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In Search of a Smartphone Part One: The Basics

I’m a dinosaur.

That said, after years of stubbornly refusing to own–or learn anything about–smartphones; I’ve decided to go shopping. The following is the first in a series of articles chronicling the search for, and hopefully, the eventual acquisition of, a smartphone. It should be noted that my current phone is something that can just barely be called a cell phone; no camera, no GPS, no Bluetooth, no plan, etc. It just makes calls…occasionally. So, please join this dinosaur as he lumbers through the digital undergrowth on an expedition into the smartphone jungle.

The first thing to do was learn some basics.


While there is apparently no clear definition for smartphone, as a rule, current models are built on a mobile operating system and contain some, or all, of the following features: data storage, email capability, a media player, a fully functional web browser, a touchscreen, a digital camera, a QWERTY keyboard, and the ability to access data through a Wi-Fi or mobile broadband connection. Basically, a mobile computer.

Smartphones circa 1993-1994


Smartphones circa 1996-2002


Smartphones circa 2011-2012



There are other smartphone options including Windows Phone [1], Symbian [2], and Linux [3],  but I’ve decided to narrow the search to Android, iPhone, and Blackberry, with Android currently residing at the top of the list. Without a doubt, whatever decision is made, someone will disagree.

Android [4] is powered by an operating system developed by Open Handset Alliance [5], and the top Android phones consistently receive glowing reviews from users and professionals alike. While popularity doesn’t determine quality, Android’s rapidly increasing sales are another indicator that users are satisfied.

BlackBerry [6] is built on an operating system developed by Research in Motion [7] (RIM). Currently, Blackberry is generally receiving somewhat lukewarm reviews, and sales are slipping. They also appear to be designed more for the business professional, so they’re slowly moving into third place in the standings.

iOS [8], Apple’s mobile operating system provides the foundation for the ever-popular iPhone [9]. iPhone is a challenge. They’re extremely popular and, except for an occasional glitch, regularly receive favorable reviews. On the other hand, selection is limited. You can either get the iPhone…or not. Of course, selection can be a double-edged sword. Too many choices (think Android) can make the decision extremely difficult.

Every attempt will be made to cross-check and verify the information for this series, but no matter how carefully the research is done, I’ll almost certainly get it wrong. So, please feel free to offer any criticism, advice, or suggestions.

In the next article, In Search of a Smartphone Part Two, we’ll take a look at security.