As with many branches of technology, the advances in the hardware and software associated with cell phones has been incredible over the past few decades. In 2000, I was working for a SIM card manufacturer in France. At the time we were working with Wireless Markup Language (WML) and Java Server Pages (JSP) to try to put together applications that would let phone users browse cinema schedules and the like. The first time we got it to work was a cause for celebration!
Printed circuit board inside a Nokia 3210
Now, in 2012, the range of applications, or apps, available is quite astonishing, with cell phones acting as small computers rather than just telephones. Today's cell phone technology is advancing at a rapid pace while all the time prices are getting lower.
Cell phone features
All cell phones have a number of features in common. As with many technological areas, cell phone manufacturers put a lot of effort into differentiating their own products from their competitors' by implementing additional functionality to make their phones more attractive to consumers.
The common components found on all phones are:
- A battery that provides the power source for the phone functions.
- An input mechanism to allow the user to interact with the phone. For many years this was a keypad, but gradually (since about 2007) touch screens have become increasingly common, especially in high-end smartphones.
- Basic mobile phone services to allow users to make calls and send text messages.
- Virtually all cell phones use a SIM card to allow an account to be swapped between devices.
- Individual GSM, WCDMA, iDEN and some satellite phone devices are uniquely identified by an International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number.
Below, a few of the technologies that have played a major role in the history of the cell/mobile phone are listed.
GPRS (General packet radio service) is a packet oriented mobile data service on the 2G and 3G cellular communication system's global system for mobile communications (GSM). GPRS was originally standardized by European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) in response to the earlier CDPD and i-mode packet-switched cellular technologies. It is now maintained by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP).
GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) is a standard developed by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) to describe technologies for second generation (2G) digital cellular networks. As of January 2012, GSM serves 80% of the global mobile market, encompassing more than five billion people across more than 212 countries and territories.
MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service) is a standard way of sending messages that contain multimedia content to and from cell/mobile phones. The most popular use is to send photographs from camera-equipped handsets, although it can also be used to send content such as videos and ringtones.
SMS (Short Message Service) is a text messaging service component of phone, web, or mobile communication systems. It is the most widely used data application in the world, with 2.4 billion active users. In 2010, 6.1 trillion SMS text messages were sent.
WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) is an open, global specification that enables mobile users with wireless devices to easily access and interact with information and services instantly.
WML (Wireless Markup Language) is a language that allows the text portions of Web pages to be presented on cell / mobile phones and personal digital assistants (PDAs) via wireless access. WML is part of the Wireless Application Protocol (WAP).