Mobile Phone Terminology Explained For Newbies

Posted on 17. Jul, 2009 by Webmaster Blog in Gadgets

For the Noob mobile phone user or even those who’ve heard the jargon and couldn’t really understand what they meant, here’s a quick guide to the most commonly used abbreviations and terminology used in the mobile phone segment.

3G – Third Generation mobile technology will allow users to get a better host of services and connectivity speeds from their service provider. That means download speeds on mobile devices will be faster as well as data and media streaming.

3GPP – 3rd Generation Partnership Project can be construed to be a combination of all GSM, GPRS/EDGE and W-CDMA specifications.

A-GPS – Assisted Global Positioning System allows for a quicker mode of gathering required satellite information via the internet via servers. GPS enabled handsets can get information without the use of A-GPS however it would take a little longer. In order to use A-GPS you would of course require a working internet service on your mobile handset via your service provider.

Android – Developed by Google and part of the Open Handset Alliance now, Android is not just an operating system but a software platform as well. It’s based on the Linux Kernel, which is quite synonymous with free or open source software. Developers will also be able to write codes for developing new applications for the OS with Java. The first Android powered handset was HTC’s G1.

Bluetooth – A wireless method of communion between devices for either data transfer or remote access and control.

  • Bluetooth 2.0 + EDR – Bluetooth (BT) with Enhanced Data Rate offers faster rates of communication between Bluetooth enabled devices.
  • A2DP – Advanced Audio Distribution Profile allows Bluetooth enabled media devices to communicate with receivers in Stereo Bluetooth headsets for better audio experiences.
  • AVRCP – Audio/Video Remote Control Profile allows BT enabled devices to communicate and control and interface with other BT enabled devices not just for data transfer but in a more in-depth sense. For example one can control your PC’s media player via Bluetooth from a mobile handset equipped with Bluetooth that also has an AVRCP profile.

CDMA – Code division multiple access is another form of mobile/cellular technology that allows users to use the entire spectrum of frequencies available that are capable of providing better sound and data communication. Some CDMA handsets have built in SIM cards, so specific handset models have been designed for this technology. The range of mobile handsets available with CDMA, are a little more limited as compared to GSM. CDMA is a military technology first used during World War II by English allies to foil German attempts at jamming transmissions.

CMOS Sensor – Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor are most widely used in mobile handset cameras. The reason for this is because these sensors require fewer components (perfect for space constraints) and lesser power so it also reduces the cost.


  • TFT LCD – Thin Film Transistor Liquid Crystal Display. TFT LCD type screens are also used in TV’s and computer monitors.
  • QVGA – Quarter Video Graphics Array is 240 x 320 pixels, this is pretty standard for most mobile handsets
  • VGA – Video Graphics Array is 640 x 480 pixels for handsets with larger displays
  • WVGA – Wide Video Graphics Array 800 x 480. So far just the HTC HD supports this kind of screen resolution with a screen size of 3.8 inches.
  • OLED – Organic Light-Emitting Diode. Nokia’s N85 uses this type of display.
  • There are plenty of other resolutions that fall in between these but these terms are more frequently used when discussing mobile handset displays.

EDGE – Enhanced Data rates for GSM Evolution can also be called EGPRS or Enhanced GPRS and means exactly what it states. It’s one step above GPRS and provides for a little faster browsing and data transfer speeds.

GSM РGlobal System for Mobile communications (originally from Groupe Sp̩cial Mobile). To cut a long story very short is the technology that allows for mobile handsets to connect to service providers using any model phone or any service provider anywhere in the world. GSM handsets can be used with SIM cards.

GPRS – General Packet Radio Service is universal as a mobile data service (packet) for 2G and 3G networks. It provides data rates from 56 up to 114 kbit/s of information when connected to the net via the mobile handset’s browser.

Hot Swap Slot – A memory card slot that’s accessible without having to remove the battery or the rear panel. Some handsets do have a memory card slot just under the rear panel that but you won’t need to touch the battery. This could also be termed as a Hot Swap Slot.

HSCSD – High-Speed Circuit-Switched Data implies four times faster data transmission for mobile for users using GSM with rates up to 38.4 kbit/s. It’s basically high speed implementation of standard GSM transfers.

HSDPA – High-Speed Downlink Packet Access is often associated with 3G. It allows networks to provide higher data transfer speeds and capacity. Current HSDPA deployments support down-link speeds of 1.8, 3.6, 7.2 and 14.4 Mbit/s.

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