Monday, 10 December 2007

What is a SmartPhone?

What is a SmartPhone? I'm sure you have all heard of smartphones by now but there seems to be a bit of confusion about what exactly a smartphone is. Are they simply "smart phones"? If this is the case then who decides if a phone deserves to be called smart? Surely there would need to be an industry standard to separate smartphones from the rest of the pack. In this post I will attempt to define what a smartphone is.

For a start I will try to find out if there is a universal 'smartphone' standard. It appears not, well not yet anyway. I found an article from 2004 that stated that Intel and Symbian intended to team up and create a 3G smartphone standard, but nothing appears to have come to fruition from that.

Ok, so there is no smartphone standard, but who decides if a phone deserves smart status? Surely due to the lack of a standard, all phone manufacturers will jump at the opportunity to brand their phones as smartphones. It appears that this is not always the case. Take the new Samsung i620 - no where on Samsungs website is this phone called a smartphone but if we type "Samsung i620" into google, the first three non-Samsung websites all call this phone a smartphone.

So what is the universally accepted definition of a smartphone? It appears that a phone gets smart phone status if it runs a recognised operating system such as Symbian OS, Windows Mobile, Palm OS, etc, that provides rich computer like functionality such as allowing the user to install/uninstall programs, send emails and store information.

The definition of "what is a smartphone" will most likely keep changing over time but currently I think the most defining factor is the operating system that the phone runs. The operating systems that are currently recognised as smartphone operating systems all support most of the functionality that you will find on the latest computers and PDA's, giving your phone a rich functionality.

What are the smartphone operating systems? The main players at the moment are Symbian OS, Linux, Windows Mobile, RIM BlackBerry, Palm OS and OS X(iPhone). So if your phone runs one of these operating systems then it is probably a smart phone.

Finally, what is considered a smart phone today will probably not be considered a smart phone in a few years time. The latest technology and functionality that is available on computers and PDA's is probably going to keep re-defining what we consider to be a smartphone.

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