Test Your Knowledge

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By jwblackwell



9 Questions

What was the first commercially available device that could be properly referred to as a 'smartphone'?

Which company introduced a new platform known as webOS in late-2009 to replace Palm OS?

What was the first commercial camera phone released in Japan in May 1999?

Which company introduced the first smartphone targeted at the mass market to abandon the use of a stylus, keyboard, or keypad?

What is the resolution of the 108-megapixel sensors first implemented in smartphones in 2019?

What design trend in smartphone displays includes a 'hole-punch' camera?

Which company introduced the first foldable smartphone in 2018?

Which smartphone feature was introduced in 2020 and allows for adjustable screen refresh rates for power saving?

What is the purpose of Media Transfer Protocol in smartphones?


The Evolution of the Handheld Mobile Device

  • A smartphone is a portable computer device that combines mobile telephone functions and computing functions into one unit.
  • Smartphones have stronger hardware capabilities and extensive mobile operating systems that facilitate wider software, internet access, and multimedia functionality.
  • Smartphones typically contain a number of MOS integrated circuit (IC) chips and various sensors that can be leveraged by pre-installed and third-party software.
  • In 2022, 1.43 billion smartphone units were shipped worldwide, and 75.05 percent of the world population were smartphone users as of 2020.
  • Early smartphones were marketed primarily towards the enterprise market, attempting to bridge the functionality of standalone PDA devices with support for cellular telephony.
  • The first commercially available device that could be properly referred to as a "smartphone" was marketed to consumers in 1994 by BellSouth under the name Simon Personal Communicator.
  • The term "smartphone" was first used by Ericsson in 1997 to describe a new device concept, the GS88.
  • In the mid-to-late 1990s, many people who had mobile phones carried a separate dedicated PDA device.
  • The late 2000s and early 2010s saw a shift in smartphone interfaces away from devices with physical keyboards and keypads to ones with large finger-operated capacitive touchscreens.
  • The iPhone was notable as being the first device of its kind targeted at the mass market to abandon the use of a stylus, keyboard, or keypad typical of contemporary smartphones.
  • The iPhone's operating system was also a shift away from older operating systems to an operative system powerful enough to not require using a limited, stripped-down web browser that can only render pages specially formatted using technologies such as WML, cHTML, or XHTML.
  • Android is based around a modified Linux kernel, providing more power than mobile operating systems adapted from PDAs and feature phones.Smartphone Evolution: Navigation Keys, Operating Systems, and Camera Advancements

Navigation Keys:

  • Physical navigation keys on smartphones have been replaced by nonphysical touch keys and virtual on-screen navigation keys.
  • Virtual keys offer more customizability, but their location may be inconsistent among systems and software used.
  • Bezel-less types have their screen surface space extended to the unit's front bottom to compensate for the display area lost for simulating the navigation keys.

Operating Systems:

  • Multiple vendors attempted to update or replace their existing smartphone platforms and devices to better compete with Android and the iPhone.
  • Palm unveiled a new platform known as webOS in late-2009 to replace Palm OS.
  • BlackBerry introduced BlackBerry OS 6 in 2010 and replaced it with a revamped, QNX-based platform known as BlackBerry 10 in 2013.
  • Microsoft unveiled Windows Phone in 2010 and partnered with Nokia for all its future smartphones.
  • Despite attempts to compete with Android and iPhone, BlackBerry, Windows Phone, and other operating systems eventually stagnated to little or no measurable market share.

Camera Advancements:

  • The Kyocera Visual Phone VP-210 was the first commercial camera phone released in Japan in May 1999.

  • By the mid-2000s, higher-end cell phones commonly had integrated digital cameras.

  • By 2010, 5.0-megapixel cameras were common, and some smartphones had 8.0-megapixel cameras.

  • In 2012, Nokia announced the Nokia 808 PureView, featuring a 41-megapixel 1/1.2-inch sensor and a high-resolution f/2.4 Zeiss all-aspherical one-group lens.

  • Since 2012, smartphones have become increasingly able to capture photos while filming.

  • In 2019, 108-megapixel sensors were first implemented.

  • Mobile video resolution and frame rate have caught up with dedicated consumer-grade cameras over the years.Advancements in Smartphone Video, Display, and Multi-Tasking: A Summary

  • Mobile phones with sufficient computing performance and image sensor resolution have enabled 4320p (8K) filming, introduced in 2020 with the Samsung Galaxy S20 and Redmi K30 Pro.

  • Mid-range smartphones initially delayed higher video resolutions compared to flagship counterparts, with 720p widely adapted in 2012 and 1080p in 2013.

  • Slow-motion video has been available on smartphones since the 2009 Samsung i8000 Omnia II, with more recent phones offering greater versatility for video editing.

  • HDR video recording on smartphones was first introduced in early 2013 by Sony Xperia Z and mid-2013 Xperia Z Ultra, followed by the early 2014 Galaxy S5.

  • Front-facing cameras on smartphones have reached resolutions as high as typical rear cameras, with the LG V10 introducing a dual front camera system and Samsung implementing a front-camera sweep panorama feature.

  • Displays on smartphones began to include taller aspect ratios and a high screen-to-body ratio in 2017, allowing for larger diagonal measurements with a slimmer width than 16:9 displays.

  • Other design trends in smartphone displays include the "notch" and "hole-punch" camera, and displays supporting refresh rates higher than 60 Hz.

  • An early implementation of multiple simultaneous tasks on a smartphone display were the picture-in-picture video playback mode and "live video list," with later implementations including split-screen mode and desktop and laptop-like windowing.

  • Foldable smartphones were first introduced by Royole FlexPai in 2018, with Samsung and Motorola following suit in 2019.

  • Other smartphone advancements in the 2010s include the introduction of fingerprint readers, retrofittable wireless charging, and socially ethical and security-focused smartphones.Smartphone Features and Functions Summary

  • Smartphones have seen advancements in virtual and augmented reality experiences, USB-C connectors, and LTE technologies.

  • Adjustable screen resolution and variable screen refresh rates were introduced for power saving in 2016 and 2020 respectively.

  • Fingerprint readers embedded within OLED displays were first introduced in 2018.

  • Most smartphones released in 2019 have multiple cameras, are waterproof, and unlock using facial recognition or fingerprint scanners.

  • Apple has introduced design features that have been replicated by other vendors, such as a sealed body and the exclusion of a charging wall adapter.

  • High-speed 5G network capability was introduced in 2020.

  • Smartphones have been shipped without accessories like power adapters and headphones to reduce environmental footprint.

  • Efforts have been made to make open source GNU/Linux for smartphones a major alternative to iOS and Android.

  • Satellite connectivity has been integrated into smartphones for use in remote areas.

  • Smartphones contain MOS integrated circuit chips and CPUs optimized for low power environments.

  • Smartphones have screens with varying sizes and aspect ratios, and are equipped with sensors and alternative input methods.

  • Memory storage can be expanded using MicroSD memory cards, and file transfer is done through Media Transfer Protocol.


How much do you know about the evolution of handheld mobile devices? Test your knowledge with our quiz! From the first commercially available "smartphone" to the latest advancements in camera technology and multi-tasking capabilities, this quiz will challenge your understanding of the history and features of smartphones. Can you identify the operating systems that tried to compete with Android and iPhone? Do you know which smartphone introduced the first fingerprint reader embedded within an OLED display? Take our quiz to find out!

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