Jargon buster to help you understand the terms you might not be familiar with.
The system that powers and controls the user interface on your phone. Examples of operating systems are Android, iOS, and BlackBerry OS.
An operating system, used to power many smartphones and tablets. It's maintained by Google, and comes in a few different versions, the latest being KitKat.
An operating system developed by Apple, used to power iPads and iPhones. Versions are regularly updated.
Developed by Microsoft, Windows Phone is an operating system used to power smartphones and tablets. It’s the successor to Windows Mobile, and has two versions – Windows Phone 7 and Windows Phone 8.
The latest version of Android – the operating system that powers more than 1 billion smartphones and tablets.
Smartphones and tablets are run by processors. They process instructions in order to make your device operate properly. Qualcomm Snapdragon is an example of processor.
One MHz (megahertz) represents one million cycles per second. The microprocessor that powers your phone is measured in megahertz. The higher the MHz, the quicker your phone.
Second generation mobile network known as GSM. Simply put, 2G allows you to send text messages.
The third generation of mobile phone technology, offering better coverage for voice calls and text messaging, as well as providing faster access to the internet.
Also known as HSDPA (High Speed Data Packet Access), 3.5G provides faster data rates than 3G.
The fourth generation of mobile phone technology. With 4G, using the internet on your phone is even quicker, with speeds 5-7 times faster than 3G. If you have a 4G ready phone, but you’re not in a 4G area, you’ll still be able to use 3G.
The radio network used to send and receive calls and messages, and use the internet.
You can connect to the internet using wifi, to browse the web, download applications, or send and receive emails, without using your 3G or 4G data.
A small USB device that allows you to access the internet with a 3G or 4G mobile broadband connection.
A program that you use to view websites. Safari, Internet Explorer, Firefox and Google Chrome are all examples of web browsers.
Taking pictures on a device
A feature that lets you take movement and action shots, without the pictures becoming blurred.
A feature that lets you take photos almost instantly, even when your phone’s locked.
A photo specifically shot to include a wide landscape. It can also be used to get a 360 degree view, into one single photo.
Optical image stabilization
A technology used to produce clear photos and videos, without the blurriness caused by movement.
The display that allows you to control and navigate through your phone by touching the screen with one or more fingers.
Technology that lets you unlock your phone using your fingerprints. It can also be used for payment via PayPal. To register a print, you need to swipe your finger eight times. This helps keep it secure.
A megapixel is one million pixels, and is a term used for the number of pixels in an image. Simply put, the higher the megapixel, the better the picture quality.
The display resolution of a mobile phone is the number of pixels that can be displayed. It is usually quoted as width × height. For example, "1024x768" means the width is 1024 pixels and the height is 768 pixels.
Active-matrix organic light-emitting diode - a type of display used in mobile phones. AMOLED screens are very thin, meaning they don’t need a backlight. This can help save battery power.
A version of AMOLED that uses less power, is thinner and reflects less light. The layer of the screen that detects touch is built into the screen, rather than on top of it. According to Samsung, Super AMOLED reflects one-fifth as much sunlight as standard AMOLED, making it better to use outside.
Technology that allows your phone or tablet to display a wider range of colours, to give you more vivid images.
A display, on certain Apple devices, where the user is unable to make out the individual pixels of an image.
Pixel density is measured in pixels per inch (PPI) and is a way of checking screen quality in smartphones. The higher the pixel density, the clearer the images on your screen.
This is a full-HD display, with a higher pixel density to give you sharper and clearer images.
High definition uses a higher resolution than a standard display, to give you higher quality and clearer images and videos.
Using data and device memory
Whenever you use the internet on your phone, you're using data. Whether it's browsing the web, sending an email, or watching a TV programme. Downloading and using apps also uses data.
GB, MB, KB
These terms refer to the amount of data you use while using the internet on your phone. If you’re someone who uses your phone to regularly stream videos, or download music, then you’d need a 1GB, 5GB, or 10GB tariff. If you only use your phone for occasional browsing, and sending and receiving emails, you’d be fine with our 500MB tariff.
Kilobits per second – a measure of how fast you can download online.
Megabits per second. Used when talking about broadband speeds. A Megabit is a measure of the data transfer rate, and is a million bits. A bit is the smallest unit of information in computing.
The amount of data usage that’s included in your tariff. Once you exceed your allowance, you’ll be charged extra for any additional data you use.
Measured in GB (gigabytes), this tells you how much data such as videos, photos and music your phone can hold. If you’re someone who takes a lot of photos, downloads lots of apps and plan to use your phone as your music player then you’ll need to have more memory on your phone.
An SD Card (Secure Digital Card) is a small, external memory. Some mobile phones have a slot to enter an SD Card in order to increase the amount of storage on the phone.
To transfer a file from the internet to your phone. For example, when you buy an app, you download it from the app store, onto your phone.
To transfer a file or files from your phone to the internet. For example, when you transfer a photo from your phone to Facebook, it’s called uploading.
Stands for short message service. You probably know it as text messaging. SMS messages are restricted to 160 characters.
Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS) is a way to send messages that include multimedia content, including picture messages, to and from mobile phones.
Specific absorption rate - a measurement of how much radiation is absorbed by the body while using a mobile phone. The higher the SAR the more radiation is absorbed so, if you’re concerned about this, choose a phone with a low SAR rating.
A multi-band device (including dual-band, tri-band, quad-band and penta-band devices) is a mobile phone that supports roaming, so you’re able to use your phone abroad.
Before 3G, GPRS was used to access the internet on mobile phones, as well as sending and receiving picture messages.
Edge (Enhanced Data for GSM Evolution), or 2.75G, provides faster data rates than GPRS.
The Global Positioning System is a satellite navigation system that provides location and time information in all weather conditions. The GPS on your phone can find your location, and give you directions to your destination.
The Global System for Mobiles, is the agreed standard for mobile networks.
A way of exchanging data wirelessly, over short distances. It’s commonly used for connecting your phone to your car, or a headset, so you can use your phone ‘hands free’.
This is a setting available on a lot of mobile phones, that disables calls and text messages, while still allowing you to use other functions like your MP3 player and camera.
Instant messaging is a type of online chat. It’s just like text messaging, except it’s done over the internet.
A unique number given to every single mobile phone. It’s usually found behind the battery.
The names and phone numbers you have stored on your phone or sim card.
A code used to unblock a blocked sim card. You can get this from your network or service provider.
Near field communication (NFC) is a wifi style technology that lets you share information like web pages, social media, and even make payments, by bringing two devices close together. It works in a similar way to an Oyster card.
A way of making video calls on Apple devices when you’re connected to wifi.
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