We explain what a smartphone is, its characteristics and differences with other phones. In addition, we tell you about its origin and its history.

The arrival of the smartphones It has changed our way of doing things.

What is a smartphone?

A smartphone, also known as smartphone (of English smart“smart and telephone“telephone”), It is a portable device that combines the traditional functions of a cell phone with those of a pocket computer. or touch tablet. Its “smart” name comes from the fact that it is capable of performing many complex functions, in addition to simply communicating with two people by phone.

The smartphones They are a type of cell phone, and constitute its technological evolution, its most advanced version, whose existence is possible thanks to the invention and popularization of the Internet, and the so-called Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). So, a smartphone It not only allows you to make calls and send text messages, but also to surf the Internet, make video calls, send emails, use social networks, take photos, scan documents, and many other new features.

The appearance of the smartphones It is considered a major milestone in the contemporary history of technology, one that has rapidly left a deep mark on the way we do things, from working and shopping to dating and entertaining ourselves. After less than 20 years of mass presence, smartphones are more popular than ever and are deeply integrated into our daily lives, which is why they have become an indispensable tool of the 21st century.

As is often the case with Anglicisms and loanwords from foreign languages, the term smartphone it is always written in italics, and academic institutions recommend the use of “smartphone” instead.

See also: Input and output devices

Origin and history of smartphones

smartphone history
The first precedent of smartphones it was the PDA.

The first smartphones emerged in the late 1990s and the beginning of the 2000s, from the integration of traditional cell phones and digital agenda devices or pocket computers, known at that time as PDAs (from English Personal Digital Assistant“personal digital assistant”).

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These early “hybrid” phones offered the functions of both devices in one: the ability to make phone calls and the small analog displays, which allowed the recording of names and numbers, as well as small notes and messages.

The leap forward in this type of device was brought by the OmniGo 700LX, manufactured and marketed by Hewlett-Packard in 1996.. It was a hybrid phone with a greyscale LCD screen, compatible with the DOS 5.0 operating system and capable of making calls, creating and receiving text messages, as well as emails and faxes. In the same device, an HP 200LX and a Nokia 2110 cell phone were combined, which represented an advance on the milestone reached in 1993 by IBM with its hybrid models.

Nevertheless, the first smartphone proper emerged in 1999, almost hand in hand with third generation technology (3G), which emerged in 2001 and which allowed the transmission of information at high speeds, which allowed the sending of larger data packages (photos, videos, etc.). This first proper smart phone It was the pdQ Smartphone, from the Qualcomm companyand combined a Palm PDA with a CDMA cell phone with internet connectivity.

Another great quantum leap in the field of smart telephony was taken in 2007 with the launch of the first iPhone by Apple, which significantly changed the standards and aesthetics of telephony forever. Its operating system (iOS) was revolutionary and its only real competitor appeared in 2008: Android. Both were the prevailing systems in smartphones for the next decade.

From then on, the smartphones they have done nothing but gain functions and grow in complexity. The marked trend towards the miniaturization of cell phones, for example, began to reverse after the adoption of the touch screen (touch screen), which required increasingly bulky devices to have functional and color screens, along with the large batteries needed to power the system.

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To this must be added the appearance of 4G networks (from 2010 onwards) and the announcement of 5G (expected for 2025), which brought with it a huge increase in the capabilities of smartphoneshand in hand with apps downloadable from the internet and the incorporation of increasingly better quality cameras.

Differences between a smartphone and a basic cell phone

The big difference between a smartphone and a conventional cell phone has to do with the possibility of handling large amounts of data through the telephone signalwhich allows the smartphone connect to the internet, and thus send and receive email, instant messaging and other software packages.

While traditional cell phones stuck to the idea of ​​being a telephone (and therefore, used to make calls or, at most, send and receive short text messages), smartphones they took a step forward. Telephone communication is just one of the many functions of a smartphone, and it is possible that it is even one of the least used, since it is, basically, pocket computers. Instead, a basic cell phone is solely committed to its task of making calls.

Main characteristics of a smartphone

smartphone features
A smartphone It is a multitasking device that exceeds telephone communication.

The main technical features of a smartphone are:

  • Combines telephone communication functions with data processing typical of computers.
  • Allows connection to the Internet and different information transmission networkssuch as GPS (Global Positioning System, “global position system”). In them you can send and receive large data packets.
  • It has a screen that responds to touch and that allows the user to enter information into the system, such as ordinary computer keyboards and pointers. Generally, the screen is liquid crystal.
  • Contains some kind of operating system that regulates the allocation of resources and fulfills the instructions of the user.
  • Has added and built-in functions such as camera (front and rear), receiver of bluetooth, microSD memory card reader, SIM Card reader, wireless connectivity through radio waves (WiFi), fingerprint recognition, among many others. It is a multitasking device.
  • It also fulfills the role of agenda and personal organizer, as well as as a device for entertainment, socialization, mathematical calculation, and many other uses, depending on the software downloaded (apps or applications).
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Advantages and disadvantages of smartphones

Like all technology, smartphones facilitate human tasks and provide great opportunities, but they also bring significant challenges. Some of its advantages and disadvantages are:

Advantages of smartphones

  • They centralize very different processes (telephony, personal agenda, game tool, among others) in the same device that fits in a pocket.
  • Expand the possibility of communication at levels never seen before and through different channels and tools: oral, written and audiovisual.
  • Allow you to go shopping on-line and surf the internet with ease and practicality, which makes the smartphone a tool Useful for work and also for leisure.
  • The large number of apps that are generated daily allow a very versatile operation of the appliance, even as a work tool.
  • They are relatively light and small devices.which fit in a pocket and can be connected to other devices wired and wireless.

Disadvantages of smartphones

  • As with all ICTs, can produce a certain margin of isolation and distance from real society, which can have a negative impact on the ability of younger generations to socialize.
  • The number of built-in features subjects the user to a state of continuous stimulation and distractionwhich prevents you from valuing leisure and practicing concentration.
  • They are expensive deviceswith high restocking fees, compared to basic cell phones, which are much cheaper.
  • They require a much higher power supply than traditional telephoneswhich is reflected in the weight and size of the stack.
  • Its enormous connectivity represents a challenge for the defense of the intimate and the privatesince they are devices that go with us everywhere and that continuously collect information about our life patterns.

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  • “Smartphone” on Wikipedia.
  • “Smartphone, preferable to smartphonein Fundeu.
  • “What is a smartphone? Know all the details” in Whistle Out (Mexico).
  • What is a smartphone? at Lenovo.
  • “Smartphone” in The Encyclopaedia Britannica.