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What are the functions of a smartphone?

Smartphones are mobile phones that provide computing functions alongside their telephony functions. Smartphones are able to utilise Internet access through the mobile networks. This allows them to provide users with the types of function previously reserved for other mobile computing devices such as laptops. Smartphones vary in terms of hardware and software, but typically offer users the same broad set of service-types. Smartphones vary in size and interaction model, using a combination of touchscreen, keyboard and button interfaces. Among the most common operating systems for smartphones are Android, iOS, Windows Mobile and Blackberry, all of which use roughly similar functionality.

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Smartphones provide users with the same telephony functions as traditional mobile phones. This includes the ability to make and receive calls as well as send SMS text messages. Smartphones generally use software applications to manage user contacts and other telephony data such as call logs. Similarly, access to SMS text messaging is usually provided by a software application. In some cases, the contacts on a smartphone are managed in conjunction with Internet data services, for example on Android, where users can manage their contacts as part of a Google account.


Web browsing is a key smartphone function. The smartphone operating systems provide Web browsing programs to access websites using the same interaction model as desktop browsers on laptops and PCs. Users can visit sites by typing in Web addresses, carrying out searches in search engines or by following links from other sites. When a user visits a website on a smartphone, they will usually be presented with the mobile version of the site, which may have differences in the content and appearance when compared with the desktop version.

Internet communications

Having Internet connectivity allows smartphones to provide users with various Internet communication services. This includes email, with dedicated mail applications giving users access to their email accounts. Smartphones can also be used to access social networking services such as Facebook and Twitter, either via the Web browser or a dedicated app. Users can manage their Internet connectivity from a smartphone, connecting to wireless networks where they are available. If not connected to a wireless network, the Internet connectivity on a smartphone comes through the mobile network, which sometimes has a cost implication depending on the user account with their mobile provider.


Smartphones come with a variety of core applications, known as "apps", installed on them. With most of the major mobile operating systems, users are also able to download and install additional apps through app stores. Some of these apps are free, while others are charged at a commercial rate. The range of apps available on smartphones includes entertainment and media apps such as music and video players, navigation and mapping apps, plus many more for business, information, organisation and leisure activities, such as calendars, file managers and editors, e-book readers and games.

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About the Author

Sue Smith started writing in 2000. She has produced tutorials for companies including Apex Computer Training Software and articles on computing topics for various websites. Smith has a Master of Arts in English language and literature, as well as a Master of Science in information technology, both from the University of Glasgow.

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