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Mobile phone

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"Cell Phone" redirects here. For the film, see Cell Phone (film).

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Several examples of non-flip mobile phones, from the early 2000s.

accessories, such as SMS for text messaging, email, packet switching for access to the Internet, gaming, Bluetooth, infrared, camera with video recorder and MMS for sending and receiving photos and video, MP3 player, radio and GPS.

The International Telecommunication Union estimated that mobile cellular subscriptions worldwide would reach approximately 4.6 billion by the end of 2009. Mobile phones have gained increased importance in the sector of Information and communication technologies for development in the 2000s and have effectively started to reach the bottom of the economic pyramid.[2]



Portable Cellphone 1970's

Main article: History of mobile phones

Analog Motorola DynaTAC 8000X Advanced Mobile Phone System mobile phone as of 1983

In 1945, the zero generation (0G) of mobile telephones was introduced.[citation needed] Like other technologies of the time, it involved a single, powerful base station covering a wide area, and each telephone would effectively monopolize a channel over that whole area while in use.

improve its operational reliability. In 1971 the MTD version was launched, opening for several different brands of equipment and gaining commercial success.[4][5]

The concepts of frequency reuse and handoff, as well as a number of other concepts that formed the basis of modern cell phone technology, were described in the 1970s; see for example Fluhr and Nussbaum,[6] Hachenburg et al.[7] , and U.S. Patent 4,152,647, issued May 1, 1979 to Charles A. Gladden and Martin H. Parelman, both of Las Vegas, Nevada and assigned by them to the United States Government.

Analog cellular telephony (1G)

Main article: 1G

The first commercially automated cellular network (the 1G generation) was launched in Japan by NTT in 1979. The initial launch network covered the full metropolitan area of Tokyo's over 20 million inhabitants with a cellular network of 23 base stations. Within five years, the NTT network had been expanded to cover the whole population of Japan and became the first nation-wide 2G network.

The second launch of 1G networks was the simultaneous launch of the Nordic Mobile Telephone (NMT) system in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden in 1981.[12]. NMT was the first mobile phone network featuring international roaming. The Swedish electrical engineer Östen Mäkitalo started to work on this vision in 1966, and is considered as the father of the NMT system and some consider him also the father of the cellular phone.[13][14]

Personal Handy-phone System mobiles and modems used in Japan around 1997–2003

The first NMT installations as well as the First AMPS installations were based on the Ericsson AXE digital exchange nodes.

A 1991 GSM mobile phone

Digital mobile communication (2G)

Main articles: 2G, 2.5G, and 2.75G

The first "modern" network technology on digital 2G (second generation) cellular technology was launched by Radiolinja (now part of Elisa Group) in 1991 in Finland on the GSM standard which also marked the introduction of competition in mobile telecoms when Radiolinja challenged incumbent Telecom Finland (now part of TeliaSonera) who ran a 1G NMT network.

The first data services appeared on mobile phones starting with person-to-person SMS text messaging in Finland in 1993. First trial payments using a mobile phone to pay for a Coca Cola vending machine were set in Finland in 1998. The first commercial payments were mobile parking trialled in Sweden but first commercially launched in Norway in 1999. The first commercial payment system to mimic banks and credit cards was launched in the Philippines in 1999 simultaneously by mobile operators Globe and Smart. The first content sold to mobile phones was the ringing tone, first launched in 1998 in Finland. The first full internet service on mobile phones was introduced by NTT DoCoMo in Japan in 1999.

Wideband mobile communication (3G)

Main article: 3G

In 2001 the first commercial launch of 3G (Third Generation) was again in Japan by NTT DoCoMo on the WCDMA standard.[15] The standard 2G CDMA networks became 3G compliant with the adoption of Revision A to EV-DO. Revision A of EV-DO makes several additions to the protocol while keeping it completely backwards compatible with older versions of EV-DO.

These changes included the introduction of several new forward link data rates that increase the maximum burst rate from 2.45 Mbit/s to 3.1 Mbit/s. Also included were protocols that would decrease connection establishment time (called enhanced access channel MAC), the ability for more than one mobile to share the same time slot (multi-user packets) and the introduction of QoS flags. All these were put in place to allow for low latency, low bit rate communications such as VoIP.[16]

One of the newest 3G technologies to implemented is High-Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA). It is an enhanced 3G (third generation) mobile telephony communications protocol in the High-Speed Packet Access (HSPA) family, also coined 3.5G, 3G+ or turbo 3G, which allows networks based on Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS) to have higher data transfer speeds and capacity. Current HSDPA deployments support down-link speeds of 1.8, 3.6, 7.2 and 14.0 Mbit/s. Further speed increases are available with HSPA+, which provides speeds of up to 42 Mbit/s downlink and 84 Mbit/s with Release 9 of the 3GPP standards.

Broadband Fourth generation (4G)

Main article: 4G

than previous generations. Sprint has a 4G network in select areas. By 2011 it is expected that more wireless companies will launch 4G Broadband networks.[17]


Mobile phones are used for a variety of purposes, including keeping in touch with family members, conducting business, and having access to a telephone in the event of an emergency.

Organizations that aid victims of domestic violence may offer a cell phone to potential victims without the abuser's knowledge. These devices are often old phones that are donated and refurbished to meet the victim's emergency needs.[18]

Child predators have taken advantage of cell phones to secretly communicate with children without the knowledge of their parents or teachers.[19]

The advent of widespread text messaging has resulted in the cell phone novel; the first literary genre to emerge from the cellular age via text messaging to a website that collects the novels as a whole.[20] Paul Levinson, in Information on the Move (2004), says "...nowadays, a writer can write just about as easily, anywhere, as a reader can read" and they are "not only personal but portable".

Multiple phones

Individuals may have multiple cell phones for separate purposes, such as for business and personal use. Multiple phones (or multiple SIM cards) may be used to take advantage of the benefits of different calling plans—a particular plan might provide cheaper local calls, long-distance calls, international calls, or roaming. A study by Motorola found that one in ten cell phone subscribers have a second phone that often is kept secret from other family members. These phones may be used to engage in activities including extramarital affairs or clandestine business dealings.[21]


Cell phone sharing is a phenomenon which exists around the world. It is prevalent in urban India, as families and groups of friends often share one or more mobiles among their members. Two types of sharing which exist are "conspicuous" and "stealthy" sharing. An example of conspicuous sharing takes place when someone calls the friend of the person they are trying to reach in hopes of being able to talk to that individual; the latter type of sharing occurs when an individual uses another's cell phone without their knowledge. Phone sharing does not only take place because of its economic benefits, but also often due to familial customs and traditional gender roles.[22]

Another example of cell phone sharing occurs in Burkina Faso. There it is not uncommon for a village to only have access to one cell phone. This cell phone is typically owned by a person who is not natively from the village, such as a teacher or missionary. Although the cell phone is the sole property of one individual, it is the expectation that other members of the village are allowed to use the cell phone to make necessary calls. Although some may consider this a burden, it can actually be an opportunity to engage in reciprocal obligations. This type of cell phone sharing is an important for the small villages in Burkina Faso because it allows them to keep up with the expectations of the globalizing world.[23]


A Nokia phone with box.

A printed circuit board inside a mobile phone


Main articles: Mobile phone features and Smartphone

Nokia and the University of Cambridge are demonstrating a bendable cell phone called the Morph.[24]

See also: Videophone, for UMTS-type mobile phones employing simultaneous video and audio

Software and applications

A phone with touchscreen feature.

Mobile phone subscribers per 100 inhabitants 1997–2007

The most commonly used data application on mobile phones is SMS text messaging, with 74% of all mobile phone users as active users (over 2.4 billion out of 3.3 billion total subscribers at the end of 2007). SMS text messaging was worth over 100 billion dollars in annual revenues in 2007 and the worldwide average of messaging use is 2.6 SMS sent per day per person across the whole mobile phone subscriber base (source Informa 2007). The first SMS text message was sent from a computer to a mobile phone in 1992 in the UK, while the first person-to-person SMS from phone to phone was sent in Finland in 1993.

The other non-SMS data services used by mobile phones were worth 31 billion dollars in 2007, and were led by mobile music, downloadable logos and pictures, gaming, gambling, adult entertainment and advertising (source: Informa 2007). The first downloadable mobile content was sold to a mobile phone in Finland in 1998, when Radiolinja (now Elisa) introduced the downloadable ringing tone service. In 1999 Japanese mobile operator NTT DoCoMo introduced its mobile internet service, i-Mode, which today is the world's largest mobile internet service and roughly the same size as Google in annual revenues.

The first mobile news service, delivered via SMS, was launched in Finland in 2000. Mobile news services are expanding with many organisations providing "on-demand" news services by SMS. Some also provide "instant" news pushed out by SMS. Mobile telephony also facilitates activism and public journalism being explored by Reuters and Yahoo![25] and small independent news companies such as Jasmine News in Sri Lanka.

Companies are starting to offer mobile services such as job search and career advice. Consumer applications are on the rise and include everything from information guides on local activities and events to mobile coupons and discount offers one can use to save money on purchases. Even tools for creating websites for mobile phones are increasingly becoming available.

Power supply

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Mobile phone charging service in Uganda

Mobile phones generally obtain power from rechargeable batteries. There are a variety of ways used to charge cell phones, including USB, portable batteries, mains power (using an AC adapter), cigarette lighters (using an adapter), or a dynamo. In 2009, wireless charging became a reality, and the first wireless charger was released for consumer use.[26]

Standardization of Micro-USB connector for charging

Starting from 2010, many mobile phone manufacturers have agreed to use the Micro-USB connector for charging their phones.[27] The mobile phone manufacturers who have agreed to this standard include:





Research In Motion


Sony Ericsson

On 17 February 2009, the GSM Association announced[28] that they had agreed on a standard charger for mobile phones. The standard connector to be adopted by 17 manufacturers in the Open Mobile Terminal Platform including Nokia, Motorola and Samsung is to be the micro-USB connector (several media reports erroneously reported this as the mini-USB). The new chargers will be much more efficient than existing chargers. Having a standard charger for all phones, means that manufacturers will no longer have to supply a charger with every new phone.

In addition, on 22 October 2009 the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) announced that it had embraced micro-USB as the Universal Charger Solution its "energy-efficient one-charger-fits-all new mobile phone solution", and added: "Based on the Micro-USB interface, UCS chargers will also include a 4-star or higher efficiency rating — up to three times more energy-efficient than an unrated charger."[29]

Charger efficiency

The world's five largest handset makers introduced a new rating system in November 2008 to help consumers more easily identify the most energy-efficient chargers

The majority of energy lost in a mobile phone charger is in its no load condition, when the mobile phone is not connected but the charger has been left plugged in and using power. To combat this in November 2008 the top five mobile phone manufacturers Nokia, Samsung, LG Electronics, Sony Ericsson and Motorola set up a star rating system to rate the efficiency of their chargers in the no-load condition. Starting at zero stars for >0.5 W and going up to the top five star rating for <0.03>

A number of semiconductor companies offering flyback controllers, such as Power Integrations and CamSemi, now claim that the five star standard can be achieved with use of their product.


Formerly, the most common form of mobile phone batteries were nickel metal-hydride, as they have a low size and weight. lithium ion batteries are sometimes used, as they are lighter and do not have the voltage depression that nickel metal-hydride batteries do. Many mobile phone manufacturers have now switched to using lithium-polymer batteries as opposed to the older Lithium-Ion, the main advantages of this being even lower weight and the possibility to make the battery a shape other than strict cuboid. Mobile phone manufacturers have been experimenting with alternative power sources, including solar cells and Coca Cola.[30]

SIM card

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Main article: Subscriber Identity Module

Typical mobile phone SIM card

In addition to the battery, GSM mobile phones require a small microchip, called a Subscriber Identity Module or SIM Card, to function. Approximately the size of a small postage stamp, the SIM Card is usually placed underneath the battery in the rear of the unit, and (when properly activated) stores the phone's configuration data, and information about the phone itself, such as which calling plan the subscriber is using. When the subscriber removes the SIM Card, it can be re-inserted into another phone that is configured to accept the SIM card[31] and used as normal.

Each SIM Card is activated by use of a unique numerical identifier; once activated, the identifier is locked down and the card is permanently locked in to the activating network. For this reason, most retailers refuse to accept the return of an activated SIM Card.

Those cell phones that do not use a SIM Card have the data programmed in to their memory. This data is accessed by using a special digit sequence to access the "NAM" as in "Name" or number programming menu. From here, one can add information such as a new number for the phone, new Service Provider numbers, new emergency numbers, change their Authentication Key or A-Key code, and update their Preferred Roaming List or PRL. However, to prevent someone from accidentally disabling their phone or removing it from the network, the Service Provider puts a lock on this data called a Master Subsidiary Lock or MSL.

The MSL also ensures that the Service Provider gets payment for the phone that was purchased or "leased". For example, the Motorola RAZR V9C costs upwards of CAD $500. Depending on the carrier, such a phone may be available for as little as $200. The difference is paid by the customer in the form of a monthly bill. If the carrier did not use an MSL, then they may lose the $300–$400 difference that is paid in the monthly bill, since some customers would cancel their service and take the phone to another carrier.

The MSL applies to the SIM only so once the contract has been completed the MSL still applies to the SIM. The phone however, is also initially locked by the manufacturer into the Service Providers MSL. This lock may be disabled so that the phone can use other Service Providers SIM cards. Most phones purchased outside the US are unlocked phones because there are numerous Service Providers in close proximity to one another or have overlapping coverage. The cost to unlock a phone varies but is usually very cheap and is sometimes provided by independent phone vendors.

Having an unlocked phone is extremely useful for travelers due to the high cost of using the MSL Service Providers access when outside the normal coverage areas. It can cost sometimes up to 10 times as much to use a locked phone overseas as in the normal service area, even with discounted rates. T-Mobile will provide a SIM unlock code to account holders in good standing after 90 days according to their FAQ.


Mobile phone manufacturers' market share in Q3/2008

The world's largest individual mobile operator is China Mobile with over 500 million mobile phone subcribers. The world's largest mobile operator group by subscribers is UK based Vodafone. There are over 600 mobile operators and carriers in commercial production worldwide. Over 50 mobile operators have over 10 million subscribers each, and over 150 mobile operators have at least one million subscribers by the end of 2008 (source wireless intelligence).

In mobile phone handsets, in Q3/2008, Nokia was the world's largest manufacturer of mobile phones, with a global device market share of 39.4%, followed by Samsung (17.3%), Sony Ericsson (8.6%), Motorola (8.5%) and LG Electronics (7.7%). These manufacturers accounted for over 80% of all mobile phones sold at that time.[32]

Other manufacturers include Apple Inc., Audiovox (now UTStarcom), Benefon, BenQ-Siemens, CECT, HTC Corporation, Fujitsu, Kyocera, Mitsubishi Electric, NEC, Neonode, Panasonic, Palm, Matsushita, Pantech Wireless Inc., Philips, Qualcomm Inc., Research In Motion Ltd. (RIM), Sagem, Sanyo, Sharp, Siemens, Sendo, Sierra Wireless, SK Teletech, T&A Alcatel, Huawei, Trium, Toshiba[citation needed] and Vidalco. There are also specialist communication systems related to (but distinct from) mobile phones.


The mobile phone became a mass media channel in 1998 when the first ringtones were sold to mobile phones by Radiolinja in Finland. Soon other media content appeared such as news, videogames, jokes, horoscopes, TV content and advertising. In 2006 the total value of mobile phone paid media content exceeded internet paid media content and was worth 31 Billion dollars (source Informa 2007). The value of music on phones was worth 9.3 Billion dollars in 2007 and gaming was worth over 5 billion dollars in 2007.[33]

The mobile phone is often called the Fourth Screen (if counting cinema, TV and PC screens as the first three) or Third Screen (counting only TV and PC screens).[weasel words] It is also called the Seventh of the Mass Media (with Print, Recordings, Cinema, Radio, TV and Internet the first six). Most early content for mobile tended to be copies of legacy media, such as the banner advertisement or the TV news highlight video clip. Recently unique content for mobile has been emerging, from the ringing tones and ringback tones in music to "mobisodes," video content that has been produced exclusively for mobile phones.

The advent of media on the mobile phone has also produced the opportunity to identify and track Alpha Users or Hubs, the most influential members of any social community. AMF Ventures measured in 2007 the relative accuracy of three mass media, and found that audience measures on mobile were nine times more accurate than on the internet and 90 times more accurate than on TV.[original research?]


Cell phones have numerous privacy issues associated with them, and are regularly used by governments to perform surveillance.

Law enforcement and intelligence services in the UK and the US possess technology to remotely activate the microphones in cell phones in order to listen to conversations that take place nearby the person who holds the phone.[34][35]

Mobile phones are also commonly used to collect location data. The geographical location of a mobile phone can be determined easily (whether it is being used or not), using a technique known multilateration to calculate the differences in time for a signal to travel from the cell phone to each of several cell towers near the owner of the phone.[36][37]

Restriction on usage

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Use while driving

Main article: Mobile phones and driving safety

Mobile phone use while driving is common but controversial. Being distracted while operating a motor vehicle has been shown to increase the risk of accident. Because of this, many jurisdictions prohibit the use of mobile phones while driving. Egypt, Israel, Japan, Portugal and Singapore ban both hand-held and hands-free use of a mobile phone whilst many other countries –including the UK, France, and many US states– ban hand-held phone use only, allowing hands-free use.

Cases like these can often only be proved otherwise by a check of the mobile operators phone call records to see if a call was taking place during the journey concerned. Although in many countries the law enforcement official may have stopped the driver for a differing offence, for example, for lack of due care and attention in relation to their driving.


Some schools limit or restrict the use of mobile phones. Schools set restrictions on the use of mobile phones because of the use of cell phones for cheating on tests, harassment and bullying, causing threats to the schools security, distractions to the students and facilitating gossip and other social activity in school. Many mobile phones are banned in school locker room facilities, public restrooms and swimming pools due to the built-in cameras that most phones now feature, though some countries and manufacturers have taken steps to protect privacy in such areas by giving their products audible 'shutter noises', that cannot be disabled.[citation needed]

A recently published study has reviewed the incidence of mobile phone use while cycling and its effects on behaviour and safety. [38]

Comparison to similar systems

Car phone

A type of telephone permanently mounted in a vehicle, these often have more powerful transmitters, an external antenna and loudspeaker for hands free use. They usually connect to the same networks as regular mobile phones.

Cordless telephone (portable phone)

Cordless phones are telephones which use one or more radio handsets in place of a wired handset. The handsets connect wirelessly to a base station, which in turn connects to a conventional land line for calling. Unlike mobile phones, cordless phones use private base stations (belonging to the land-line subscriber), which are not shared.

Professional Mobile Radio

Advanced professional mobile radio systems can be very similar to mobile phone systems. Notably, the IDEN standard has been used as both a private trunked radio system as well as the technology for several large public providers. Similar attempts have even been made to use TETRA, the European digital PMR standard, to implement public mobile networks.

Radio phone

This is a term which covers radios which could connect into the telephone network. These phones may not be mobile; for example, they may require a mains power supply, or they may require the assistance of a human operator to set up a PSTN phone call.

Satellite phone

This type of phone communicates directly with an artificial satellite, which in turn relays calls to a base station or another satellite phone. A single satellite can provide coverage to a much greater area than terrestrial base stations. Since satellite phones are costly, their use is typically limited to people in remote areas where no mobile phone coverage exists, such as mountain climbers, mariners in the open sea, and news reporters at disaster sites.

IP Phone

This type of phone delivers or receives calls over internet, LAN or WAN networks using VoIP as opposed to traditional CDMA and GSM networks. In business, the majority of these IP Phones tend to be connected via wired Ethernet, however wireless varieties do exist. Several vendors have developed standalone WiFi phones. Additionally, some cellular mobile phones include the ability to place VoIP calls over cellular high speed data networks and/or wireless internet.[39]

See also

Mobile phone radiation and health

Customer proprietary network information

Flexible keyboard

Rotary dial

Push-button telephone

Harvard sentences

Information and communication technologies for development

List of countries by number of mobile phones in use

Mobile internet device (MID)

Personal Handy-phone System


Pay As You Go (phone)

SIM card

Mobile broadband






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Further reading

Agar, Jon, Constant Touch: A Global History of the Mobile Phone, 2004 ISBN 1840465417

Ahonen, Tomi, m-Profits: Making Money with 3G Services, 2002, ISBN 0-470-84775-1

Ahonen, Kasper and Melkko, 3G Marketing 2004, ISBN 0-470-85100-7

Fessenden, R. A. (1908). "Wireless Telephony". Annual Report of The Board Of Regents Of The Smithsonian Institution: 161–196. Retrieved 2009-08-07.

Glotz, Peter & Bertsch, Stefan, eds. Thumb Culture: The Meaning of Mobile Phones for Society, 2005

Katz, James E. & Aakhus, Mark, eds. Perpetual Contact: Mobile Communication, Private Talk, Public Performance, 2002

Kavoori, Anandam & Arceneaux, Noah, eds. The Cell Phone Reader: Essays in Social Transformation, 2006

Kopomaa, Timo. The City in Your Pocket, Gaudeamus 2000

Levinson, Paul, Cellphone: The Story of the World's Most Mobile Medium, and How It Has Transformed Everything!, 2004 ISBN 1-4039-6041-0

Ling, Rich, The Mobile Connection: the Cell Phone's Impact on Society, 2004 ISBN 1558609369

Ling, Rich and Pedersen, Per, eds. Mobile Communications: Re-negotiation of the Social Sphere, 2005 ISBN 1852339314

Home page of Rich Ling [1]

Nyíri, Kristóf, ed. Mobile Communication: Essays on Cognition and Community, 2003

Nyíri, Kristóf, ed. Mobile Learning: Essays on Philosophy, Psychology and Education, 2003

Nyíri, Kristóf, ed. Mobile Democracy: Essays on Society, Self and Politics, 2003

Nyíri, Kristóf, ed. A Sense of Place: The Global and the Local in Mobile Communication, 2005

Nyíri, Kristóf, ed. Mobile Understanding: The Epistemology of Ubiquitous Communication, 2006

Plant, Dr. Sadie, on the mobile – the effects of mobile telephones on social and individual life, 2001

Rheingold, Howard, Smart Mobs: The Next Social Revolution, 2002 ISBN 0738208612


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