"Smartphones" redirects here. For the song by Trey Songz, see SmartPhones (song).
Not to be confused with Feature phone.
An array of various smartphones.
A person using a smartphone to take a digital photograph.

A smartphone is a mobile phone (also known as cell phones) with an advanced mobile operating system which combines features of a personal computer operating system with other features useful for mobile or handheld use.[1][2][3] Smartphones, which are usually pocket-sized, typically combine the features of a mobile phone, such as the abilities to place and receive voice calls and create and receive text messages, with those of other popular digital mobile devices like personal digital assistants (PDAs), such as an event calendar, media player, video games, GPS navigation, digital camera and digital video camera. Most smartphones can access the Internet and can run a variety of third-party software components ("apps"). They typically have a color display with a graphical user interface that covers 70% or more of the front surface. The display is often a touchscreen, which enables the user to use a virtual keyboard to type words and numbers and press onscreen icons to activate "app" features.

In 1999, the Japanese firm NTT DoCoMo released the first smartphones to achieve mass adoption within a country.[4] Smartphones became widespread in the late 2000s. Most of those produced from 2012 onward have high-speed mobile broadband 4G LTE, motion sensors, and mobile payment features. In the third quarter of 2012, one billion smartphones were in use worldwide.[5] Global smartphone sales surpassed the sales figures for regular cell phones in early 2013.[6] As of 2013, 65% of mobile consumers in the United States owned smartphones.[7] By January 2016, smartphones held over 79% of the U.S. mobile market.[8]


Early years

The first caller identification receiver (1971).

Devices that combined telephony and computing were first conceptualized by Nikola Tesla in 1909 and Theodore Paraskevakos in 1971 and patented in 1974, and were offered for sale beginning in 1993. Paraskevakos was the first to introduce the concepts of intelligence, data processing and visual display screens into telephones. In 1971, while he was working with Boeing in Huntsville, Alabama, Paraskevakos demonstrated a transmitter and receiver that provided additional ways to communicate with remote equipment, however it did not yet have general purpose PDA applications in a wireless device typical of smartphones. They were installed at Peoples' Telephone Company in Leesburg, Alabama and were demonstrated to several telephone companies. The original and historic working models are still in the possession of Paraskevakos.[9]


IBM Simon and charging base (1994).[10]

The first mobile phone to incorporate PDA features was a prototype developed by Frank Canova[11] in 1992 while at IBM and demonstrated that year at the COMDEX computer industry trade show. It included PDA features and other visionary mobile applications such as maps, stock reports and news. A refined version was marketed to consumers in 1994 by BellSouth under the name Simon Personal Communicator. The Simon was the first commercially available device that could be properly referred to as a "smartphone", although it was not called that in 1994.[11][12][13] In addition to placing and receiving cellular calls, Simon could send and receive faxes and emails and included an address book, calendar, appointment scheduler, calculator, world time clock and notepad, utilizing its touch screen display.[14] The term "smart phone" appeared in print as early as 1995, describing AT&T's PhoneWriter Communicator.[15]


In the mid-late 1990s, many mobile phone users carried a separate dedicated PDA device, running early versions of operating systems such as Palm OS, BlackBerry OS or Windows CE/Pocket PC.[1] These operating systems would later evolve into mobile operating systems. In March 1996, Hewlett-Packard released the OmniGo 700LX, a modified 200LX PDA that supported a Nokia 2110-compatible phone with ROM-based software to support it. It had a 640×200 resolution CGA compatible four-shade gray-scale LCD screen and could be used to place and receive calls, and to create and receive text messages, emails and faxes. It was also 100% DOS 5.0 compatible, allowing it to run thousands of existing software titles, including early versions of Windows.

In August 1996, Nokia released the Nokia 9000 Communicator, a digital cellular phone based on the Nokia 2110 with an integrated PDA based on the GEOS V3.0 operating system from Geoworks. The two components were attached by a hinge in what became known as a clamshell design, with the display above and a physical QWERTY keyboard below. The PDA provided e-mail; calendar, address book, calculator and notebook applications; text-based Web browsing; and could send and receive faxes. When closed, the device could be used as a digital cellular phone. In June 1999 Qualcomm released the "pdQ Smartphone", a CDMA digital PCS Smartphone with an integrated Palm PDA and Internet connectivity.[16]

Subsequent landmark devices included:

Smartphones before present-day Android-, iOS- and BlackBerry-based phones typically used the Symbian operating system. Originally developed by Psion, it was the world's most widely used smartphone operating system until the last quarter of 2010.

Mass adoption

In 1999, the Japanese firm NTT DoCoMo released the first smartphones to achieve mass adoption within a country. These phones ran on i-mode, which provided data transmission speeds up to 9.6 kbit/s.[23] Unlike future generations of wireless services, NTT DoCoMo's i-mode used cHTML, a language which restricted some aspects of traditional HTML in favor of increasing data speed for the devices. Limited functionality, small screens and limited bandwidth allowed for phones to use the slower data speeds available.[24] The rise of i-mode helped NTT DoCoMo accumulate an estimated 40 million subscribers by the end of 2001. It was also ranked first in market capitalization in Japan and second globally. This power would wane in the face of the rise of 3G and new phones with advanced wireless network capabilities.[25] Outside Japan smartphones were still rare until the introduction of the Danger Hiptop in 2002, which saw moderate success in the US as the T-Mobile Sidekick. Later, in the mid-2000s, devices based on Microsoft's Windows Mobile started to gain popularity among business users in the U.S. The BlackBerry later gained mass adoption in the U.S., and American users popularized the term "CrackBerry" in 2006 due to its addictive nature.[26] The company first released its GSM BlackBerry 6210, BlackBerry 6220, and BlackBerry 6230 devices in 2003.[27]

Operating systems

Symbian was the most popular smartphone OS in Europe during the middle to late 2000s. Initially, Nokia's Symbian devices were focused on business, similar to Windows Mobile and BlackBerry devices at the time. From 2006 onwards, Nokia started producing entertainment-focused smartphones, popularized by the Nseries. In Asia, with the exception of Japan, the trend was similar to that of Europe. In 2003, Motorola launched the first smartphone to use Linux, the A760 handset.[28] While the initial release was limited to a single high-end handset only available in the Asia-Pacific region, the maker's intention was to eventually use Linux on most of its handsets, including the 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,[29] the first of Motorola's smartphones to run the Linux-based Android operating system.

In early 2007, Apple Inc. introduced the iPhone, one of the first smartphones to use a multi-touch interface. The iPhone was notable for its use of a large touchscreen for direct finger input as its main means of interaction, instead of a stylus, keyboard, or keypad typical for smartphones at the time.[30] In October 2008, the first phone to use Android called the HTC Dream (also known as the T-Mobile G1) was released.[31][32] Android is an open-source platform founded by Andy Rubin and now owned by Google.[33][34] Although Android's adoption was relatively slow at first, it started to gain widespread popularity in 2010, and in early 2012 dominated the smartphone market share worldwide, which continues to this day.[35]

These new platforms led to the decline of earlier ones. Microsoft, for instance, started a new OS from scratch, called Windows Phone. Nokia abandoned Symbian and partnered with Microsoft to use Windows Phone on its smartphones. Windows Phone then became the third-most-popular OS. Palm's webOS was bought by Hewlett-Packard and later sold to LG Electronics for use on LG smart TVs. BlackBerry Limited, formerly known as Research In Motion, also made a new platform based on QNX, BlackBerry 10. The capacitive touchscreen also changed smartphone form factors. Before 2007, it was common for devices to have a physical numeric keypad or physical QWERTY keyboard in either a candybar or sliding form factor. However, by 2010, there were no top-selling smartphones with physical keypads.

2010s technological developments

Smartphones running Android OS

In 2013, the Fairphone company launched its first "socially ethical" smartphone at the London Design Festival to address concerns regarding the sourcing of materials in the manufacturing.[36] In late 2013, QSAlpha commenced production of a smartphone designed entirely around security, encryption and identity protection.[37] In December 2013, the world's first curved OLED technology smartphones were introduced to the retail market with the sale of the Samsung Galaxy Round and LG G Flex models.[38] Samsung phones with more bends and folds in the screens were expected in 2014.[39] In 2013, water and dustproofing have made their way into mainstream high end smartphones including Sony Xperia Z, Sony Xperia Z3 and Samsung Galaxy S5.[40] Previously, this feature was confined to special ruggedized phones designed for outdoor use.

In early 2014, smartphones were beginning to use Quad HD (2K) 2560x1440 on 5.5" screens with up to 534 PPI on devices such as the LG G3 which is a significant improvement over Apple's Retina Display. Quad HD is used in advanced televisions and computer monitors, but with 110 ppi or less on such larger displays.[41] In 2014, Wi-Fi networks were used a lot for smartphones. As Wi-Fi became more prevalent and easier to connect to, it was predicted that Wi-Fi phone services will start to take off.[42][43][44] In 2014, LG introduced lasers on the LG G3 to help camera focus.[45] In 2014, some smartphones had such good digital cameras that they could be categorized as high-end point-and-shoot cameras with large sensors up to 1" with 20 megapixels and 4K video. Some can store their pictures in proprietary raw image format, but the Android (operating system) 5.0 Lollipop serves open source RAW images.[46][47] By 2015, smartphones were increasingly integrated with everyday uses. For instance, credit cards, mobile payments, and mobile banking were integrated into smartphone applications and Software as a Service (SaaS) platforms.[48] Additionally, recent technological innovations are causing the role of traditional keys to be fused into the smartphones, because a smartphone can act as a digital key and access badge for its users.[49] In October 2015, Microsoft announced Windows Continuum, a feature that allows users to connect their devices to an external monitor via Microsoft Continuum Display Dock.[50] HP adds a layer to the Continuum with their HP Workplace which enables user to run a Win32 app by a virtualized server.[51] The first modular smartphone available to the public was the Fairphone 2, which was released in December 2015. Unlike most smartphones, users can remove and replace parts on this phone. In 2016 February, Mphone releases mPhone 9 Plus 3D [52] the first naked eye 3D smartphone, where user can enjoy the third dimension gaming and videos within their mobile phones itself without any additional accessories

Future possible developments

Foldable OLED smartphones have been anticipated for years but have failed to materialize because of the relatively high failure rate when producing these screens. As well, creating a battery that can be folded is another hurdle.[53]

Mobile operating systems


Android is the top-selling smartphone OS in 2016.[54][55]

Android is a mobile operating system developed by Google Inc., and backed by an industry consortium known as the Open Handset Alliance. It is an open source platform with optional proprietary components, including a suite of flagship software for Google services, and the application and content storefront Google Play.[56] Android was officially introduced via the release of its inaugural device, the HTC Dream (T-Mobile G1) on 20 October 2008.[57] As an open source product, Android has also been the subject of third-party development. Development groups have used the Android source code to develop and distribute their own modified versions of the operating system, such as CyanogenMod, to add features to the OS and provide newer versions of Android to devices that no longer receive official updates from their vendor.[58][59][60] Forked versions of Android have also been adopted by other vendors, such as, who used its "Fire OS" on a range of tablets and the Fire Phone.[61][62] As it is a non-proprietary platform that has shipped on devices covering a wide range of market segments, Android has seen significant adoption. Gartner Research estimated that 325 million Android smartphones were sold during the fourth quarter of 2015, leading all other platforms. Samsung Electronics, who produces Android devices, was also the top smartphone vendor across all platforms in the same period of time.[63]


Main article: iOS
Screenshot of IOS

iOS (formerly iPhone OS) is a proprietary mobile operating system developed by Apple Inc. primarily for its iPhone product line. The iPhone was first unveiled in January 2007. The device introduced numerous design concepts that have been adopted by modern smartphone platforms, such as the use of multi-touch gestures for navigation, eschewing physical controls such as physical keyboards in favor of those rendered by the operating system itself on its touchscreen (including the keyboard), and the use of skeumorphism—making features and controls within the user interface resemble real-world objects and concepts in order to improve their usability.[64][65] In 2008, Apple introduced the App Store, a centralized storefront for purchasing new software for iPhone devices.[66][67] iOS can also integrate with Apple's desktop music program iTunes to sync media to a personal computer.[68][69] The dependency on a PC was removed with the introduction of iCloud on later versions of iOS, which provides synchronization of user data via internet servers between multiple devices.[70] The iPhone line's early dominance was credited with reshaping the smartphone industry, and helping make Apple one of the world's most valuable publicly traded companies by 2011. However, the iPhone and iOS have generally been in second place in worldwide market share.[63][71][72]

Windows Phone

Main article: Windows Phone
Smartphone OS by Microsoft.

Windows Phone is a series of proprietary smartphone operating systems developed by Microsoft. Its original release, Windows Phone 7, was a revamped version of the previous, Windows CE-based Windows Mobile platform; however, it was incompatible with the legacy platform.[73] Windows Phone's user interface was designed to contrast with its competitors, utilizing a design language codenamed "Metro" which de-emphasized iconography and skeuomorphism in favor of flat, text-based designs. The platform also featured concepts such as "live tiles" on its home screen that can display dynamic content, and "Hubs"—which aggregate content from various sources and services (such as a user's local contacts, in combination with connected social networking services) into unified displays. Windows Phone also integrated with other Microsoft brands and platforms, including Bing, SkyDrive, and Xbox. Microsoft Office Mobile apps were also bundled with the operating system.[74][75][76]

Windows Phone 8 was released in 2012; it was incompatible with existing devices, but switched to a core system based on the Windows NT platform, expanded the platform's hardware support and functionality, and added expanded enterprise-oriented functionality such as storage encryption.[77][78][79] Windows 10 Mobile was released in late-2015; it is no longer promoted under the Windows Phone brand, as it is intended to provide greater consistency and integration with Windows 10 for PC, including cross-platform applications via Universal Windows Platform, and the ability to dock supported devices to use a desktop interface with keyboard and mouse support.[80][81][82]

The Windows Phone series has had poor adoption in comparison to its competitors. Lack of interest in the platform also led to a decrease in third-party applications, and some vendors ended their support for Windows Phone altogether. [63][83][84] The most prominent Windows Phone vendor was Nokia, who exclusively adopted Windows Phone as its smartphone platform in 2011 as part of a wider partnership with Microsoft.[85] Nokia's Lumia series was the most popular line of Windows Phone devices, representing 83.3% of all Windows Phones sold in June 2013,[86] and Microsoft acquired Nokia's mobile business for just over €5.44 billion in April 2014, forming the subsidiary Microsoft Mobile under former Nokia CEO Stephen Elop [87][88][89]


Main article: BlackBerry
A Blackberry Classic smartphone with an integrated keyboard

In 1999, RIM released its first BlackBerry devices, providing secure real-time push-email communications on wireless devices. Services such as BlackBerry Messenger provide the integration of all communications into a single inbox. In September 2012, RIM announced that the 200 millionth BlackBerry smartphone was shipped. As of September 2014, there were around 46 million active BlackBerry service subscribers.[90] Most recently, RIM has undergone a platform transition, changing its name to BlackBerry and making new devices on a new platform named "BlackBerry 10"[91] and in November 2015 released an Android smartphone, the BlackBerry Priv.[92]

Sailfish OS

Main article: Sailfish OS

The Sailfish OS is based on the Linux kernel and Mer.[93] Additionally Sailfish OS includes a partially or completely proprietary multi-tasking user interface programmed by Jolla. This user interface differentiate Jolla smartphones from others.[94] Sailfish OS is intended to be a system made by many of the MeeGo team, which left Nokia to form Jolla, utilizing funding from Nokia's "Bridge" program which helps establish and support start-up companies formed by ex-Nokia employees.[95][96][97]


Main article: Tizen

Tizen is a Linux-based operating system for devices, including smartphones, tablets, in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) devices, smart TVs, laptops and smart cameras. Tizen is a project within the Linux Foundation and is governed by a Technical Steering Group (TSG) composed of Samsung and Intel among others. In April 2014, Samsung released the Samsung Gear 2 and the Gear 2 Neo, running Tizen.[98] The Samsung Z1 is the first smartphone produced by Samsung that runs Tizen; it was released in the Indian market on January 14, 2015.[99]

Ubuntu Touch

Main article: Ubuntu Touch

Ubuntu Touch (also known as Ubuntu Phone) is a mobile version of the Ubuntu operating system developed by Canonical UK Ltd and Ubuntu Community.[100] It is designed primarily for touchscreen mobile devices such as smartphones and tablet computers.

Discontinued operating systems


Main article: Symbian

Symbian was originally developed by Psion as EPOC32. It was the world's most widely used smartphone operating system until Q4 2010, though the platform never gained popularity in the U.S., as it did in Europe and Asia. The first Symbian phone, the touchscreen Ericsson R380 Smartphone, was released in 2000,[101][102] and was the first device marketed as a "smartphone".[103] It combined a PDA with a mobile phone.[104] Variants of Symbian OS began to emerge, most notably Symbian UIQ, MOAP and S60, each supported by different manufacturers. With the creation of Symbian Foundation in 2008, Symbian OS was unified under one variant under the stewardship of Nokia. In February 2011, Nokia announced that it would replace Symbian with Windows Phone as the operating system on all of its future smartphones, with the platform being abandoned over the following few years.[105]

Windows Mobile

Main article: Windows Mobile

Windows Mobile was based on the Windows CE kernel and first appeared as the Pocket PC 2000 operating system. Throughout its lifespan, the operating system was available in both touchscreen and non-touchscreen formats. It was supplied with a suite of applications developed with the Microsoft Windows API and was designed to have features and appearance somewhat similar to desktop versions of Windows. Third parties could develop software for Windows Mobile with no restrictions imposed by Microsoft. Software applications were eventually purchasable from Windows Marketplace for Mobile during the service's brief lifespan. Windows Mobile was eventually phased out in favor of Windows Phone OS.


Main article: Bada

The Bada operating system for smartphones was announced by Samsung in November 2009.[106][107] The first Bada-based phone was the Samsung Wave S8500, released in June 2010.[108][109] Samsung shipped 4.5 million phones running Bada in Q2 of 2011.[110] In 2013, Bada merged with a similar platform called Tizen.

Firefox OS

Main article: Firefox OS

Firefox OS was demonstrated by Mozilla in February 2012. It was designed to have a complete community-based alternative system for mobile devices, using open standards and HTML5 applications. The first commercially available Firefox OS phones were ZTE Open and Alcatel One Touch Fire. As of 2014, more companies have partnered with Mozilla including Panasonic (which is making a smart TV with Firefox OS) and Sony.[111] In December 2015, Mozilla announced that it would phase out development of Firefox OS for smartphones, and would reposition the project to focus on other forms of Internet-connected devices.[112]

Palm OS

Main article: Palm OS

In late 2001, Handspring launched the Springboard GSM phone module with limited success. In May 2002, Handspring released the Palm OS Treo 270 smartphone, that did not support Springboard, with both a touchscreen and a full keyboard. The Treo had wireless web browsing, email, calendar, a contact organizer and mobile third-party applications that could be downloaded or synced with a computer.[113] Handspring was purchased by Palm, Inc which released the Treo 600 and continued releasing Treo devices with a few Treo devices using Windows Mobile. After buying Palm in 2011, Hewlett-Packard (HP) discontinued its webOS smartphone and tablet production.[114]


Main article: webOS

webOS is a proprietary mobile operating system running on the Linux kernel, initially developed by Palm, which launched with the Palm Pre. After being acquired by HP, two phones (the Veer and the Pre 3) and a tablet (the TouchPad) running webOS were introduced in 2011. On August 18, 2011, HP announced that webOS hardware was to be discontinued[115] but would continue to support and update webOS software and develop the webOS ecosystem.[116] HP released webOS as open source under the name Open webOS, and plans to update it with additional features.[117] On February 25, 2013 HP announced the sale of WebOS to LG Electronics, who used the operating system for its current "smart" or Internet-connected TVs, but not smartphones. In January 2014, Qualcomm has announced that it has acquired technology patents from HP, which includes all the WebOS patents.[118]

Maemo / MeeGo

Main article: MeeGo

MeeGo is an operating system created from the source code of Moblin (produced by Intel) and Maemo (produced by Nokia). Before that, Nokia used Maemo on some of its smartphones and internet tablets (such as Nokia N810 and N900). MeeGo was originally envisioned to power a variety of devices from netbooks, tablets to smartphones and smart TVs. However, the only smartphones which used MeeGo was the Nokia N9 and Nokia N950 (MeeGo v1.2 Harmattan). Following Nokia's decision to move to Windows Phone OS in 2011 and to cease MeeGo development, the Linux Foundation canceled MeeGo in September 2011 in favor of the development of Tizen.

Application stores

The introduction of Apple's App Store for the iPhone and iPod Touch in July 2008 popularized manufacturer-hosted online distribution for third-party applications (software and computer programs) focused on a single platform. There are a huge variety of apps, including video games, music products and business tools. Up until that point, smartphone application distribution depended on third-party sources providing applications for multiple platforms, such as GetJar, Handango, Handmark, and PocketGear. Following the success of the App Store, other smartphone manufacturers launched application stores, such as Google's Android Market (now Google Play Store) and RIM's BlackBerry App World in April 2009. In February 2014, 93% of mobile developers were targeting smartphones first for mobile app development.[119]


Main article: Display device
Samsung Galaxy Note 5, S6 edge+, Note 7

One of the main characteristics of smartphones is their screen. It usually fills most of the phone's front surface (about 70%); screen size usually defines the size of a smartphone. Many have an aspect ratio of 16:9; some are 4:3 or other ratios. They are measured in diagonal inches, starting from 2.45 inches.[120] Phones with screens larger than 5.2 inches are often called "phablets". Smartphones with screens over 4.5 inches commonly are shifted while using a single hand, since most thumbs cannot reach the entire screen surface, or used in place with both hands. Liquid-crystal displays are the most common; others are IPS, LED, OLED, AMOLED and E Ink displays. In the 2010s, Braille screens, which can be used by visually impaired people are being developed. It is expected that Braille screens will use some type of microfluidics technology.[121]


A selection of protective cases. The small cut-out in the left-hand corner is to enable the person to use the digital camera.

As with cellphones, a range of accessories are sold for smartphones, including cases, screen protectors, power charging cables, add-on batteries, headphones, combined headphone-microphones which allow a person to use the phone without holding it to the ear, and Bluetooth-enabled powered speakers that enable users to listen to music files stored on their smartphones. Cases range from relatively inexpensive rubber or soft plastic cases which provide moderate protection from bumps and good protection from scratches to more expensive, heavy-duty cases that combine a rubber padding with a hard outer shell. Some cases have a "book"-like form, with a cover that the user opens to use the device; when the cover is closed, it protects the screen. Some "book"-like cases have additional pockets for credit cards, thus enabling people to use them as wallets. Accessories include products sold by the manufacturer of the smartphone and compatible products made by other manufacturers.

Market share


In the third quarter of 2012, one billion smartphones were in use worldwide.[5] Global smartphone sales surpassed the sales figures for feature phones in early 2013.[6] As of 2013, 65 percent of U.S. mobile consumers own smartphones.[7] The European mobile device market as of 2013 is 860 million.[122] In China, smartphones represented more than half of all handset shipments in the second quarter of 2012[123] and in 2014 there were 519.7 million smartphone users, with the number estimated to grow to 700 million by 2018.[124]

As of November 2011, 27% of all photographs were taken with camera-equipped smartphones.[125] A study conducted in September 2012 concluded that 4 out of 5 smartphone owners use the device to shop.[126] Another study conducted in June 2013 concluded that 56% of American adults now owned a smartphone of some kind. Android and iPhone owners account for half of the cell phone user population. Higher income adults and those under age 35 lead the way when it comes to smartphone ownership.[127] Worldwide shipments of smartphones topped 1 billion units in 2013, up 38% from 2012's 725 million, while comprising a 55% share of the mobile phone market in 2013, up from 42% in 2012.[128] Since 1996, smartphone shipments have had positive growth, but in Q1 2016 for the first time the shipments dropped by 3 percent year on year. The situation was caused by the maturing China market.[129]

By manufacturer

Worldwide Smartphones Vendors Market Share
Source Date Samsung Apple Inc. Huawei Oppo Vivo Xiaomi Others Reference
Gartner Q2 2016 22.3% 12.9% 8.9% 5.4% N/A 4.5% 46.0% [130]
IDC Q2 2016 22.4% 11.8% 9.4% 6.6% 4.8% N/A 45.1% [131]

In 2011, Samsung had the highest shipment market share worldwide, followed by Apple. In 2013, Samsung had 31.3% market share, a slight increase from 30.3% in 2012, while Apple was at 15.3%, a decrease from 18.7% in 2012. Huawei, LG and Lenovo were at about 5% each, significantly better than 2012 figures, while others had about 40%, the same as the previous years figure. Only Apple lost market share, although their shipment volume still increased by 12.9 percent; the rest had significant increases in shipment volumes of 36 to 92 percent.[132] In Q1 2014, Samsung had a 31% share and Apple had 16%.[133] In Q4 2014, Apple had a 20.4% share and Samsung had 19.9%.[134]

In January 2015 in the US, Android market share was 53.2%, Apple's iOS had a 41.3% share and Samsung's Android smartphones had 29.3%.[135] In January 2016, the US market share for Android smartphones was 52.8%, Apple had 43.6% share, Microsoft had 2.7% and BlackBerry had 0.8 percent.[8]

By operating system

Worldwide operating system market share for smartphones
Source Date Android iOS Windows BlackBerry OS Others Reference
Gartner Q2 2016 86.2% 12.9% 0.6% 0.1% 0.2% [136]

The market has been dominated by the Android operating system since 2010. Android's market share (measured by units shipment) rose from 33.2% in Q4 2011 to 78.1% of the market in Q4 2013. Apple's market share oscillated between 15% to 20.9% during the same period. BlackBerry's market share fell from 14.3% in Q4 2011 to 0.6% in Q4 2013. Windows Mobile market share rose from 1.5% to 3% during the same time frame.[137] As of the end of Q3 2014, Android was the most popular operating system, with a 84.4% market share, followed by iOS with 11.7%, Windows Phone with 2.9%, BlackBerry with 0.5% and all others with 0.6%.[138]


Smartphones have presented issues similar to those affecting other mobile telephones. As well, there are some issues which are unique to smartphones.

Battery life

A high-capacity portable battery charger.

Compared to earlier non-smartphone mobile phones, smartphone battery life has generally been poor, due to the significant power requirements of their computer systems and color screens. Poor smartphone battery life has negatively affected customer satisfaction.[139][140][141] There is also a trend towards using batteries that the user cannot replace.[142] Smartphone users have addressed the challenge of limited battery life by purchasing additional chargers for use outside the home, at work, and in cars and by buying portable external "battery packs". External battery packs include generic models which are connected to the smartphone with a cable and custom-made models that "piggyback" onto a smartphone's case.


Main article: Mobile phone overuse

A 2012 University of Southern California study found that unprotected adolescent sexual activity was more common among owners of smartphones.[143] A study conducted by the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute's (RPI) Lighting Research Center (LRC) concluded that smartphones, or any backlit devices, can seriously affect sleep cycles.[144] Some persons might become psychologically attached to cellphones resulting in anxiety when separated from the devices.[145] A "smombie" (a combination of "smartphone" and "zombie") is a walking person using a smartphone and not paying attention as they walk, possibly risking an accident in the process, an increasing social phenomenon.[146] The issue of slow-moving smartphone users led to the temporary creation of a "mobile lane" for walking in Chongqing, China.[147] The issue of distracted smartphone users led the city of Augsburg, Germany to embed pedestrian traffic lights in the pavement.[148]

While driving

Main article: Texting while driving
A New York City driver using two handheld mobile phones at once.

Mobile phone use while driving, including talking on the phone, texting, or operating other phone features, is common but controversial. It is widely considered dangerous due to distracted driving. Being distracted while operating a motor vehicle has been shown to increase the risk of accidents. In September 2010, the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that 995 people were killed by drivers distracted by cell phones. In March 2011 a US insurance company, State Farm Insurance, announced the results of a study which showed 19% of drivers surveyed accessed the Internet on a smartphone while driving.[149] Many jurisdictions prohibit the use of mobile phones while driving. In Egypt, Israel, Japan, Portugal and Singapore, both handheld and hands-free use of a mobile phone (which uses a speakerphone) is banned. In other countries including the UK and France and in many U.S. states, only handheld phone use is banned, while hands-free use is permitted.

A 2011 study reported that over 90% of college students surveyed text (initiate, reply or read) while driving.[150] The scientific literature on the dangers of driving while sending a text message from a mobile phone, or texting while driving, is limited. A simulation study at the University of Utah found a sixfold increase in distraction-related accidents when texting.[151] Due to the increasing complexity of smartphones, this has introduced additional difficulties for law enforcement officials when attempting to distinguish one usage from another in drivers using their devices. This is more apparent in countries which ban both handheld and hands-free usage, rather than those which ban handheld use only, as officials cannot easily tell which function of the mobile phone is being used simply by looking at the driver. This can lead to drivers being stopped for using their device illegally for a phone call when, in fact, they were using the device legally, for example, when using the phone's incorporated controls for car stereo, GPS or satnav.

A sign along Bellaire Boulevard in Southside Place, Texas (Greater Houston) states that using mobile phones while driving is prohibited from 7:30 am to 9:30 am and from 2:00 pm to 4:15 pm

A 2010 study reviewed the incidence of mobile phone use while cycling and its effects on behaviour and safety.[152] In 2013 a national survey in the US reported the number of drivers who reported using their cellphones to access the Internet while driving had risen to nearly one of four.[153] A study conducted by the University of Illinois examined approaches for reducing inappropriate and problematic use of mobile phones, such as using mobile phones while driving.[154]

Accidents involving a driver being distracted by talking on a mobile phone have begun to be prosecuted as negligence similar to speeding. In the United Kingdom, from 27 February 2007, motorists who are caught using a hand-held mobile phone while driving will have three penalty points added to their license in addition to the fine of £60.[155] This increase was introduced to try to stem the increase in drivers ignoring the law.[156] Japan prohibits all mobile phone use while driving, including use of hands-free devices. New Zealand has banned hand held cellphone use since 1 November 2009. Many states in the United States have banned texting on cell phones while driving. Illinois became the 17th American state to enforce this law.[157] As of July 2010, 30 states had banned texting while driving, with Kentucky becoming the most recent addition on July 15.[158]

Public Health Law Research maintains a list of distracted driving laws in the United States. This database of laws provides a comprehensive view of the provisions of laws that restrict the use of mobile communication devices while driving for all 50 states and the District of Columbia between 1992, when first law was passed through December 1, 2010. The dataset contains information on 22 dichotomous, continuous or categorical variables including, for example, activities regulated (e.g., texting versus talking, hands-free versus handheld), targeted populations, and exemptions.[159]


Main article: Smartphone wars

A "patent war" between Samsung and Apple started when the latter claimed that the original Galaxy S Android phone copied the interfaceand possibly the hardwareof Apple's iOS for the iPhone 3GS. There was also smartphone patents licensing and litigation involving Sony, Google, Apple Inc., Samsung, Microsoft, Nokia, Motorola, Huawei, and HTC, among others. The conflict is part of the wider "patent wars" between multinational technology and software corporations. To secure and increase their market share, companies granted a patent can sue to prevent competitors from using the methods the patent covers. Since 2010 the number of lawsuits, counter-suits, and trade complaints based on patents and designs in the market for smartphones, and devices based on smartphone OSes such as Android and iOS, has increased significantly. Initial suits, countersuits, rulings, licence agreements, and other major events began in 2009 as the smartphone market grew more rapidly.


Main article: Mobile app

With the rise in number of mobile medical apps in the market place, government regulatory agencies raised concerns on the safety of the use of such applications. These concerns were transformed into regulation initiatives worldwide with the aim of safeguarding users from untrusted medical advice.[160]


Smartphone malware is easily distributed through an insecure app store.[161][162] Often malware is hidden in pirated versions of legitimate apps, which are then distributed through third-party app stores.[163][164] Malware risk also comes from what's known as an "update attack", where a legitimate application is later changed to include a malware component, which users then install when they are notified that the app has been updated.[165] As well, one out of three robberies in 2012 in the United States involved the theft of a mobile phone. An online petition has urged smartphone makers to install kill switches in their devices.[166] In 2014, Apple's "Find my iPhone" and Google's "Android Device Manager" can disable phones that have been lost/stolen. With BlackBerry Protect in OS version 10.3.2, devices can be rendered unrecoverable to even BlackBerry's own Operating System recovery tools if incorrectly authenticated or dissociated from their account.[167]


Using smartphones late at night can disturb sleep, due to the brightly lit screen affecting melatonin levels and sleep cycles. In an effort to alleviate these issues, several apps that change the color temperature of a screen to a warmer hue based on the time of day to reduce the amount of blue light generated have been developed for Android, while iOS 9.3 integrated similar, system-level functionality known as "Night Shift". Amazon released a feature known as "blue shade" in their Fire OS "Bellini" 5.0 and later. It has also been theorized that for some users, addicted use of their phones, especially before they go to bed, can result in "ego depletion".[168][169][170][171][172]

Other terms

"Phablet", a portmanteau of the words phone and tablet, describes smartphones with larger screens.[173][174]

"Superphone" is also used by some companies to market phones with unusually large screens and other expensive features.[175][176]

See also

Notes and references

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