Definitions of frequently used smartphone terms
A short description for 2nd Generation telecommunications which were originally launched in 1991. It provided many improvements including digital encryption of phone calls and more efficient usage of frequency bandwidth. Data services were introduced for the first time, bringing us SMS text messages.
An update of 2nd Generation telecommunications which introduced GPRS features. This meant that data was now packaged and could be routed. It also resulted in users being charged for the amount of data they download rather than for a constant connection.
A further update to 2nd Generation telecommunications, which improved the data download rates with EDGE technology. This is done with improved encoding of the data transmission.
This is a short description for 3rd Generation telecommunications. It refers to systems which improved speed of data download rates compared to previous generations. It has been updated with HSPA technology with data download speeds of up to 56Mbps now being possible.
Referring to a display device or content with a horizontal resolution on the order of 4,000 pixels. In standard consumer electronic, a 4K screen would be equivalent 2160p
This is a short description for 4th Generation telecommunications to succeed 3G. It refers to standards which further improve upon data transfer speeds. Currently there are two systems in use around the world which can be applied to these standards. These are LTE and Mobile WiMax, the first of which is the more commonly deployed.
5th Generation networks are currently being tested around the world. It has been proposed that these networks will support data rates in the 10s of megabits per second for tens of thousands of simultaneous users. Current estimates lace 2020 as the date for consumer and business deployment of 5G in major regions.
Historically this Microsoft programme was used for connecting PDA devices to computers running Windows XP, or earlier operating systems. It was used to synchronize data for example: contacts, appointments and files.
A-GPS (Assisted GPS)
A GPS receiver’s functionality can be improved with this technology which enables better reception within built-up or high foliage environments. This is done by taking positioning data from an assistance server by cell phone communication.
AMOLED (Active-Matrix Organic Light-Emitting Diode)
This is a display technology developed by Samsung which provides several benefits over other screen technologies. These include lower power consumption, higher refresh rates and improved contrast ratios. Super AMOLED provides better viewing in direct sunlight and offers higher resolutions.
A wireless technology used for connecting peripherals to devices without the need for a physical connection. There are different standards of Bluetooth with the most common versions in use being 1.1, 1.2, 2.0, 2.1, 3.0 and 4.0. These version increments have seen new features incorporated including low power requirements and faster data transfers. Bluetooth range is limited to 10 or 100 metres depend on products.
It is possible to create limited peer to peer networks with this technology.
BSI or BI (Backside Illumination)
This is a type of digital image sensor which benefits the lens being arranged differently to traditional construction. It is able to increase the amount of light captured by the lens and improve the low-light performance of the camera.
Feature of still cameras where multiple photos automatically taken in quick succession. The photographer can then select the photo they prefer.
A byte is a unit of measurement for data storage within computers. It is the smallest addressable unit of storage within a computer. It is comprised of 8 bits. A bit is a single binary 1 or 0, therefore a byte can store up to 256 discrete values (28).
CF (Compact Flash)
This is a data storage card standard which utilizes Flash memory. It benefits from low power requirements, but its applications are now limited. This is a result of newer data storage cards standards which are more compact. Peripherals cards used to be common available which could add additional functionality to portable handheld devices. These disappeared due to handheld devices incorporating an increasing numbers of features.
CHAP (Challenge-handshake Authentication Protocol)
Point to Point connections can be validated by the identity of the remote client being confirmed using this protocol. This is done by a security hash of the password being sent to the client, which then responds with a value, this is then confirmed by the sender. As the password isn’t transmitted this is classed as a secure protocol.
CPU (Central Processing Unit)
This is an electronic circuit which executes programmes within computers. The clock speed of this component dictates the overall ability of the computer to process data. Historically this was measured in Megahertz (MHz), but more recent CPUs have broken the Gigahertz (GHz) barrier. Additionally handset products like smartphones commonly feature dual or quad CPU units.
Cupcake (Android ver. 1.5)
This is a designation which relates to version 1.5 of the Android operating system. This was the first general available version of the Android operating system.
Donut (Android ver. 1.6)
This is a designation which refers to the 1.6 version of the Android operating system. It updated the user interface and introduced text-to-speech and the battery usage indicator.
A term which indicates a processor is comprised of multiple cores. In this case it has two cores, which results in the processor being more efficient at running applications. This is dependent on the applications being designed to take advantage of this hardware.
Éclair (Android ver. 2.0-2.1)
This is a designation which refers to the 2.0 and 2.1 versions of the Android operating system. With these versions multiple email account setup was introduced, along with Microsoft Exchange support. The web browser, camera support and Bluetooth implementation were all improved.
EDGE (Enhanced Data rates for GSM Evolution)
This is an enhancement to mobile data transfer services, which improves upon data transmissions speed and reliability. The result is that data download rates of up to 236 kbps are possible. This improvement provides better access to mobile data communication services like the Internet.
EGNOS (European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service)
This system supplements the GPS navigational satellites by reporting on their accuracy and reliability. Geostationary satellites and ground stations are used to improve the accuracy to less than 7 metres.
Exmor R / RS
This is Sony’s variation of backside illumination lens technology. It improves a camera so that it can capture better photographs in low light conditions. (See BSI)
A propriety connector used by HTC, which is backward compatible with miniUSB products. It enables the connection of HTC specific cables and accessories, which add additional functionality to a handheld product.
Froyo (Android ver. 2.2)
This is a designation which refers to version 2.2 of the Android operating system. It provided a new Home screen and dedicated shortcuts for the web browser and phone applications. Microsoft Exchange support was improved with additional security, remote wipe support and synchronization with calendars. Multiple language keyboards, portable hotspots and were introduced and overall performance was improved.
FTP (File Transfer Protocol)
Protocol used to transfer data from one computer to another over a network, including the Internet. Involved in the transfer are two types of computer, a server and client. The latter connects to the server and is able upload and download data depending on restrictions. This was not designed to be a secure data transmission protocol. There have however been attempts to improve this aspect of it.
A Gigabyte is a unit of measurement computer data storage. Depending on the nomenclature, it may refer to 1,000,000,000 or 1,073,741,824 Bytes depending on whether the number is being reported in base 10 (decimal) or base 2 (binary).
This is a method where the geographical location and/or time can be automatically added to photo. This is store within the metadata of the photo.
Hertz (Hz) is a unit of frequency which is defined as the number of cycles per second. A GHz is 109 Hz and is commonly used within mobile computers and smartphones to refer to the speed of the central processing unit CPU.
Gingerbread (Android ver. 2.3)
This is a designation which refers to version 2.3 of the Android operating system. With this version on-screen keyboard was redesigned for faster input and editing. The user interface was further refined and power management was improved. NFC support and internet calling were introduced.
GPS (Global Positioning System)
A technological system which provides a user’s location based on obtaining data from satellites orbiting the Earth. The location (fix) is determined by triangulating the distance to several satellites. The system is additionally able to provide accurate time by comparing several satellites.
GPRS (General Packet Radio Services)
Mobile data service based on packet switching, which results in data communication being charge per kilobit rather than the duration of a call. This is achieved by data being “packaged up” and sent via any available connection opposed to reserving one for the duration of the call, as would be the case with GSM. This is often referred to as a 2.5G technology.
GSM (Groupe Special Mobile)
This is referred to as a 2G data communication technology standard. It is utilized in the vast majority of mobile phones to provide digital call quality and SMS functionality. GSM operates at the 900MHz and 1800MHz bands within Europe and 850MHz and 1900MHz bands in the Americas.
HD (High Definition)
A term that is often associated with TVs and refers to the resolution they are able to display. The common resolutions are 720p, 1080p and 1080i. The number refers to the quantity of horizontal scan lines. A TV with a resolution of 1080 scan lines will have a significantly better image quality than one with only 720. The letters indicate if the resolution is either Progressive (p) or Interlaced (i) scan. With progressive scan motion appears smoother and more realistic. Interlaced scan is a technique used to double video resolution without increasing bandwidth of the signal. As indicated by the Progressive scan benefit it doesn’t display motion accurately
HDR (High Dynamic Range)
This refers to methods used in imaging and photography which enable a greater range between the lightest and darkest areas of an image. Photos and video are enhanced with more accurate colours due to multiple exposures.
Honeycomb (Android ver. 3.0 – 3.2)
This is a designation which refers to the versions 3.0, 3.1 and 3.2 of the Android operating system. Designed for tablets it was optimized for larger screen sizes with the user interface being updated. The web browser, camera, photo gallery and contacts were all improved and re-designed. It was now possible to customizes the look of the Home screen and multitask was now possible, for quick switching between apps.
HSDPA (High-Speed Downlink Packet Access or High-Speed Downlink Protocol Access)
A mobile telephony communications protocols which is based on and enhances UMTS (3G) network download speeds. It is possible to achieve download speeds of up to 7.2Mbps using this technology. This protocol and similar ones are categorised as 3.5G telecommunication technology.
HSUPA (High-Speed Uplink Packet Access)
This is a mobile telephony communications protocol which is based on and enhances UMTS networks uplink speeds. This results in uplink speeds of up to 5.76Mbit/s depending on category. Sometimes know as a 3.5G technology.
Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0)
This is a designation which refers to version 4.0 of the Android operating system. Many new benefits were introduced with this version. It brought multitasking to phone products, refined the user interface with home screen folders and resizable widgets. New lock screen options were introduced, including face recognition and the sharing and communicating interfaces were improved. The camera capabilities, web browsing and email support were additionally updated.
IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n
This is a standard for WLAN connections which is created and maintained by IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers). The letters denote which standards an individually product is compatible with.
Products which are compatible with ‘b’, ‘g’ and ‘n’ standards operate at the same 2.4 GHz frequency. They are however rated at different download data rates. These data rates are ‘b’ 10Mbps, ‘g’ 54Mbps and ‘n’ 600Mbps. The ‘a’ standard operates at the 5GHz frequency and is able provide download transfers of up to 54Mbps. It should be noted that the ‘n’ standard can operate at the 5GHz frequency however this is less common.
IP Address (Internet Protocol Address)
An address assigned to computers and other electrical products to identify them within a network environment. It is a requirement for all data communication.
IP Rating (Ingress Protection Rating)
A classification of the degree of protection and product has against the intrusion of solid objects and water. The first number in a rating identifies the solid particle protection. This is rated from 0-6, with zero being no protection and six being completed protection against dust. The second number rates the liquid ingress protection. The rating is from 0-8, ranging from no protection up powerful jets and continuous immersion.
IPS (In-Plane Switching)
A technology developed by Hitachi Ltd to resolve some limitations of previous display screens. These limitations included a restrictive viewing angle and low quality colour production. IPS panels resolve these limitations by the crystal molecules moving parallel to the panel plane rather than perpendicular to it.
ISP (Internet Service Provider)
This is a business or organization which provides Internet access and other related services to subscribers.
Jellybean (Android ver. 4.1-4.2)
This is a designation which refers to the versions 4.1 and 4.2 of the Android operating system. It introduced multi-user support enabling a tablet to be shared between users. External display support was added with the ability for apps to deliver new kinds of interaction as unique content can be targeted. Support was improved for international languages, including the ability to change the screen layout for scripts which read right-to-left. The user interface was updated and support for HDR cameras was made available.
A kilobyte is a unit of measurement computer data storage. Depending on the nomenclature, it may refer to 1,000 or 1,024 Bytes depending on whether the number is being reported in base 10 (decimal) or base 2 (binary).
A Kilobit refers to a unit of measurement of data commonly used with telecommunication transmission. It is 1000 (103) bits and is normally used in the form of kbps referring to the data rate per second.
KitKat (Android ver. 4.4)
This is a designation which refers to version 4.4 of the Android operating system. Reduced the code footprint and installed size of the OS, added an immersive full screen mode, new defaulting for common applications, improved ability to run on lower specification hardware.
LCD (Liquid Crystal Display)
This is an electrical device module, which utilizes liquid crystals to produce a digital display.
Lollipop (Android ver. 5.0 - 5.1)
This is a designation which refers to version 5.0 of the Android operating system. Fully redesigned interface and design language, full integration with new Android based platforms - Android Auto / Wear / Google Fit, refreshed notification system.
LTE (Long-Term Evolution)
This is a standard for high speed data communication and is an evolution of GSM/UMTS. It increases the capacity and speed of wireless data networks. Due to is being incompatible with 2G and 3G networks, means that it must operate on a different wireless spectrum.
MAC Address (Media Access Control)
To ensure that network interfaces have a unique identifier the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers issue conventions for the creation of MAC Addresses. This means that each network card and other interface have what is sometimes thought of as a physical address.
mAh (Milliamp Hour)
This is a unit of measurement which indicates how much power a battery will store. In theory a higher mAh listing should indicate a longer battery life between recharges. This is however dependent on the power requirements of the product it is used within.
Marshmallow (Android ver. 6.0)
This is a designation which refers to version 6.0 of the Android operating system. Reworked permissions model for better user control, improved power management and modes to stop apps draining power with the screen off, built-in fingerprint recognition.
A Migabyte is a unit of measurement computer data storage. Depending on the nomenclature, it may refer to 1,000,000 or 1,048,576 Bytes depending on whether the number is being reported in base 10 (decimal) or base 2 (binary).
A Megabit refers to a unit of measurement of data commonly used with telecommunication transmission. It is 1,000,000 bits and is normally used in the form of Mbps referring to the data rate per second.
MHL (Mobile High- Definition)
This is an industry standard for directly connecting Smartphones and other portable devices to high definition TVs and displays. It uses a single cable and avoids the need for additional power requirements for the portable device.
Hertz (Hz) is a unit of frequency which is defined as the number of cycles per second. A MHz is 106 Hz and is commonly used within portable computers to refer to the central processing unit CPU speed.
A standard for SD memory cards which refers to their physical size. In the case of microSD cards they are physical 11m x 15mm x 1mm in size.
A standard for SD memory cards which refers to their physical size. In the case of miniSD cards their physical size is 20m x 21.5mm x 1.4mm
MMC (Multi Media Card)
This is a storage card standard that stores data within Flash memory resulting in low power requirements. The card is physically approximately the size of a postage stamp 24mm x 32mm x 1.4mm, this results it being used within handheld devices or mobile phones. Additional smaller size cards have been released Reduced-Size MMC, microMMC and dual voltage versions with lower power requirements for mobile phones. It has however been largely replaced by SD cards.
Mobile Device Centre
A Microsoft programme used for connecting PDA devices to computers running Windows Vista. It is used for synchronizing data for example: contacts, appointments and files.
MSAS (Multi-functional Satellite Augmentation System)
A satellite based augmentation service for Japan, which is similar to the European EGNOS.
NFC (Near Field Communication)
This is a set of standards which enables portable products like smartphones to easily establish radio communication while in close proximity of other units. Current applications include contactless transactions and data exchange. It builds on the previous RFID standard.
A term which indicates a processor is comprised of multiple cores. In this case it has eight cores, which results in the processor being more efficient at running applications. This is dependent on the applications being designed to take advantage of this hardware. In practise, many "octa-core" devices will actually comprise of two quad-core processors being used simultaneously, rather than a true eight core CPU.
PDA (Personal Data Assistant)
Compact computer used for storing personal information including appointments and contacts. Recent versions include Wireless Networking, Bluetooth and high resolution screens. Additional applications can be installed to increase functionality including dictionaries, translators, MP3 players and many others. They can sometimes be known as handhelds or palmtops devices. Due to Smartphone devices now being able to perform the same functionality they have largely disappeared from the consumer market.
POP3 (Post Office Protocol Version 3)
Protocol which retrieves e-mail from a remote server. It uses utilizes TCP/IP as its connection method and is commonly used users when accessing their e-mail accounts from client software.
PPI (Pixels Per Inch)
This term refers to the pixel density of a screen. It is measured by the quantity of pixels within a square inch of a screen.
PPP (Point to Point Protocol)
A term used to describe the protocol which controls direct connections between two devices. This can be achieved using serial cable, cellular telephone or radio wave communications (WLAN).
This term describes an e-mail system which automatically forwards mail to a client. A mail server automatically pushes e-mails when they are received to the client, normally over a cellular connection. Originally available on RIM Blackberry devices this function is now available with all Smartphone devices.
A term which indicates a processor is comprised of multiple cores. In this case it has four cores, which results in the processor being more efficient at running applications. They are faster and more efficient than dual core processors. This is dependent on the applications being designed to take advantage of this hardware.
QVGA (Quarter Video Graphics Array)
This is a term describing the display resolution of a screen. It is a resolution of 320 x 240 pixels.
RAM (Random Access Memory)
A computer component used to store programmes and data while they are being executed by a CPU. It generally refers to volatile memory that can be accessed randomly.
RFID (Radio Frequency Identification)
A wireless system which uses radio frequency electromagnetic fields to transfer data from a tag attached to an object. It is often used for identification and tracking of items. This can include the tracking of goods and animals.
ROM (Read Only Memory)
A computer storage component used in mobile computers and Smartphone devices to permanently store applications and data. ROM can be erased and written to numerous times in typically in excess of up to 100,000 write and erase cycles and is quick to access.
SD (Secure Digital)
This is a storage card standard which stores data within non-volatile memory. This results in storage card which has low power requirements. They are normally used within portable devices like Smartphones and cameras due to their compact size. The standard physical size is 24mm x 32mm x 2.1mm. The original format incorporated a lock switch to prevented accidental data lose.
SDHC (Secure Digital High Capacity)
A standard which facilitates the ability for SD cards to have a greater capacity. This is achieved by data being addressed by sector rather than by byte. Currently the maximum limit for SDHC cards is 32GB.
SDIO (Secure Digital Input Output)
Devices equipped with SDIO card slots are able to utilize compact peripherals in addition to flash memory cards. Typical uses are digital cameras, barcode readers modems to name a few possibilities. As most necessary features are integrated within Smartphone and other portable devices these type of peripherals are no longer available.
SDXC (Secure Digital Extended Capacity)
A format of Secure Digital memory card which defines a theoretically maximum limit of 2048GB (2TB) of data storage and transfer rates of up to 104MB/s. Currently up to 256GB cards are available with SDXC, but larger capacities should be released in the future.
SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol)
Protocol used for the delivery (sending) of e-mails from a client to a server, before direction to destination.
SSID (Service Set Identifier)
An identifier used to distinguish wireless access points or networks. This can be customised for individual requirements, but all devices on the network need to share this name.
A terabyte is a unit of measurement computer data storage. It is 10244 bytes depending on context.
TFT (Thin-Film Transistor)
A type of active matrix commonly used within LCD displays where each pixel has a transistor. This provides displays with quick screen refresh rates and improved picture quality.
UMTS (Universal Mobile Telecommunications System)
A 3G technology which enables high-speed download speeds. Typical speeds of up to 384Kbits/s and up to 7.2Mbit/s with HSDPA are possible. It can be used for video calls on mobile devices and fast Internet access.
VGA (Video Graphics Array)
This computer hardware standard has become widespread and the term has been adopted to mean several meanings. In the case of mobile devices it refers to the screen resolution of 640 x 480 pixels.
WAAS (Wide Area Augmentation System
A satellite based augmentation service for North America, which is similar to the European EGNOS.
WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy or Wireless Encryption Protocol)
Wireless networks can be secured using this means of data encryption. It is available in 64bit and 128bit versions however it isn’t as secure asWPA or WPA2.
WLAN or Wi-Fi (Wireless Networking)
Wireless Networking is used to connect one computer to another without cables. Often a central access point is used for multiple computer connections within an office or home. Some coffee shops and restaurants do provide public access points know as “HotSpots” WiFi has range of up to 300 feet, but this can be drastically reduce with obstacles.
WPA & WPA2 (Wi-Fi Protected Access)
Wireless networks can be secured using this means of data encryption. An improvement on WEP this security protocol uses a 128bit encryption key and dynamically changes it while the system is being used. WPA2 is more secure than WPA, but may not be compatible with existing hardware.
WVGA (Wide VGA)
A modified version of VGA which provides widescreen displays. This refers to any resolution which is wider than the normal VGA standards e.g. 800 x 480 pixels.