What Is Considered a Smartphone?


Smartphones are now a fundamental part of our everyday modern life. It is the most widely used accessory for many different tasks, from making phone calls to even more complex ones like programming. What you can do with your smartphones is only limited by your imagination. So, what can be considered a smartphone?

Quick Answer

It is a somewhat technical question describing the minimum requirements to categorize what makes a phone smart. Suppose the minimum requirement of a mobile phone is to make calls. In that case, when a phone goes beyond this fundamental function to perform more complex operations such as taking pictures, browsing, and supporting third-party applications, it is safe to say it is a smartphone. 

A smartphone is an integrated computer system on your mobile phone with other features not originally associated with telephones. It has been around the early 90s and, with advancements in technology, has gone a long way since its inception.

This article explains some of the features that make a phone smart. 

What Are Some Features of a Smartphone?

If you still have trouble understanding what a smartphone is all about, below are some critical features that make it stand out from mobile phones.

Feature #1: Better Display Screen

While most mobile phones have display screens, that of the smartphone is noticeably more advanced than that of the mobile phone. Most smartphones come with a large, partially or fully touch-sensitive screen to enable a more effortless user experience.

The screen resolution of most smartphones doesn’t come lower than 240 by 320 pixels, with more recent ones having HD screen resolutions of up to 1080 by 1920 pixels, making display information at the best quality possible.

Feature #2: Good Camera

Cameras on smartphones are noteworthy and are one feature of the smartphone that most smartphone companies work on. Smartphones usually have a camera with at least a five-megapixel resolution for taking pictures and video. The more recent high-end smartphone camera feature comes with as high as 108 mpx, making images taken on them look professional.

Apart from its fantastic hardware camera, the smartphone also comes with additional software to optimize the quality of a picture or video. The smartphone is known for its good camera, from increased film speed to advanced noise reduction software

Feature #3: Hardware Sensors

The smartphone has different hardware sensors to help it respond intelligently to the outside world. Some of the standard hardware sensors on smartphones include the following.

  • An accelerometer that measures acceleration to protect hard disks upon free-fall.
  • GPS sensors triangulate the smartphone’s location through satellites and cell towers
  • Gyroscopes measure the orientation of the device. It helps change the direction of your display rotation from portrait to landscape
  • A magnetometer is used as a directional compass to measure the strength of the earth’s magnet field like a compass. It is helpful for the compass app on smartphones.
  • Ambient light sensors measure the amount of light reaching your device. It helps the smartphone adjust your screen’s brightness and camera flash settings accordingly.
  • An infrared blaster, commonly known as the IR blaster, can be used as a remote control for most electronic devices. While this is not common in all smartphones, it demonstrates some added accessory sensors that can be added to the smartphone. 

Feature #4: Access to Wireless Data 

Smartphones can access the internet using mobile data networks provided by wireless carriers such as Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Infrared, and Near Field Communication (NFC) sensors. Some high-end smartphones now include 5G for an even faster internet connection. 

Feature #5: Memory

With the increased function of a smartphone, it must come with a large amount of space to accommodate its memory needs. The smart comes with random access memory (RAM) and read-only memory (ROM). The function of the RAM is to serve as a temporary placeholder while programs are running, while ROM is more of permanent storage for data.

The minimum amount of RAM of a smartphone is 500 megabytes, while its ROM is 1 GB. However, the smartphone now comes with memory that can rival a laptop or desktop.

Feature #6: Regular Updates

Another key feature of the smartphone is regular updates. As smartphones run on different operating systems (OS) and use other applications, updates on the application and operating system software are readily available to the smartphone as well.

Once you have the hardware or software specification required for the update, it is available.

Quick Trivia

The invention of the smartphone was in 1992 and should not be confused with the mobile phone in 1973.


For a mobile phone to be considered a smartphone, it must be able to go beyond its basic function of making phone calls and texting to execute a more complex task. The smartphone serves as a multifunctional device at hand.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Are all smartphones touchscreens?

While the majority of smartphones are, not all are touchscreen. Its outward appearance, inner workings, and systems make a smartphone. While a touchscreen adds an added ease to the interaction with smartphones, there are a few smartphones that do not come with a touchscreen.

When did the first smartphone debut? 

What we’d consider a smartphone was first debuted in 1992 by IBM. It was referred to as the IBM Simon or e Simon Personal Communicator and was made available in 1994. 

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