Gone are the days when mobile phones just made calls. Now you could potentially set up a business with only a mobile and a lot of determination. If you just want to listen to a bit of music and snap a few photos you can do that too, but with so many features on offer, it's easy to get confused. Here are the most common code words and acronyms used in the mobile business.
- Bands (tri-band and quad-band)
A tri-band phone lets you access the 900MHz, 1800MHz and 1900MHz GSM networks used in Europe. A quad-band phone also gives you access to networks in countries like the USA, which operate at 850MHz.
- Bluetooth and infrared
Both these features let you wirelessly connect with external devices. A phone with an infrared port allows information to be exchanged wirelessly with PDAs or PCs that also have infrared. Bluetooth can be used in the same way, but also lets you connect to accessories like wireless headsets. The main difference is that infrared has a range of about 1m and only works when you have the two ports pointing directly at each other, whereas Bluetooth has a range of about 10m and doesn't require line of sight.
- Camera, video recorder and picture messaging
Use these features for taking pictures, shooting brief video clips and sharing them with others. Once you have shot a picture or video you can send it to somebody else via infrared, Bluetooth or an MMS (multimedia message service) message. Some phones let you send your photos to an Internet blog or photo-sharing service.
- Expandable memory
Some mobile phones have an expandable memory slot that lets you add more memory so you can store more photos, music or applications. You'll have to buy the right kind of memory card for your phone and capacity varies.
- Java games
Java is a programming language used to make mobile phone games. Most phones now support Java games but it's worth checking before you start downloading. Even if your phone does support Java, check that any game you want to buy is compatible with your specific model.
- Mobile TV
In some countries you can get handsets that support mobile TV and let you tune in on the go. Mobile TV is still in development in this country, but will hopefully be available in the future.
- MMS, SMS and predictive text
These features allow quick communication without making a phone call. An SMS (short messaging service) message lets you send text and an MMS (multimedia message service) message lets you send text and images. Be sure to find out how many messages you are allowed to send and receive per month and how much they cost if you're on a pay-as-you-go plan. Predictive text entry speeds things up by guessing what you're trying to write and giving you alternatives if it gets it wrong.
Ringtones are sounds made by a mobile phone to indicate an incoming call. Older phones use monophonic ringtones that play single sounds in sequence, but most modern phones support polyphonic ringtones, these sound more musical as the phone is playing several sounds at once. Some phones can also use MP3 ringtones, sometimes referred to as Real Tones or True Tones.
Roaming is when your mobile phone can't connect to your normal network and uses another one instead. This usually occurs when you take your mobile on holiday. You may need to ask your network to enable roaming for your phone, and you'll pay extra for making and receiving calls.
- SIM card
A SIM (subscriber identity module) card is a small card with a chip in it that you get when you buy a phone. This card contains your phone number and lets the network identify your phone so you can make and receive calls and send and receive messages and data. It also stores phone numbers and some text messages.
- Smart phones
A smart phone can be connected to your computer, enabling you to have the same contacts and calendar information on both devices. It may also have business applications, such as a basic word processor and spreadsheet, and you can customise it by installing additional software.
- Speakerphone/conference calling
A speakerphone is useful for multitasking, such as holding a conversation while you're working on a computer or driving a car.
- Standby time and talk time
Standby time refers to the amount of time your phone's battery life will last when it's not being used but still switched on. Talk time is the amount of time your phone's battery life will last when you're using it to make calls.
- Video calling
Video calling is a way of communicating with another mobile phone via speech and video over a 3G connection using a built-in video camera. The camera is usually on the same side as the screen, so that you can view the person you're talking to and be filmed at the same time
- Voice dialling
Voice dialling lets you make calls without using the keypad, which is handy when you're using a hands-free headset.
- Voice mail
Voice mail is the mobile equivalent of having an answering machine, and lets people leave you messages when your phone is off or can't be reached.
- WAP browser
This lets you access the wireless Web via a GPRS or 3G connection. If your phone features a WAP (wireless access protocol) browser, it's optimised to view sites configured to display on small, mobile devices. Not all sites are made for WAP browsing, however.
Wi-Fi (wireless fidelity) is a wireless networking standard that lets you communicate with other Wi-Fi-enabled devices and connect to the Internet. You can use Wi-Fi at hotspots, which are areas where a Wi-Fi signal can be picked up. Some hotspots are free, but others charge an hourly or monthly fee.
- Windows Mobile
Windows Mobile is a cut-down version of the Windows operating system that is used on handheld computers and smart phones.
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Also see: Top Selling Mobile Phones of Today