: access to mail - smartphones offer access to most email accounts, giving you an almost PC-like use of your mail accounts. Some of the devices even sport a QWERTY keyboard, making replying to these mails very easy. The huge screen, large amount of memory, fast processor is all experienced here. Like email, instant messaging is also another application that a smartphone performs flawlessly. Internet browsing - with some devices offering a full feature-rich browsing experience, including flash support - is another plus point of a smartphone. PDA functionality, amazing contact management, updated weather if you travel frequently, news updates, all this and more can be yours if you use a smartphone. With more and more applications being made for smartphones everyday, the user experience here is bound to get better and better.
Connectivity: Smartphones come with various connectivity options. Almost all smartphones have USB connectivity, making it easier to transfer data between your PC and the smartphone. In addition to wired connections to your PC, smartphones also support Bluetooth, making connectivity to other phones and computers a simple task, and Wi-Fi connectivity, making browsing and internet access a much faster option.
Miscellaneous: In addition to all the above features, the smartphones of today also come with entertainment capabilities. Most smartphones have the ability to play audio and most video file formats as well. So listening to music while you travel, or watching movies is very much possible. Cameras on mobile phones have just been getting better. Now allowing you to record video in entry-level HD (high definition) as well, all smartphones come with at least a 2.0 megapixel camera. Some models are also known to sport camera resolutions as high as 8 and 12 megapixels as well. Smartphones also support most social networking sites, making being in touch with friends a simple task no matter where you are. Devices aimed at the younger generation also come with superior gaming capabilities.
If you think the above functions will save you from putting on your PC for information every 10 minutes, then you should start using a smartphone. To sum up, if you need more than the regular calling and texting functions that most basic phones offer, you need a smartphone. With new technology invented everyday, the cost of smartphones is not what it used to be a few years ago. Manufactures are coming up with very competitive prices for these phones, and at the rate expectations are building among users, smartphones are surely going to be the regular phones of the next generation.