Study On The Evolution Of Smart Phones Computer Science Essay

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A smartphone has the capability of your basic feature phone combined with extra capabilities that one might find on a personal digital assistant or a computer. A smartphone gives users the best of both worlds. It has the communications ability of a mobile phone, an operating system and local storage so users can add and store information, send and receive e-mail, install preferred applications to the phone and edit Office documents, as they could with a PDA or computer, for example [1, 2]. This is the safest and most common definition of a smartphone, however due to technological expansion, we lose track of what a smartphone really is. In effect, the term "smartphone" has been made a jargon, relatively defined depending on perspective rather than which should have been a general knowledge. However, to further delve into the exactness of the word, we give it meaning by specifying the up-to-date key features of a smartphone based on how our sources describe it. Noting still that what constitutes a smartphone today may change tomorrow. For this very reason, in order to appreciate the progress in the world of communication, we first give credit to the innovations from which the present technologies have evolved from.

SmartPhones Through the Years (Evolution of SmartPhones)

Figure 1.2 - The Evolution of SmartPhones from mobile phones [16]

The emergence of smartphones started when people yearned for a portable single device that does everything instead of carrying multiple devices. Smartphones are built either from a PDA or from a mobile phone, and thus, it would be better if the connectivity of mobile phones could match up with the programmability and extensibility of PDAs [15].

In relation, the first smartphone, named Simon was designed by IBM. It was shown as a concept product at COMDEX, a computer trade show in Las Vegas, Nevada on 1992. After a year, it was released to the public and was sold to BellSouth. Aside from being a mobile phone, Simon also offered some features like a calendar, address book, world clock, calculator, notepad, e-mail, send and receive fax and games which during that time, was highly advanced[17].

A smartphone can be a PDA with network connectivity and additional functionalities. Microsoft PocketPC Phone and Palm Treo belong to this category which mainly targets existing PDA users. These smartphones have relatively large touch screens, fast CPUs and thumb keyboards or handwriting recognition systems. Although, quite bulky, have poor voice quality and short battery life, these smartphones are popular among businessmen who puts up with the inconvenience for the sake of the computing power.

From a regular mobile phone, smartphones evolved with an already programmable brain. This category includes Symbian smartphones from Nokia, Sony Ericson, Motorola and even Microsoft's Windows Mobile smartphones which target all consumers because of its outstanding performance with respect to voice calls and text messaging. However, it is less suitable and effective for computational intensive tasks or applications that require a lot of typing.

What Makes a SmartPhone "smart" (Key Features of a SmartPhone)

Smartphones may offer different features as programmed and designed by its manufacturers. However, all smartphones share these basic features which essentially makes one categorized a smartphone. These specifications fall mostly on the software aspect, however, duly noting that these were made possible through a bunch of hardware configurations as well.

QWERTY Keyboard

QWERTY is the acronym that commonly describes today's standard keyboard layout on English-language computers. It is derived sequentially from the first six alphabet keys (from left to right) on the far left portion of a standard keyboard found just below the number keys [11]. By our source's definition, a smartphone includes a QWERTY keyboard. This means that input keys are laid out in the same manner as they would be on a computer keyboard. This QWERTY keyboard can either be physically integrated on the phone (hardware) or a software implementation as touchscreen phones are designed [6].

Figure 3.a.1 - The QWERTY keyboard on a touchscreen smartphone [10].

Figure 3.a.2 - The physical QWERTY keyboard on Nokia E72 [12].

Operating System

In general, a smartphone will be based on an operating system that allows it to run productivity applications [6]. It is the operating system that controls a mobile device or information appliance-similar in principle to an operating system such as Windows, Mac OS, or Linux that controls a desktop computer or laptop. However, they are currently somewhat simpler, and deal more with the wireless versions of broadband and local connectivity, mobile multimedia formats, and different input methods [14]. Moreover, knowing the type of OS a smartphone runs, gives the user the idea of the device's scope of potentials and versatility, which is predetermined based on the reputation of the OS brand.

Figure 3.b.1 - Share of 2010 Q3 smartphone sales to end users by operating system, according to Gartner [7].

The following are the most common Operating Systems used in smartphones [5]:


Apple iPhone OS

Bada OS

Linux OS


Palm OS

RIM BlackBerry OS



Windows Mobile

Windows Phone 7

Web Access

More smartphones can access the Web at higher speeds, thanks to the growth of 3G data networks and 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 preferred sites from search engines, to your favored social networking sites or even streaming sites [6].

Figure 3.d.1 - A quick snapshot of Samsung Wave GT-S8500's SocialHub [13].

The following are the most common mobile web browsers used in smartphones [5, 8]:

Bada OS Browser

Bitstream's Thunderhawk

Blackberry Browser


BOLT browser


Firefox Mobile

Google Android


Microsoft IE for Mobile

Mobile Safari

Mozilla's Minimo

Myriad (former Openwave)

Opera Mini

Opera Mobile

S60 Web Browser




WebOS Browser


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--and, sometimes, your 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 [6].

Figure 1.e.1 - Google Mail view in Nokia N8 [10].

SmartPhone Applications

A smartphone is a mobile phone that offers more advanced computing ability and connectivity than a contemporary basic feature phone. 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, view, or edit Microsoft Office documents and other files. Moreover, it gives you the option to download preferred applications, such as personal and business finance managers or just purely leisure stuff perhaps. It may allow you to edit photos, get, driving directions via GPS, and create a playlist of digital tunes [6]. Obviously, all these will depend on the availability of compatible application softwares for a certain smartphone, which for the most part is determined by the OS installed.

SmartPhone applications vary from business to leisure; whatever apps a smartphone has pretty much defines its potential and usefulness. Here we have listed a few of the commonly imported and updated software categories in smartphones.





Video (file/player)

Music (file/player)

Web Browser

Instant Messenger

Document (viewer/editor)


Data Managers (contacts, email, sync softwares, …)

Security Tools (locks, tracking, back-up, encryption, …)

Hardware Managers (Bluetooth, wi-fi, camera, …)

Others (dictionaries, compression/archiving softwares, plug-ins, application skins, …)

Difference Between SmartPhone and Cell Phone

The smartphone's features clearly differentiated it from other cell phones, which at that time were just wireless telephones. However, many devices marketed simply as cell phones offer similar features to those marketed as smartphones. In effect, there is no standard definition that clearly delineates a smartphone. Nevertheless, Aside from the key features of a smartphone mentioned in the preceding chapters, the following are more of the features offered by most smartphones of today [3].

Some vendor or analyst-suggested requirements for designation as a smartphone:

A recognized mobile operating system, such as Nokia's Symbian, Google's Android, Apple's iOS or the BlackBerry OS

Internet connectivity

A mobile browser

The ability to sync more than one email account to the device

Embedded memory

Hardware and/or software-based QWERTY keyboard

Wireless synchronization with other devices, such as laptop or desktop computers

The ability to download applications and run them independently

Support for third-party applications

The ability to run multiple applications simultaneously



Other smartphone or cell phone features include:


Digital cameras, typically with video capability


Unified messaging

Personal information management

GPS (global positioning system)

Remote control of computers

Remote control of home or business electronic systems

Generally, phones specifications and capabilities are categorized into more explicit characteristic as phone finding sites would. The following list is the basis on how to find the appropriate phone for you:


Network Band (depends on the service providers in the country e.g. Philippines - GSM 900, GSM, 1800, UMTS 2100)

Form Factor


Unit size and dimensions

Display type, size, colors and resolution

Operating system

Camera features (flash, megapixels, video recording capabilities)

Messaging (MMS, SMS threaded, E-mail)

Connectivity (Wi-Fi, EDGE, GPRS, WAP, Java, Bluetooth, infrared, …)

Audio Capabilities (radio, 3.5mm jack, ringtone types, …)

Others (unit color, dual sim, battery life…)


People are never really contented with the current best, which is why all that the tech world can offer are almost perfect units. However, if you can learn to prioritize, with this list as aid, you can find the almost perfect phone for you.

SmartPhone Misnomer (SmartPhone is not a phone, it's a computer)

We may have used the term "phone" in the previous chapters; however, it was to avoid confusion. Besides, after all that has been discussed, we are quite sure that we have given you enough proof and influence to accept this claim, which you may now find to be rather unsurprising. Still, you may beg to differ; it is a matter of technical insight, but the smartphone really is not a phone. It is a computer. It is like a desktop or laptop, which stores data, connects to the Internet and runs applications… It is a computer, not a phone [4].