Cellphones have evolved a lot in the past couple of decades since they were first launched. Literally thousands upon thousands of different phones have been made. Some smartphones have become very sophisticated and technically advanced. So, what exactly is a “smart phone”?
The demand for smart phones is growing because of the general belief that your data and information must accompany you wherever you go, and that you need to be accessible to your contacts no matter where you are. Your information can be kept on your phone or even on the internet. In future, smartphones will have faster processors, better screens and even more storage space than they already do.
Current smartphones have some kind of operating system (OS) and are able to have new apps installed on them. They can either be open source or be like the iPhone and be totally proprietary, meaning you can’t easily program your own apps or easily download whatever you want for free. So, if given the choice, open source is definitely better, no matter what the Apple fanboys will tell you. The Symbian OS is currently the most well-known open source OS, but Google’s Android system is becoming more popular as well.
Some smartphones even have touchscreens or cameras with lots of megapixels, some are open-source and you can download and install as many third party applications as you want… or even code your own.
Some smartphones also have built in GPS features which works with satellite, so you’ll never get lost. Even if a phone doesn’t support satellite based GPS, they can still use Google Maps or something similar to estimate your current location based on cellphone tower positioning. So that may or may not be good enough for you.
So, smartphones are indeed much like miniature laptops in a sense (even smaller than netbooks). Which one you decide to buy depends on what you need it to do. If you plan to type a lot, I would personally recommend you get one with a QWERTY keypad, and avoid phones that only have on-screen touchscreen keyboards because those will make your screen dirty all the time.
Keep in mind that a lot of “regular” phones are becoming more and more smartphone-like as well, so in the not too distant future there may be no need to differentiate between them at all.
When choosing the right smartphone for you, it really depends on what’s important to you. There are so many different models with different features that it’s impossible to say which one is the “best”, because different people have different tastes. So you’ll have to do a lot of research on your own to find the best phone for your personal needs. At minimum, though, you’ll probably want internet access, a built in camera, some kind of keyboard, either with a keypad or touch-screen, and the ability to multi-task (run more than one app at a time and switch between them).