While there is not an official definition that distinguishes the difference between a smartphone and a feature phone, the differences are fairly obvious to consumers and users. The 3rd level of mobile phones is the commonly recognized “dumb phone”, or technically named basic mobile phone. Basic mobile phones can be used simply for placing and receiving voice calling and text messaging, while smartphones feature an advanced application programming interface. The in between feature phone is marketed to consumers as a moderately priced and multipurpose phone for those not interested in the high-end smartphone prices and services. Features phones are more advanced than basic models with their own proprietary operating system (OS) firmware, but they are still more limited than smartphones.
Smartphones feature the essential combined capabilities of computing connectivity with a basic mobile phone. These phones run off of various mobile operating systems including:
- Symbian – once a popular platform, it dropped in 2001 behind the Google Android OS system; there is now only one flagship Symbian smartphone left, the 808 Pureview
- BlackBerry – one of the pioneering PDA devices, along with the Palm Treo, BlackBerry’s still maintain some popularity abroad where they are more reasonably priced than iPhones; in addition BlackBerry’s are still hailed for their integral business interface and application purposes
- Android – backed by Google, this is an open-source platform founded in October 2003 by Andy Rubin used in such phones like Intel, HTC, Motorola and Samsung; currently the rising popularity of the Samsung Galaxy S III is challenging the once seemingly ubiquitous fame of the iPhone
- iOS – the system behind the infamous iPhones, which was first introduced in 2007, the system has continued to advance and update with each new version; one of the most recent and notable upgrades was the introduction of the iCloud, Apple’s cloud storage and cloud computing service that allows users to store data, like their music and iOS applications, on remote computer servers, a way for users to wirelessly back-up their devices to the iCloud instead of manually doing so using iTunes or connecting to their computers
- Windows Phone – features the capability to be fully integrated into Microsoft services and products such as Microsoft Office, Xbox, and Bing; when it was released in 2010, Microsoft received notable praise for its Windows Phone 7, now with the release of the Windows Phone 8 they are increasing their visibility with impressive celebrity endorsements like Jessica Alba and Gwen Stefani (features the interface known as Metro, or Moder UI)
- Palm OS – along with the BlackBerry, a PDA pioneer, with the 2001 Handspring Treo 180 model hailed for featuring both a touch screen and a full keyboard
Desired accessories vary by user, but generally the most useful smartphone accessories include a sturdy case, like the OtterBox or the LifeProof case that allows for underwater use, a hands-free headset for safe driving, and a car charger.