What Are the Differences Between a Mobile and a Smartphone?

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What Are the Differences Between a Mobile and a Smartphone?

Smartphones are an extremely popular type of phone used all around the world, offering a wealth of features that make them very useful in the modern age. Despite the emergence of smartphones and their dominance in the market, standard mobile phones have stood the test of time and are still highly popular around the world, especially in developing nations. There are many people who cannot live without smartphones, for both professional and personal reasons. There are still many people, however, that do not need all of the features provided by a smartphone, and are instead better served by a normal mobile. This guide explains the differences between these two important types of mobile phone technology.


There are many differences between standard mobile phones and smartphones, though they also share many similarities. They can both make phone calls and send text messages, store information, save contacts and play games. Smartphones are distinct from normal mobile phones in their enhanced power, advanced capabilities and longer list of features. Smartphones are more like miniature computers and can perform many of the same tasks as tablets and desktops while still offering the same basic phone features found with standard mobiles. These are highly generalised differences and similarities. In reality there are big variations from one mobile phone to the next and many newer or more expensive mobile phones will offer many extra features including wireless connectivity and internet browsing. There are also many phones which bridge the gap between normal mobiles and smartphones, and these are known as feature phones. When reading the following differences, keep in mind that there are other factors at play, such as brand, price, and build quality, as these all have a significant impact.

Mobiles and Smartphones: The Differences

Here are the differences that should be recognised between standard mobiles and smartphones.

Shape and Size

There is huge variation in both shape and size for mobiles and smartphones, though general differences can be described. Mobiles have smaller widths and lengths and are thicker, while smartphones have larger widths and lengths and are thinner. The larger face dimensions of smartphones are a result of the larger screen interface, which ranges from roughly 4 – 6 inches. Most standard mobiles have a much smaller screen than this. Larger smartphones are currently being introduced into the market to compete with tablets and micro tablets. There are also plenty of small, compact smartphones which offer many of the same features as larger smartphones but in a small package.

Design and Durability

Normal mobile phones are synonymous with durability and robustness, and there are many models which are designed specifically to be dustproof or waterproof. This contrasts with smartphones which tend to be less robust, and this is mainly due to the large touch screen. Having said this, technology is getting better all the time and this may make smartphones much more physically robust in the future. The very first waterproof smartphone was unveiled at the start of 2013, for example.

Battery Life

One of the biggest advantages of basic mobile phones is their long battery life. Power demands are much less and therefore normal mobile phone batteries can keep the phone running for much longer when compared to smartphones. 'Standby time' is the amount of time the battery lasts when the phone is on but not in use. Standby times can be over a month for standard mobiles and a few weeks for smartphones. 'Talk time' is the amount of time the battery lasts when phone calls are being made. Talk times are around 24 hours for standard mobiles and up to 12 hours for smartphones. This means that, generally speaking, mobile phone battery life is roughly twice as long as for smartphones. Furthermore, when a smartphone is used extensively, the screen and processing power requirements quickly drain the battery. This means that, based on extensive use, normal mobile battery life can be much more than twice the amount of smartphone battery life. New technological innovations and improvements are helping to improve smartphone battery life. Some of the latest models are now offering much greater standby times than the times stated above.


High resolution cameras are a staple of the modern smartphone. Cameras are still available with many standard mobiles, though smartphone cameras provide much higher resolutions as well as video recording. Smartphone applications make it simple to adjust images and video, and front-facing cameras are now available with many smartphones for video calling.

Operating System

The most popular smartphone operating systems are Android, iOS, BlackBerry and Windows. Operating systems such as iOS are specific to Apple smartphones, while the Android operating system can be found with many different smartphone manufacturers such as HTC and Samsung. Every phone comes with an operating system, but these are very non-descript with normal mobiles and rarely affect the purchasing decision. In contrast, operating systems are a crucially important factor to consider with smartphones because they have a big impact on the smartphone's overall usability, functionality, convenience and number of available features. For example, the new HTC BlinkFeed is a dynamic home screen which combines news feeds and social networking accounts in one central location, and the iOS App Store provides access to countless high quality mobile applications.

Internet Connection

Standard mobiles do not usually come with Internet capabilities, and when they do, things are very limited. Even for standard mobiles with Internet capabilities, the Internet is difficult to use because of the small screen and slower hardware. On the other hand, online connectivity is a pivotal aspect of the modern smartphone and with large screens, high processing power and software compatibility, smartphones can be used to perform almost all of the same internet activities as a computer. Smartphones can connect to the Internet via Wi-Fi, and may also include 3G or 4G technology for internet connection using a network service provider.


With an understanding of the above differences, it is easy to see the intended uses of each type of mobile phone. Standard mobiles are resilient and durable and have long battery life, so they are highly useful for the great outdoors, for active lifestyles and for working in exposed environments. Many purchase normal mobiles as well as smartphones, to be used as a contingency. Smartphones are technologically advanced; offer full internet and social media capabilities as well as many different multimedia capabilities. With a huge range of software, smartphones can be used to manage and organise all aspects of life while providing the same vital phone capabilities as regular phones. There are few things that can be done on a computer or laptop that cannot be done on a modern smartphone.

Buying Mobiles and Smartphones on eBay

The first step in purchasing mobiles or smartphones on eBay is to go to the eBay homepage. On the left side of the homepage is the Electronics & Technology category. Hover over this category and click on Mobile Phones & Communication. Then click on Mobile & Smart Phones on the left of the page to go to the main mobile/smartphone eBay listings page. The listings can be specified according to Brand, Model, SIM Lock, Operating System, Storage Capacity, Features, Condition, Price, and Buying Format. For example, these filters can be used to search for used unlocked phones and new iPhones, as well as basic mobile phones. There are two buying formats – Auction and Buy it Now. Auctioned items are bid on by competing customers, while Buy it Now allows the listing to be purchased for a predefined amount straight away without competition.


Smartphones are much more advanced than standard mobiles, but in reality the purchasing decision all comes down to what the buyer is looking for. Standard mobiles can provide all that is needed, their simplicity and long battery life make them very useful, and they will no-doubt be around for as long as there are reasons to make calls and send text messages. When it comes to staying truly connected from a mobile device in the digital age, however, smartphones cannot be beaten.

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