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Cell Phones Guide

Mobile Phone Terms Glossary



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2G indicates second generation, referring to the generation of digital handsets that replaced the original analogue setup.

2.5G is a way of showing a handset has more data features than a 2G handset whilst not quite matching up to the newer third generation of phones. A 2.5G handset will generally support features such as EDGE and/or GPRS.

3G refers to third generation. It is the latest evolution in phone technology, following on from 1G analogue and 2G digital mobile phones. 3G offers high-speed data transfer rates which allows mobile broadband and two-way video calling.

4G is the fourth generation of mobile phone communications standards. It is a successor of the 3G and provides ultra-broadband internet access for mobile devices. The high data transfer rates make 4G networks suitable for use in USB wireless modems for laptops and even home internet access.

5G is fifth generation wireless technology that brings three new things to the table: wider channels (speed), lower latency (responsiveness) and more bandwidth (the ability to connect a lot more devices at once).

3-way Calling
3-Way Calling is also known as conference calling and allows three or more people to be connected together on a phone call, where they can all both talk and listen at the same time. Typically additional people can call in or hang up at any time making this a very convenient and flexible system for businesses where different parties may not be in the same location or even in the same country.

802.11 is a set of IEEE standards for wireless local area networks (WLAN). The most common variant is 802.11g, which is backwards compatible with the older B variant. 802.11g devices are sometimes marked as 802.11b/g to indicate this compatibility. There is a newer version - 802.11n - that provides higher maximum speeds and better range.
The 802.11g standard's typical speeds are rated up to 54 Mbps.

Some mobile phones that have a GPS chip built in also support A-GPS. A-GPS is simply Assisted GPS and it means the handset will use a triangulation technique to help get a fast fix on your current location. Triangulation means the handset will judge your location to within 100 metres by judging your distance from three mobile phone aerials in your area. The distance from each aerial is calculated and your location recorded. Sometimes a GPS fix can take up to 30 seconds to work, using A-GPS means a faster fix and a better end user experience.

AAC stands for Advanced Audio Coding. It is a music format proposed as a successor to MP3, offering a higher sound quality but taking up the same amount of memory. Ordinarily a higher quality would mean more memory needs to be used.

An Accelerometer is generally used for measuring acceleration. Within a mobile phone the accelerometer detects the motion of the handset, and will auto rotate the display to show in landscape rather than portrait mode when the phone is rotated 90 degrees. This is ideal for viewing photos on the phone screen in full screen mode.

Audio Output Jack
An audio output jack on a mobile phone commonly allows you to use a standard headset with the phone to listen to music, rather than a phone specific set. Most headphones these days use 3.5mm connectors.

Auto Focus
Auto focus refers to a camera phone lens being able to adjust to focus in on a particular object, often resulting in clearer and sharper pictures than fixed focus camera phones.

Bluetooth technology allows connections between electrical devices without the need for wires. The benefit includes car kits and headsets that can be connected to a mobile phone without the need for wires. Bluetooth is a short range technology, usually working up to a distance of 10 metres.

Bits per second indicate the speed of data transfer a phone can operate at.

Term used to describe mobile phone communications. Each transmitter covers an area known as a "cell".

Mobile Phones generally cost 200 Euro to 300 Euro if you just want the phone on its own. Most people take out a 12 or 18 month contract with the phone where in return for committing to pay their bill every month they get the phone for free. Contracts are subject to proofs of identification and credit check, calls are billed monthly, as opposed to pre-pay phones.

A specific area in which a mobile phone can make and receive calls.

Digital Zoom
Digital zoom refers to a digital camera phone that will enhance part of a picture, to give the impression that you have 'zoomed in' on the object. What actually happens is a part of the picture is cropped and then enhanced to full size. This does lead to a loss in picture quality.

Dual Band
Ability of a phone to work on both 900MHz and 1800MHz networks. Historically in the UK, Orange and T-Mobile used the 1800MHz frequency while O2 and Vodafone both used 900MHz but as radio airwaves became more congested all networks started using both frequencies and all new mobile phones are now at least dual-band.

EDGE is enhanced speed for data transfer across a GSM network. It can be seen as an alternative to 3G, and can be used to offer faster transfer rates by networks in areas where they do not have 3G coverage.

Face Recognition
Face recognition technology in a digital camera will seek out and focus in on people's faces, so that images are produced which are much clearer and sharper in focus and detail.

GB is a measurement of memory storage, an acronym for Gigabyte. One Gigabyte is equivalent to 1024 MB (Megabyte).

Global Positioning System, GPS is used to calculate your location by taking a reading from up to 3 satellites, and calculating your location using a method called triangulation.

GPRS stands for General Packet Radio Service and was the first high speed data service available on digital mobile phones.

The Global Standard for Mobile communications is a digital standard used by mobile networks across the globe. The most common frequency used is 900mhz, followed by 1800mhz. In the Americas, 1900mhz and 850mhz are also used. These bandings are what is referred to by single, dual, tri or quad band phones. A quad band phone will operate on any of the GSM frequencies, offering a larger range of roaming options.

The ability to make or receive a phone call without physically holding the mobile phone. Originally this referred to hands-free car kits allowing drivers to use the phone while driving by using a microphone that picked up the driver's voice and a loudspeaker that played back the caller's voice. This progressed to a wired personal hands-free which changed the loudspeaker into earphones and not long after back to a loudspeaker but this time built into the phone allowing its use as a hands-free conference call device. Eventually wirefree Bluetooth headsets arrived and almost all hands-free devices are now Bluetooth.

High Speed Circuit-Switched Data (HSCSD) is a way of getting faster internet access through older 2G mobile phone networks. Used only by Orange in the UK and largely obsolete since the launch of 3G networks and HSDPA.

High Speed Download Packet Access (HSDPA) is more commonly called mobile broadband. It offers exactly what it is called, a high speed method of downloading data across a 3G mobile phone network.

High Speed Upload Packet Access (HSUPA) is a complementary service to HSDPA. HSUPA enhances HSDPA by offering mobile broadband quality upload speeds in addition to the usual faster download speeds.

IM is an acronym for Instant Messaging. Many new handsets support instant messaging of some kind or another, with top of the range handset supporting access to services such as Windows Live and Yahoo Messenger.

Image Stabiliser
Image stabiliser is used on a camera pone to cut out blur on a picture due to hand shaking.

IMAP stands for Internet Message Access Protocol. IMAP is a method of sending and receiving email. With IMAP the message is held online by your internet server, and you download just the header and sender information. From this youc an choose whether to download the full email or leave it on the server to be accessed from a PC at a later time.

An IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) is a unique serial number that every mobile phone has and is usually found printed under the phone battery; if a mobile is stolen, networks can use the IMEI number to identify the phone and put a block on it which make the stolen phone useless on all networks.

Internal Memory
Internal memory will indicate the capacity available for storing photos, messages and songs on the phone memory.

The protocols that define how data is exchanged between devices using infrared technology. Typically infrared only has a range of between 20cm and 2m, much less than the newer Bluetooth technology.

Most phones these days support Java. Java is a programming language, used for many games and programs such as web browsers and email programs that you can install on your phone.

Kbps stands for kilobytes per second and is a method used for indicating the speed data is transferred by a mobile phone across the phone network.

LCD stands for Liquid Crystal Display, technology that can be found used for mobile phone screens.

An LED is a Light Emitting Diode, a small light found on many camera phones, used to illuminate objects in dim lighting conditions to enhance the quality of the captured image. LED's are common on mobile phones, but not as powerful as the less used Xenon Flash. The main reason LED's are preferred to Xenon Flashes is due to the lower power consumption needed by the LED.

Lithium Ion
Lithium-ion is used in the construction of many mobile phone batteries.

MB is an acronym for Megabyte. A megabyte is a measurement of memory storage. A typical MP3 music track uses approximately 5MB of storage while a 3 minute video uses around 35MB of storage.

A megapixel is equivalent to one million pixels. The higher resolution a camera has, the more pixels in the image and the clearer the picture will be.

Memory Expansion Slot
A memory expansion slot on a phone allows you to increase the memory capacity on your phone by the addition of a memory card. Common card formats used on a phone include Micro SD and M2.

Mobile Broadband
Mobile Broadband is a common term used to indicate high speed data access on a mobile phone. Normally the use of mobile broadband indicates the presence of HSDPA on a phone or USB modem.

MP3 is a shorter way of saying MPEG Layer-3. MPEG stands for Moving Pictures Expert Group, and refers to the experts who defined MPEG audio technology. MP3 allows digital audio files to be highly compressed whilst retaining an acceptable level of audio quality.

NAND Memory
NAND memory is a popular type of flash memory.
Flash memory is non-volatile computer memory that can be electrically erased and reprogrammed. Non-volatile means that no power is needed to maintain the information stored in the chip.
Flash memory is a technology that is primarily used in memory cards and USB flash drives as solid state storage and its main purpose is being an inexpensive way of storing or transferring data between computers and other digital products. It's used as primary storage memory on various portable devices due to its low cost, compact size, high physical endurance and low power consumption.

NFC (Near Field Communication)
NFC is a short-range high frequency wireless communication technology that enables the exchange of data between devices over about a 10 cm distance.
NFC is an upgrade of the existing proximity card standard (RFID) that combines the interface of a smartcard and a reader into a single device. It allows users to seamlessly share content between digital devices, pay bills wirelessly or even use their cellphone as an electronic traveling ticket on existing contactless infrastructure already in use for public transportation.
The significant advantage of NFC over Bluetooth is the shorter set-up time. Instead of performing manual configurations to identify Bluetooth devices, the connection between two NFC devices is established at once (under a 1/10 second).
Due to its shorter range, NFC provides a higher degree of security than Bluetooth and makes NFC suitable for crowded areas where correlating a signal with its transmitting physical device (and by extension, its user) might otherwise prove impossible.
NFC can also work when one of the devices is not powered by a battery (e.g. on a phone that may be turned off, a contactless smart credit card, etc.).

"Operating System" - the basic software that runs on your phone or computer. Symbian, OSX, Windows Mobile and Vista are all examples of an OS.

POP3 is an abbreviation of Post Office Protocol and refers to a data format used for sending emails across the internet.

Mobile phone service with no credit check, no contract and no monthly bills - all calls must be paid for in advance, as opposed to contract phones.

PUK stands for Pin Unblocking Key and is the security code used by networks to protect their customers sim card if the wrong pin is entered three times. If your mobile phone requests a PUK code then you need to contact your operator (Orange or O2 etc.) and answer some security questions to unlock your phone. Repeatedly entering the wrong PUK will permanently lock your sim card requiring it to be returned to the network for reactivation.

Quad Band
Quad band means four bands, and refers to handsets that operate on all four of the GSM transmitting frequencies.

QVGA is the common resolution for mobile phone displays, and refers to a resolution size of 320 x 240 pixels. A VGA display is 640 x 480 pixels, and QVGA is a quarter of the resolution, Quarter VGA. Confusion can set in as 320 x 240 is half the number of 640 x 480, the actual pixel count is gained by multiplying these numbers. Therefore a QVGA display is 76,800 pixels, as opposed to a VGA display which is 307,200 pixels.

QWERTY refers to the first 6 letters on the top row of a standard keyboard. In mobile phone specification a QWERTY keyboard indicates the handset comes with a full keyboard on the handset, as opposed to the standard 12 key alphanumeric keypad.

The ability to use a mobile phone abroad.

RSS (Really Simple Syndication) is a standard file format used to publish frequently updated content such as news, sports updates, and blogs. An RSS feed can contain either just the headlines or the full content of a document or page, and is read using either a browser such as Firefox or a dedicated RSS reader. An RSS reader aggregates feeds from a variety of sites and regularly checks for new updates so that the user does not have to visit each site individually to check for new content.

S40 refers to the Series 40 software used in certain Nokia handsets.

S60 refers to the Series 60 operating system used in Nokia smartphones.

SAR (Specific Absorption Rate) measures how much radio frequency energy / electromagnetic radiation is absorbed by the body. Mobile phones emit low levels of electromagnetic radiation, as do televisions, computers, microwaves etc. Each mobile phone has a SAR rating which is the maximum amount of electromagnetic radiation it emits which can absorbed by your body when you're using the phone; the higher the phone's SAR rating, the higher the amount of radiation that could be absorbed. All mobile phones on sale throughout the EU are designed to comply with the International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection's recommendation of a SAR limit of 2w/kg (watts per kilogram). You can check the SAR rating of your mobile phone in your phone's instruction manual or on the manufacturer's website.

A smartphone is generally defined by a handset that has an 'open' operating system. This means the handset can increase its functionality with the addition of third party software. A smartphone generally runs Symbian, UIQ or Windows Mobile operating systems.

Symbian is the name of the company that develops Nokia's S60 phone operating system and Sony Ericsson's UIQ phone operating system.

Tempered Glass
Tempered glass is glass that is strengthened by reheating it to just below melting point and then suddenly cooling it. Tempered glass is approximately five times stronger than standard glass.

TFT stands for Thin Film Transistor and is used in LCD screens commonly found on mobile phones. TFT displays tend to be superior to LCD screens.

Touch Pad A touch pad refers to a method of controlling input into the mobile device. Similar in design to the mousepad on a laptop computer, a touchpad will have icons which you touch to launch the corresponding application.

A touchscreen allows input to be made onto a device simply by pressing on the screen. Often the UI on the device will offer large icons which all correspond to a particular feature. To open that application you simply touch the screen where the icon is displayed. Touchscreens can often offer on screen QWERTY keyboards as well as handwriting recognition, allowing you to enter commands and text on the phone by writing on the screen with a stylus.

Track ID
Track ID is a handset specific feature, commonly found on Sony Ericsson handsets. Track ID allows you to record a snippet of a song, which is uploaded to the web, and in return you receive full track information, including name of song, name of artist or band, and album the song is from.

Tri Band
Tri or Triple band means three bands, and refers to handsets that operate on three of the four GSM transmitting frequencies, commonly GSM 900, GSM 1800 and GSM 1900.

Phones with TV OUT have a facility to show what you see on the screen of your phone on the screen of a TV, via a simple cable connection. Via TV OUT you can browse web sites, watch videos recorded or photos taken on the phone's camera.

UIQ stands for User Interface Quartz, and is UI software platform that is based on the Symbian operating system.

Standing for Unlicensed Mobile Access, UMA is a technology that allows mobile users to access voice and data services over private networks and unlicensed spectrum when using dual band handsets. This system must be backed up by the network operator to allow a seamless transition from the mobile network to the private network.

UMTS stands for Universal Mobile Telecommunications Service and is almost the sole technology used universally for third generation mobile phone networks.

USB Connector USB stands for Universal Serial Bus. Phones with a USB port will connect to a PC USB port via cable, allowing for a faster data transfer rate than proprietary phone ports. Most phones use either mini or micro USB ports.

Acronym for "Universal Subscriber Information Module" - the next generation of SIM card, having a larger capacity (generally 64Kb). Also referred to as "3G SIM" because 3G phones generally need a USIM rather than the older SIM cards. Visually USIMs are no different to SIMs.

A VGA screen is a screen with a resolution of 640 x 480 pixels. This gives a total resolution of four times the standard mobile phone screen and is not currently popular amongst many manufacturers.

VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol)
Voice over Internet Protocol is a technology which allows the transmission of voice over data networks. This makes normal phone calls over such networks possible.

VPN (Virtual Private Network)
A set of communication protocols that allows remote users to securely access a remote network. An example of this technology is when you access your corporate Intranet remotely from your mobile phone.
If your company has a VPN server set up, you can enter the connection details on a supported device and join the corporate Intranet with all user rights and privileges you would have if you were physically there. At the same time, the connection remains secure from unauthorized access.

We get the word Widget by combining Window and Gadget. A widget is a screen based control that is used to interact with a website or other systems. Widgets can be buttons, selection lists, sliders, etc. The Nokia Widset service connects to various websites to obtain updates via RSS, using a Widget interface.

Wi-Fi is a WLAN (Wireless Local Area Network) technology. It provides short-range wireless high-speed data connections between mobile data devices (such as laptops, PDAs or phones) and nearby Wi-Fi access points (special hardware connected to a wired network).
The older variant of Wi-Fi, 802.11g, is capable of providing speeds of up to 54Mbps and is backwards compatible with 802.11b (providing up to 11Mbps).
The more recent standard is called 802.11n (offering speeds of up to 150Mbps per channel or up to 600Mbps in total). It can be used in the 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz frequency bands, though a receiver needs to have dual-band antenna to operate on both.
2013 saw the birth of the latest (so far) Wi-Fi ac standard. It allows for speeds of up to 500 Mbps per channel and over 1Gbps in total. Wi-Fi 802.11ac operates only on the 5GHz band.
Wi-Fi is much faster than any data technologies operating through the cellular network like GPRS, EDGE and even UMTS and HSDPA.
The range covered by a Wi-Fi access point is from 30 to 100 meters indoors while outdoors a single access point can cover about 650 meters.

Windows Mobile Windows Mobile is a phone operating system, much in the same way that Symbian is. Commonly found on smartphones, Windows Mobile offers many of the features and a similar user experience as to that found on a desktop PC.

Wireless Local Area Network, WLAN is a group of computers and electronic devices connected together using the WiFi standard.

Xenon Flash

A Xenon flash is a very bright light, commonly found on digital cameras and a small number of camera phones, which allows for higher quality pictures to be taken in dim lighting conditions, as the Xenon flash emits much more light than a standard LED light.

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