The world of mobile technology is full of acronyms and complicated techie terms. Don't worry! Mobile Choice's Glossary is here to help you make sense of all the mobile jargon.

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3G: The third generation of mobile networks, with video calling, web browsing and multimedia downloads of up to seven times faster than standard 2G networks. To use 3G services, you need a 3G-enabled handset. 3G uses the 2100 Mhz frequency (in the UK).


A2DP (stereo Bluetooth): The technology which enables music to be streamed from a bluetooth phone to a compatible wireless headset and listened to in stereo.


Base Station: Mobile phones communicate with 'base stations'. In order to provide network coverage.

Bluejacking: Send anonymous messages to other nearby Bluetooth-enabled devices. Create a 'contact' - write a message in the 'name' field, search for nearby bluetooth devices, then send the contact.

Bluesnarfing: The theft of information from a wireless device through a Bluetooth connection. Simply put, you can hack into nearby phones using bluetooth, and access that phone's information.

Bluetooth: Connect to your computer or another bluetooth-enabled phone with no wires. Bluetooth has a range of 1, 10 or 100 metres - depending on the power-class of the device.
See also A2DP, Stereo Bluetooth.


Cash Back: Online retailers offer free line rental deals. You have to 'claim the cash back' after x months. For example, with a '12 month free line rental deal' stating 'save £300' - you typically have to send in claims to get the £300 sent to you after x months (typically 6). Mobile shops also use 'credit back', 'money back', 'cheque back' and other terms to describe cash back.

Cell: The area of geographic coverage from a mobile phone transmitter.

Content Lock: Parents can prevent access to inappropriate content (18 rated content) from their children's mobile phones.


Data card: Plug a data card into your PC/laptop, and you access the Internet.

Digital zoom: The type of zoom that appears on most camera phones. Digital zoom is a virtual zoom, where the camera digitally crops a part of the image.

Dual SIM card: 2 numbers 1 phone. You might want to insert 2 SIM cards into the 1 phone - you can use 2 mobile phone numbers in the 1 phone. You can do this with a dual SIM card (AKA Twin sim (twinsim), Multi sim (Multisim) or Ghost Dual SIM card).


EDGE: Also known as EGPRS - offers fast download speeds of up to 236.8 Kbps.

Expandable Memory: This means your phone has a built-in memory card slot. You can store more on your phone by inserting a higher capacity memory card.


Firmware: Software which runs your mobile phone. You can upgrade your mobile phone's firmware at the manufacturer's website. Firmware updates can improve performance and fix bugs. Visit your mobile phone manufacturer's Web site and use their update service.


GPS: GPS (global positioning by satellite) is a satellite navigation system. More than two dozen GPS satellites broadcast precise timing signals by radio to GPS receivers, allowing them to accurately determine your phone's location (longitude, latitude, and altitude) in any weather, day or night, anywhere on Earth. See also sat-nav.

GPRS: General Packet Radio Service is a 2.5G mobile data service. You can use it access the Internet on your mobile phone. Internet download speeds are close to 56 Kbps. This is SLOW. For fast Internet access speeds, you must use 3G data services.


Handoff: Refers to transferring an ongoing call from one network to another. This can happen if a) The phone has moved out of range from one cell site (base station) and can get a better radio link from a stronger transmitter (another base station) or b) If one base station is full, the connection can be transferred to another nearby base station.

Haptic: Haptic technology features on today's touch-sensitive phones and refers to technology which provides the user with a vibration response each time they interface with the phone's touchscreen.

HSDPA: Stands for High Speed Download Packet Access. This is a next-generation 3G service that's also described as mobile broadband. It offers super fast internet access and download speeds. Speeds are forever increasing - some predict download speeds of up to 14 Mbps by 2010.

HSUPA: Stands for High Speed Upload Packet Access. This offers super fast Internet upload speeds. Uploading is when you send data from your mobile phone to the network. People who post photos to You Tube or Facebook are uploading content. Downloading is retrieving data from the network - eg requesting a Web page.

Hot Swap: Remove and replace your phone's memory card whilst it is still operating. Some mobile phones have their memory card located under the battery - not very convenient.


IMEI Number: The label on your mobile phone's packaging should display this. The IMEI number is used by mobile networks to identify valid phones. It can be used to stop a stolen phone from accessing the network.

Inclusive minutes/texts: Mobile contracts will offer a certain number of free minutes and texts as part of the monthly deal.

Infra-red: Wirelessly transfer files to and from other Infra-red enabled phones.


Java: Java is a programming language developed by Sun Microsystems. Java phones enable users to download games direct to the device.


LED flash: A basic flash on camera phones.


Micro SD: Tiny memory cards which provide compatible phones with expandable memory.

MVNO: A Mobile Virtual Network Operator is a company that buys network capacity from a mobile network operator (MNO) to offer its own branded mobile subscriptions and value-added services. Example MVNOs include Virgin Mobile (who buy capacity from T-Mobile), Tesco Mobile (who buy from O2) and Talkmobile (who buy from Vodafone).


Network Coverage: Mobile network coverage is used by Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) to indicate the percentage of the population who can access their services. Mobile Network Operators display coverage maps at their Web sites - allowing you to see which services available in all parts of the UK.

Number Porting: Take your existing number with you when you switch networks.


Optical zoom: A camera feature which enables users to physically zoom in closer to the subject using a telescopic lens. Not to be confused with digital zoom which is a virtual zoom.


PAC: You get given one of these when you want to keep your existing number when switching network.

PictBridge: Print directly from your mobile phone to a printer using a USB cable.

Push-To-Talk: It's walkie-talkie style communication. Press the PTT button - you do the talking. Leave the button unpressed (unkeyed) - the other person is able to transmit.

Push-Email: With traditional email systems, the email client (the reader) polls the email server at intervals to check for new messages - ie there can be a delay before your email reader becomes aware of new messages. With 'Push Email', new e-mails are instantly transferred (pushed) to your email inbox as soon as they arrive. Many 3G phones have the push-email feature.

PUK: Personal Unblocking Key: Used to define a new PIN and reactive a SIM card that has been blocked.


Quad-Band: Refers to the four major GSM frequency bands. The four bands include the 850 Mhz, 900 Mhz, 1800 Mhz and 1900 Mhz. The 850 Mhz and 1900 Mhz bands are used in the Americas. The 900 Mhz and 1800 Mhz are used in other parts of the world.
See also Tri-band.

QWERTY keypad: A full keypad on a smartphone, which looks like a scaled-down version of a laptop or PC keyboard. Smartphones specializing in email tend to favour full QWERTY keypads.


Roaming: Allows you to use your mobile network service while travelling outside your home service area. You 'roam' using other networks whilst abroad.


Sat-nav: See also GPS. Mobile phones with sat-nav technology enable the user to navigate either in-car on foot by connecting to a GPS receiver. Some phones now have GPS built-in.

Smartphone: Many mobile phones include advanced mobile operating system software. Typical applications include office software (word processing, spreadsheet etc), email client, games, entertainment, maps, Internet browsers, notepad, address book, calendar, media player, VoIP, persistent storage, passwords and many more.


T9: Predictive text input. T9 stands for "text on 9 keys". It's software which comes pre-loaded on many mobile phones. You only need to tap one key per letter - ignore the word displayed on the screen until you are done entering text. The T9 dictionary identifies words. You can add new words to the dictionary.

Trans Flash: Another name for Micro SD memory cards.

Tri-band: While a quad-band phone can run on any one of the four network frequencies, 850 Mhz, 900 Mhz, 1800 Mhz and 1900 Mhz. Tri-band phones can run on three of these frequencies. Tri-band phones work in Europe and most of the US.


Upgrade: Upgrade your mobile phone to a newer handset. Contact your service provider to upgrade your handset - typically you do this once in the last month of the contract. Some mobile shops let you switch handsets mid-contract (on 18+ month contracts).


Visual Radio: Visual radio is FM radio - with pictures. It's a technology developed by Nokia making it easier for audiences to interact with radio programs. You'll find Visual Radio built-in to many Nokia handsets featuring FM radio.


Wi-Fi: Wireless Fidelity is a standard for Wireless Local Area Networks (WLAN). With a Wi-Fi phone, you can access the Internet with your phone, through Wi-Fi networks. You could use your phone to connect to your wireless home broadband network, or you could connect to one of the thousands of public hotspots/hotzones around the country.

Wi-Fi Hotspot: Connect to the Internet using your Wi-Fi enabled phone.

Wi-Fi Hotzone: A "Wi-Fi zone" is the term typically used to describe the use of multiple hotspots to offer a wider network coverage. For example - 12 KM stretch of the River Thames, Brighton Beach, or London City's square mile.


Xenon flash: A very bright camera flash unit. A small tube is filled with Xenon gas - the flash is very bright and brief. Xenon flash is much brighter than low-current LED flash units.

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