Mobile Phone Terms and Glossary
1st Generation of mobile networks were analog, circuit-switched. Voice links were poor, handoff unreliable, capacity low, and security non-existent. 1G systems are now largely obsolete.
2nd Generation of mobile networks use digital encoding. 2G networks are in current use around the world and offer services such as data, fax and SMS.
The 3 Skypephone, built by 3 and Skype, allows you to use Skype services from a mobile.
See: Conference Call
See: High-Speed Downlink Packet Access
3rd Generation of mobile networks, providing video calling, browsing and faster download speeds, up to 7 times faster than GPRS.
4th Generation of mobile phone networks, providing mobile broadband download speeds of 100MB per second, and stationary wireless broadband speeds of up to 1GB per second. Sometimes refered to as LTE, or Long Term Evolution.
Refers to information which features both letters and numbers, this also includes other symbols such as punctuation. An alphanumeric keypad is the traditional phone design with a number pad, each number key also doubling up for several letters.
Screen technology that increases contrast and enhances vibrancy to give a sharp and vivid display. Stands for Active Matrix Organic Light Emitting Diode.
The simple way to transmit speech, which is converted into electronic signals of different frequency and/or amplitude. The first networks for mobile phones were analog though most are digital now.
A computerised answering system that automatically answers your incoming calls, plays a greeting and records a message from the caller. Greetings can usually be personalised.
A term used by most networks (term can often differ slightly depending on network) meaning the minutes offered in a contract can be used to call any phone e.g. landline or mobile. International calls are not usually included.
Assisted-GPS is a special technology developed specifically for mobile phones. Normal GPS devices find their position by communicating with orbiting satellites and using different signals to pinpoint their exact location on a map. This is great, except that the satellites are a long way away and so can sometimes take quite a while. Assisted-GPS is a clever solution that uses nearby mobile phone masts (and sometimes even wireless networks) to locate the satellites nearest to you and find your location using them together in tandem. Or, if you are not within line-of-sight of a satellite (if you’re inside a building, for example) then the A-GPS can use the mobile phone masts (and/or Wi-Fi if available) to find your location, albeit not quite as precisely as with GPS. A-GPS has been known to significantly reduce the time taken to locate your position when using GPS.
Automatic answer is a phone feature that allows a user to answer an incoming call without the need to press any keys. The conversation can be started immediately after the phone begins to ring because the sound of the recipient’s voice speaking into the phone’s microphone will trigger the answering of the call.
Automatic backlighting means that the display and keypad will light up as soon as any key is pressed for ease of use. When the handset is no longer in use, the backlight will autmoatically turn itself off after a preset period of time to conserve battery energy.
Bandwidth is a measure of a communications channel’s information carrying capacity, whether it be of the wired or wireless type.
Base Stations cover one cell or geographical area within a total network service area. Their primary purpose is to handle all incoming & outgoing calls within the cell and transfer calls to other base stations and fixed telephone networks where necessary.
The battery is the usual power source used to power a mobile phone.
A visual and/or audible alert message that warns the user as to the state of the battery.
The BlackBerry is a wireless handheld device supporting information services such as mobile telephone, push e-mail, text messaging, internet faxing and web browsing.
A specification for wireless short range connectivity between a range of mobile and stationary devices. Uses radio link. Especially popular these days for wireless headphones.
A communications channel that has a bandwidth greater than 64 kilobits per second and that can provide higher speed data communications than a standard telephone circuit.
Call barring is a mobile phone feature that allows the user to set certain restrictions on incoming or outgoing calls.
A feature that allows calls to a mobile to be transferred to a predetermined number if the mobile does not acknowledge an incoming call or is not answered.
Call holding allows a user to put an ongoing call on hold, while at the same time making or receiving a second call on the same phone.
The call timer records the number of air-minutes you use each month.
This displays the number of the person calling you on the phone’s screen. However, there are some numbers that cannot be displayed or are withheld.
Caller Group Logo
This allows the user to create groups for certain members in their phonebook. When a call is received the ringtone and/or display will be determined by which group they are in.
Calling Line Identification
A range of services which enable the recipient of a call to access the caller’s number.
Cameraphone is a device that combines the features of a mobile phone and a digital camera. This means that a cameraphone not only functions as a normal mobile phone, but it is also capable of taking photographs.
A type of touchscreen that allows you to navigate by merely brushing the screen’s surface with your fingertip.
An apparatus that charges or recharges storage batteries, usually plugged in to electirical mains socket or in-car lighter device
The clamshell is a design of mobile phone. The case is made in two halves that are joined together by a hinge at the centre, the handset then opens from the centeal hinge, likening it to a clam’s shell.
Clearance phones not listed as refurbished or refreshed are usually new handsets with excess stock, or handsets that are marked as end of line. These new handsets are just the same as any other new handset but the deals on them are great value and exclusive – you won’t be able to pick these phones up in-store! Make sure you don’t miss them, as when they’re out of stock they’re out of stock, often forever!
See: Calling Line Identification
3-Way Calling is a facility that enables three or more people to be connected to the same call at once, so that they may all speak and listen simultaneously.
By choosing a contract mobile phone the user usually agrees a fixed sum line rental per month for a fixed period of time, call costs are then added on top of the bill each month. Often contract deals include a certain number of ‘free’ calls or texts each month.
Country Code is the code number that identifies a given country and that has to be dialled when making an international telephone call.
Concerns the capability to make and receive calls on a mobile phone in particular areas. It is usually described in terms of the percentage of population that can use the service rather than actual geographic area.
Intel CULV (Consumer Ultra-Low Voltage) processors feature particularly low energy use and reduced heat output, allowing for very thin computer systems and long battery life.
Data capability enables you to transfer data from a laptop, personal digital assistant or portable fax machine provided they have a modem and an auxiliary jack.
Data cards provide access to email, the Internet and internal systems when slotted into your laptop.
This facility allows you to send and receive fax and data files, access the Internet and send e-mail through your mobile phone when it is connected to mobile office equipment.
A digital mobile system operating in the 1800MHz band.
A voice conversation is turned into a series of digital bits. At the receiving end, the information is then converted back to voice for the recipient to hear. An advantage of digital mobiles is that they allow several mobiles in the same area to use the same frequency simultaneously.
Dots Per Inch
A measure of a display screen’s resolution or sharpness, which indicates its ability to present images of a given quality. The higher the dpi, the more dots will be available on the mobile’s screen, and the more detailed images it is able to display.
Downlink (Forward Link) is the term used to describe the direction of data transmissions from the network Base Station to the subscriber’s Mobile Station.
See: Dots Per Inch
DTMF is the name given to the system of audible tones generated by a user when dialling numbers on a telephone,Each phone key generates a different pair of audible frequencies’. At the exchange or receiving equipment these tones are then decoded, to determine which keys had been pressed.
Phones that can switch between two different bands of frequencies which is useful for travellers as it allows roaming on a greater number of networks across the world.
See: Enhanced Data Rates for GSM Evolution
Electronic Serial Number
Each mobile phone is assigned a unique Electronic Serial Number, which is autmoatically transmitted to the mobile tower station every time a call is made.
Emote / Emoticon
Refers to a set of symbols and letters that look like a human face turned on its side when put next to each other. The most basic smiley is a pair of eyes and a smiling mouth, made by a colon and a bracket 🙂 and then there are numerous variations of this.
Enhanced Data Rates for GSM Evolution
An enhanced modulation technique for increased network capacity and data rates in GSM networks.
Enhanced Messaging Service / EMS
Enhanced Messaging Service allows you to exchange simple graphics and tunes on EMS enables phones.
See: Speed Dial
Flash memory is written and erased in ‘blocks’ of memory, so equipment using it can operate more quickly when required to read and write several locations at the same time.
Gigabyte (GB) is the term used to represent 1024 megabytes. The capitalisation is important – Gb is different (Gigabit).
General Packet Radio Service
General Packet Radio Service offers ‘always-on’ Internet-based content, enabling services such as colour Internet browsing and push Email.
Global Positioning System
GPS is a worldwide location and navigation system which can be used to determine terrestrial position, velocity, and time. The system is based on a set of satellites orbiting the Earth.
See: General Packet Radio Service
See: Global Positioning System
Graphical User Interface
Graphical User Interface (GUI) is a type of software program that creates a user-friendly environment and interface for operating a wide range of computer and microprocessor-based equipment.
This is a communication standard in three frequency bands. The term GSM is often used in the UK to refer to the 900MHz band while the 1800MHz band is referred to as PCN.
See: Graphical User Interface
Enables a user to operate a handset without holding or touching it. Considered an important safety feature for drivers.
Phones that have haptic feedback give a small vibrations when certain functions are used. This differs from phone to phone, but might be used for example when the user touches a button on a touchscreen phone.
A hardkey is a button on a mobile that is dedicated to opening a specific application rather than going through the menu to access it.
Technology that increases the bandwidth of the speech codec in voice calls, resulting in clearer call quality between two HD Voice-enabled devices (such as an HD Voice mobile phone and a landline).
High-Speed Downlink Packet Access
A 3G mobile telephony protocol, which provides a roadmap for UMTS-based networks to increase their data transfer speeds and capacity.
See: High-Speed Downlink Packet Access
This is a unique identity number given to GSM mobile phones and can be used to block mobile phones that have been stolen when reported to the network operator.
Integrated Services Digital Network
High quality fixed telephone line used primarily for data transfer between companies or for video conferencing
See: Integrated Services Digital Network
Java is a universal software platform designed to run on small devices such as mobile phones and PDA’s. Android uses a language closely related to java.
LCD is a type of technology used to produce flat-panel display screens.
Liquid Crystal Display
How easy a phone is to use, how fun, how sexy. As phones conform to strict standards, the MMI becomes a key area of differentiation.
Megabyte (MB) is the term used to represent 1,048,576 bytes.
A megapixel is 1 million pixels, and is a term used not only for the number of pixels in an image, but also to express the number of sensor elements of digital cameras or the number of display elements of digital displays.
A place on a mobile phone used to store information such as phone numbers, text messages and pictures (measured in bytes).
Small electronic storage device typically used to supplement the storage capacity of the devices into which they are inserted. These cards have several advantages over hard disk memory, because they are much smaller, lightweight, have faster access times, and consume less power.
See: Man/Machine Interface
Quite simply access to the world wide web from your mobile. Speeds and usability all vary depending on the network and phone.
The initiation of a telephone call by a mobile.
Mobile TV involves bringing TV services to mobile phones, combining the services of a mobile phone with television content. Mobile TV over cellular networks allows viewers to enjoy personalised, interactive TV with content specifically adapted to the mobile medium.
Nickel Metal Hydride
Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) is a type of rechargeable battery used to power mobile phones.
See: Office of Communications
Off-peak times differ between networks but are generally accepted to be outside of normal busines hours. Call costs are often cheaper during this period.
Office of Communications
The regulator for the UK communications industries, with responsibilities across the range of television, radio, telecommunications and wireless communications services.
Office of Telecommunications
Was the regulator for the UK telecommunications industry until it ceased to exist in December 2003. Ofcom has taken over the duties of Oftel.
See: Office of Telecommunications
See: Speed Dial
The message the caller hears when they get through to someone’s voicemail
See: Port Authorisation Code
See: Conference Call
Pay As You Go
Refers to no-contract, no-rental charge services where you by air-time ‘credit’ in advance for calls. Each network has its own pre-pay service.
See: Pay As You Go
Convenient device that permits a user to connect an enabled mobile phone with a laptop allowing the sending and receiving of data.
PC Sync allows the user to connect the phone to a computer with a cable and synchronise calendar and contact information between the phone and computer applications.
Highest-usage period of the business day when there is the most calling traffic and call rates are usually highest.
This refers to the list of names and telephone numbers stored in a user’s phone’s internal memory or on its SIM card. You can dial stored numbers by accessing the phone book.
Pin Unblocking Key
For security reasons a SIM is blocked after three incorrect password entries in a row. Once it reaches this state, an eight-digit PUK code is needed to unblock it and allow it to be used on a GSM network again.
This refers to a mobile phone ringtone that uses multiple tones simultaneously rather than a series of single tones.
Port Authorisation Code
A Port Authorisation Code (PAC) code is given to a user by their service provider when they want to transfer their existing number to a new service provider. They are generally valid for 30 days.
See: Pay As You Go
This facility allows you to write text messages faster by using word recognition. Instead of having to press each key numerous times to select each letter, mobiles with predictive text software ‘guess’ what you’re writing as you go along, reducing the number of key presses required.
See: Pin Unblocking Key
Technology that sends email messages directly to your mobile without you having to dial up to retrieve them.
A quad-band mobile phone can operate on the 5 continents of the world using the four main GSM frequency bands.
A keyboard on a mobile phone which has the same keys as a standard computer keyboard, with one button for each letter.
Radio Data System
Radio Data System is a communications protocol that allows extra information to be sent over FM radio broadcasts. Compatible phones can then display information about the radio station, programme type (news, sport, travel, etc.), and the current song being played.
The signal transmitted or received by a mobile phone.
See: Radio Data System
All of the refurbished phones on this site have been rigorously tested to ensure they look and perform like new, and you’d be hard pressed to tell the difference! They come with a 12-month warranty, just like if you’d bought a new phone.
A type of touchscreen that allows you to navigate by applying pressure on the touchscreen with your finger, pen or a stylus.
The Retina Display from Apple is so-called because at a pixel density of 326 pixels per inch and held at a distance from the eye of 12 inches, the display exceeds the amount of detail that can be resolved by the human eye. Increased pixel density would have no effect on the quality of the display – the limitation is the human body rather than the phone!
Reverse Link (Uplink) is the term used to describe the direction of data transmissions from the user’s Mobile Station to the network Base Station.
See: Radio Frequency
This refers to the ability for a mobile phone user to make voice calls, send and receive data or access other services when roaming outside the geographical coverage area of their home network, using a visited network.
A measure of the amount of radio frequency energy (radiation) absorbed by the body when using a radio transmitter device such as a mobile phone.
A Secure Digital card is a flash memory card format for use in portable devices, such as mobile phones
Secure Digital Card
See: SD Card
Short Messaging Service
A facility which enables a user to send short messages to other mobile phone users. Can also refer to a message itself.
The SIM is the smart card inserted inside all GSM phones. It identifies the user account to the network, handles authentication and provides data storage for basic user data and network information.
Skype is a software program which allows you to make free calls over the internet to other Skype users. Skype also has an extended service which allows you to make and receive calls to and from landlines and mobiles
A phone with enhanced computing ability that allows it to run advanced applications on its operating system.
See: Short Messaging Service
A soft key is a mobile phone button that has the ability to change its function. As the key’s function changes this is indicated by labels in the lower part of the display screen, so that the user knows what the keys are to be used for.
Button on a phone that allows you to dial a number just by pressing this one key.
Standby time is the total time that a fully charged battery can power a mobile phone in the standby mode rather than in use.
This means being able to view video and/or content ?live? from a network without having to first download the file to your mobile phone.
Subscriber Identity Module
Symbian’s Operating System for data enabled mobile phones includes a multi-tasking multithreaded core, a user interface framework, data services enablers, application engines and integrated PIM functionality and wireless communications.
See: Predictive Text
This is the total time for which a battery can power a user’s mobile phone for calls. The more the talk time of a battery the less frequently it will need to be recharged.
Tethering is using your mobile phone as a modem, so it can share its internet connection with other devices such as a computer.
See: Short Messaging Service
See: Short Messaging Service
See: Thin Film Transistor
Thin Film Transistor
Thin Film Transistor displays are a type of LCD display that use the same technology as flat-screen TVs and computer monitors.
A song recognition program that identifies artist, album and track name of any song based upon a short audio sample.
Tri-Band mobile phones are capable of operating on any of the three internationally designated GSM frequency bands.
See: Tri Band
See: Universal Mobile Telecommunications System
Universal Mobile Telecommunications System
Mobile communications standard offering numerous voice, data and multimedia applications. It is also the successor of GSM.
Universal Serial Bus
USB is a cable communication standard that allows various devices to be connected and communicate. It also allows power to be supplied in the same cable as data
See: Reverse Link
See: Universal Serial Bus
The user interface (UI) is literally the way you use the phone. The UI includes the menus and various screens that you use to make calls, read and write texts, view your contacts, etc. by using the keypad, touchscreen, or any other input device.
Live two-way video calling, only available on 3G handsets
Virtual Private Network
A VPN is a private communications network often used by companies or organisations, to communicate confidentially over a public network. A VPN can send data across secured and encrypted private channels between two points.
Voice Activated Dialing
A feature that permits a user to dial a number by calling out the associated name to the mobile phone, instead of having to search through menus or manually enter the number.
See: Voice Activated Dialing
See: Virtual Private Network
See: Wireless Application Protocol
Wi-Fi is a WLAN technology. It primarily provides short-range wireless high-speed data connections between mobile data devices and nearby Wi-Fi access points.
A small, cut-down version of an application. These appear on the homescreen of mobile phones, demonstrating certain features of its application without the need to open it. One example is a Facebook widget. This allows you to update your status from your homescreen, instead of having to open the Facebook application.
Wireless Application Protocol
Feature which enables you to see specially tailored Internet content on the screen of your mobile phone or Xda.
Wireless Local Area Network
WLAN allows you to wirelessly connect to your email and Internet at high speeds. Currently the fastest way to get access to information whilst on the move, even faster than 3G.