'What is the difference between a smartphone and a traditional cellphone?'
A long, long time ago, a cellphone was being used to call someone when you were not at home. Nowadays, more and more phones are being sold which look more like small computers than like a traditional phone. Providers advertise with ‘smartphones’ all the time, but in which way does this kind of phone differ from a traditional cellphone or a PDA?
The first cellphone was demonstrated in 1973 by a Motorola employee. This cellphone was quite big and only designed for one purpose: to call someone. In the nineties, cellphones became popular with a larger crowd and manufacturers slowly started to add more functions to cellphones: multicolored screens instead of the traditional green/black; short-message-service and a few years later multimedia-message-service. In the past few years, cellphones got even more functionality by adding web browsers, instant messaging and advanced games.
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A PDA (short for Personal Digital Assistant) is a small handheld device that combines computing, Internet, phone, fax and a personal organizer. These devices require most of the time a stylus for input instead of a keyboard. Traditionally, PDAs weren’t even meant to use for calls and didn’t contain any phone services.
Though there’s not one good description available to distinguish a smartphone from a cellphone, a smartphone is often described as a combination of a cellphone and a PDA but with more focus on the cellphone part. A phone that gives the user the possibility to store files, browse the Internet, read their email and install additional software, is often too described as a smartphone. The main difference between a smartphone and a PDA is that the latter focuses more on computing than on phone services.
However, some people argue that a PDA is a more old-fashioned term and that every phone that contains more functionality than a traditional cellphone should be called a smartphone. The CTIA, an industry association representing hundreds of wireless device makers and wireless carriers, uses a very simple description of a smartphone: “Wireless phones with advanced data features and often keyboards. What makes the phone ’smart’ is its ability to manage and transmit data in addition to voice calls.” Examples of phones that are generally considered smartphones are Blackberries, iPhones and Nokia N-series.
Another way to distinguish between a smartphone and a cellphone is to decide whether or not the phone uses a mobile operating system. Traditional cellphones do not use operating systems while smartphones run on systems like Windows Mobile, iPhone OS, Symbian OS, Google Android or Linux. Besides that, many people say a requirement for calling a phone a smartphone, is whether or not it has an actual keyboard (or a touch keyboard like many of the latest smartphones).
As you may have noticed, it’s not easy to give a correct description of a smartphone. In general, a smartphone is a mobile computer with the phone function added, while a cellphone is just a phone with nowadays maybe some more functionality, but with a main focus on phone services.