Here Is A Simple Guide To Smartphone Jargon

A glossary of technical words with a short explanation.

01/09/2016 10:38 AM IST | Updated 01/09/2016 1:26 PM IST
Venki Talath

Take a moment to appreciate just how much more we are doing with our smartphones besides talking and texting -- chatting, Facebooking, reading newspapers, magazines and books, watching videos, hailing cabs, getting directions while driving, shopping, paying bills, finding partners, you name it. Sure, it would be an overstatement to say that we are living our lives out of our smartphones, but sometimes it feels exactly like that.

It would only help then to become familiar with some smartphone related technical words we increasingly come across.

APK: Android Application Package. This term is used for files that are used to install apps in Android smartphones. Ever used installer files on Windows or Mac? This is something similar in the Android ecosystem.

Cores (Quad core/Octa core/ Decacore): Multi-core processors are now a norm in the smartphone industry. How do they add to your experience? Well, each core handles a set of tasks. So, if there are more cores, mutlitasking is fast and power efficient.

Force touch/3D Touch: A pressure sensitive technology used in different smartphones such as iPhone Huawei Mate S, and ZTE Axon Mini. These screens take different actions for apps and settings depending on the amount of force applied.


HDR: High Dynamic Range is a term used in photography to achieve more vivid colors in photographs. This technology tries to achieve the level of light seen by humans with natural vision, into the images onscreen.

Hot Swap: A slot for SIMs or memory cards where you need not remove the battery. Additionally, the new SIM or memory card is detected without having to restart the phone.

IoT: Internet of Things. A term used for daily appliances which can connect to the Internet or Intranet and can be controlled by apps on smartphones, tablets, laptops or desktops. Examples of IoT devices include smart bulbs, connected speakers, and security systems.

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smart bulb

Jailbreaking: A term used for iPhones to unlock the phone and remove restrictions. Ideally, you can only install those apps in an iPhone that are available in the App Store. But in a jailbroken phone, you can install apps from other marketplaces and unsigned application makers.

LTE: Long Term Evolution is a standard for faster data transfer on mobile phones. It is a technical roadmap to lead to true 4G experience. That's why you see the LTE symbol on your smartphones instead of the 4G symbol.

NFC: Near Field Communication. A standard that is used for exchanging data from a very short distance. Mostly, it is used for exchanging contacts between two phones, singular tasks such as switching the WiFi on/off, and pairing with VR headsets. NFC is also used widely at payment terminals, where you can pay with your smartphones.

OEM: Original Equipment Manufacturer. Often companies get their devices made by a different company under their brand names. So, the manufacturer would be the OEM. Famously, the OEM for iPhones is Foxconn.

OTA: Over The Air. This term is mostly used by smartphone manufacturers when referring to software updates. When a device maker pushes an update which will be downloaded on your phone without any kind of manual work on your part.

PDAF: Phase Detection Autofocus. Many smartphones are equipped with this technology that helps with camera focusing. This technology splits the image in two and adjusts the focus according to the phases.

Retina Display: A phrase coined by Apple for iPhone displays. The company introduced this technology in iPhone 4, featuring more than 300 pixels per inch. It is believed that the human eye can't identify individual pixels at this pixel density from a normal viewing distance.


Rooting: Similar to jailbreaking for iPhone, rooting an Android phone gives you Kernel level access. Besides installing apps from the other sources, this enables you to control a lot of your phone's hardware elements through certain applications or commands.

Super AMOLED: This is a standard developed by Samsung, initially for their Active Matrix Light Emitting Diode (AMOLED) displays. This technology integrates the touch layer with the display layer so that a better viewing and application experience can be achieved.


VoLTE: If you have been following the news recently, you would have heard this term being thrown around a lot since the launch of Reliance Jio in India. Voice over LTE standard transfers voice and data over the LTE network rather than the traditional circuit-based network. This ensures video and voice calls of a very high quality.

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An macro image of a USB Type C Connector.

USB C: A new type of connection standard which provides a host of advantages over the traditional MicroUSB. First, the pin is of the same sized as a MicroUSB pin, but reversible. The data and power transfer is faster in USB C port. USB C to USB C can transfer the power in any direction. So you can even charge a small device from your smartphone.

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