What’s the difference between a basic phone and a smartphone?

DrSunil Vaswani April 7, 2013

What are the differences between an advanced-basic phone and a smart-phone? In terms of practical uses to a common user and features and specifications? At what point does something stop being just a cell phone and is instead a smartphone?

  1. Drsunil V
    September 12, 2013 at 12:30 pm

    Thanks to experts

  2. Min Xuan Xie
    April 9, 2013 at 2:40 am

    In the past, it's easy to tell the difference between a feature phone and a smartphone. Physical keypad/keyboard vs Touchscreen. Slow vs Fast. Cheap vs Expensive. etc.

    But now, it's harder to differentiate the two types of phones as phone makers constantly tries to add different features from a smartphone into a feature phone. One perfect example of this is the Nokia Asha series. They may look like smartphones, with some sporting a full touchscreen and others a smaller touchscreen and a full keyboard, or they have very fast processors and so on. However, they are still feature phones, though at a premium end. Yes, it's very hard to tell about these phones and they are often mislabeled as smartphones, but these phones are designed to make smartphone more affordable to all so that they can experience the use of a smartphone themselves, while keeping the fire in the pocket at a minimum.

  3. Bruce Carrie
    April 9, 2013 at 12:19 am

    I think the difference is smart phones are software based, programmable and users can add or remove apps at will.

  4. Sunil
    April 8, 2013 at 5:44 pm

    I had asked difference between advanced-basic phone and smart-phone but the word 'advanced' may have got unintentionally mal-edited

    • Rajaa Chowdhury
      April 9, 2013 at 1:55 am

      Advanced and Basic are terms contradictory to each other. The two categories of mobile phones categorized are basic / feature phones and smartphones. As this two categories hve already been aptly described above, probably the third category defined by you as advanced basic phone will certainly have all the features of a basic phone plus probably features like twitter, Facebook and email access. Someone above said that in smartphones you can install apps and in basic phones we cannot. So as the advanced basic phones is still a sub class of a basic phone, so let us abide to the definition and probably say you cannot still cannot install 3rd. party apps to a advanced basic phone.

  5. Oklahoma_Mike
    April 8, 2013 at 3:28 pm

    To me the difference is pretty simple. If a phone has the capability of installing "apps" then it becomes a smart phone. Otherwise it's a basic cell phone.

    • Min Xuan Xie
      April 9, 2013 at 2:43 am

      Opera Mini supports a HUGE number of phone models and some, if not most, aren't smartphones at all.

  6. Bishal Heuju
    April 8, 2013 at 7:05 am

    Smartphones are the phones which are smart. In other words, smartphones are able to do nearly anything that is possible to do on a pc because there are so much apps available for those purpose. Android, iphones, blackberry, windows phones are the most popular smartphones available. Smartphones have just very much more features than cellphones. Cellphones may limit your job but smartphones overcome them.

  7. Rajaa Chowdhury
    April 8, 2013 at 2:07 am

    Basic phone or feature phone as it is popularly known, where phones which were meant to do only SMS texting and make and receive calls. However, with passage of time, media functionality like music/video players, FM radio and some basic level of data access all became a part of the feature phones. Now even twitter and facebook access are getting integrated to basic / feature phones. The smartphone concepts in the initial days had more to do wth full corporate e-mail access and office productivity capability aka similar to Microsoft Office on your phone. Initially this was driven by the Blackberry of yesteryear along-with probably the Nokia Communicator and the E series. Still today smartphones has more to do with full internet access, corporate and personal email access and office productity with apps similar to Documents on Go or Kingsoft office and thousand of similar office productivity apps. Over it with passage of time, GPS location service, voice recognition and command, and thousands of app choices have got thrown in. In tems of communications, WiFi, Bluetooth, 3G/4G have all piled on. However, as times goes on, the demarcation between feature phone and smartphones are getting thinner and thineer till ultimately one day everyone will be carrying some sort of smartphones only. Obviously the prices of low end smartphones will be driven to the level of feature phones of today. We are already seeing that trend.

    • Rajaa Chowdhury
      April 8, 2013 at 2:10 am

      Also smartphones are slowing becoming part of corporate networks and are getting integrated in corporate policy ad security with corporate device management policies and show up as objects in the NDS/ADS or LDAPs.

    • Sunil
      April 8, 2013 at 5:44 pm

      hullo I had asked difference between advanced-basic phone and smart-phone but the word 'advanced' may have got unintentionally mal-edited

  8. DalSan M
    April 8, 2013 at 1:51 am

    The term "smartphone" has changed over the years. Officially, smartphones are any phones that can accomplish e-mails and some form of internet access. Now it is used towards touchscreen phones with internet access and downloadable applications and the possibility of productivity apps being used. Most of the people nowadays only accept touchscreen phones running either android, iOS, or Windows Phone, though they are of the higher class smartphones and just about any phone you can get is essentially a smartphone (so long as it is email and internet capable). Now it is really a difference of smartphone or "smarter" phone.

    • Sunil
      April 8, 2013 at 5:45 pm

      hi I had asked difference between advanced-basic phone and smart-phone but the word 'advanced' may have got unintentionally mal-edited

    • DalSan M
      April 8, 2013 at 6:33 pm

      Sorry about that. An advanced feature phone is one that generally has less processing power, memory, and application program options than a full-fledged smartphone. Productivity suite features would probably be one main application that may not be offered on an advanced basic phone. Advanced basic phones are for filling the gap between basic cell phones and smartphones (of today), allowing more functionally with less cost, but not full-featured as a smartphone. Essentially, they are both pretty much "smartphones" because of the internet capabilities and email capabilities, but the media and public misguides and changes the meaning to things into what they want in order to make products sound better than another.

  9. Chris Marcoe
    April 8, 2013 at 1:29 am

    I've always thought of a regular phone as one that you can use to call and text. That is it.

    As for a smartphone, its everything besides the text and calling that makes it a smartphone. Basically, if you need a data plan, even if you are not using it, you have a smartphone.

  10. ha14
    April 7, 2013 at 10:52 pm

    smartphone i think was for non touch phone devices like windows mobile smartphone and touch screen mobile was for windows mobile phone. also smarphone can be used for advanced phones if you compare to basic phone that can do call and small text messaging.

  11. Jan Fritsch
    April 7, 2013 at 10:50 pm

    Usually mobile phones are considered smartphones because of all the additional features they have like mobile data, WiFi, GPS, a camera, media playback, apps, etc. So basically most phones on the market nowadays could be considered smartphones.

    Instead basic phones now mostly describe phones not relying on data (plans) e.g. 3G connectivity for their functions. Or simply don't offer more than calling and short messages and fixed built in stuff like calculator, "Snake" or so.

    Somewhere in between are "feature phones" which may have certain functionality like games you can install using a storage card, a music player or even a camera but not much more.

    • Marsha
      August 30, 2013 at 11:13 am

      Thank-you for your answer. My next question is does all smartphones have the same functions as cell or feature phones? Example as speaker phone, caller ID phone book? I am looking to buy a phone, the phones I was looking at did not list the above functions, but did list MP3, Video, Camera, Downloadable games. Is this a feature phone or smart phone. Also are the types or brands to stay away from. Thank-you

    • Jan F
      August 30, 2013 at 8:59 pm

      I would say all phones have the basic phone features like calling, short messages (in certain countries the standard may be email), contacts and some standard applications like a calculator.

      Everything else differs from phone to phone and has to be researched at their product pages and technical specifications.

      Even phones from the same brand, model and operating system don't have to have the same features ~ just compare an iPhone 4 to an iPhone 4S. They not only differ in the features and functions they ship with but there are also Apps that will only run on the later one.

      I wouldn't say there are brands you should stay away. Basically (although complex) you get the quality and functionality you pay for. That doesn't mean that a $1000 phone is better than a $500 ~ they can perfectly be on par (e.g. iPhone vs. various Android phones).

      But if a $50 phone lists all the same functions and features like a $300 one there has to be something that makes it that inexpensive, right? Examples would be processing power and memory, cheap plastic cover that easily gets damaged, etc.

      If you are looking for something in particular I suggest you open up a new question, explain what you are looking for and we will try to come up with some choices.

  12. Leo Wan
    April 7, 2013 at 10:34 pm

    I think a smartphone becomes a smartphone when it had either internet capabilities near to a computer's but different in that there are apps to supplement the browser experience.

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