A smartphone is a Mobile device that combines Mobile phone and Mobile computing functions into one unit. They are distinguished from by their stronger hardware capabilities and extensive mobile operating systems, which facilitate wider software, internet (including web browsing over mobile broadband), and multimedia functionality (including music, video, camera phone, and mobile gaming), alongside core phone functions such as telephone call and text messaging. Smartphones typically contain a number of metal–oxide–semiconductor (MOS) integrated circuit (IC) chips, include various that can be leveraged by pre-included and third-party software (such as a magnetometer, , barometer, gyroscope, accelerometer and more), and support wireless communications protocols (such as Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, or satellite navigation).
Early smartphones were marketed primarily towards the enterprise market, attempting to bridge the functionality of standalone personal digital assistant (PDA) devices with support for cellular telephony, but were limited by their bulky form, short battery life, slow analog cellular networks, and the immaturity of wireless data services. These issues were eventually resolved with the MOSFET scaling and miniaturization of down to sub-micron levels (Moore's law), the improved lithium-ion battery, faster digital Mobile broadband (Edholm's law), and more mature software platforms that allowed mobile device ecosystems to develop independently of data providers.
In the 2000s, NTT DoCoMo's i-mode platform, BlackBerry, Nokia's Symbian platform, and Windows Mobile began to gain market traction, with models often featuring QWERTY keyboards or resistive touchscreen input, and emphasizing access to push email and wireless internet. Following the rising popularity of the iPhone in the late 2000s, the majority of smartphones have featured thin, slate-like form factors, with large, capacitive screens with support for multi-touch gestures rather than physical keyboards, and offer the ability for users to download or purchase additional mobile app from a centralized app store, and use cloud storage and synchronization, virtual assistants, as well as mobile payment services. Smartphones have largely replaced PDAs, handheld PC, portable media players (PMP) and to a lesser extent, handheld video game consoles.
Improved hardware and faster wireless communication (due to standards such as LTE) have bolstered the growth of the smartphone industry. In the third quarter of 2012, one billion smartphones were in use worldwide. Global smartphone sales surpassed the sales figures for feature phones in early 2013.
The IBM Simon was manufactured by Mitsubishi Electric, which integrated features from its own wireless personal digital assistant (PDA) and cellular radio technologies.
The term "smart phone" was not coined until a year after the introduction of the Simon, appearing in print as early as 1995, describing AT&T's PhoneWriter Communicator. The term "smartphone" was first used by Ericsson in 1997 to describe a new device concept, the GS88.
In March 1996, Hewlett-Packard released the OmniGo 700LX, a modified HP 200LX palmtop PC with a Nokia 2110 mobile phone piggybacked onto it and Read-only memory-based software to support it. It had a 640×200 resolution CGA compatible four-shade gray-scale LCD screen and could be used to place and receive calls, and to create and receive text messages, emails and faxes. It was also 100% DOS 5.0 compatible, allowing it to run thousands of existing software titles, including early versions of Windows.
In August 1996, Nokia released the Nokia 9000 Communicator, a digital cellular PDA based on the Nokia 2110 with an integrated system based on the PEN/GEOS 3.0 operating system from Geoworks. The two components were attached by a hinge in what became known as a clamshell design, with the display above and a physical QWERTY keyboard below. The PDA provided e-mail; calendar, address book, calculator and notebook applications; text-based Web browsing; and could send and receive faxes. When closed, the device could be used as a digital cellular telephone.
Subsequent landmark devices included:
The degree of integration between phones and carriers, unique phone features, non-standardized platforms, and tailoring to Japanese culture made it difficult for Japanese manufacturers to export their phones, especially when demand was so high in Japan that the companies didn't feel the need to look elsewhere for additional profits.
The rise of 3G technology in other markets and non-Japanese phones with powerful standardized smartphone operating systems, , and advanced wireless network capabilities allowed non-Japanese phone manufacturers to finally break in to the Japanese market, gradually adopting Japanese phone features like , mobile payments, NFC, etc. and spreading them to the rest of the world.
Outside the U.S. and Japan, Nokia was seeing success with its smartphones based on Symbian, originally developed by Psion for their personal organisers, and it was the most popular smartphone OS in Europe during the middle to late 2000s. Initially, Nokia's Symbian smartphones were focused on business with the Nokia Eseries, similar to Windows Mobile and BlackBerry devices at the time. From 2006 onwards, Nokia started producing consumer-focused smartphones, popularized by the entertainment-focused Nokia Nseries. Until 2010, Symbian was the world's most widely used smartphone operating system.
The touchscreen personal digital assistant (PDA)-derived nature of adapted operating systems like Palm OS, the "Pocket PC" versions of what was later Windows Mobile, and the UIQ interface that was originally designed for pen-based PDAs on Symbian OS devices resulted in some early smartphones having stylus-based interfaces. These allowed for virtual keyboards and/or handwriting input, thus also allowing easy entry of Asian characters.
By the mid-2000s, the majority of smartphones had a physical QWERTY keyboard. Most used a "keyboard bar" form factor, like the BlackBerry line, Windows Mobile smartphones, , and some of the Nokia Eseries. A few hid their full physical QWERTY keyboard in a sliding form factor, like the Danger Hiptop line. Some even had only a Telephone keypad using T9 text input, like the Nokia Nseries and other models in the Nokia Eseries. Resistive touchscreens with stylus-based interfaces could still be found on a few smartphones, like the , which had dropped their handwriting input after a few early models that were available in versions with Graffiti instead of a keyboard.
In January 2007, Apple Computer introduced the iPhone. It had a 3.5" capacitive touchscreen with twice the common resolution of most smartphone screens at the time, and introduced multi-touch to phones, which allowed gestures such as "pinching" to zoom in or out on photos, maps, and web pages. The iPhone was notable as being the first device of its kind targeted at the mass market to abandon the use of a stylus, keyboard, or keypad typical of contemporary smartphones, instead using a large touchscreen for direct finger input as its main means of interaction.
The iPhone's operating system was also a shift away from older operating systems (which older phones suported and which were adapted from PDAs and ) to an operative system powerful enough to not require using a limited, Mobile browser that can only render pages specially formatted using technologies such as WML, i-mode, or XHTML and instead ran a version of Apple's Safari browser that could easily render full websites not specifically designed for phones.
Later Apple shipped a software update that gave the iPhone a built-in on-device App Store allowing direct wireless downloads of third-party software. This kind of centralized App Store and free developer tools quickly became the new main paradigm for all smartphone platforms for software development, distribution, discovery, installation, and payment, in place of expensive developer tools that required official approval to use and a dependence on third-party sources providing applications for multiple platforms.
The advantages of a design with software powerful enough to support advanced applications and a large capacitive touchscreen affected the development of another smartphone OS platform, Android, with a more BlackBerry-like prototype device scrapped in favor of a touchscreen device with a slide-out physical keyboard, as Google's engineers thought at the time that a touchscreen could not completely replace a physical keyboard and buttons. Android is based around a modified Linux kernel, again providing more power than mobile operating systems adapted from PDAs and feature phones. The first Android device, the horizontal-sliding HTC Dream, was released in September 2008.
In 2012, Asus started experimenting with a convertible docking system named Asus PadFone, where the standalone handset can when necessary be inserted into a tablet PC-sized screen unit with integrated supportive battery and used as such.
In 2013 and 2014, Samsung experimented with the hybrid combination of compact camera and smartphone, releasing the Galaxy S4 Zoom and K Zoom, each equipped with integrated 10× optical zoom lens and manual parameter settings (including manual exposure and focus) years before these were widely adapted among smartphones. The S4 Zoom additionally has a rotary knob ring around the lens and a tripod mount.
While screen sizes have increased, manufacturers have attempted to make smartphones thinner at the expense of utility and sturdiness, since a thinner frame is more vulnerable to bending and has less space for components, namely battery capacity.
Multiple vendors attempted to update or replace their existing smartphone platforms and devices to better-compete with Android and the iPhone; Palm unveiled a new platform known as webOS for its Palm Pre in late-2009 to replace Palm OS, which featured a focus on a task-based "card" metaphor and seamless synchronization and integration between various online services (as opposed to the then-conventional concept of a smartphone needing a PC to serve as a "canonical, authoritative repository" for user data). Hewlett-Packard acquired Palm in 2010 and released several other webOS devices, including the Pre 3 and HP TouchPad tablet. As part of a proposed divestment of its consumer business to focus on enterprise software, HP abruptly ended development of future webOS devices in August 2011, and sold the rights to webOS to LG Electronics in 2013, for use as a smart TV platform.
Research in Motion introduced the vertical-sliding BlackBerry Torch and BlackBerry OS 6 in 2010, which featured a redesigned user interface, support for gestures such as pinch-to-zoom, and a new web browser based on the same WebKit rendering engine used by the iPhone. The following year, RIM released BlackBerry OS 7 and new models in the BlackBerry Bold and Torch ranges, which included a new Bold with a touchscreen alongside its keyboard, and the Torch 9860—the first BlackBerry phone to not include a physical keyboard. In 2013, it replaced the legacy BlackBerry OS with a revamped, QNX-based platform known as BlackBerry 10, with the all-touch BlackBerry Z10 and keyboard-equipped Q10 as launch devices.
In 2010, Microsoft unveiled a replacement for Windows Mobile known as Windows Phone, featuring a new touchscreen-centric user interface built around flat design and typography, a home screen with "live tiles" containing feeds of updates from apps, as well as integrated Microsoft Office apps. In February 2011, Nokia announced that it had entered into a major partnership with Microsoft, under which it would exclusively use Windows Phone on all of its future smartphones, and integrate Microsoft's Bing search engine and Bing Maps (which, as part of the partnership, would also license Nokia Maps data) into all future devices. The announcement led to the abandonment of both Symbian, as well as MeeGo—a Linux-based mobile platform it was co-developing with Intel. Nokia's low-end Lumia 520 saw strong demand and helped Windows Phone gain niche popularity in some markets, overtaking BlackBerry in global market share in 2013.
Many of these attempts to compete with Android and iPhone were short-lived. Over the course of the decade, the two platforms became a clear duopoly in smartphone sales and market share, with BlackBerry, Windows Phone, and other operating systems eventually stagnating to little or no measurable market share. In 2015, BlackBerry began to pivot away from its in-house mobile platforms in favor of producing Android devices, focusing on a security-enhanced distribution of the software. The following year, the company announced that it would also exit the hardware market to focus more on software and its enterprise middleware, and began to license the BlackBerry brand and its Android distribution to third-party OEMs such as TCL Corporation for future devices.
In September 2013, Microsoft announced its intent to acquire Nokia's mobile device business for $7.1 billion, as part of a strategy under CEO Steve Ballmer for Microsoft to be a "devices and services" company. Despite the growth of Windows Phone and the Microsoft Lumia range (which accounted for nearly 90% of all Windows Phone devices sold), the platform never had significant market share in the key U.S. market, and Microsoft was unable to maintain Windows Phone's momentum in the years that followed, resulting in dwindling interest from users and app developers. After Balmer was succeeded by Satya Nadella (who has placed a larger focus on software and cloud computing) as CEO of Microsoft, it took a $7.6 billion write-off on the Nokia assets in July 2015, and laid off nearly the entire Microsoft Mobile unit in May 2016.
Prior to the completion of the sale to Microsoft, Nokia released a series of Android-derived smartphones for known as Nokia X, which combined an Android-based platform with elements of Windows Phone and Nokia's feature phone platform Asha, using Microsoft and Nokia services rather than Google.
By the mid-2000s, higher-end cell phones commonly had integrated digital cameras. In 2003 outsold stand-alone digital cameras, and in 2006 they outsold film and digital stand-alone cameras. Five billion camera phones were sold in five years, and by 2007 more than half of the installed base of all mobile phones were camera phones. Sales of separate cameras peaked in 2008.
Many early smartphones didn't have cameras at all, and earlier models that had them had low performance and insufficient image and video quality that could not compete with budget pocket cameras and fulfill user's needs. By the beginning of the 2010s almost all smartphones had an integrated digital camera. The decline in sales of stand-alone cameras accelerated due to the increasing use of smartphones with rapidly improving camera technology for casual photography, easier image manipulation, and abilities to directly Image sharing through the use of Mobile app and web-based services. By 2011, cell phones with integrated cameras were selling hundreds of millions per year. In 2015, digital camera sales were 35.395 million units or only less than a third of digital camera sales numbers at their peak and also slightly less than film camera sold number at their peak.
Contributing to the rise in popularity of smartphones being used over dedicated cameras for photography, smaller pocket cameras have difficulty producing bokeh in images, but nowadays, some smartphones have dual-lens cameras that reproduce the bokeh effect easily, and can even rearrange the level of bokeh after shooting. This works by capturing multiple images with different focus settings, then combining the background of the main image with a macro focus shot.
In 2007 the Nokia N95 was notable as a smartphone that had a 5.0 Megapixel (MP) camera, when most others had cameras with around 3 MP or less than 2 MP. Some specialized feature phones like the LG Viewty, Samsung SGH-G800, and Sony Ericsson K850i, all released later that year, also had 5.0 MP cameras. By 2010 5.0 MP cameras were common; a few smartphones had 8.0 MP cameras and the Nokia N8, Sony Ericsson Satio, and Samsung M8910 Pixon12 feature phone had 12 MP. The main camera of the 2009 Nokia N86 uniquely features a three-level aperture lens.
In 2011, the same year the Nintendo 3DS was released, HTC unveiled the Evo 3D, a 3D phone with a dual five-megapixel rear camera setup for spatial imaging, among the earliest mobile phones with more than one rear camera.
In 2012 Nokia announced and released the Nokia 808 PureView, featuring a 41-megapixel 1/1.2-inch sensor and a high-resolution f/2.4 Zeiss all-aspherical one-group lens. The high resolution enables four times of lossless digital zoom at 1080p and six times at 720p resolution, using image sensor cropping. The 2013 Nokia Lumia 1020 has a similar high-resolution camera setup, with the addition of optical image stabilization and manual camera settings years before common among high-end mobile phones, although lacking expandable storage that could be of use for accordingly high .
Mobile optical image stabilization was first introduced by Nokia in 2012 with the Lumia 920, enabling prolonged for low-light photography and smoothing out handheld video shake whose appearance would magnify over a larger display such as a computer monitor or television set, which would be detrimental to watching experience.
Since 2012, smartphones have become increasingly able to capture photos while filming. The resolution of those photos resolution may vary between devices. Samsung has used the highest image sensor resolution at the video's aspect ratio, which at 16:9 is 6 Megapixels (3264×1836) on the Galaxy S3 and 9.6 Megapixels (4128×2322) on the Galaxy S4. The earliest iPhones with such functionality, iPhone 5 and 5s, captured simultaneous photos at 0.9 Megapixels (1280×720) while filming.
Starting in 2013 on the Xperia Z1, Sony experimented with real-time augmented reality camera effects such as floating text, virtual plants, volcano, and a dinosaur walking in the scenery. Apple later did similarly in 2017 with the iPhone X.
In the same year, iOS 7 introduced the later widely implemented viewfinder intuition, where exposure value can be adjusted through vertical swiping, after focus and exposure has been set by tapping, and even while locked after holding down for a brief moment. On some devices, this intuition may be restricted by software in video/slow motion modes and for front camera.
In 2013, Samsung unveiled the Galaxy S4 Zoom smartphone with the grip shape of a compact camera and a 10× optical zoom lens, as well as a rotary knob ring around the lens, as used on higher-end compact cameras, and an ISO 1222 tripod mount. It is equipped with manual parameter settings, including for focus and exposure. The successor 2014 Samsung Galaxy K Zoom brought resolution and performance enhancements, but lacks the rotary knob and tripod mount to allow for a more smartphone-like shape with less protruding lens.
The 2014 Panasonic Lumix DMC-CM1 was another attempt at mixing mobile phone with compact camera, so much so that it inherited the Lumix brand. While lacking optical zoom, its image sensor has a format of 1", as used in high-end compact cameras such as the Lumix DMC-LX100 and Sony CyberShot DSC-RX100 series, with multiple times the surface size of a typical mobile camera image sensor, as well as support for light sensitivities of up to ISO 25600, well beyond the typical mobile camera light sensitivity range. As of 2021, no successor has been released.
In 2013 and 2014, HTC experimentally traded in pixel count for pixel surface size on their One M7 and M8, both with only four megapixels, marketed as UltraPixel, citing improved brightness and less noise in low light, though the more recent One M8 lacks optical image stabilization.
The One M8 additionally was one of the earliest smartphones to be equipped with a dual camera setup. Its software allows generating visual spacial effects such as 3D panning, weather effects, and focus adjustment ("UFocus"), simulating the postphotographic selective focussing capability of images produced by a light-field camera. HTC returned to a high-megapixel single-camera setup on the 2015 One M9.
Meanwhile, in 2014, LG Mobile started experimenting with time-of-flight camera functionality, where a rear laser beam that measures distance accelerates autofocus.
Phase-detection autofocus was increasingly adapted throughout the mid-2010s, allowing for quicker and more accurate focussing than contrast detection.
In 2016 Apple introduced the iPhone 7 Plus, one of the phones to popularize a dual camera setup. The iPhone 7 Plus included a main 12 MP camera along with a 12 MP telephoto camera. In early 2018 Huawei released a new flagship phone, the Huawei P20 Pro, one of the first triple camera lens setups with Leica Camera optics. In late 2018, Samsung released a new mid-range smartphone, the Galaxy A9 (2018) with the world's first quad camera setup. The Nokia 9 PureView was released in 2019 featuring a penta-lens camera system.
2019 saw the commercialization of high resolution sensors, which use Bayer filter to capture more light. 48 MP and 64 MP sensors developed by Sony and Samsung are commonly used by several manufacturers. 108 MP sensors were first implemented in late 2019 and early 2020.
|+ Timeline (rear camera) !Resolution !First year|
|720p at 60fps||2012|
|1080p (Full HD)||2011|
|1080p at 60fps||2013|
|2160p at 60fps||2017|
In 2009 the Samsung Omnia HD became the first mobile phone with 720p HD video recording. In the same year, Apple brought video recording initially to the iPhone 3GS, at 480p, whereas the 2007 original iPhone and 2008 iPhone 3G lacked video recording entirely.
720p was more widely adapted in 2010, on smartphones such as the original Samsung Galaxy S, Sony Ericsson Xperia X10, iPhone 4, and HTC Desire HD.
The early 2010s brought a steep increase in mobile video resolution. 1080p mobile video recording was achieved in 2011 on the Samsung Galaxy S2, HTC Sensation, and iPhone 4s.
In 2012 and 2013, select devices with 720p filming at 60 frames per second were released: the Asus PadFone and HTC One M7, unlike flagships of Samsung, Sony, and Apple. However, the 2013 Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom does support it.
In 2013, the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 introduced 2160p (4K) video recording at 30 frames per second, as well as 1080p doubled to 60 frames per second for smoothness.
Other vendors adapted 2160p recording in 2014, including the optically stabilized LG G3. Apple first implemented it in late 2015 on the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus.
The framerate at 2160p was widely doubled to 60 in 2017 and 2018, starting with the iPhone 8, Galaxy S9, LG G7, and OnePlus 6.
Sufficient computing performance of chipsets and image sensor resolution and its reading speeds have enabled mobile 4320p (8K) filming in 2020, introduced with the Samsung Galaxy S20 and Redmi K30 Pro, though some upper resolution levels were foregone (skipped) throughout development, including 1440p ( 2.5K), 2880p (5K), and 3240p (6K), except 1440p on Samsung Galaxy front cameras.
The proliferation of video resolutions beyond 1080p has been postponed by several years. The mid-class Sony Xperia M5 supported 2160p filming in 2016, whereas Samsung's mid-class series such as the Galaxy J and A series were strictly limited to 1080p in resolution and 30 frames per second at any resolution for six years until around 2019, whether and how much for technical reasons is unclear.
While the stretched encoding method used on earlier phones enables slow motion playback on video player software that lacks manual playback speed control, typically found on older devices, if the aim were to achieve a slow motion effect, the real-time method used by more recent phones offers greater versatility for video editing, where slowed down portions of the footage can be freely selected by the user, and exported into a separate video. A rudimentary video editing software for this purpose is usually pre-installed. The video can optionally be played back at normal (real-time) speed, acting as usual video.
In late 2012, the Galaxy Note 2 brought back slow motion, with D1 (720×480) at 120 fps. In early 2013, the Galaxy S4 and HTC One M7 recorded at that frame rate with 800×450, followed by the Note 3 and iPhone 5s with 720p (1280×720) in late 2013, the latter of which retaines audio and original sensor frame rate, as with all later iPhones. In early 2014, the Sony Xperia Z2 and HTC One M8 adapted this resolution as well. In late 2014, the iPhone 6 doubled the frame rate to 240fps, and in late 2015, the iPhone 6s added support for 1080p (1920×1080) at 120 frames per second. In early 2015, the Galaxy S6 became the first Samsung mobile phone to retain the sensor framerate and audio, and in early 2016, the Galaxy S7 became the first Samsung mobile phone with 240fps recording, also at 720p.
In early 2015, the MT6795 chipset by MediaTek promised 1080p@480fps video recording. The project's status remains indefinite.
Since early 2017, starting with the Sony Xperia XZ, smartphones have been released with a slow motion mode that unsustainably records at framerates multiple times as high, by temporarily storing frames on the image sensor's internal burst memory. Such a recording endures few real-time seconds at most.
In late 2017, the iPhone 8 brought 1080p at 240fps, as well as 2160p at 60fps, followed by the Galaxy S9 in early 2018. In mid-2018, the OnePlus 6 brought 720p at 480fps, sustainable for one minute.
In early 2021, the OnePlus 9 Pro became the first phone with 2160p at 120fps.
In 2019, smartphones started adapting 2160p 4K video recording on the front camera, six years after rear camera 2160p commenced with the Galaxy Note 3.
By 2014, 1440p displays began to appear on high-end smartphones. In 2015, Sony released the Xperia Z5 Premium, featuring a 4K resolution display, although only images and videos could actually be rendered at that resolution (all other software was shown at 1080p).
New trends for smartphone displays began to emerge in 2017, with both LG and Samsung releasing flagship smartphones (LG G6 and Galaxy S8), utilizing displays with taller aspect ratios than the common ratio, and a high screen-to-body ratio, also known as a "bezel-less design". These designs allow the display to have a larger diagonal measurement, but with a slimmer width than 16:9 displays with an equivalent screen size. Another trend popularized in 2017 were displays containing tab-like cut-outs at the top-centre—colloquially known as a "notch"—to contain the front-facing camera, and sometimes other sensors typically located along the top bezel of a device. These designs allow for "edge-to-edge" displays that take up nearly the entire height of the device, with little to no bezel along the top, and sometimes a minimal bottom bezel as well. This design characteristic appeared almost simultaneously on the Sharp Aquos S2 and the Essential Phone, which featured small circular tabs for their cameras, followed just a month later by the iPhone X, which used a wider tab to contain a camera and facial scanning system known as Face ID. The 2016 LG V10 had a precursor to the concept, with a portion of the screen wrapped around the camera area in the top-left corner, and the resulting area marketed as a "second" display that could be used for various supplemental features.
Other variations of the practice later emerged, such as a "Hole punch" camera (such as those of the Honor View 20, and Samsung's Galaxy A8s and Galaxy S10)—eschewing the tabbed "notch" for a circular or rounded-rectangular cut-out within the screen instead, while Oppo released the first "all-screen" phones with no notches at all, including one with a mechanical front camera that pops up from the top of the device (Find X), and a 2019 prototype for a front-facing camera that can be embedded and hidden below the display, using a special partially-translucent screen structure that allows light to reach the image sensor below the panel. The first implementation was the ZTE Axon 20 5G, with a 32 MP sensor manufactured by Visionox.
Displays supporting higher than 60 Hz (such as 90 Hz or 120 Hz) also began to appear on smartphones in 2017; initially confined to "gaming" smartphones such as the Razer Phone (2017) and ROG Phone (2018), they later became more common on flagship phones such as the Pixel 4 (2019) and Samsung Galaxy S21 series (2021). Higher refresh rates allow for smoother motion and lower input latency, but often at the cost of battery life. As such, the device may offer a means to disable high refresh rates, or be configured to automatically reduce the refresh rate when there is low on-screen motion.
In November 2019, Motorola unveiled a variation of the concept with its re-imagining of the Razr, using a horizontally-folding display to create a Clamshell design form factor inspired by its previous Motorola Razr. Samsung would unveil a similar device known as the Galaxy Z Flip the following February.
In 2012, Samsung introduced the Galaxy S3 (GT-i9300) with retrofittable wireless charging, pop-up video playback, 4G-LTE variant (GT-i9305) quad-core processor.
In 2013, Fairphone launched its first "socially ethical" smartphone at the London Design Festival to address concerns regarding the sourcing of materials in the manufacturing followed by Shiftphone in 2015. In late 2013, QSAlpha commenced production of a smartphone designed entirely around security, encryption and identity protection.
In October 2013, Motorola Mobility announced Project Ara, a concept for a modular smartphone platform that would allow users to customize and upgrade their phones with add-on modules that attached magnetically to a frame. Ara was retained by Google following its sale of Motorola Mobility to Lenovo, but was shelved in 2016. That year, LG and Motorola both unveiled smartphones featuring a limited form of modularity for accessories; the LG G5 allowed accessories to be installed via the removal of its battery compartment, while the Moto Z utilizes accessories attached magnetically to the rear of the device.
Microsoft, expanding upon the concept of Motorola's short-lived "Webtop", unveiled functionality for its Windows 10 operating system for phones that allows supported devices to be Docking station for use with a PC-styled desktop environment.
Samsung and LG used to be the "last standing" manufacturers to offer flagship devices with user-replaceable batteries. But in 2015, Samsung succumbed to the minimalism trend set by Apple, introducing the Galaxy S6 without a user-replaceable battery. In addition, Samsung was criticised for pruning long-standing features such as MHL, MicroUSB 3.0, Waterproofing and MicroSD card support, of which the latter two came back in 2016 with the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge.
Major technologies that began to trend in 2016 included a focus on virtual reality and augmented reality experiences catered towards smartphones, the newly introduced USB-C connector, and improving LTE technologies.
In 2018, the first smartphones featuring fingerprint readers embedded within OLED displays were announced, followed in 2019 by an implementation using an ultrasonic sensor on the Samsung Galaxy S10.
Designs first implemented by Apple have been replicated by other vendors several times. These include a sealed body that does not allow replacing the battery, a lack of the physical audio connecter (since the iPhone 7 from 2016), a screen with a cut-out area at the top for the earphone and front-facing camera and sensors (colloquially known as "notch"; since the iPhone X from 2017), the exclusion of a charging wall adapter from the scope of delivery (since the iPhone 12 from 2019), and a camera user interface with circular and usually solid-colour shutter button and a camera mode selector using perpendicular text and separate camera modes for photo and video (since iOS 7 from 2013).c. f. camera software of Samsung since the Galaxy S10, of Huawei since the P20, of LG since the G8, since the OnePlus 6, of Xiaomi since Redmi Note 5, and of UleFone smartphones released since at least 2017 (as of 2022).
Since 2020, smartphones have decreasingly been shipped with rudimentary accessories like a power adapter and headphones that have historically been almost invariably within the scope of delivery. This trend was initiated with Apple's iPhone 12, followed by Samsung and Xiaomi on the Galaxy S21 and Mi 11 respectively, months after having mockery the same through advertisements. The reason cited is reducing environmental footprint, though reaching raised charging rates supported by newer models demands a new charger shipped through separate packaging with its own environmental footprint.
With the development of the PinePhone and Librem 5 in the 2020s, there are intensified efforts to make open source GNU/Linux for smartphones a major alternative to iOS and Android. Moreover, associated software enabled convergence (beyond convergent and hybrid apps) by allowing the smartphones to be used like a desktop computer when connected to a keyboard, mouse and monitor.
Some are also equipped with an FM radio receiver, a hardware notification LED, and an infrared transmitter for use as remote control. Few have additional sensors such as thermometer for measuring ambient temperature, hygrometer for humidity, and a sensor for ultraviolet ray measurement.
Few exotic smartphones designed around specific purposes are equipped with uncommon hardware such as a projector (Samsung Beam i8520 and Samsung Galaxy Beam i8530), optical zoom lenses (Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom and Samsung Galaxy K Zoom), thermal camera, and even PMR446 (walkie-talkie radio) transceiver.
The performance of mobile CPU depends not only on the clock rate (generally given in multiples of hertz) but also on the memory hierarchy. Because of these challenges, the performance of mobile phone CPUs is often more appropriately given by scores derived from various standardized tests to measure the real effective performance in commonly used applications.
As with classic mobile phones, early smartphones such as the Samsung Omnia II were equipped with buttons for accepting and declining phone calls. Due to the advancements of functionality besides phone calls, these have increasingly been replaced by navigation buttons such as "menu" (also known as "options"), "back", and "tasks". Some early 2010s smartphones such as the HTC Desire were additionally equipped with a "Search" button (🔍) for quick access to a web search engine or apps' internal search feature.
Since 2013, smartphones' home buttons started integrating fingerprint scanners, starting with the iPhone 5s and Samsung Galaxy S5.
Functions may be assigned to button combinations. For example, can usually be taken using the home and power buttons, with a short press on iOS and one-second holding Android OS, the two most popular mobile operating systems. On smartphones with no physical home button, usually the volume-down button is instead pressed with the power button. Some smartphones have a screenshot and possibly screencast shortcuts in the navigation button bar or the power button menu.
Hovering can enable preview such as on the video player's seek bar, in text messages, and quick contacts on the dial pad, as well as lock screen animations, and the simulation of a mouseover mouse cursor on web sites.
Some styluses support hovering as well and are equipped with a button for quick access to relevant tools such as digital and highlighting of text and elements when dragging while pressed, resembling drag selection using a computer mouse. Some series such as the Samsung Galaxy Note series and LG G Stylus series have an integrated tray to store the stylus in.
Few devices such as the iPhone 6s until iPhone Xs and Huawei Mate S are equipped with a Force Touch, where the pressure may be used to simulate a gas pedal in video games, access to preview windows and shortcut menus, controlling the typing cursor, and a weight scale, the latest of which has been rejected by Apple from the App Store.
To distinguish between the sources of notifications, the colour combination and blinking pattern can vary. Usually three diodes in red, green, and blue (RGB) are able to create a multitude of colour combinations.
Many mobile phones are also equipped with a barometer sensor to measure air pressure, such as Samsung since 2012 with the Galaxy S3, and Apple since 2014 with the iPhone 6. It allows estimating and detecting changes in altitude.
A magnetometer can act as a digital compass by measuring Earth's magnetic field.
So far, only the 2013 Samsung Galaxy S4 and Note 3 are equipped with an thermometer and a hygrometer, and only the Note 4 with an ultraviolet radiation sensor which could warn the user about excessive exposure.
A rear infrared laser beam for distance measurement can enable time-of-flight camera functionality with accelerated autofocus, as implemented on select LG mobile phones starting with LG G3 and LG V10.
Due to their currently rare occurrence among smartphones, not much software to utilize these sensors has been developed yet.
In case of technical defects which make the device unusable or unbootable as a result of liquid damage, fall damage, screen damage, bendgate, malware, or bogus software update, etc., data stored on the memory card is likely data recovery externally, while data on the inaccessible internal storage would be data loss. A memory card can usually immediately be re-used in a different memory-card-enabled device with no necessity for prior .
Some dual-SIM mobile phones are equipped with a hybrid slot, where one of the two slots can be occupied by either a SIM card or a memory card. Some models, typically of higher end, are equipped with three slots including one dedicated memory card slot, for simultaneous dual-SIM and memory card usage.
However, unlike mass storage, Media Transfer Protocol lacks parallelism, meaning that only a single transfer can run at a time, for which other transfer requests need to wait to finish. This, for example, denies browsing photos and playing back videos from the device during an active file transfer. Some programs and devices lack support for MTP. In addition, the direct access and random access of files through MTP is not supported. Any file is wholly downloaded from the device before opened.
The decline of the connector's availability among newly released mobile phones among all major vendors commenced in 2016 with its lack on the Apple iPhone 7. An adapter reserving the charging port can retrofit the plug.
Battery-powered, wireless Bluetooth headphones are an alternative. Those tend to be costlier however due to their need for internal hardware such as a Bluetooth transceiver, and a Bluetooth coupling is required ahead of each operation.
Batteries chemically wear down as a result of repeated charging and discharging throughout ordinary usage, losing both energy capacity and output power, which results in loss of processing speeds followed by system outages. Battery capacity may be reduced to 80% after few hundred recharges, and the drop in performance accelerates with time. Some mobile phones are designed with batteries that can be interchanged upon expiration by the end user, usually by opening the back cover. While such a design had initially been used in most mobile phones, including those with touch screen that were not , it has largely been usurped throughout the 2010s by permanently built-in, non-replaceable batteries; a design practice criticized for planned obsolescence.
The smartphone's integrated charge controller (IC) requests the elevated voltage from a supported charger. "VOOC" by Oppo, also marketed as "dash charge", took the counter approach and increased current to cut out some heat produced from internally regulating the arriving voltage in the end device down to the battery's charging terminal voltage, but is incompatible with existing USB cables, as it requires the thicker copper wires of high-current USB cables. Later, USB Power Delivery ( USB-PD) was developed with the aim to standardize the negotiation of charging parameters across devices of up to 100 Watts, but is only supported on cables with USB-C on both endings due to the connector's dedicated PD channels.
Wireless charging has been widely adapted, allowing for intermittent recharging without wearing down the charging port through frequent reconnection, with Qi being the most common standard, followed by Powermat. Due to the lower efficiency of wireless power transmission, charging rates are below that of wired charging, and more heat is produced at similar charging rates.
By the end of 2017, smartphone battery life has become generally adequate; however, earlier smartphone battery life was poor due to the weak batteries that could not handle the significant power requirements of the smartphones' computer systems and color screens.
Smartphone users purchase additional chargers for use outside the home, at work, and in cars and by buying portable external "battery packs". External battery packs include generic models which are connected to the smartphone with a cable, and custom-made models that "piggyback" onto a smartphone's case. In 2016, Samsung had to recall millions of the Galaxy Note 7 smartphones due to an explosive battery issue. For consumer convenience, wireless charging stations have been introduced in some hotels, bars, and other public spaces.
Images are usually saved in the JPEG file format; some high-end phones since the mid-2010s also have RAW imaging capability.
Viewed from back, rear cameras are commonly located at the top center or top left corner. A cornered location benefits by not requiring other hardware to be packed around the camera module while increasing ergonomy, as the lens is less likely to be covered when held horizontally.
Modern advanced smartphones have cameras with optical image stabilisation (OIS), larger sensors, bright lenses, and even optical zoom plus RAW images. HDR, "Bokeh mode" with multi lenses and multi-shot night modes are now also familiar. Many new smartphone camera features are being enabled via computational photography image processing and multiple specialized lenses rather than larger sensors and lenses, due to the constrained space available inside phones that are being made as slim as possible.
Those with two pressure levels resemble the point-and-shoot intuition of dedicated . The camera button may be used as a shortcut to quickly and ergonomy launch the camera software, as it is located more accessibly inside a pocket than the power button.
While polycarbonate back covers may be perceived as less "premium" among fashion- and fad-oriented users, its utilitarian strengths and technical benefits include durability and shock absorption, greater elasticity against permanent bending like metal, inability to shatter like glass, which facilitates designing it removable; better manufacturing cost efficiency, and no blockage of radio signals or wireless power like metal.
Cases range from relatively inexpensive rubber or soft plastic cases which provide moderate protection from bumps and good protection from scratches to more expensive, heavy-duty cases that combine a rubber padding with a hard outer shell. Some cases have a "book"-like form, with a cover that the user opens to use the device; when the cover is closed, it protects the screen. Some "book"-like cases have additional pockets for credit cards, thus enabling people to use them as .
Accessories include products sold by the manufacturer of the smartphone and compatible products made by other manufacturers.
However, some companies, like Apple, stopped including chargers with smartphones in order to "reduce carbon footprint," etc., causing many customers to pay extra for charging adapters.
Mobile operating systems combine features of a personal computer operating system with other features useful for mobile or handheld use; usually including, and most of the following considered essential in modern mobile systems; a touchscreen, Cellular network, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi Protected Access, Wi-Fi, Global Positioning System (GPS) mobile navigation, video camera and digital camera, speech recognition, voice recorder, music player, near field communication, and infrared blaster. By Q1 2018, over 383 million smartphones were sold with 85.9 percent running Android, 14.1 percent running iOS and a negligible number of smartphones running other OSes. Android alone is more popular than the popular desktop operating system Windows, and in general, smartphone use (even without tablets) exceeds desktop use. Other well-known mobile operating systems are Flyme OS and Harmony OS.
Mobile devices with mobile communications abilities (e.g., smartphones) contain two mobile operating systemsthe main user-facing software platform is supplemented by a second low-level proprietary real-time operating system which operates the radio and other hardware. Research has shown that these low-level systems may contain a range of security vulnerabilities permitting malicious to gain high levels of control over the mobile device.Thom Holwerda, OSNews, November 12, 2013, The second operating system hiding in every mobile phone
This is a dynamic list and may not contain some or all manufacturer
In Q1 2014, Samsung had a 31% share and Apple had 16%. In Q4 2014, Apple had a 20.4% share and Samsung had 19.9%. In Q2 2016, Samsung had a 22.3% share and Apple had 12.9%. In Q1 2017, IDC reported that Samsung was first placed, with 80 million units, followed by Apple with 50.8 million, Huawei with 34.6 million, Oppo with 25.5 million and Vivo with 22.7 million.
Samsung's mobile business is half the size of Apple's, by revenue. Apple business increased very rapidly in the years 2013 to 2017. Realme, a brand owned by Oppo, is the fastest-growing phone brand worldwide since Q2 2019. In China, Huawei and Honor, a brand owned by Huawei, have 46% of market share combined and posted 66% annual growth as of 2019, amid growing Chinese nationalism. In 2019, Samsung had a 74% market share of 5G smartphones in South Korea.
Additionally, in many lesser technologically developed regions smartphones are people's first and only means of Mobile broadband due to their portability, with personal computers being relatively uncommon outside of business use. The cameras on smartphones can be used to photograph documents and send them via email or Text messaging in place of using fax (facsimile) machines. Mobile payment on smartphones allow people to make less use of wallets, purses, credit and debit cards, and cash. Mobile banking apps can allow people to deposit checks simply by photographing them, eliminating the need to take the physical check to an ATM or teller. Guide book apps can take the place of paper travel and restaurant/business guides, museum brochures, and dedicated audio guide equipment.
Another application of mobile banking technology is Zidisha, a US-based nonprofit micro-lending platform that allows residents of developing countries to raise small business loans from Web users worldwide. Zidisha uses mobile banking for loan disbursements and repayments, transferring funds from lenders in the United States to borrowers in rural Africa who have mobile phones and can use the Internet.
Mobile payments were first trialled in Finland in 1998 when two Coca-Cola vending machines in Espoo were enabled to work with SMS payments. Eventually, the idea spread and in 1999, the Philippines launched the country's first commercial mobile payments systems with mobile operators Globe Telecom and Smart.
Some mobile phones can make via direct mobile billing schemes, or through contactless payments if the phone and the point of sale support near field communication (NFC). Enabling contactless payments through NFC-equipped mobile phones requires the co-operation of manufacturers, network operators, and retail merchants.
A 2011 study reported that over 90% of college students surveyed text (initiate, reply or read) while driving. The scientific literature on the danger of driving while sending a text message from a mobile phone, or texting while driving, is limited. A simulation study at the University of Utah found a sixfold increase in distraction-related accidents when texting. Due to the complexity of smartphones that began to grow more after, this has introduced additional difficulties for law enforcement officials when attempting to distinguish one usage from another in drivers using their devices. This is more apparent in countries which ban both handheld and hands-free usage, rather than those which ban handheld use only, as officials cannot easily tell which function of the phone is being used simply by looking at the driver. This can lead to drivers being stopped for using their device illegally for a call when, in fact, they were using the device legally, for example, when using the phone's incorporated controls for car stereo, GPS or satnav.
A 2010 study reviewed the incidence of phone use while cycling and its effects on behavior and safety. In 2013 a national survey in the US reported the number of drivers who reported using their phones to access the Internet while driving had risen to nearly one of four. A study conducted by the University of Vienna examined approaches for reducing inappropriate and problematic use of mobile phones, such as using phones while driving.
Accidents involving a driver being distracted by being in a Telephone call on a phone have begun to be prosecuted as negligence similar to speeding. In the United Kingdom, from 27 February 2007, motorists who are caught using a handheld phone while driving will have three penalty points added to their license in addition to the fine of £60. This increase was introduced to try to stem the increase in drivers ignoring the law. Japan prohibits all use of phones while driving, including use of hands-free devices. New Zealand has banned handheld phone use since 1 November 2009. Many states in the United States have banned text messaging on phones while driving. Illinois became the 17th American state to enforce this law. As of July 2010, 30 states had banned texting while driving, with Kentucky becoming the most recent addition on July 15.
Public Health Law Research maintains a list of distracted driving laws in the United States. This database of laws provides a comprehensive view of the provisions of laws that restrict the use of mobile devices while driving for all 50 states and the District of Columbia between 1992, when first law was passed through December 1, 2010. The dataset contains information on 22 dichotomous, continuous or categorical variables including, for example, activities regulated (e.g., texting versus talking, hands-free versus handheld calls, web browsing, gaming), targeted populations, and exemptions.
Leaked documents published by WikiLeaks, codenamed Vault 7 and dated from 2013 to 2016, detail the capabilities of the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to perform electronic surveillance and cyber warfare, including the ability to compromise the operating systems of most smartphones (including iOS and Android). In 2021, journalists and researchers reported the discovery of spyware, called Pegasus, developed and distributed by a private company which can and has been used to infect iOS and Android smartphones often – partly via use of 0-day exploits – without the need for any user-interaction or significant clues to the user and then be used to exfiltrate data, track user locations, capture film through its camera, and activate the microphone at any time. Analysis Packet analyzer by popular smartphones running variants of Android found substantial by-default data collection and sharing with no opt-out by this pre-installed software.
Guidelines for mobile device security were issued by NIST and many other organizations. For conducting a private, in-person meeting, at least one site recommends that the user switch the smartphone off and disconnect the battery.
It has also been theorized that for some users, addiction to use of their phones, especially before they go to bed, can result in "ego depletion." Many people also use their phones as alarm clocks, which can also lead to loss of sleep.Kalsbeek, Andries (2012). The Neurobiology of Circadian Timing Elsevier. pp. 382.
Lithium-ion and lithium-polymer batteries, those commonly powering portable electronics, additionally wear down more from fuller charge and deeper discharge cycles, and when unused for an extended amount of time while depleted, where self-discharging may lead to a harmful depth of discharge.