If you’re buying a new mobile phone, hopefully ,you’re doing a little research first. Maybe you’re even reading some of our handy reviews to help you make your decision. But like most specialist areas, mobiles have a certain amount of lingo involved and this has only grown with the evolution of the smartphone. From PPI to mAh, you might not always understand exactly what it is that you’re reading. Of course, as a consumer, that’s just not going to cut it. You’re making a big investment, and you deserve to know exactly what you’re getting for your cash. So today we’re looking at some of those confusing terms and giving you a clear, easy to understand the definition. Confused by mobile jargon? Then keep reading!
IPS stand for In-Plane Switching and refers to a feature of your phone’s screen. If your mobile display has IPS then you’ll have better viewing angles, meaning you’ll get a clear view even if you’re not staring at the screen straight on.
Screen resolution is usually expressed in pixels, like this: 1080 x 1920. The bigger those numbers are, the clearer, sharper and more defined the image on your screen will be. But there’s a problem with this measurement. 1080 x 1920 pixels on a screen that’s only 4.5 inches will be a lot clearer than 1080 x 1920 pixels on a screen that’s 5 inches (since the smaller screen packs in the same amount of pixels into a smaller space). We solve that problem by giving both screen resolution and PPI (pixels per inch) as specs. So a 1080 x 1920 pixel, the five-inch display gets around 441 PPI, whereas the same resolution on a larger 5.2-inch screen gets only around 424 PPI. The bigger the PPI number, the better!
Eugh, let’s start with a tough one. If you look into mobile specs then you’ll probably see the word “chipset” mentioned at least once. The term usually appears close to the processor specs, so you might be able to guess that it has to do with performance. Basically, a chipset is just a collection of circuits, sort of like a base station that everything else plugs into. Think of the chipset as a parking garage, with slots for the processor, Bluetooth communication channel, WiFi communication channel etc. to park in and you’re getting close to the right picture.Why is this important? Because different chipsets are more or less effective. Some allow faster performance than others. It’s really that simple. So on an iPhone, the Apple A10 Fusion chipset on the iPhone 7 is better and faster than the Apple A7 chipset on the iPhone 5S. Androids are a little more complicated, since different manufacturers may choose to use different brands of the chipset. However, Qualcomm Snapdragon chips are more or less the standard, and the faster, the better!
Your phone’s processor is its engine, a processor powers everything that you do on your mobile. Processors come in different strengths (a dual-core processor runs 2 processing units at the same time, a quad-core runs 4, a hexacore runs 6, and an octa-core runs 8), and different speeds (so a 2.4 GHz processor is faster than a 1.4 GHz processor). The bigger and faster your processor, the more responsive and faster your phone will be.
OS (Operating System)
OS stands for Operating System, and this is the user interface that allows you to communicate with all the clever electronics in your phone. Just like your home computer has an OS (probably Windows), so does your phone. If you have an iPhone, you have a version of iOS, otherwise, you have some version of Android. Generally, the more recent the version of OS you have, the better.
RAM stands for Random Access Memory, and it is a special kind of memory that your phone reserves for doing day to day tasks. Essentially, this is just storage, just like internal storage, and you don’t really need to understand much more than that. However, the more RAM your phone has, the more responsive it will be, and the better it will be at multitasking (running more than one app or process at a time).
Storage Internal + (micro) SD Card
This is an easy one. Internal storage is the amount of space you have on your mobile to download and store music, apps, videos, and photographs. The bigger the number, the more space you have. Around 16 GB is really the minimum you’re looking for these days.SD stands for Secure Digital, and an SD card (or microSD card, the same thing just smaller) is an extra memory that you can add to your phone. If your mobile comes with an SD card slot you can buy a card, put it in, and get lots of extra space for your music, pictures, or whatever else. Handy if you don’t have much internal memory on your phone…
Dual SIM phones used to be specialist, and pretty pricey, but they’re becoming more and more the norm these days. A dual SIM model does more or less what you might expect: it runs two SIM cards, rather than just one. This allows you to say, put your personal SIM and work SIM into the same phone, rather than having to carry around two mobiles all the time. Since in many modern mobiles the SD Card (see below) slot can also run a SIM card, dual SIM phones are becoming more popular and even Apple might be coming on board.
Camera (Megapixel & f/aperture)
MP stands for megapixel and is usually seen in mobile camera specs. Whilst there are many things that affect the quality of your pictures, as a general rule, the more MP your camera has, the better your pictures will be. Higher MP cameras are capable of capturing more detail, meaning that pics come out sharper and clearer.Aperture or f-stops as they’re sometimes called, have to do with photography. You might see a mobile camera spec that looks something like this: f/2.0. This refers to the amount of light that can enter the camera lens. The smaller the number, the more light can enter the lens as a photo is being taken. For pro photographers, aperture size is a good way of playing with focus in a photograph. But for mobile photographers, and phone shoppers, perhaps the most important thing here is that with a lower aperture number you get better photos in low light (so an f/1.8 camera is likely to take better indoor pics than an f/2.0 camera).
This stands for Milli Ampere Hour, and is a unit of measurement for batteries. The more mAh your mobile battery has, the longer it’s likely to last between charges. Of course, other things also effect battery life (a larger screen drains battery life faster, for example), but essentially the more mAh you have, the better!