A combination cellphone and handheld computer that created the greatest tech revolution since the Internet. A smartphone can do everything a personal computer can do, and because of its mobility, much more. Although screen size is a limitation compared to a desktop monitor, the increasingly higher resolutions and pixel density make viewing pleasurable (see phablet
). Typing is always more cumbersome than a desktop keyboard; however, voice recognition eliminates some of the tedium.
A smartphone combines a cellphone with email and Web, music and movie player, camera, camcorder, GPS navigation, voice recorder, alarm clock, flashlight, photo album, address book and a lot more. It is also a personal assistant that delivers information and answers questions about almost everything (see virtual assistant
). A lot more personal than a personal computer, a smartphone is generally within reach at all times.
Apps, Apps and More Apps
Like any computer, what gives life to the hardware is the software, and there are hundreds of thousands of mobile applications, both free and paid (see online app store
). However, there are often dozens of apps offering nearly identical functions. All apps are created for both iPhones and Androids and sometimes for Windows phones. New BlackBerry apps are rare. See how to select a mobile device
, smartphone features
, smartphone operating system
and cellphones vs. smartphones
A Dumb Phone and Smart Everything Else
Ironically, the least spectacular thing about a smartphone is the phone. A smartphone can cut out and drop calls like any cellphone, and the more users within a cell tower's reach at a given moment, the more interruptions are likely.
In 1994, IBM and BellSouth introduced the heavy and pricey Simon Personal Communicator, a phone/PDA touted as the first smartphone (see personal communicator
). Amassing a large audience in the 2000s, BlackBerry became the popular corporate smartphone; however, in 2007, the iPhone changed the industry forever. See iPhone
, Windows Phone
, feature phone
and smartphone keyboard
. See also smart TV
These models were some of the first smartphones on the market. Both iPhones and Windows have consistent user interfaces; however, Android manufacturers often add their own interface features. In its heyday, the BlackBerry's physical keyboard was its trademark.
A Double Touchscreen Smartphone
A Modular Smartphone
With an LCD in front and E Ink screen in back, YotaPhone batteries last up to five days in E Ink mode, and it is the only smartphone visible in bright sunlight. See E Ink
One of the First
In 2016, Motorola introduced its Moto Z family of modular phones. Snap-ons add high-fidelity speakers, a pico projector or, as in this example, a professional Hasselblad camera. See Moto Z
. (Image courtesy of Motorola Mobility LLC, www.motorola.com)
In 2002, this Palm Treo ran the popular Palm PDA application along with email and Web browsing. See Palm
. (Image courtesy of Palm, Inc.)