Mobile phone jargon
means ‘first generation’, indicating the first generation of
mobile phone handsets which were based on an analogue system. This
system’s main drawbacks were low call volumes and poor sound
quality, as well as the ability to only handle voice calls.
means ‘second generation’, indicating the second generation of
digital mobile phone handsets which replaced the original analogue
system. The key features of 2G were that calls were digitally
encrypted which meant higher levels of security and significantly
better sound quality, as well as the ability to send and receive
data (SMS – short messaging service, or ‘text messages’ as
they are now more commonly referred to).
is also known as ‘second generation enhanced’, a handset
technology that sits somewhere between 2G and 3G. Overall the data
transfer speed is much faster than 2G, yet still several time slower
than full 3G. Additional features also include GPRS, HCSD, and EDGE.
means ‘third generation’, indicating the third generation of
mobile phone handsets which replaced the 2G handsets. The key
difference between this and 2G technology is the high speed data
transfer rate which allows for mobile broadband and two way video
known as conference calling, this service allows for three or more
individuals to take part in a group telephone call, where everyone
can talk and listen at the same time. Normaly extra people join or
leave a call at any, making this an extremely viable and efficient
way for people to talk who may not be in the same location, or even
the same country.
mobile handsets that have the GPS feature may also support A-GPS,
which basically means Assisted GPS. The handset will use a
triangulation technique to try and get a fix on your current
location by measuring the distance from your handset to three mobile
close phone masts. The system can calculate your position to within
100m, although sometimes this can take up to 30 seconds to work. The
end result is a faster fix on your current location.
‘advanced audio coding’ and is a potential successor to the
currently very common MP3 format. In comparison to MP3’s, AAC
files are of am improved quality, however they only take up the same
amount of memory space.
accelerometer is used to measure the rate of acceleration. When used
in a mobile phone the accelerometer detects the movement of the
handset, which can work in conjunction with software to rotate the
display to show in portrait or landscape, depending on the
orientation in the phone is being held.
audio output jack on a telephone will allow the user to plug in a
standard headset to listen to music or audio files rather than
through a phone specific headset. It makes it much easier and
cheaper to find a compatible headset than would otherwise be the
focus refers to the ability of the built in camera lens being able
to automatically adjust itself to focus in on a specific object,
which often results in a sharper and clearer picture than what would
otherwise be attained using a camera with a fixed focus.
is a localised connection technology which allows enabled devises to
connect to each other without the need for wires. Data can be
transferred between the two devices as long as they are in range of
each other. The technology is most commonly used to make handsets
into hands free phones.
means ‘bits per second’ and is indicative of the speed at which
data can be transferred. The higher the number, the faster the
term sometimes used to describe mobile phone communications. The
term is derived from name given to the area covered by one
transmitter, which is known as a Cell.
phone handsets normally cost upward of £200 for a reasonable model.
Rather than purchasing the handset most people prefer to take out a
contract which normally covers a period of 12, 18, or 24 months in
which they agree to pay a set amount per month. As well as a free
(or subsidised) handset the contract will normally include line
rental charge, as well as inclusive minutes, texts, and/or data. A
contract is normally subject to proof of ID, a background identity
check, and a credit check.
specified are in which a mobile phone can receive a signal. Most
phone companies offer coverage of over 99%.
zoom refers to a zoom facility on a camera to give the impression of
a zoomed in photo. Unlike a conventional optical zoom in which the
lens is adjusted to zoom into an object, the photo is simply
digitally edited and cropped to look like it is zoomed in. A digital
zoom is cheaper than an optical zoom but there can often be a
significant loss of picture quality.
dual band phone can work on both a 900MHz and 1800MHz frequency. In
both frequencies are used to improve volume (the number of calls
that can be made at one time). In the past single band phones would
only work at one frequency, so would only work on a network which
offered a service on the matching frequency. All new mobile phones
have a minimum of dual band specification.
is a technology that offers greater speed for transferring data
across a GSM network and is seen as an alternative to 3G in area
where this is not available.
recognition technology is a digital camera feature that can work out
which part of a photo is someone’s face. This enables a sharper
and more focused photo which overall results in an improved photo
stands for Gigabyte, which is a measurement of memory storage. 1GB
is equivalent in size to 1024MB (Megabyte), although this is more
commonly rounded down to 1,000MB.
stands for ‘Global Positioning System’ and is used to calculate
your location by measuring the distance from your phones location in
relation to 3 satellites using a method known as triangulation.
stands for General Packet Radio Service and was the first high speed
data service available on digital mobile phones.
stands for ‘the Global Standard for
communications’ and is the standard technology used for mobile
phones across the world. Quad band phones operate on 900MHz and
1800MHz frequencies which are the most common. Tri band phones also
operate on those frequency’s as well as 1900MHz which is a common
. Quad band phones operate on all of the above frequencies as well
as 850MHz, so if you have a quad band phone it should work anywhere.
the ability to make or receive a telephone call without physically
holding the mobile phone. The devices used can take many forms from
speaks and a microphone, to earphones and a mic, or indeed wireless
Speed Circuit Switched Data’ is a technology which allows for
faster data transfer on a 2G handest. The introduction of 3G has all
but made this technology obsolete.
‘High Speed Download Packet Access’ is the rather cumbersome
name for a product everyone else knows to be Mobile Broadband which
is delivered via the 3G network. It works in connection with HSUPA.
Speed Upload Packet Access’ is the technology which allows high
speed upstream connectivity. Combined with HSDPA and you have the
full 3G mobile broadband; both upstream and down.
or ‘Instant Messaging’ it is more widely known comes in the form
of software such as MSN Messenger or Yahoo Messenger, which allows
you to ‘chat’ live with other users via streaming text.
Stabiliser lessons the effect of a shaking hand when taking a photo,
resulting in a sharper, clearer image.
Message Access Protocol’ is a method of sending and receiving
email from your handset. The main message is stored online and you
download the header and sender information. You can then decide if
you want to download the full email or leave it online to access at
a later date using your PC.
Mobile Equipment Identity’ is a unique serial number which is
given to every phone. You will normally find this printed under the
phone battery. If the phone is stolen the mobile phone providers can
‘black list’ the handset using the IMEI number to stop it from
being used on all
Memory refers to the capacity of the built in memory which allows
you to store, photo’s, movies, and sound files.
is the technology used to exchange data between devices using
infrared. Typically the range of this technology is up to 2m and the
technology has been surpassed by a superior alternative in
is a programming language used in games, web browsers and email
software which you can install on your handset. Most modern phone
stands for kilobytes per second and is indicative of the rate of
data transfer. The higher the number, the fast the data is being
Crystal Display’ is used to produce the screens found in mobile
Emitting Diode’ is a very small light which can be found on a
camera phone as a means of illuminating objects before you take a
photo. An LED isn’t as bright as the less popular Xenon Flash but
the power consumption is significantly lower.
used to store charge in many mobile phone batteries.
means ‘Megabyte’ which is a measurement of memory storage.
megapixel is equivalent to 1 million pixels (with a pixel being one
dot on your computer screen). The higher the number of megapixels
that a camera has, the better quality the photo’s will be.
memory expansion slot on your mobile phone allows you to increase
the available memory the phone has by inserting a memory card. The
most common types of memory cards used in mobile phones are
Broadband is the name widely given to high speed data access either
on your mobile phone or on a PC/Laptop via a dongle/3G modem.
files are audio files which have been compressed using MPEG audio
technology. Despite the fact the file has been compressed, the sound
quality is still good. MP3’s are one of the most common formats
for music files, especially those which are downloaded from the
System’ is the main software platform that runs on a computer or
phone. PC operating systems include Windows XP and Winsodows Vista.
Examples of mobile phone operating systems include Symbian, UIQ, and
is the standard format for sending emails over the internet.
(Pay as you go)
mobile phone service which you pay for before you use it. You own
your own handset (this isn’t given to you as it would be if you
had a contract), and you ‘top up’ your pre pay balance which is
reduced every time you make a call, or send a text etc.
Unblocking Key’ is a security code used by the network providers
to protect their customers sim card. If an incorrect code is entered
three times you will lock your sim card and may need to return it
your provider for a replacement. If you phone asks you for a PUK PUK
you need to call your network provider and they will ask you some
security questions then (assuming you pass security) give you the
band means four bands and is indicative that your phone can be used
on all four of the mobile phone spectrum frequencies; which are
850MHz, 900MHz, 1800MHz, and 1900MHz.
Video Graphics Array’ refers to the most common resolution for a
mobile phone screen. As the name suggests it is quarter of the size
of a standard VGA screen with a
resolution of 320 x 240 pixels (compares to 640 x 480 for
VGA). Although it may not initially appear as being a quarter of the
size of a VGA screen, the number of pixels can be calculated by
multiplying the two sets of numbers (320 x 240 = 76,800 v 680 x 480
refers to the first 6 letters on the top row of a standard keyboard.
If a mobile phone is advertised as having a QWERTY keyboard it would
suggest that it has a full 26 letter keyboard as opposed to just the
10 digit number pad.
ability to use your mobile phone while abroad. Don’t assume that
this service is active, some providers will require that you call
them to activate it and if you’ve already left the country it may
be too late.
refers to the Series 40 software used in some Nokia handsets
refers to the Series 60 operating system used in Nokia smartphones
speaking a smartphone is a phone which has an operating system which
is open to third party software and applications to increase it’s
functionality. The main operating sytems for these phones are
Symbian, UIQ, or Windows Mobile.
is the name of the family of open source operating systems
originally developed by Psion, then later by Symbian Ltd and the
glass is around five time stronger than normal glass. It is
manufactured by reheating it so the temperature reached just below
melting point, then suddenly cooling it quickly.
Film Transistor’ is used in LCD (flat screens) screens that are
used in mobile phones.
touch pad is an input device which can be used to control functions
or features on your phone. The touchpad will have icons that you can
press that correspond to an individual application or feature.
is exactly as it sounds. The display screen doubles up as an input
device allowing you to interact with the device by pressing the
screen. Some touchscreen will offer QWERTY keyboards and/or
ID is a Sony Ericsson feature which allows you to record a part of a
song then upload it to the web, then you given full information
about the track that you have uploaded including the track name,
artist and album.
Band means that the handset has the ability to operate on three of
the four frequencies used by mobile phone operators, which are
900MHz, 1800MHz, and 1900MHz.
mobile phone which has a “TC OUT” connection has the ability to
show what you can see on your phone onto the screen of a TV. It uses
a cable connection and allows you to view videos/photos and brows
website on the TV.
Interface Quartz’ is a software platform developed by UIQ
Technology and is based on the Symbian operating system as a
graphical interface layer.
Mobile Access is a technology which allows mobile phone users to
access both voice and data services over a private network (using
unlicensed spectrum). This can be done with a dual band handset.
This must be supported by the network operator to allow an
uninterrupted transition from the mobile phone network to the
Mobile Telecommunications Service’ is the universal (as the name
suggests) technology behind 3rd generation mobile phone
Serial Bus Connector’ means you can plug your phone into a
standard USB port that you would find on a PC or Laptop via a cable.
This would be used to transfer data between the two devices or do a
software update on the handset.
Subscriver Information Module’ is the second generation SIM card.
They look just like a stand SIM card but they have a larger capacity
(normaly 64kb). Sometimes these are referred to as a “3G SIM” as
most smart phones require one instead of the standard SIM.
means ‘Video Graphics Array’, which is a type of screen which
was developed by IBM. The screen has a resolution of 640 x 480 which
in mobile phone terms is a high resolution. This is a technology
which was invented in 1987 as isn’t very popular with mobile phone
manufacturers despite the fact the resolution is four times better
than your standard mobile phone.
(from a technology point of view) was named by combining the words
Window and Gadget. A widget is a visible control which allows you to
interact with a website, system or other application. Visually a
widget can vary from a button, list, or slider, etc.
from its Sunday name ‘Wireless Fidelity’, this is the industry
standard technology used in the wireless connectivity of local area
the mobile phone operating system developed my Microsoft™ for use
in smartphones. Windows Mobile offers similar features and user
interface that you would expect to find on a PC running a normal
windows operating system.
Local Area Network’ is two or more computers (or similar devices;
printers, scanners etc) which are connected using a wireless network
using WiFi standard technology.
Flash is a very bright camera light which you would normally find on
a digital camera as well as a select few mobile phone handsets. This
is ideal for taking photos in areas with poor light.