Glossary For Mobile Phones
1G : The first generation of wireless communication technology. It employed analogue signals for data transmission.

2G : The second generation of wireless communication technology. Analogue signals are converted to digital signals for transmission. GSM is a 2G technology protocol.

2.5G : This wireless communication technology indicates a generation that is faster than 2G communication but not as fast as 3G communication. GPRS technology is an example.

3G : The third generation of  wireless communication technology, which offers high speeds of data transmission. The HSUPA and WCDMA are considered 3G technology standards.

3.5G : An enhancement to the 3G technology. HSDPA is a 3.5G technology standard.


Accelerometer : In mobile phones, an accelerometer is used to detect how the mobile phone is held and to rotate the display accordingly.

A-GPS : Assisted-GPS. Helps find your location using the triangulation method. The distances to 3 mobile phone aerials are used to get this information. A-GPS is quicker than the normal GPS in doing this.

Android : An operating system for mobile phones developed by Google. This OS is supposed to be faster, more stable and easier to use than existing mobile phone operating systems.

Audio jack : A port usually found in mobile phones that have music players or FM radios built into them, where one can connect headphones to listen to music.

Autofocus : This is a property of the camera integrated into the mobile phone. The lens of the camera will automatically focus on the subject of photography, resulting in clear and sharp images.


Bandwidth : A range of compatible signal frequencies measured in hertz (Hz). It is the difference between the highest and lowest allowable frequencies. It can be used in several concepts - for radio frequencies, audio signals etc.

Battery : The power storage device, which supplies power to the mobile gadget. It is re-chargeable in the case of mobile phones.

Battery Life : The amount of time the battery keeps the mobile phone powered up. There are 2 kinds of life in this context - talk-time and stand-by. Talk-time life is the amount of time, usually in hours that the battery can support calls. Stand-by time, usually measured in days, is the amount of time the battery can retain its charge when not in use.

Bit : In digital electronics, a bit is a single character of data. It can either be a '0' or a '1'.

Bluetooth : A wireless data exchange technology between compatible devices within a range of about 10m.

Byte : 1 Byte is equal to 8 bits.


Candy-bar : The shape or form-factor or build of the mobile phone is said to be a candy-bar, when it is a single panel, housing the screen and keypad. No slider or flip-panel.

CDMA : Code division Multiple Access. A wireless digital data transfer technology. The audio signals are first converted to digital signals. The frequencies of these signals are made to vary in accordance with a pattern or code that is known by the transmitter and receiver only. Hence when the signals are transmitted, only the receiver which knows this code can receive and decode the signal to get the original audio signal.

Cell Phone : A wireless telephone. The mobile phone network provider usually installs aerials or transceivers for allowing call establishment with mobile phones. Each transceiver covers a certain area around it, where it can transmit the signal to the mobile phone. When a phone moves from one cell to another, a hand-over or switch takes place, where the next closest transceiver takes over for signal transmission. The region around a transceiver where it can strongly transmit and receive signals is called a cell. Hence the name cell phone.

Circuit Switched Data : CSD is a data transmission technology that is employed in GSM networks.

Clamshell : A shape or build or form-factor of a mobile phone. 2 panels are attached together at a hinge. The top panel rotates about the hinge to open the device. The top panel that opens out usually has the screen and the panel beneath has the keypad.


Digital Zoom : Used in terms of the camera. A part of the image is expanded to fit the entire screen, as if zooming in. When zoomed, picture clarity reduces.


EDGE : Enhanced Data Rates For GSM Evolution. This technology provides faster data transfer over a GSM network.


Face Detection/Recognition : A term used in the context of cameras, where the camera will detect and focus on people's faces.

Flip-phone : A shape or build or form-factor of a mobile phone, where there are more than one parts attached together at a hinge.

Form-factor : The shape or structure or build design of an electronic gadget.


GB : Giga Byte. 1GB = 109 Bytes.

GHz : Giga hertz. The unit for measuring frequency of the order of 109.

GPRS : General Packet Radio Service. A data transmission method which aims at increasing the 2G technology transfer speeds. It tries to reach 3G technology speeds. Hence it is sometimes referred to as 2.5G technology as well. Unlike GSM, which uses circuit switching, GPRS uses packet switching. In packet switching, data is built into packets and then transmitted across the network. Each packet carries information about its source, destination and sequence. All the packets are then sent across the network. There are routers in between that receive these packets and decide where they have to be sent. The packets can take different routes in the network and might reach the destination in a different order. The destination then uses the sequence information of the packets to put them in the right order again.

GPS : Global Positioning System. This feature works with satellites to tell you where your position is on earth. It also helps you find nearest shops, fuel stations, restaurants and more.

GSM : Global System For Mobile Communication. It is a 2G technology wireless data transmission technology that is popular in European countries. It employs the circuit switching method for call establishment between 2 phones.

GUI : Graphical User Interface. It is a visual interface which will have buttons, menus and other features in the form of graphics/pictures to allow the user to interact with the electronic gadget.


Handsfree : Mobile phones with Bluetooth capability can be used with wireless mouth and ear pieces for answering phone calls. One does not have to use hands in this case. The mouth and ear piece has an attachment to hook it to the ear. This capability makes phones handsfree.

HSCSD : High Speed Circuit Switched Data. This is an enhanced form of CSD (circuit switched data) for transmitting data at high speeds over GSM networks. This high speed is achieved by using more number of time slots for data transmission. This technology can achieve speeds of 57.6kbps. It is used for transfer of data rather than voice.

HSDPA : High Speed Downlink Packet Access. This is a 3.5G technology data transfer protocol. It is supposed to be an enhancement to the WCDMA technology, which is considered to be a 3G technology protocol. It allows high speeds (up to 8Mbps) of downloading content from the network.

HSUPA : High Speed Uplink Packet Access. It is similar to HSDPA. However it gives lower speeds of data transfer when compared to HSDPA (about 5.76Mbps). HSUPA is considered as a 3G networking technology protocol.

HTML : HyperText Markup Language. This is a set of instructions or language that are used for constructing websites.


Image Stabiliser : This is a property of cameras. It stabilises the image during photograph clicking, resulting in clear and sharp pictures. Camera shakes, especially when the shutter speed is very slow, makes images look blur and smudged. A number of techniques are employed to overcome this, in cameras having image stabilisers.

Internal Memory : This is the storage space present inside the mobile phone. It is usually in the order of MB. Some new phones with advanced memory chip technology, also have the capacity if storing 1GB of information within them.


Java application : Java applications are those that are developed using the JAVA programming language. This language was developed by Sun Microsystems in the year 1996. The special characteristic of this programming language is that it is operating system independent. A code written in Java can work on Windows, LINUX and other OSs.


kbps : kilobits per second. It is a measure of speed of digital data transfer. It means 1000 bits per second.


LED Back-light : Many mobile phones have LEDs (light emitting diodes) beneath their screens which light up when the phone is in use. This helps especially when operating the phone in dimly lit environments.

Li-ion : Lithium ion. Most rechargeable batteries for devices like mobile phones use Lithium ions in their electrolyte. These ions move from the cathode to the anode during charging, and vice-versa during discharging.


Mbps : Megabits per second. It is a measure of speed of digital data transfer. It means 106  bits per second.

Megapixel : It is used to refer to the resolution of the camera or the screen of mobile phones. 1 Megapixel =  106 pixels.

Memory Expansion Slot : Mobile phones and such gadgets are equipped with slots into which memory cards can be inserted for storing information.

MicroSD card : A microSD card is a memory card, which can be inserted into slot provided in mobile phones, for storing information.

MMS : Multimedia Messaging Service. This is a communication service for sending multimedia files like video clips, pictures, audio files and the like.

Mobile Broadband : This is a wireless internet access technology, which allows connecting to the internet anytime and anywhere. Most of the mobile phones have this technology integrated into them.

Modem : A modulator and demodulator. The MODEM is a device which interfaces between the conventional telephone network and the computer. It converts the analogue voice signals to digital signals and vice-versa.


NFC : Near Field Communication. It is a short distance wireless data exchange technology, which can transfer files between 2 NFC enables devices placed at distances less than 10cm from each other. This mechanism allows making contactless payments, buying tickets and transferring or accessing information.


Operating System : This is the software platform on which applications can be installed and run. The OS interfaces between applications and device resources (like memory, buses, processor) to accomplish operations. Initially the OS was only seen with computers. However, they have now found their way into mobile phones as well. Mobile phones which feature operating systems are called smartphones.


Pixel : The smallest piece of image information that can be shown on screens of gadgets like mobile phones or computers. This term came from the words picture element. The more the number of pixels, the better the clarity of the image will be.

Processor : This is the brain of many gadgets, especially computers and mobile phones. It is the one that executes all operations inside the gadget. It basically fetches instructions from the internal storage device, understands what needs to be done, accomplishes the task and handles the results as well.


QVGA : Quarter Video Graphics Array. It is used to refer to the resolution of 320 x 240 pixels, usually found in screens of mobile phones and other handheld devices.

QWERTY : Computer or Type-writer like keyboards are referred to as QWERTY keyboards, as these are the first 6 letters that appear in the alphabet section of the keyboard.


Resolution : The screen of gadgets is made up of pixels. Resolution is the total number of pixels present in a particular display screen. It is usually given as a product of the number or pixel rows to the number of pixel columns.


SIM : Subscriber Identity module. It is a card that contains data for enabling the GSM network service  to identify the subscriber. This card can be inserted into a slot provided in the cellphone. It can also store other data related to phone settings, contacts and more.

Slider phone :  The shape or form-factor or build of the mobile phone is said to be a slider, when there are at least 2 panels, wherein one can slide over the other. Usually the top panel that slides has the screen and the lower panel has a keypad or keyboard. There are dual slider phones available in the market as well. These phones can slide in 2 different ways, along the length and the width and usually have a numeric keypad as well as a QWERTY keyboard.

Smartphone : A mobile phone that features an operating system is called a smartphone. Such phones support many more applications than normal mobile phones and offer more facilities like heavy internet browsing.

SMS : Short Message Service. This communication service involves sending of short text messages from one mobile phone over the network to another mobile phone, or from the web to a mobile phone.

Soft-key : A virtual (not physical) key or button which is usually seen on touchscreens of mobile phones, which can be touched to accomplish some task.

Symbian : This is an operating system designed by Nokia for mobile phones. All Nokia smartphones feature the Symbian OS.


Talk-time : It is the amount of time the battery of the mobile phone can provide for phone calls.

TFT : Thin Film Transistor. This is used in LCD screens. Every pixel has a small transistor. These transistors can be activated with small amounts of charge. Thus they work very fast when re-painted or refreshed during displaying of images.

Touchscreen : Screens that are touch sensitive. They can be operated either with a stylus or with the finger-tip for performing various tasks.

T9 : Text on 9 keys. This is an intuitive text typing technology invented by Tegic Communications, which helps in faster typing of text messages on mobile phones.


UMTS : Universal Mobile Telecommunications System. It is a 3G high speed data transfer technology, which uses existing circuits along with satellite technology for data transmission. It is based on GSM, however, UMTS and GSM are not compatible.

USB : Universal Serial Bus. There are one or more USB ports on many gadgets which allow data transfer to other devices with a compatible cable. Many devices these days come with these ports. It is very simple and easy to use as it works with a simple plug-in.


VGA : Video Graphics Array. In the year 1987, the display system developed by IBM for computers was called VGA. However, as time elapsed, VGA was used to refer to the resolution of displays of mobile phones and other devices with 640 x 480 pixels.


WAP : Wireless Application Protocol. It is a wireless standard to access internet pages in mobile phones and PDAs. There is a WAP browser which is quite similar to the Internet Explorer. However, it offers lesser features and is designed to work on smaller screens like that of the mobile phones. The WAP browser is compatible with web pages written in WML (Wireless Markup Language).

WCDMA : Wideband Code Division Multiple Access. It is a 3G data transfer wireless technology. It uses the existing GSM network along with the CDMA technology to provide high internet access speeds and mobile communication speeds.

Widget : It is a shortcut which is usually in the form of an icon for accessing certain applications quickly in mobile phones. Usually popular social networking websites like Facebook, Flickr, YouTube and others can be accessed with suitable widgets in some of the modern touchscreen mobile phones.

WiFi : This is the general term used to mention Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN). Devices that are WiFi capable can access the internet without wires in WiFi hotspots. These hotspots are certain locations (usually hotels, or restaurants or airports), where a router will be installed. This router uses a wired Ethernet connection to connect to the internet. Gadgets that are WiFi enables will have an antenna that will send and receive radio signals to this router.

Windows Mobile OS : The operating system developed by Microsoft for mobile phones.


Xenon Flash : A flash used in cameras for getting required amount of light for shooting in poorly lit environments. The name xenon is due to the usage of the xenon gas (a noble gas) in the glass tube of the lamp. The intensity of light generated by this is much higher than that of LED flashes.

XHTML : EXtensible HyperText Markup Language. It is an XML based HTML-like application. However, the standard of XHTML is higher than that of HTML.

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