Updated: 08/16/2021 by Computer Hope
Apple iPhone

A smartphone is a cell phone that lets you do more than make phone calls and send text messages. Smartphones can browse the Internet and run software programs like a computer. Smartphones use a touch screen to allow users to interact with them. There are thousands of smartphone apps including games, personal-use, and business-use programs that all run on the phone. The picture is an example of the Apple iPhone, a popular smartphone.


A smartphone is sometimes incorrectly categorized as a microcomputer. A smartphone is better categorized as a mobile device.

What can a smartphone do?

Smartphones are loaded with features and capabilities that make them more than a phone. Below is a listing of the popular smartphone features.

  • Make and receive phone calls text messages.
  • Take, show, and store pictures and video.
  • Browse the Internet, and send and receive e-mail.
  • GPS capability for location and navigation.
  • Record and play audio and music.
  • Display time and date and other functions such as alarm clock, stopwatch, and timer.
  • Display weather and temperature information.
  • Voice dictation and take notes.
  • Virtual assistant using Siri, Google Assistant, or Cortana.
  • Access utilities, such as a flashlight, e-book reader, and calculator.

More advanced smartphones are now foldable, which enables them to change between that standard smartphone and tablet screen sizes. For example, the Huawei Mate X can unfold to provide an 8-inch screen.

Does a smartphone have an operating system?

Yes. Similar to a desktop or laptop computer, a smartphone has an operating system on it, like Windows or macOS. The four most common are iOS (created by Apple), Android (created by Google), BlackBerry (created by Research In Motion), and Windows Phone (created by Microsoft).

Can I change my smartphone operating system?

You can update the version of a smartphones operating system. However, you cannot change a smartphones operating system. For example, you cannot install iOS on an Android phone.

What type of storage medium is used in a smartphone?

Smartphones use flash memory to store apps and data. The flash memory is usually built into the phone and non-removable. Some smartphones may also have a flash memory card slot, often designed for an SD card, allowing users to utilize external storage.

When was the first smartphone released?

The first unofficial smartphone was developed by IBM in 1992. It was a prototype device, with PDA-like features, including maps, news feeds, and stock quotes. The prototype resulted in an improved version being released to the market in 1994, called the Simon Personal Communicator. This device was the first official smartphone, with capabilities to send and receive e-mails, and included apps like an address book, calculator, calendar, and a notepad.


The invention of the smartphone should not be confused with the invention of the cellphone in 1973.

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