Sensors

Sensors

Modern mobile phones come with a variety of sensors that automate or easy many of our daily tasks. This field takes into account the presence of an accelerometer, a gyroscope, a compass, and a barometer. Accelerometer and gyroscope Accelerometers in mobile phones are used to detect the orientation of the phone. The gyroscope, or gyro for short, adds an additional dimension to the information supplied by the accelerometer by tracking rotation or twist. An accelerometer measures linear acceleration of movement, while a gyro on the other hand measures the angular rotational velocity. Both sensors measure rate of change; they just measure the rate of change for different things. In practice, that means that an accelerometer will measure the directional movement of a device but will not be able to resolve its lateral orientation or tilt during that movement accurately unless a gyro is there to fill in that info. With an accelerometer you can either get a really “noisy” info output that is responsive, or you can get a “clean” output that’s sluggish. But when you combine the 3-axis accelerometer with a 3-axis gyro, you get an output that is both clean and responsive in the same time.” Digital compass The digital compass that’s usually based on a sensor called magnetometer provides mobile phones with a simple orientation in relation to the Earth’s magnetic field. As a result, your phone always knows which way is North so it can auto rotate your digital maps depending on your physical orientation. Barometer And finally, you may see a device sporting a barometer in its specs sheet. Contrary to what you may...
GPU (Graphics Processing Unit)

GPU (Graphics Processing Unit)

The GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) is a specialized circuit designed to accelerate the image output in a frame buffer intended for output to a display. GPUs are very efficient at manipulating computer graphics and are generally more effective than general-purpose CPUs for algorithms where processing of large blocks of data is done in parallel. Modern smartphones are equipped with advanced embedded chipsets that can do many different tasks depending on their programming. GPUs are an essential part of those chipsets and as mobile games are pushing the boundaries of their capabilities, the GPU performance is becoming increasingly...
NFC (Near Field Communication)

NFC (Near Field Communication)

NFC is a short-range high frequency wireless communication technology that enables the exchange of data between devices over about a 10 cm distance. NFC is an upgrade of the existing proximity card standard (RFID) that combines the interface of a smartcard and a reader into a single device. It allows users to seamlessly share content between digital devices, pay bills wirelessly or even use their cellphone as an electronic traveling ticket on existing contactless infrastructure already in use for public transportation. The significant advantage of NFC over Bluetooth is the shorter set-up time. Instead of performing manual configurations to identify Bluetooth devices, the connection between two NFC devices is established at once (under a 1/10 second). Due to its shorter range, NFC provides a higher degree of security than Bluetooth and makes NFC suitable for crowded areas where correlating a signal with its transmitting physical device (and by extension, its user) might otherwise prove impossible. NFC can also work when one of the devices is not powered by a battery (e.g. on a phone that may be turned off, a contactless smart credit card,...
CPU (Central Processing Unit)

CPU (Central Processing Unit)

CPU (Central Processing Unit) – otherwise known as a processor – is an electronic circuit that can execute computer programs. Both the miniaturization and standardization of CPUs have increased their presence far beyond the limited application of dedicated computing machines. Modern microprocessors appear in everything from automobiles to mobile phones. The clock rate is one of the main characteristics of the CPU when performance is concerned. Clock rate is the fundamental rate in cycles per second (measured in hertz, kilohertz, megahertz or gigahertz) for the frequency of the clock in any synchronous circuit. A single clock cycle (typically shorter than a nanosecond in modern non-embedded microprocessors) toggles between a logical zero and a logical one state. With any particular CPU, replacing the crystal with another crystal that oscillates with twice the frequency will generally make the CPU run with twice the performance. It will also make the CPU produce roughly twice the amount of waste heat. Engineers are working hard to push the boundaries of the current architectures and are constantly searching for new ways to design CPUs that tick a little quicker or use slightly less energy per clock. This produces new cooler CPUs that can run at higher clock rates. Scientists also continue to search for new designs that allow CPUs to run at the same or at a lower clock rate as older CPUs, but which get more instructions completed per clock cycle. The clock rate of a processor is only useful for providing comparisons between computer chips in the same processor family and generation. Clock rates can be very misleading since the amount of work...
Chipset

Chipset

Mobile phones run on so-called embedded chipsets, which are designed to perform one or a few dedicated functions, often with real-time computing constraints. They are embedded as part of the complete device including hardware and mechanical parts. The ever popular smartphones are equipped with more advanced embedded chipsets that can do many different tasks depending on their programming. Thus their CPU (Central Processing Unit) performance is vital for the daily user experience and people tend to use the clock rate of the main CPU that’s in the heart of the chipset to compare the performance of competing end products. As we already pointed out, the clock rate of a processor is only useful for providing performance comparisons between computer chips in the same processor family and generation. Also, as mobile gaming is increasingly gaining popularity, users have become more aware of the various types of GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) chips that come as part of the mobile chipsets and sometimes even consider their performance when making buying...
OS (Operating System)

OS (Operating System)

An infrastructure software component of a computerized system. It controls all basic operations of the computer (or other electronic devices such as PDA, smartphone, etc.). Among the most popular desktop operating systems are Windows, Mac OS, and variations of Linux, while the most widely used operating systems for mobile devices are Symbian and Windows Mobile. Mobile devices with OS are called smartphones and can run full software applications (like games, organizer or communication applications) on top of the OS. Standardized operating system platforms make it possible to provide a consistent user interface (and experience) across devices from diverse hardware...
Video call

Video call

Video call is a 3G network feature that allows two callers to talk to each other while at the same time viewing live video form each other’s phone. To make a video call, both users should have 3G phones which support this feature and they both need to be in range of a 3G...
Camera

Camera

Some phones feature a camera that gives them the ability to work as a digital camera. Often (though not always) the camera is also able to shoot video. The most important characteristics of a camera are the resolution (measured in megapixels), lens focus type (either fixed or automatic) and the presence of a flash. The flash could be either LED (single or even double) or xenon. The number of megapixels is not always a good measurement of the quality of the photos, but if you plan to print pictures, you would generally get higher quality ones out of higher megapixel cameras. Auto focus lens are not a guarantee of better image quality, but fixed focus cameras are usually inferior. Most importantly, only auto focus cameras can allow shooting of really close objects – i.e. macro shooting. Some phones offer optical zoom but those are rare. Most use digital zoom, which degrades the quality of the photo. Cameras that can work in “video mode” are characterized by the maximum resolution and framerate (frames per second or fps) of the recorded...
USB (Universal Serial Bus)

USB (Universal Serial Bus)

USB is a standard for a wired connection between two electronic devices, including a mobile phone and a desktop computer. The connection is made by a cable that has a connector at either end. One end, the one that plugs into the computer, is the same across all USB cables while the one that plugs into the mobile device can be of various types such as miniUSB, microUSB or a proprietary connector. USB version 1.1 provides maximum speeds of up to 1.5 MB/s while the current version 2.0 is about 40 times faster. The versions are backwards compatible and the speed is limited by the slower device. Transferring data may require drivers to be installed on the desktop computer but some phones offer “mass storage” mode which means they appear as thumb drives to the computer and no special drivers are needed. In addition to their data transferring application, USB cables also carry an electric charge that can be used to power peripherals (such as USB mice or keyboards), and many mobile phones can be charged through their USB...
IrDA (Infrared Data Association)

IrDA (Infrared Data Association)

A standard for transmitting data using an infrared port. Transfer speeds are roughly the same as traditional parallel ports. The industry group that created the IrDA technical standard.   Infrared connectivity is an old wireless technology used to connect two electronic devices. It uses a beam of infrared light to transmit information and so requires direct line of sight and operates only at close range. IR was superseded by Bluetooth, which has the advantage of operating at longer distances (around 30 feet) and being omni-directional. Many home devices such as TVs and DVD players still use IR remote controls. Some smartphones are capable of using their IR port to control these devises but that usually requires third-party...
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