5 September 2011


"This is not a phone...eh! it is a SMART phone" my brother  retorted the other day when I called his phone a "mkebe"(tin). For your information his was not a smart phone and like him, most of us boast to own something that in the end is not what we think it is... 

Most of us boast of owning a smart phone, as opposed to the less popular “mulika mwizi”. But what exactly is a smart phone? Most of what we call smart phones is actually mere cell phones with additional settings. So, what exactly is a smart phone? Is it different from a cell phone? What makes it smart?

A great technician said that a smart phone is a device that lets you make telephone calls, but also adds in features that you might find in a Personal Digital Assistant (PDA, as computer science students like to call it) or a computer, for example ability to send and receive e-mails and edit office documents.

To understand smart phones, we need to know a bit of its history. In the beginning, there existed cell phones and PDA’s. Cell phones for making calls while PDA’s were personal, potable organizers storing contacts and sync with computers. 

Then PDA’s gained wireless connectivity to send and receive e-mail and cell phones gained messaging capabilities too. PDA’s then added cellular phone features and cell phones added computer-like features.
For a phone to be classified as a smart phone, some of its features should include; 
  1. An operating system such as Blackberry OS, Palm OS, android OS, or windows mobile. 
  2. A software to edit or view office documents or edit photos.
  3. Web access; 3G data networks and Wi-Fi support to some handsets.
  4. QWERTY keyboard, meaning keys are laid out like on a computer keyboard, not alphabetically 
  5. Messaging (this one even my “mulika mwizi” has) to send and receive e-mails.
However, the technological world is constantly evolving. Your smart phone today may change by next week, next month or next year. Like I say, as long as the phone performs basic functions like receiving calls and calling, sending and receiving texts, can “okoa jahazi” and can subscribe to Safaricom’s unlimited sms, whether it’s smart or not is not an issue!