Smartphone Terminology

Language. In order to function in today’s technology-driven world, you have to know terminology or acronyms associated with it.  This month we will look at the terminology around cell phones.  The last few newsletters have focused on the iPhone, Android, and Windows phones.  This month we will go deep inside the phones and discuss what all these terms mean.

Let’s look at these features:

3G – The 3G symbol mean it’s the third generation of mobile telephone technology.  Typically 3G is higher than the G series.  This generation sets the standards for most of the wireless technology we have today.  Web browsing, email, video, downloading, picture sharing, and other smartphone technology was introduced in the third generation.

4G – This is the successor to 3G technology.  This technology provides improved mobile broadband Internet access, gaming services, high-definition mobile video services, and cloud computing.

4G/LTE (Long Term Evolution) – LTE is the first generation of 4G technology.  LTE networks are all IP networks developed under the same principles as the Internet TCP/IP networks.

5G – This technology is in the development phase.  Some of the key goals in developing the technology are significantly faster data speeds, a more connected world with the advent of the Internet of Things(wearables, smart home appliances, connect cars).

SMS (Short Message Service) – This is the technology used to send short text messages through your mobile phone.

NFC (Near Field Communication) – NFC is a short range wireless communication standard enabling communication between devices when they are touched together or brought within a few centimeters of each other.  Some examples are transferring pictures or large files to your laptop by just touching the two devices together.

MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service) – MMS is communication technology that allows users to exchange multimedia communications between capable mobile phones and other devices.

Roaming – Roaming refers to a wireless network service extension in areas that differ from the registered home network location.  Roaming enables a mobile device to access the Internet and other mobile services when out of its normal coverage area.  It also gives a mobile device the ability to move from one access point to another.

SIM Card – A SIM card is a small card inside the mobile phone, carrying an identification number unique to the owner storing personal data.

Locked Phone – A locked phone is one that has been restricted by software so that it can only be used with a single network carrier. Locked phones are phones that use a SIM card.  The reason for the lock is because mobile phones are usually heavily subsidized and carriers want to discourage people from switching networks or shipping phones to other countries.

Unlocked Phone – The term “unlocked phone” means that it can be used with any SIM card/carrier and in any country.  The unlocked handset may still display the original network branding and may not support features of the new carrier.  Most phones can be unbranded by uploading a different version of the phones internal software or firmware.

Jailbreaking – Jailbreaking is the process by which an iPhone firmware is modified to allow unsigned code to be run to gain access to files that Apple wouldn’t normally let you access.  Jailbreaking is unique to the iPhone.

Bluetooth – Bluetooth is a wireless technology standard that is used to exchange data over short distances (less than 30 feet), usually between personal mobile devices.  This means that a Bluetooth enabled device such as a smartphone is able to communicate with other Bluetooth devices.

Wi-Fi – Wi-Fi is a similar technology to Bluetooth such as communicating with other devices.  The difference is that a Wi-Fi range is much larger and is able to connect to the Internet using an Ethernet network.

Wi-Fi Hotspot – A Wi-Fi hotspot is simply an area with in an accessible wireless network.  The term is most often used to refer to wireless networks in public areas like coffee shops and airports.  Some are free and some require fees for use.


I hope that you found this information helpful.  Please feel free to forward it to others.  If you would like to learn more about this topic or would like to request a topic, please contact me. If you missed any past newsletters or would like a  printed copy, please visit my website at.



Until next time…Happy Computing!!!










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About Michael DeFlorio
I have worked is various positions as a system administrator, support technician, as a help desk support, and as an IT consultant in a corporate environment. I currently run a small business where I provide computer services such as hardware configuration, installation, for residential and for medium and small businesses. You can contact me by email or visit my website at

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