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What is a Smartphone?

A smartphone is a mobile phone that performs many of the functions of a computer, typically having a touchscreen interface, internet access, and an operating system capable of running downloaded apps. Smartphones are more than just devices for making calls and sending messages; they are also powerful tools for entertainment, education, productivity, social networking, and more.



The History of Smartphones

The modern smartphone owes its existence to automobiles and trains, two industries that adopted wireless communication nearly a century ago. In the 1920s, German company Zugtelephonie AG developed and sold wireless telephony equipment to train operators. A couple of years later, the service was offered to first-class travelers on the route between Hamburg and Berlin. Then, during the Second World War, the Allied powers deployed over 130,000 units of the SCR-536 Handie-Talkie, a handheld two-way radio transceiver that was the precursor of the modern cell phone.

After decades of research and development, Motorola unveiled a prototype of the worlds first cell phone in 1973. Martin Cooper, the Motorola engineer who led the development of this invention, invited reporters to witness the first-ever wireless phone call. He then proceeded to ring his direct rival, Joel S. Engel of Bell Labs, from the streets of New York City.

The first device that technically qualifies as a smartphone was simply a highly-sophisticated brick phone that came onto the consumer market in the late 90s. The mainstream popularity of the devices took off with the introduction of Apples iPhone in 2007. The iPhone revolutionized the industry by offering user-friendly features such as a touch screen interface and a virtual keyboard. The first smartphone running an Android OS was introduced to the consumer market in late 2008.

The Current Smartphone Market

The global smartphone market is dominated by a few major players, namely Samsung, Apple, Huawei, Xiaomi, and Oppo. These vendors account for more than 80% of the worldwide smartphone shipments market share as of 2021. Among them, Samsung is the leader with over 20% market share, followed by Apple with around 15%. Huawei, which was once the second-largest smartphone vendor in the world, has seen its market share decline significantly due to US sanctions and trade restrictions.

The global smartphone sales and revenue trends have been affected by various factors, such as consumer preferences, economic conditions, technological innovations, and competitive dynamics. According to Statista, the global smartphone revenues reached $418 billion in 2020, down from $467 billion in 2019. The global smartphone shipments also declined by 8.8% year-on-year to 1.24 billion units in 2020. However, the market is expected to recover in 2021 and beyond as the COVID-19 pandemic subsides and consumer demand picks up.

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The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the smartphone industry in both positive and negative ways. On one hand, it has disrupted the supply chains, production capacities, distribution channels, and retail operations of smartphone makers and sellers. On the other hand, it has increased the reliance on smartphones for communication, work, education, entertainment, health care, and other essential services. As a result, smartphones have become more indispensable than ever for billions of people around the world.

The Future of Smartphones

The smartphone industry is constantly evolving and innovating to meet the changing needs and expectations of consumers. Some of the emerging technologies and innovations that are shaping the future of smartphones include:

  • 5G connectivity: 5G is the fifth generation of mobile network technology that offers faster speeds, lower latency, higher bandwidth, and more reliability than 4G. 5G enables new applications and services such as cloud gaming, augmented reality, virtual reality, and the Internet of Things. According to Gartner, 5G smartphones will account for 35% of total smartphone sales in 2021.

  • Foldable and rollable screens: Foldable and rollable screens are flexible displays that can be folded or rolled up to change the size and shape of the device. These screens offer more versatility, portability, and functionality than conventional screens. Some examples of foldable and rollable smartphones are Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2, Huawei Mate Xs, LG Wing, and Oppo X 2021.

  • Artificial intelligence and machine learning: Artificial intelligence and machine learning are technologies that enable smartphones to learn from data and perform tasks that normally require human intelligence. These technologies enhance the performance, efficiency, and personalization of smartphones. Some examples of artificial intelligence and machine learning features in smartphones are voice assistants, face recognition, image processing, natural language processing, and gesture control.

However, the future of smartphones also faces some challenges and opportunities that need to be addressed by smartphone makers and users. Some of these include:

  • Cybersecurity and privacy: Cybersecurity and privacy are the protection of data and information from unauthorized access, use, or disclosure. Smartphones store a lot of personal and sensitive data such as contacts, messages, photos, videos, passwords, banking details, health records, and location history. These data can be vulnerable to hacking, phishing, malware, spyware, ransomware, and other cyberattacks. Therefore, smartphone users need to be aware of the potential risks and take preventive measures such as using strong passwords, encryption, antivirus software, VPNs, and biometric authentication.

  • Sustainability and e-waste: Sustainability and e-waste are the environmental impacts of smartphone production, consumption, and disposal. Smartphones consume a lot of energy and resources such as metals, minerals, plastics, and chemicals. These materials can cause pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation, water scarcity, and human rights violations. Moreover, smartphones have a short lifespan and are often discarded or replaced by newer models. This generates a huge amount of electronic waste that can harm the environment and human health. Therefore, smartphone users need to be responsible and conscious of their smartphone usage and disposal. They can also opt for eco-friendly alternatives such as refurbished phones, recycled phones, or solar-powered phones.

How to Use Your Smartphone Like a Pro

Smartphones are amazing devices that can do so much more than you think. Here are some of the best tips and tricks for optimizing your smartphone experience:

  • Customize your home screen: Your home screen is the first thing you see when you unlock your phone. You can customize it to suit your preferences and needs by adding widgets, shortcuts, folders, wallpapers, and themes. You can also use launchers, which are apps that change the look and feel of your home screen and app drawer.

  • Use gestures and shortcuts: Gestures and shortcuts are quick and easy ways to perform common actions on your phone. For example, you can swipe down from the top of the screen to access the notification panel and quick settings, double-tap the power button to launch the camera, or press and hold the home button to activate Google Assistant. You can also create your own gestures and shortcuts using apps like Tasker, which lets you automate tasks based on triggers such as time, location, or event.

  • Manage your notifications: Notifications are alerts that inform you of new messages, calls, emails, updates, reminders, and other events. They can be useful, but they can also be annoying and distracting. You can manage your notifications by adjusting the settings for each app, turning on Do Not Disturb mode, or using apps like Notification Blocker, which lets you block unwanted notifications from specific apps or categories.

These are just some of the many ways you can use your smartphone like a pro. You can also explore the various apps and features that your phone offers for different purposes, such as productivity, education, entertainment, health, fitness, travel, and more.


Smartphones are incredible devices that have changed the way we communicate, work, learn, play, and live. They have a rich history, a dynamic market, a promising future, and a lot of potential. However, they also come with some challenges and responsibilities that we need to be aware of and address. By learning more about smartphones and how to use them wisely and effectively, we can enjoy their benefits and avoid their pitfalls.


Here are some frequently asked questions and answers about smartphones:

  • What is the difference between a smartphone and a feature phone?A feature phone is a basic mobile phone that can only perform basic functions such as making calls, sending messages, taking pictures, playing music, and browsing the web. A smartphone is a more advanced mobile phone that can perform many of the functions of a computer, such as running apps, accessing the internet, storing data, playing games, streaming videos, and more.

  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of smartphones?Some of the advantages of smartphones are: they are convenient, versatile, multifunctional, interactive, informative, and entertaining. Some of the disadvantages of smartphones are: they are expensive, addictive, distracting, harmful, and vulnerable.

  • How can I extend the battery life of my smartphone?Some of the ways you can extend the battery life of your smartphone are: reducing the screen brightness, turning off Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, and other wireless connections when not in use, closing or uninstalling apps that consume a lot of power, using power-saving modes or apps, and avoiding extreme temperatures.

  • How can I backup and restore my smartphone data?Some of the ways you can backup and restore your smartphone data are: using cloud services such as Google Drive, iCloud, or OneDrive, using external storage devices such as SD cards, USB drives, or hard disks, using PC software such as iTunes, Samsung Smart Switch, or Huawei Backup, or using apps such as Google Photos, Dropbox, or Titanium Backup.

  • How can I update my smartphone software?Some of the ways you can update your smartphone software are: checking for updates in the settings menu of your phone, downloading updates from the official website of your phone manufacturer or carrier, or using apps such as Software Update or Updato.


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