Smartphones: Glossary of terms

October 2016

While Smartphones are constantly being improved and fitted with advanced features, the same goes for the associated technical language. Here's a glossary of the technical terms, that may be encountered in the "Mobile word":

Memory card reader or SD card slot:
Smartphones have a storage capacity of 8GB, 16GB or 32GB. Some more expensive handsets have 64GB of storage. But phones running Android offers users the ability to expand the basic capacity, with memory cards (SD card) to accommodate photos, movies and other clips. Note that: apps can't be installed on memory cards.

Retina Display
This term is devoted to phones and tablets from the Apple brand, it describes the quality of the image on the screen. The Retina display on the iPhone 5 is 326 pixels per inch, and is equivalent to a high quality image of HDTVs.

Dual-core or quad-core
The processor is the heart of the smartphone. It provides the speed and power to be able to run multiple apps at the same time (watching videos while surfing the internet and playing games).

GPRS (General Packet Radio Service)
This is a very simple mobile internet connection technology for mobile phones and smartphones. GPRS is very slow compared to 3G or 4G, but unlike other services, it operates as long as your phone is receiving a network signal, which is more than enough to send multimedia messages or to receive e-mails.

A form of wireless mobile technology that provides access to an internet connection to smartphones and tablets when wi-fi is not available. 3G is not as fast as broadband or Wi-Fi, but it works well and happens to be the standard wireless connection around the world.

A step above the 3G network, it is powerful enough to provide mobile broadband connectivity. Access to 4G is expensive and there is no standard. A 4G compatible smartphone in the UK is not necessarily in the United States and vice-versa.

All modern smartphones have this system, allowing the unit to be located anywhere in the world. The GPS make use of the native navigation application of the smartphone or applications such as Google or Nokia maps, to determine your location.

An mechanism integrated to the smartphone for detecting the orientation of the device. In addition to making the games more interactive, the accelerometer will display images and web pages in the right direction.

Proximity sensor
Disables the smartphone's screen when the device is placed near the user's face during a call. This saves the battery and turn off the device when not in use.

Near Field Communication
NFC is a contactless technology to send information from one smartphone to another. The connection is established to exchange information or allow one device to take control of the other. NFC equipped smartphones are replacing the credit cards as payment methods in many stores

Original document published on

Related :

This document entitled « Smartphones: Glossary of terms  » from CCM ( is made available under the Creative Commons license. You can copy, modify copies of this page, under the conditions stipulated by the license, as this note appears clearly.