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Smartphones in the UK

Here, you'll find information on smartphones - what they are, and what to look for when buying a new smartphone.


What is a Smartphone?

A smartphone is typically more powerful than a basic mobile phone handset. Today's smartphones make use of a 3G mobile Internet connection for access to online services.

Samsung Galaxy S SmartphoneHere's what you can expect to find in today's smartphones:

  • Mobile Internet - Surfing with a decent, but small, web browser
  • GPS - Satellite navigation with a service such as Google Maps
  • Camera - Multi megabit cameras with a flash that can also capture acceptable video as well as stills
  • Touchscreen - Get hands-on with your phone - keypads on the phone are becoming history
  • Media - Listen to music, podcasts, watch video clips and movies, and browse your photo gallery
  • Be social - Access Facebook and Twitter on the move

Many newer smartphones can also sync to your desktop or laptop computer, or access your photos and music over the air using the "cloud" (online data storage)


Buying a Smartphone

Considering getting a smartphone? The big thing you'll need to consider, is which operating system to go for. These days, there are three main ones to choose between:

Apple iOS

Apple iPhone

There's little doubt that when Apple launched its first iPhone back in 2007, it changed the smartphone market for ever. The interface was like something we'd not seen before, and with later versions, such as the iPhone 4 pictured here, it's still a desirable and hard-to-beat mobile device.

Features: Smooth multi-touch interface, video camera, Facetime video chat, YouTube, iTunes, Google Maps, GPS, plus all of the iPod features you'll know from your other Apple devices. Key seller has to be the App Store - thousands of third-party applications and games - many of them free. Plus access to Facebook, Twitter and live messaging

For more on the iPhone, see our iPhone Explored section

Google Android OS

Apple iPhone

Google's made amazing steps forward in recent years with its Android OS. Key seller here is that, unlike Apple, the Android OS is available to a range of manufacturers, meaning that many phone companies can bring out their own phones powered by this system.

Pictured here is the HTC Desire, one of the most popular Android handsets. Google Android phones have been released by HTC, Samsung, Motorola and SonyEricsson

Features: Touchscreen, a well-specced web browser that supports Adobe Flash (with the iPhone doesn't!), lots of tools from Google including their Google Maps with GPS, and a growing number of free and paid-for apps in the Android Market. Android phones come with media players, cameras and access to services such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.

Windows Phone 7

HTC HD7 Windows Phone

Forget the clunky old Windows Mobile interface, the new Windows Phone 7 operating system is a major step forward.

Pictured here is the HTC HD7, the first Windows Phone 7 device available in the UK

Features: The startup screen, Live Hubs, lets you see what's going on without having to open apps. There's Microsoft Office Mobile, X-Box Live, the music service Zune, and access to thousands of apps with the Windows Phone Market Place. There's also the Bing search engine and mapping service, and all of the features you'd expect on a smartphone.

In 2011, handset manufacturer Nokia confirmed that its new smartphones will be using Windows Phone, which may spell the end for the Symbian Series 60 platform

As well as the operating systems from Apple, Google and Windows listed above, there are also the smartphones powered by Blackberry OS and Symbian OS.

Smartphone Deals?

If you're looking to pick up a shiny new smartphone, make sure you shop around online. Take a look at the Carphone Warehouse Smartphone Guide to see what's right for you.

Also take a look at MobileShop and Phones 4 U for some bargains

Contract? No thanks! Take a look at Expansys and good old eBay for deals on SIM-free handsets



Past and Present Smartphones:

Here are a just a few of the milestone smartphones that we've reviewed over the years:

Apple iPhone Nokia N96 Google G1
Apple iPhone

The iconic smartphone device, first released in 2007

iPhone Information
Discussion forum

Nokia N96

One of Nokia's Series 60 smartpphone devices

Nokia N96 Information
Discussion forum

Google G1

The first Google OS Android device, which paved the way for the new range of Android devices

Google G1 Information
Discussion forum

Nokia 5800 o2 XDA Orbit Nokia 6220

Nokia 5800

Nokia's first serious attempt at a fully touchscreen smartphone

Nokia 5800 Information
Connecting to the Internet
Discussion forum

o2 XDA Orbit

One of the range of Windows Mobile devices, with touchscreen interface

o2 Orbit XDA Information
Connecting to the Internet
Setting up WAP
Discussion forum

Nokia 6220

An example of one of a basic smartphone, powered by the Symbian Series 60 OS

Nokia 6220 Information
Connecting to the Internet
Discussion forum


Listen to the FrequencyCast UK online radio show
FrequencyCast Podcast IconPODCAST FEATURE: We featured Smartphones in Show 30 of our online tech radio show.
Listen to the show online, or download it to your MP3 player.

Listen to Show 30 | What is FrequencyCast? | Add us to iTunes


Questions? Got a question about Smartphones? Please ask us, or get talking in our discussion forum

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