Smartphones are a class of multi-purpose mobile computing device. They are distinguished from feature phones by their stronger hardware capabilities and extensive mobile operating systems, which facilitate wider software, internet (including web browsing over mobile broadband), and multimedia functionality (including music, video, cameras, and gaming), alongside core phone functions such as voice calls and text messaging. Smartphones typically include various sensors that can be leveraged by their software, such as a magnetometer, proximity sensors, barometer, gyroscope and accelerometer, and support wireless communications protocols such as Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and satellite navigation.
Early smartphones were marketed primarily towards the enterprise market, attempting to bridge the functionality of standalone personal digital assistant (PDA) devices with support for cellular telephony, but were limited by their battery life, bulky form factors, and the immaturity of wireless data services. In the 2000’s, BlackBerry, Nokia’s Symbian platform, and Windows Phone began to gain market traction, with models often featuring QWERTY keyboards or resistive touchscreen input, and emphasizing access to push email and wireless internet. Since the 2007 unveiling of the iPhone, the majority of smartphones have featured thin, slate-like form factors, with large, capacitive screens with support for multi-touch gestures rather than physical keyboards, and offer the ability for users to download or purchase additional applications from a centralized store, and use cloud storage and synchronization, virtual assistants, as well as mobile payment services.
Improving hardware and faster wireless standards (such as LTE) have bolstered the growth of the smartphone industry. In the third quarter of 2012, one billion smartphones were in use worldwide.