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What is a smartphone?Misc
Over at PDA247 they raised a question I have often pondered on: what does "smartphone" actually mean?
The simple answer, for me, is that a smartphone is a device that has phone capabilities and that provides some/a reasonable degree of PC functionality.
The following features, in my opinion, need to be fulfilled in order for a device to clearly fall into the smartphone category.
- Solid PIM functionality. This means being able to add plenty of info and fields for each contact, having good calendar views, flexible alarms, and ideally being able organize notes into different categories.
- Universal search. The possibility to search for any word, phrase or number in all PIM apps on the device.
I sold my first Nokia back when this functionality wasn't available on their S60 phones. I have plenty of info in my notes and contacts that I have had for years and that I only remember some keyword of and thus can locate through an on-device universal search, but would very time consuming (and tedious!) to search for manually.
- Syncing. Whether it be with your PC or 'the cloud', this is an absolute must, and you should be able to sync all your data (the S80 based Nokia phones, for example, could not sync notes!).
- Third party apps. No platform is so complete that it can entirely do without the enhancements of third party software. (And by "software" I mean native apps, not Java MIDlets.)
- Multitasking. This is not a clear cut feature though.
The Palm Treo 650 does not multitask, yet it is clearly a smartphone. But as I have noted, not being able to multitask restricts what you can do with your device in some situations, and lacking it certainly gives you less of a PC experience, and capabilities. Besides, it's not completely fair to compare a device launched in 2004 with current phones, is it?
- Connectivity. It should have all standard connectivity/radio options (yes, I am looking at you Palm Pixi).
- Office documents editing. At the very least a smartphone should be able to open and view Office documents, but any serious smartphone will also allow you to edit them on your phone.
- Web browsing. It should be able to provide a reasonable browsing experience. This of course means different things depending on who you ask, and obviously it is not the same thing to surf the web on a 2.4" non-touch display as on a 4.3" touch screen. But the browser engine should at least be able to render reasonably complex sites.
A device that fulfills these criteria is, to me, a real smartphone.
However, the questions, and the debate, begins when you start to remove some of these features from a device....