by Ernest Doku, communication and technology expert at uSwitch.com

Shifting from technology buzzword to every day parlance in less than ten years, the concept of the ‘smartphone’ has massively changed both the mobile phone industry and how we interact with one another in our daily lives.

But aside from being small, slick and (in some cases) expensive, just what is a smartphone and what’s so great about them?

Well, we’ve attempted to put together a quick glossary to explain away some of the more complicated terms being bandied around…we’ll have you knowing the difference between Android and Apple operating systems in no time!

Despite there being no standard definition to describe exactly what makes a smartphone, the term is commonly used to refer to a mobile with more advanced features, functions and capabilities than an average handset.

Perhaps it is better to describe with an analogy, comparing a smartphone to what some have derisively termed ‘dumbphones’.

Scenario 1Let’s say that you’re driving down a major motorway attempting to reach a friend’s party, but hear a coughing and spluttering coming from the engine. Soon after, it dies completely and you are left stranded on the roadside.

No problem, you produce your emergency phone from the glove compartment, and call your insurance company using the number on your insurance card, or – if particularly resourceful – stored in your mobile.

You wait for forty-five or so minutes, they arrive, and you are whisked on your way to the nearest garage or your destination.

Not terribly inconvenienced by this vehicular mishap, but with a smartphone the situation pans out very differently…

Scenario 2 – You’re driving down a major motorway, attempting to reach a friend’s party, with your smartphone doubling as a TomTom, providing turn-by-turn navigation and traffic information thanks to Google Maps Navigation.

You hear a coughing and spluttering coming from the engine. Soon after, it dies completely and you are left stranded on the roadside.

Pulling out your phone from the dashboard charger, you are able to find your exact location – thanks to GPS and using the free AA app – and are able to let them know precisely where you are.

Having been connected to an agent and told they will be approximately 45 minutes, you can use a wealth of features on the smartphone whilst you wait.

You can listen to music stored on the device or over the web via software like Spotify, browse the internet and check e-mail, read a book thanks to the built in e-reader, watch a movie or TV show, or even play an involving game of SuDoku or Angry Birds, or any of the thousands of titles now available on the various app stores…so long as the battery holds out!

A smartphone certainly makes the wait (for assistance, a bus, or even the other half in a changing room) far more bearable, as well as demonstrating the versatile nature of these new devices that are practically personal computers in the pocket.

So whilst a smartphone itself may not be easy to define, the myriad of things that it can provide instant access to is simple to highlight.

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