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Smartphone tech terms everyone should know

Shopping for a new phone is like navigating a minefield of new phrases and technology. When you don’t understand the lingo, you can expect catastrophe. You may not even get the device or built-in tools you really want. We can help you to avoid that. Review our list of smartphone tech terms below and enjoy an improved, more informed customer experience.


senior man checking smartphone

Start with the basics

When looking for your next smartphone, understanding some key cell phone jargon will help you throughout the decision-making process.

Brand. While each manufacturer has its devoted super-fans, many shoppers are open to trying a new brand if it meets their needs and budget. Brands like Apple, Motorola, Samsung, and Google all have phones with comparable specs and price points for you to choose from. 

OS. Short for Operating System, this is the software that runs everything on your phone. The two main smartphone OS types are iOS (the same running the new iPhone 13 Pro Max) and Android. While Apple products exclusively run iOS, more brands run on Android.

Plan. Your plan determines how much data you get, which services are available to you, and how many lines you can have. You can go with a contract for unlimited data, talk, and text, or a prepaid plan, which doesn’t require a deposit or credit check, that you can pay month to month.

Network. This is your service provider. With some networks, your service plan may cover just your phone or include home internet as part of a bundle. Make sure your network offers reliable nationwide coverage built for the capacity and performance demands of 5G.

5G. This is the latest “generation” of wireless connectivity. The fastest and most powerful yet, it’s the new standard bearer for new smartphones on the market. On Verizon’s 5G Nationwide and Ultra Wideband network, enjoy blazing download speeds and connectivity nearly everywhere you go.

4G/4G LTE. The dominant wireless communications “generation,” though like 2G and 3G, it will eventually become a footnote in smartphone history. 4G/4G LTE is still widely supported, but the recent introduction of 5G already means greater speeds, network bandwidth (throughput or capacity), and accessibility.


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Features for your lifestyle

Your smartphone is more than a stylish accessory. For many, it’s vital for communication, connection, working, and sharing. Yours should offer features that complement the way you use it most.

Latency. Also called “lag” in smartphone terms, this refers to the time it takes for the processor to complete a request. For the avid online gamer, unexpected lags can break your campaign. Fight to keep your winning streak with low-latency performance on your motorola edge 5G UW. 

OLED. This is a type of display technology. It stands for “organic light-emitting diode,” meaning that each diode in the screen lights up individually. The result: brighter, more vivid images and video. If you love streaming TV shows and movies to your phone, a vibrant, high def display is a must.

Sensors. The size and number of sensors affect your photo quality, along with the amount of light and detail you capture. The new Google Pixel 6, for example, in addition to upgraded imaging tech, has new camera sensors that allow 150% more light than the previous model.

Stylus. A type of inkless “pen,” styluses make it easier to write notes onscreen, edit documents and photos, and They’re especially useful for creators and remote workers who are constantly on the go.

Some excellent extras

Apps. Apps are software that you download to use directly from your wireless device rather than opening a URL (webpage address). Your phone will come with apps pre-installed, but for others, you’ll have to install them yourself.

Cloud. The cloud is a broad term for remote servers that allow you to upload, access, edit, save, and download your data without using physical storage on your smartphone. Keep copies of your important documents, update your work, and even store your photos safely.

Security. Built-in apps and controls help to keep your data safe. Some, like the Samsung Galaxy S21 series, use passwords, secure folders, blockchains, and other measures to protect your privacy. Some models may also offer biometric (fingerprint or face identification) reading for further security.

Hotspot. Use your data to create mobile Wi-Fi access for people in your group. The Orbic Speed Mobile Hotspot offers up to 12 hours of power for up to 10 devices, including smartphones, tablets, smartwatches, and laptops.

AI. Far from the lifelike (and occasionally murderous) android companions from sci-fi movies, AI today is intuitive, helpful, and accessible right from your smartphone. Google Assistant, Samsung’s Bixby, and Apple’s Siri are all examples of common AI tools that you can access with voice commands.

Bluetooth. This lets you connect accessories, like enabled speakers, home electronics, or your laptop, for a more integrated wireless experience. Audiophiles and music-lovers can control volume, skip tracks, and pause for phone calls, all through their ear buds. 


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Ask the professionals

When all else fails, reach out to your Cellular Sales rep. A quick trip to one of our stores gives you access to the industry’s most knowledgeable wireless consultants. Get the best device for you with professional advice on specs, tools, and features put in the most approachable mobile phone terms.

Founded in 1993, Cellular Sales proudly serves as Verizon’s premier retail partner.  With almost 800 locations nationwide and more than 7,000 employees, we proudly connect customers with top-tier products and services.  We were recently named the Verizon Agent of the Year 2021 and have been named to Inc. Magazine’s 5000 as one of the nation’s fastest growing companies nine times. For more information, visit cellularsales.com or follow us on social media at facebook.com/cellularsales/ and @cellularsales on Instagram.  For career information, visit cellularsales.com/careers/.

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