What Are the Different Types of Cell Phones?

By Travis Garner

Cell phones have evolved dramatically as their use has increased. Electronics companies are in tight competition to produce profitable, trend-setting phones. This has created multiple types of cell phones. Most phones can been placed into one of three categories: cell phones, feature phones and smartphones. Understanding the differences between the different major types of cell phones will help you understand which type will suit your needs.

The Classic: Cell Phones

Often referred to as conventional phones or basic phones, cell phones have stuck to their roots of making calls, texts and little else. Conventional phones are intentionally devoid of advanced features and instead focus on ease of use. They come in a variety of different form factors and designs, allowing cell-phone users to have plenty of options. Common options have a slide out keyboard for texting, or a flip-phone design. These phones come with a low price tag and are often free with a 2-year contract.

The New Standard: Smartphones

Smartphones have become the standard option for most consumers. With a robust operating system (OS), GPS, a robust third-party application marketplace and 4G internet speeds, a smartphone is closer to a computer than a cell phone. They’ve advanced far beyond simply making calls. Modern smartphones feature a highly responsive touch-screens, Wi-Fi connectivity, HD cameras and data streaming. Smartphones allow users to perform tasks previously reserved for a desktop or laptop: edit documents, use social media, handle email and create spreadsheets. Smartphones are separated by their OS. The four most popular OS’s are Apple’s iOS, Android, BlackBerry and Windows Phone. Each OS attracts different users based on their needs and level of technical experience.

The Middle Ground: Feature Phones

Feature phones are a perfect compromise between smartphones and conventional phones. One of the defining marks of a feature phone is that it has a limited proprietary OS, as opposed to the robust operating system of a smartphone. A feature phone’s OS also does not typically allow for third-party applications. In the rare situations that it does, it won’t be able to interact with other functions of the phone.Feature phones also don't include push mail, and they can be problematic with calendar synching. Document editing can also be an issue. Instead of focusing on these business-oriented functions, a feature phone focuses on texting, multimedia, a full web browser and GPS. A less expensive feature phone is a great alternative to a smartphone.

The Up & Comer: Phablets

A phablet is a new device that is a combination of a smartphone and a tablet. They are primarily separated by their screen size, which varies from 5 to 7 inches. Some phablets also feature a stylus that provides for more usability options. Phablets are ideal for watching movies, reading eBooks and working with detailed apps. Prominent models are the iPhone 6+ and the Galaxy Note series.