A smartphone is a cellular telephone with an integrated computer and other features not originally associated with telephones, such as an operating system, Web browsing, and the ability to run software applications. The first smartphone was IBM’s Simon, which was presented as a concept device (rather than a consumer device) at the 1992 COMDEX computer industry trade show.

What’s the difference between a smartphone and a cell phone?

When Simon debuted, the smartphone’s features clearly differentiated it from other cell phones, which at that time were just telephones that didn’t need a landline connection. There is no standard definition that clearly delineates a smartphone — many devices marketed simply as cell phones offer similar features to those marketed as smartphones.

Requirements for designation as a smartphone:

  • A recognized mobile operating system
  • Internet connectivity
  • A mobile browser
  • The ability to sync more than one email account to the device
  • Embedded memory
  • Hardware and/or software-based QWERTY keyboard
  • Wireless synchronization with other devices, such as laptops or desktop computers
  • The ability to download applications and run them independently
  • Support for third-party applications
  • The ability to run multiple applications simultaneously
  • Touchscreen
  • Wi-Fi

Consumer smartphones evolved out of personal digital assistants (PDAs), rather than cell phones around the turn of the 21st century, when devices such as the Note, Palms, etc. began to include wireless connectivity.