A smartphone is a mobile device (also known as a mobile phone) with an advanced mobile operating system which combines the features of a personal computer operating system with other features useful for mobile or handheld operation. Smartphones are pocket-sized and add to the normal features of a mobile phone, such as voice calls and text messaging, the extra features of digital mobile devices such as personal digital assistants (PDAs.) This means that they are capable of functions such as an event calendar, media player, video games, GPS navigation, digital camera and digital video camera. Smartphones can access the Internet and can run a variety of third-party software components often referred to as apps. Typically they have a colour screen with a graphical user interface that covers more than 70% of the device face. The display is often touchscreen, which enables its use as a virtual keyboard to type words and numbers and press on-screen icons to activate an "app" features.
In 1999, the Japanese company NTT DoCoMo released the first smartphones which successfully achieved mass adoption nationally, in this case across Japan. Smartphones became widespread by the 2000s with the arrival of Blackberry and later the Apple iPhone. Advertising and marketing for the iPhone helped open the consumers' eyes to the possibility of these new devices, and their stylish build helped them quickly secure the market already laid out by the iPod.
Smartphones produced from 2012 onward often have high-speed mobile broadband 4G LTE, motion sensors, and mobile payment features. By the third quarter of 2012, one billion smartphones were in circulation worldwide. Global smartphone sales surpassed sales figures for regular mobile phones in the early part of 2013 and by January 2016, smartphones held over 79% of the mobile phone market in the USA.
Symbian started out the most popular smartphone OS in Europe in the 2000s. The classics at the start of the noughties included the 5110, also known as the Nokia 5146 on some network in the UK which was intended for the consumer market. The design was based on the same platform as the Nokia 6110 (the equivalent of the 5110 for the business market.) It featured a more streamlined version of the user interface, but lacked the infra-red data interface of the 6110. It could, however, be interfaced with a computer via a cellular data card and appropriate cable - enabling it to function as a modem for connection to services such as the Internet via the public switched telephone network.
Although some Nokia's Symbian devices were focused on business, similar to Windows Mobile and BlackBerry devices at the time, the consumer aimed devices were the heroes of the period. From 2006 on-wards, Nokia started producing more entertainment-focused smartphones, popularized by the N-series. In 2003, Motorola launched the first smartphone to use Linux, the A760 handset. The initial release was limited to a single high-end handset only available in the Asia-Pacific region, although Motorola's intention was to use Linux on most of its handsets eventually, inclusive of lower-end models. Further models to use Linux such as the Motorola Ming A1200i in 2005 and several successors to the Ming line would be unveiled through 2010. In late 2009, Motorola released the Motorola Cliq, the first of their smartphones to run the Linux-based Android operating system.
As 2007 arrived, Apple introduced the Apple iPhone, one of the first smartphones to adopt the multi-touch interface we all know today. The iPhone used a large touchscreen for direct physical interaction, instead of a stylus, keyboard, or keypad, typical of devices at the time. In October 2008, the first phone to use Android called the HTC Dream (also known as the T-Mobile G1) was released. Android is an open-source platform founded by Andy Rubin and subsequently purchased by Google. Although Android's adoption was relatively slow at first, it started to gain widespread popularity in 2010, and in early 2012 began to dominate the smartphone market worldwide, continuing to the present day.
A personal digital assistant (PDA), also known as a handheld PC, or personal data assistant, is a mobile device that functions as a personal information manager. Spawned off the paper based personal organisers of the time which were essentially notebooks with calculators and wallets on board, the term evolved from Personal Desktop Assistant, a software term for an application that prompts or prods the user of a computer with suggestions or provides quick reference to contacts and other data. PDAs became surplus to use and defunct after the widespread adoption of highly capable smartphones, in particular those based on iOS and Android.
A tablet computer (often shortened to just 'tablet') is a flat mobile touchscreen, usually in colour, with in-built processing circuitry and a rechargeable power source. Tablets are often equipped with sensors, including digital cameras, microphones, GPS and accelerometers which ensures images always appear upright to the user. Touchscreen displays use the recognition of finger and stylus input to replace the mouse, trackpad and keyboard.
Tablets are larger than smartphones or PDAs with screens usually at least 180 mm measured from corner to diagonally opposite corner. Much of a tablet's functionality does however resemble that of a modern smartphone, such as having a virtual keyboard or by running the same dedicated 'mobile' operating systems.
Tablets are classified according to the presence and physical appearance of their keyboard. Slates and booklets have no physical keyboard, and so text and other is input is usually through a virtual keyboard shown on a touchscreen-enabled display. Hybrids, convertibles, and 2-in-1s such as the Microsoft Surface range do have physical keyboards (although these are usually concealable or detachable), but typically do also use virtual keyboards for when the keyboard is detached or absent. Most tablets can use close-by detached keyboards connected wirelessly via Bluetooth technology.
The format is often stated as having been originally conceptualized in the mid-20th century such as fictional tablets for the film '2001: A Space Odyssey'. Stanley Kubrick went on to prototype and develop tablet style devices in the last two decades of that century.
In April 2010, Apple released the Apple iPad, the first mass-market tablet to really achieve widespread popularity, partly due to the massive App market already available for iPhone. Tablets soon became a large product category used for both personal and workplace applications.
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