Detailed Hardware Specs

Here’s a detailed list of components that are usually found in most modern Smartphones. Within each listing, you’ll find a range of options that are based on differences in quality and performance. Options range from “minimally acceptable” to “high performance”.

Since budgetary restrictions are always a concern, and performance is usually tied directly to cost, we think that knowing the relative value of all your options will allow you to make knowledgeable trade-offs as you struggle to find the right balance between price and performance.

Overall Dimensions (Height, Width & Depth)
Smallest Device*:
3.9″ x 2″ x 0.37″ (99mm x 50mm x 9.4mm)
Largest Device*:
6” x 3.1” x 0.79” (152mm x 78mm x 20mm)
* Sizes do not include fold-out or slider keyboard dimensions.
Lightest Device: 3.8 oz (107g)
Heaviest Device: 8.0 oz (227g)
Screen Technology
Basic Screen: Transflective TFT LCD (Transflective Thin Film Transistor Liquid Crystal Display)
Standard Screen: IPS LCD (In-Plane Switching Liquid Crystal Display)
Performance Screen: Super AMOLED (Super Active-Matrix Organic Light Emitting Diode)
Screen Size
Screens are measured diagonally from corner to corner
Basic Screen: less than 3″ (less than 76.2mm)
Standard Screen: 3″ to 3.5” (76.2mm to 88.9mm)
Performance Screen: bigger than 3.5″ (88.9mm or more)
Screen Resolution
Basic Screen: 480 x 320 pixels
Standard Screen: 800 x 480 pixels; (a.k.a. WVGA or Wide Video Graphics Array); 16:9 screen proportions (i.e. wide-screen)
Performance Screen: 960 x 640 pixels or more
Pixel Density
Basic Screen: less than 200 pixels per inch
Standard Screen: from 200 pixels per inch to 250 pixels per inch
Performance Screen: more than 250 pixels per inch
Battery Life
Standard Device:
Up to 300 minutes talk time & up to 146 hours on standby.
Performance Device:
Up to 575 minutes talk time & up to 500 hours on standby.
Battery Type
Lithium-Ion (Li-ion)
Recharge Time
Using a wall charger, standard capacity batteries can be fully charged in 2 – 4 hours. Extended capacity batteries take about 4 – 7 hours to fully charge. Actual times will vary based on the brand of the battery and the type of wall charger being used. Allow additional time when charging via USB cable.
Replaceable Battery
Most Smartphones have replaceable batteries. A few (most notably the iPhone) do not. It’s always a good idea to have a spare charger and a second, fully charged battery on hand in case of emergencies.
Operating System
Smartphone run on a variety of different operating systems. These include Apple’s iPhone OS, Google’s Android OS, Palm’s WebOS, RIM’s Blackberry OS, Nokia’a Symbian OS and Microsoft’s Phone OS. Linux is also used by a small number of Smartphone manufacturers. Each of these operating systems has been specifically designed for small mobile devices.
Smartphones that use Apple’s iPhone OS and Google’s Android OS can be controlled through voice commands. Palm’s WebOS does not yet support this feature.
With the notable exception of Microsoft’s new Phone 7 OS, all modern Smartphone operating systems allow more than one software program to run at the same time. This capability is known as multi-tasking.
Processor & Speed
Smartphone processors that use the ARM design are produced by a large number of different chip manufacturers. Smartphones that use the x86 design are produced, almost exclusively, by Intel.
Standard Device: any single core processor with speeds between 500 – 719 MHz
Performance Device: any single or dual core processor with speeds above 720 MHz.
Graphics Processor:/ Video Accelerator
Standard Device: None
Performance Device: either PowerVR SGX or Broadcom Adreno chips.
Memory Type & Size
Basic Device:
RAM: 128 MB
Built-in Flash Storage: below 8 GB
Removable microSD Flash Memory Card: up to 32 GB
Standard Device:
RAM: 256 MB
Built-in Flash Storage: from 8 GB to 16 GB
Removable microSD Flash Memory Card: 32 GB
Performance Device:
RAM: 512 MB
Built-in Flash Storage: from 16 GB to 32 GB
Removable microSD Flash Memory Card: up to 64 GB
Street Price
Subsidized hardware price with basic phone and data plan (2 year contract), between $1,250 – $2,700
Hardware portion: (approx) $50 – $300
Wireless service: (approx.) $50 – $100 / month or $1,200 – $2,400 after 2 years.
Hardware only: (no service contract), between $480 – $600
Where to Buy It
Most consumer electronics stores, on-line e-tailers and cell phone stores.
Installed Web Browser
Web browsers come standard on most Smartphones. Web browsers can also be used as eBook readers.
Audio Formats Supported
The following audio file types are supported by most Smartphones:
  • AAC (.M4A, .M4B, .M4P, .M4V, .M4R, .3GP, .MP4 & .AAC) compressed digital audio files.
  • AIFF (.AIFF, .AIF) compressed digital audio files.
  • AMR & AMR-NB (.AMR) compressed audio files optimized for speech on GSM & UMTS phones.
  • AMR WB (.AWB) compressed audio files optimized for speech.
  • HE-AAC (AAC+ & eAAC+) compressed streaming audio.
  • MP3 (.MP3) compressed digital audio file.
  • MPEG-4 audio compression format.
  • OGG (.OGV, .OGA, .OGX, .OGG & .SPX) compressed digital audio files.
  • WAV (.WAV) compressed digital audio files.
  • WMA9 (.WMA) compressed digital audio files.

Rarely Used:

  • QCLEP (.QCP) compressed audio files optimized for speech on CDMA phones.
  • MIDI (.MID or .SMF) musical instrument controller files.
Music Player
Virtually all Smartphones come with a built-in music player as standard equipment.
Image Formats Supported
.BMP, .GIF, .JPEG and .PNG image files are viewable on most Smartphones.
Multi-Media Formats & Protocols
The following multimedia file types & protocols are supported by most Smartphones:
  • H.263 & H.264 are protocols used for multimedia (audio & video) compression.
  • M4V (.M4V) compressed multimedia (audio & video) file.
  • MPEG-4 (includes .MP4 and other file formats) used for audio & video compression.
  • QTFF (.MOV, .QT) compressed multimedia (audio & video) file.
  • WMV v9 protocol used for video capture, playback and streaming.
  • WMV v10 (.ASF .WMA & .WMV) compressed multimedia files.
Color Depth
Standard Device: 16 bit color = 65,536 colors
Performance Device: 24-bit color = 16,777,216 (16.7 million) colors
Wireless Communications
Most Smartphones come with built-in Bluetooth, WiFi and Wireless Broadband (3G and 3.5G) radios.
Performance devices have built-in WiMAX (4G) radios.
Audio System
Standard Device:
One (1) built-in microphone.
One (1) or more built-in speakers.
Built-in speakerphone is standard.
One (1) 3.5mm headphone & auxiliary microphone jack
Performance Device:
Two (2) or three (3) noise canceling microphones used to improve voice quality of private phone conversations and speakerphone calls. Multiple microphones are also used to add high quality sound to video clips and enable video conferencing.
Ports & Slots
Standard Device:
One (1) HDMI Type D receptacle (a.k.a. micro HDMI).
One (1) Mini-USB or Micro-USB receptacle for power and data syncing.
One (1) miniSD or microSDHC flash memory card slot
One (1) 3.5mm headphone or auxiliary microphone jack
Rarely Used: Infrared Port
Input Devices
Most Smartphones come with touch screen displays as well as slide out, built-in or on-screen QWERTY style keyboards. Some Smartphones (most notably Blackberry units) come with a trackball and a 4 way navigation button. With only one notable exception (i.e. phones running Palm’s WebOS), all Smartphones can be controlled using voice commands.
Rarely Used Accessory:
Optical Mouse
Digital Camera(s)
Minimum Acceptable Device:
One (1) digital still camera (no video) that can produce 1.5 megapixel photos. The camera comes with built-in auto-focus and an LED flash.
Basic Device:
One (1) digital camera that can produce 3 megapixel still photos as well as digital videos with a resolution of 640 x 480 pixels (VGA) or less. The camera comes with built-in auto-focus and an LED flash. Video frame rates are typically 30 frames per second.
Standard Device:
One (1) digital camera that can produce 5 megapixel still photos in addition to digital videos with a resolution of at least 720 x 480 pixels (DVD quality) and a second video camera of equal or less quality. The primary camera is equipped with built-in auto-focus and an LED flash. Video frame rates vary from device to device.
Performance Device:
One (1) digital camera that can produce 8 megapixel still photos as well as digital videos with a resolution of at least 1280 x 720 pixels (HDTV 720p quality) and a second video camera of equal or less quality. The primary camera usually comes with built-in auto-focus, digital zoom, image stabilization (especially useful for video), and dual LED flash units. Video frame rates vary from device to device.
Location Fixing
Assisted GPS (A-GPS), 3-axis accelerometers and a digital compasses are all standard features on most current Smartphones.