Mobile Phone Terms
The mobile phone industry can be full of technical terms and phrases that may be confusing; here you can get the lowdown on common names and terms to help you understand your tariff and phone.
3G – Third Generation
This is the term used to describe Third Generation mobile technology; it supports higher data rates for high speed internet access on 3G enabled mobile phones.
4G/LTE – Fourth generation/Long Term Evolution
You may know this better as 4G. LTE, or Long Term Evolution, is the most advanced standard of mobile network technology to date. Set to increase download speeds by as much as ten times over 3G, which it will replace, LTE will transform how we use mobile internet.
Interesting to note: To give its full name, LTE is actually 3GPP Long Term Evolution for the Universal Mobile Telecommunications System, which is shortened to 3GPP UMTS LTE.
GPRS – General Packet Radio Service
This was an enhancement on 2G handsets delivering an always-on connection that gave speeds up to 28.8Kbps. The system is used on 2G and 3G handsets and is charged at a rate of volume transferred rather than a per minute charge as used in earlier mobile web browsing systems.
WAP – Wireless Application Protocol
Wireless application protocol allows users to connect a mobile phone to the internet using text based websites. This was one of the first systems to bring internet services to mobile phones and is charged on a per minute basis.
Devices that include Bluetooth allow them to be connected to other compatible devices to share files or data over a short wave radio signal. Initially when the service was introduced it was used a lot for sharing photos or music between devices, now it is more commonly used to send audio to wireless headsets or speakers.
Wi-Fi – Wireless Fidelity
Wi-Fi allows devices to be connected wirelessly to each other to transfer data using radio waves. The introduction of Wi-Fi to mobile phones as well as the increase in the number of free Wi-Fi hotspots has seen the popularity of web browsing on mobiles using Wi-Fi soar. Wi-Fi hotspots or utilisng your own Wi-Fi connection at home allows you to use the internet on your phone with little or no cost.
NFC – Near Field Communication
The Near Field Communication feature in mobile phones and other devices allows a transfer of data by touching devices together or bringing them within close range to each other. NFC has been rolled out for mobile payments allowing users to pay for small priced items in shops by tapping their handsets onto the payment terminal as well as use for a quick and easy way to transfer files by tapping phones together.
DLNA – The Digital Living Network Alliance
The Digital Living Network Alliance is designed to act as a bridge between your devices allowing you to send information between them. The DLNA function allows you to send a film or music track from your smartphone and play it on your TV or other DLNA compatible device.
Interesting to note: The Alliance was started by Sony in 2003 and now has over 200 members that produce devices with the DLNA standard.
HSCSD – High-Speed Circuit-Switched Data
This system is an enhancement on the original transmission method used on the GSM network, which used to be CSD. Speeds of up to 57.6Kb/s can be achieved using this system thanks to the ability to use multiple channels to send the data through making it faster than previous methods. The usual method of charges for HSCSD use is used at a per minute rate.
HTML –HyperText Markup Language
HTML is the main language used to display web pages and other information on a web browser. HTML is made up of elements that contain the information in a code that is then read by the web browser and displayed in a web page format. The elements are not displayed on the web page as you view it as the browser is interpreting the information into a more readable format.
SNS - Social Network Services
Social Network Services is designed to bring together people in an online platform such as well-known networks like Facebook or Twitter. When this term is used regarding mobile phones this means that the handset already has or can have applications that allow you to access your social networks as well as view notifications straight on the phone through dedicated programs.
Java is a programming language designed for use on internet pages and when used in terms of a mobile phone this means that the handset will support Java based information on web pages and many games too. This language was designed to be simpler to use than other formats and created a whole new level of interactivity with web pages.
Interesting to note: Java was introduced by SunSystems in 1995 and now all major operating system developers and web browsers support Java offerings.
The term “dual-core” refers to a processing chip within a device such as a mobile phone or tablet. With more than one core there is more power for multitasking as one core can be powering some features whilst the other handles different applications. Each core has its own cache which means that the device can handle more intensive tasks.
As per “Dual-Core” but this term means the handset or tablet has four cores making it able to handle many more tasks as each core has its own cache rather than having a single core to process all tasks.
Dual band refers to phones that are able to operate on two frequencies, in mobile phones this means that a dual band phone can be used in the UK, Europe, Australasia and Asia. (Only quad-band handsets will work in some parts of Japan and Hong Kong.)
A tri-band mobile phone is able to operate on three different signal frequencies so it can be used overseas. A tri-band mobile phone will work in Europe, Australasia, USA and Canada and Asia (only quad-band handsets will work in some parts of Japan and Hong Kong.)
A quad-band phone can be used overseas and will work on four different operating frequencies. This means that a quad-band phone will work in Europe, Australasia, USA and Canada, South America and Asia.
Android is the name of the operating system created by Google and is present on many of today’s most popular mobile phones. The operating system is designed mainly for touchscreen mobile phones and tablets and is released as an open source code for developers. This means that there are a large number of developers all creating applications for the system giving users a huge choice of features and applications that are always evolving. The latest apps and content for Android handsets can be downloaded from Google Play (formerly the Android Market).
iOS is designed for use with Apple mobile devices and was originally released in 2007 for the iPhone and iPod and has since been updated to work on the iPad and Apple TV. The system is designed for use by direct manipulation with multitouch functionality such as pinch, tap and swipe. The iOS uses applications with the latest available on the iStore.
Windows Mobile is the version of the Windows Operating system designed specifically for use with mobile phones. The system offers many of the features users will have experience with on their home PC’s including Internet Explorer, Outlook and Microsoft Office. Applications can be downloaded to Windows Mobile Phones from the Windows Market.
Multitouch is the term used to describe a touchscreen input method that can recognise more than one point of input at one time. The most commonly used multitouch methods include swipe for scrolling through pages of text or content pinch to zoom and reverse pinch to zoom out.
The term Roaming is used when taking a mobile phone abroad and connecting it to a network within another country.
A mobile phone answerphone system that works in a similar way to a home phone answering machine. The Voicemail system will pick up a call when you do not answer (depending on the settings you have chosen) and you will receive notifications of waiting messages, usually by a symbol on your phones homescreen.
The Hz (Hertz) is a unit of frequency. In computing, including smartphones, gigahertz, which is Hz to the power of 9, refers to the frequency of most central processing units (CPU) master clock rate. Therefore, GHz relates to the speed and how powerful your smartphone operates. Generally speaking, the more GHz your smartphone is packing, the quicker it will be, although this isn’t always the case as your phone’s speed is dependent on a number of different factors!
Interesting to note: Hertz is named after Heinrich Hertz, the German physicist.
GPS “Global Position System”
If you’ve heard GPS used in connection to your sat nav before, that’s because the two are intrinsically linked. GPS is a space-based system that uses satellites to provide information on location and time in all weather, anywhere on or near the earth. Your mobile phone uses GPS to determine your location for your maps and directions applications as well as other location-based apps, such as foursquare and Facebook.
Interesting to note: GPS is maintained by the US Government and is free to use for anyone with a GPS receiver.
GSM “Global System for Mobile Communications”
GSM is the term used for the standard of mobile phone protocols used on second generation mobile phones. The system was introduced when mobile phones switch from an analogue signal to a digital one and has been adopted worldwide. The GSM network operates on a number of frequencies and was originally designed for voice telephony and was later developed to support data transmission.
HD “High Definition”
High Definition is a term used to describe video content or screen technology that features a higher resolution than standard. When used in terms of a mobile phone this means that the handset can support HD video playback for better quality viewing.
A megapixel is a thousand pixels and is used to describe the number of pixels in an image or the image elements within a sensor of a digital camera. Typically the higher the megapixel rating of mobile phones on board camera the higher quality an image it will capture.