1. Technology

Video:What Is a Smartphone?

with Nick Jaynes

Want to know the definition of a smartphone? Here, learn all about what a smartphone includes and how to tell it apart from other types of cellphones.See Transcript

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Transcript:What Is a Smartphone?

Hi I'm Nick Jaynes for About.com and this is "what is a smart phone." I'll be using information found on About.com's Cell Phone Guide site.

What Is a Smartphone?

You probably hear the term "smart phone" tossed around a lot. But if you've ever wondered exactly what a smart phone is, well, you're not alone. How is a smart phone different than a cell phone, and what makes it so smart?

Basics of a Smartphone

In a nutshell, a smart phone is a device that lets you make telephone calls, but also adds in features that, in the past, you would have found only on a personal digital assistant or a computer--such as the ability to send and receive e-mail and edit Office documents, for example.While there is no standard definition of the term "smartphone" across the industry, we thought it would be helpful to point out what we here at About.com define as a smartphone, and what we consider a cell phone.

Difference Between a Smartphone and Cellphone

Here are the features we look at:
  • Operating System: In general, a smartphone will be based on an operating system that allows it to run applications. Apple's iPhone runs the iOS, for example.
  • Apps: While almost all cell phones include some sort of software (even the most basic models these days include an address book or some sort of contact manager, for example), a smartphone will have the ability to do more. It may allow you to create and edit Microsoft Office documents--or at least view the files. It may allow you to download apps.
  • Web Access: More smartphones can access the Web at higher speeds, thanks to the growth of 4G and 3G data networks, as well as the addition of Wi-Fi support to many handsets. Still, while not all smartphones offer high-speed Web access, they all offer some sort of access. You can use your smartphone to browse your favorite sites.
  • QWERTY Keyboard: By our definition, a smartphone includes a QWERTY keyboard. This means that the keys are laid out in the same manner they would be on your computer keyboard--not in alphabetical order.
  • Messaging: All cell phones can send and receive text messages, but what sets a smartphone apart is its handling of e-mail. A smartphone can sync with your personal andyour professional e-mail account. Some smartphones can support multiple e-mail accounts. Others include access to the popular instant messaging services, like AOL's AIM and Yahoo! Messenger.


These are just some of the features that make a smartphone smart. The technology surrounding smartphones and cell phones is constantly changing, though. What constitutes a smartphone today may change by next week, next month, or next year.

Thanks for watching. If you'd like to learn more, please find us on the web at About.com.
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