Our mobiles terms glossary is designed to explain phrases regarding mobile devices and connections.

Select the term to expand on the explanation:

  1. 3G and 4G

    3G stands for third generation, as it is the third type of access standard set for mobile phones and other devices for connecting to a mobile network. The first generation represents the older brick type mobile phones from 1981 onwards that connected using an analogue signal. Second generation (or 2G) introduced in 1992 brought the first digital mobile phones but offered limited internet connectivity that was often costly and slow. To give an analogy 2G to 3G is like comparing AM to FM radio in terms of connection quality. Third-generation followed in 2001 bringing faster download and upload speeds than the previous generation, although the speeds were stil far slower than home or office broadband connections.

    4G is the latest standard in mobile phone technology. With network coverage increasing in the UK over the coming years taking over from 3G connections. Download speeds on initial 4G networks can be around 5-7 times faster compared to existing 3G networks.

  2. Android

    Android is an operating system created by Google that runs on mobile phones, tablets, televisions, games consoles, digital cameras and other electronics. It is mainly designed for touch screen devices and can support applications, games and a great deal of other content. Devices that run Android are not necessarily built by Google, but within reason they support the same applications and games that run on other Android devices. An Android device will not support iOS – Apple’s operating software.

  3. iPhones, iPads and iOS

    The iPhone is the brand name for a line of smartphones designed and manufactured exclusively by Apple Inc. Similarly iPads are Apple’s line of mobile tablets. iOS is the operating system that runs on both types of device. Although newer versions of each device have been released periodically Apple still use the same or similar naming convention instead of a unique product name each time. iPhones and iPads support a massive amount of applications, games and other content. Android does not run on an Apple device.

  4. Bluetooth

    Bluetooth is a short range wireless technology that enables you to connect devices together. It was designed to allow wireless connections between mobile phones and computers. For example you can use bluetooth to connect a speaker or wireless headset to your phone, and leave your phone in your pocket. Or you can transfer photos or contact information from one device to another if supported.

  5. Coverage

    Coverage is the geographic area where you are able to receive mobile phone or data signal. Mobile phone companies may produce coverage maps to indicate their supported areas. Coverage signal depends on several factors such as buildings, nearby hills or mountains, the frequency of the signal being received and in some cases the capability of the mobile equipment. Some frequencies may provide better regional coverage, while other frequencies go through buildings and houses more easily.

  6. Dual-band and Tri-band

    In the UK and Europe we use two different frequencies for mobile networks. Mobile devices that support these two frequencies are called dual-band. This means that if your mobile phone contract allows roaming within Europe your device should be able to connect to another networks when you’re on holiday or travelling.

    Outside of Europe (including America) the mobile networks run on a different band of frequencies. Because of this most phones available in these regions are tri-band, meaning that the phones will work in America and within Europe too.

    If are you thinking of travelling to another country, it is always recommended to make sure your mobile device will be supported properly, your tariff allows you to connect to a foreign network and what extra costs may be involved.

  7. Flight Mode

    Flight Mode is a setting on many mobile phones and other devices that disables any functions that send or receive signals such calls, texts, wifi or bluetooth. Flight mode usually still allows functions or applications that do not require signals such as games, built-in camera or an MP3 player.

    It is so named because the operation of mobile phones and other devices that send or receive such signals were prohibited due to the belief that it could affect the electronics of an aircraft in flight or interfere with signals to a ‘plane.

  8. Hotspots and mobile hotspots

    A hotspot is an area where you can wirelessly connect to the internet using a laptop, mobile phone or similar device. Some modern mobile phones and tablets can be used as hotspots to provide wireless internet access to other devices, this is known as a mobile hotspot.

  9. IMEI

    IMEI (International Mobile Station Equipment Identity) is a unique number applied to any device that connects to a mobile network. IMEI numbers are used to identify devices and can be used for blocking stolen phones from accessing networks.

  10. Memory cards and microSD cards

    Memory cards are used in mobile phones, tablets and similar devices to store data such as pictures, videos and music. Memory cards can differ in physical size but modern versions are usually roughly fingernail sized or smaller. microSD (micro ‘secure digital’) cards are the prevailing format in use in modern smartphones and tablets today due to its small size, relative low cost and ability to store large amounts of data. The physical size of a microSD card is usually 15mm by 11mm although the amount of data that can be stored can differ. This can range from as small as 32MB (roughly 8 average sized mp3’s) to 64GB (roughly 16,000 average sized mp3’s) and upwards.

  11. MMS

    Multimedia Messaging Service is a method of sending short messages that include images to and from mobile phones. This is usually classed separately from your standard data usage when sending, so double check with your provider on any costs first.

  12. On and Off-Peak

    Off Peak times are usually 7pm to 7am Monday to Friday, all weekends and Bank Holidays.

    On Peak times are usually 7am to 7pm Monday to Friday, which ties in with general business working hours.

  13. Roaming

    Roaming is when your mobile device connects to a network in a foreign country. This enables you to make calls, send texts and potentially access the internet but extra costs may be involved.

  14. Sim card

    A sim card or subscriber identification module card is a small fingernail sized circuit with a plastic covering. It is used to identify and connect phones and other mobile devices to mobile networks. Sim cards are available in 4 different sizes, although in most cases mini-SIM and micro-SIM are the two most prominent sizes in use today. It may have the ability to store a limited number of contact names, telephone numbers and text messages. However it does not have the ability to store photos or mp3’s.

  15. SMS – (Short Message Service)

    SMS is a text-based service that allows short messages to be sent to and from mobile phones on different networks.

  16. PAC Code

    A PAC code or porting authorisation code can be requested from your network if you are out of contract. It allows you to transfer your existing mobile phone number from one provider to another. Without a PAC code a number cannot be transferred.

  17. Resolution

    The resolution of a screen is the number of squares (or pixels) that make up an image on a screen. The higher the screen resolution the better quality the image will look. To give an example two phone screens could both be 6cm wide and 5cm long. Even though they are the same physical size, the phone with the higher screen resolution would be able to show images at a better quality, because there would be more squares (or pixels) available on the screen to display the image. The image on the screen with the lower resolution may look jagged or blocky, because the image would be made up of less pixels. This is the same principle as standard definition and high definition on televisions.

  18. Ruggedised

    A ruggedised phone, tablet or laptop is a device that has been created to be resistant to shock or vibration. In some cases even drop, dirt or water resistant, ideal for use in construction or industrial environments. Some phones and devices are designed to be rugged from the factory, in other examples cases can be bought to provide rugged protection to standard phones.

  19. Tablets

    The modern definition of a tablet is a mobile computer designed for internet use, games and applications. Tablets are usually larger than smart phones at 7 inches or larger (measured diagonally) and are usually controlled by a touch-screen interface. There are a variety of tablets available on the market today including the iPad (designed by Apple) and various Android tablets developed by companies such as Sony, Motorola and Amazon.

  20. Unlocked Phone and Sim free

    An unlocked or sim free mobile phone is a device that can be used with any mobile phone manufacturer. In some cases mobile phones (when in contract) are usually locked to a particular mobile network so it will not accept SIM cards from other providers. Once out of contract you can request your phone to be unlocked so you can use a SIM card from an alternate provider in your mobile device. A sim free phone is a phone that is usually not provided directly from a mobile network provider but bought direct, this means that you have the choice of network provider from the outset but the cost can vary quite considerably.

  21. Windows Phone

    Windows Phone is a smartphone operating system developed by Microsoft. A touch screen operated system, it is primarily aimed at the consumer market rather than the enterprise market. Windows Phone has the ability to run applications, games and media content, but their built-in application store does not have as many applications or games available to download as the respective Android or iPhone application stores.