The Ultimate Mobile Phone Glossary - Jargon Buster


With so much jargon in a world full of mobile phones, no wonder it can be hard to keep up with the latest lingo. To help you keep up to date, we created the ultimate mobile phone glossary you can keep referring back to.

Technology is advancing rapidly so naturally, so does our use of language. Know your AMOLED from your Super AMOLED screens with our comprehensive mobile phone jargon-buster.




2G network

Short for “second-generation” cellular network, it allows calls and texts to be sent over a network. 2G network speed is typically up to 40 kbit/s.

3G network

Short for “third generation” cellular network. It allows calls, texts and internet access via your network's radio tower. 3G speed has a minimum transfer rate of 144Kbps.

4G network

A fourth-generation cellular network, offers the same as 3G but at a much faster rate (around 4.7Mbps).

5G network

The 5th generation of mobile networks. It promises much faster browsing, upload and download speeds.


Also known an Ultra HD (or UHD) 4K is a display resolution of near-4,000 pixels.


An HD Ready format with 720 horizontal lines. It takes pictures at 1280 x 720 pixels.


Known as “Full HD” and measures at 1920 x 1080 resolution.

Air time

The amount of time you use (or have available) on your network for calls, texts and internet.


This stands for Active Matrix Organic Light Emitting Diodes. It’s a type of OLED display used on larger smartphones.


A mobile operating system based on Linux and used by a variety of smartphone manufacturers.

Audio Jack

Also known as an audio port or headphone jack, it allows you to insert a phone connector to listen to audio with more clarity and privacy.


A function within your camera that can automatically focus on an object or subject you want to capture.


Bezels are the borders between your screen and the frame. Popular models of smartphones consist of narrow borders to allow for more surface area on the front of the phone screen.


Bluetooth is the short wireless connection between devices such as headphones, other smartphones and more. They allow data to be transmitted wirelessly.


Or more commonly known as a web browser - these are applications on your device that allow you to surf the web.

Caller display

This shows the number or specific person saved in your contacts, calling your device. Most caller displays now have extra functions that allow you to send them directly to voicemail, answer with FaceTime or send an automated text.

Camera phone

A mobile device that has a built-in camera that can capture photographs and record video.

Cellular network

A cellular network is a radio network consisting of a complex system of interconnected cells to help transfer media to network subscribers.


Cloud computing is a non-tangible network of servers that can be used for a number of things such as running programs and storage.

Cloud storage

What IS cloud storage? A service that allows you to back-up, store and manage data from a remote location. Examples of cloud storage include iCloud and Google Drive.


Also known as network coverage - it’s the geographical area covered by your network. You should research signal-strength in your local area to determine which network to sign up for.


Or “Mobile Data” - it’s what allows your device to access online services and receive web-based alerts if Wi-Fi is unavailable.

Data allowance

The amount of mobile data you have to use, typically within a month.

Data cap

This puts a limit on the data you can use through your device. This can be self-imposed or negotiated with your network provider to ensure you do not use or pay for too much data.

Desktop charger

A type of battery charging device that connects to your computer via a cord, as opposed to being plugged into an outlet.


A USB flash drive-sized device that plugs into your PC or laptop, and lets you surf the internet.

Dual band

In order for phones to connect to networks, they must use signals on a specific frequency of bands. Dual bands allow devices to send signals between both 2.4Ghz and 5GHz bands.

Dual-lens camera

Dual-lens camera phones have two lenses within them that allow for wide-angle and telephoto capture.


As the name suggests, it allows mobile devices to hold two SIM cards, meaning you will receive phone calls and texts from both SIMs and can toggle between them.


Also known as Enhanced GPRS, this is a high-speed 3G technology that provides up to three-times faster speeds than GPRS.

Eco rating

This rating allows customers to compare the environmental impact of owning a specific mobile device with others in the market.


A feature only available on Apple iOS - it allows video-chat between Apple device users.

Fast charging

A function that boosts amperage or voltage to allow your mobile device to charge much faster than conventional charging times.

Fingerprint scanner

A type of electronic system available on some mobile phones that captures your fingerprint and recognises it to pass security and privacy controls on your device.


In between hardware and software, it’s a program that is programmed into a hardware device and helps it communicate with other devices. Firmware updates are necessary to improve its functionality.


Global System for Mobile communications is a type of cellular network service used in Europe and other parts of the world.


Known as Global Positioning System - it gathers information from your network’s towers to determine your location.


General Packet Radio Services provide continuous internet connection for mobile devices. It’s more commonly known as 2.5G, but has since been replaced with 3G, 4G and 5G networks.


Hands-free technology allows you to control your device without using your hands. This is commonly used when driving a vehicle and need to answer your phone.


High Dynamic Range, in simple terms, describes the high contrast between the lightest and darkest parts of a photo. It’s a common feature on Apple and Android devices


High-definition voice enables clear and more natural-sounding audio across your network. It is more commonly known as High-definition video, which has a higher resolution than standard-definition (SD).

Hot Swap Slot

Hot swapping allows for phones to still function whilst a component such as the hard drive or power supply is being replaced.

Hybrid SIM

Hybrid SIM slot can be used to insert a typical SIM card into it, or a microSD card to expand your phones’ memory capacity.


The International Mobile Equipment Identity number is a code between 15-17 digits long that uniquely identifies the device. 

Instant messaging

A function that allows you to send messages instantly through an app such as Messenger or WhatsApp.

Iris scanner

Iris scanning capabilities on mobile phones adds an extra layer of security by using biometric information to identify you.


Though not as commonly used, an Infrared blasters on mobile phones can allow you to control other devices such as a TV.


A type of operating system used on Apple devices.

IP Rating

The International Protection Marking or “Ingress Protection Marking” states the degree of protection offered on the device against water damage, dust, pressure and more.

Flight mode

A setting that causes your phone to stop receiving and transmitting wireless signals. This stops your device from interfering signals within the aircraft.


“Jailbreaking” a phone removes its restrictions so that you can download more software than the App Store offers. It also offers the potential to customise your device even further.

LCD screen

A Liquid Crystal Display screen is a type of flat-panel display which uses liquid crystals to project an image, together with a backlight or reflector to produce imagery on screen.

Locked phone

Mobile phones are “locked” to a network, meaning it will only operate with the SIM of the network it’s locked to.


Long Term Evolution, though marketed as 4G LTE, is not technically a 4G network. It’s a much faster network than 3G, but not quite as fast as 4G, though the LTE-A closes this gap, with some manufacturers marketing their phones as 4G LTE-A to sound better.


This means MegaBITS Per Second. This indicates internet speed and the higher the number, the faster the internet.


MegaBYTES Per Second and indicates how much of a file has been downloaded (or uploaded), per second.


A megapixel references the size of an image and consists of a million pixels. In terms of mobile phone photography - for example, a 10-megapixel camera can produce an image with 10 million total pixels.

MicroSD card

These memory cards have a capacity of up to 2 GB.


Also known as Multimedia Messaging Service. You can send multimedia content through a text message over a cellular network.

Modular phone

This is a type of smartphone that’s created using a variety of different components in an effort to reduce e-waste.

MP3 Player

A device that plays MP3 audio and other digital formats.


Devices that can use multiple bands and switch to these frequencies.

Nano SIM

A Nano SIM is smaller and thinner than a Micro SIM. The iPhone 5 and later use Nano SIMs and holds the same amount of data as earlier SIM cards.


Also known as a D-Pad for earlier models of phones, it allows you to navigate your phone by moving through multiple settings and menus. 


Near Field Communication allows devices to communicate when placed next to each other. It can be used to send media, pay for items and more.


A period of time where less calls are made or handled. The opposite of this scenario would be “peak” call times.


Organic Light-Emitting Diode emits light through your phone screen (as opposed to being backlit like an LCD). It works by passing an electric current through a thin film of organic compounds.

Operating system

A program that allows mobile devices to run applications. The most popular operating systems for mobile phones are Apple iOS and Google Android.

Optical image stabilisation technology

Optical image stabilisation simply makes an image more stable from unexpected camera movements. They work by stabilising the image on the sensor before it’s converted into an image.

‘Pay As You Go’ (PAYG) mobile

A prepaid system that allows you to pay for texts, calls and mobile internet data. Once the allowance runs out, you must “top up” at a shop, bank or online.


A mobile Personal Identification Number is a password that adds a layer of security and stops unauthorised users accessing your mobile phone. GSM phones typically have a PIN for their SIM card.


A tiny area of programmable colour on a digital display and forms part of many pixels to produce a legible piece of text or image.

PPI (or Pixel density)

Pixels Per Inch defines the resolution of smartphone screens. It’s also known as pixel density. The higher the number, the higher the resolution and less pixelated photos.

PUK code

A Personal Unlock Key links to your SIM card and is used to reset your PIN if you’ve lost or forgotten it. 


Random Access Memory holds data your device is currently using.The higher the space, the faster the phone’s loading speed.

Refurbished phone

This involves taking a pre-owned handset and adding fixing any of its faults, restoring it into a saleable condition.

Retina display

An Apple-exclusive term, retina display devices have a pixel density of 326ppi or higher, making text, icons and the overall display much clearer than non-retina display screens.


This refers to the number of pixels a phone display has. The higher the resolution, the better the quality of your display. E.g. 750x1334 is a larger phone resolution size compared to 640x1136.


This is a service that allows your device to make and receive voice calls, texts and use your data allowance abroad. Some networks even offer the same tariff at no extra cost during your travels.


Read-only Memory on your device refers to the internal storage of your device. The bigger the ROM, the more data can be stored. As opposed to RAM, when the device is powered off no data is lost and is safely stored.

SAR rating

Specific Absorption Rate refers to the rate at which energy is absorbed by the human body when exposed to radio frequencies. This is measured in W/kg.

SD Card

A Secure Digital Card is a small piece of storage that can be inserted into many devices to record or access data. 

Secondary camera

Also known as the “front-facing camera” - the secondary camera is placed on the front side of the phone and commonly used for “selfies” and group shots. It is also useful for video calling.

SIM card

What is a SIM card exactly? It stands for Subscriber Identity Module. They contain your phone number, the ability to access your network, saved contacts and stored messages. Having a SIM card in your phone means you can access and use this data.

SIM Lock

SIM locks are security measures placed upon SIMs by network providers to ensure they cannot be used by other networks. In order to use a locked SIM on another network, find out how with our switch SIM providers guide [LINK].

SIM-only plan

SIM only plans involves receiving a contract that gives you an allowance of calls, texts and data at a monthly cost. You receive a SIM that you can insert into your existing phone.


SIM free refers to phones being sold without a SIM, typically a handset-only transaction.


A Smartphone is a type of popular hand-held device used for making calls, sending and receiving texts and browsing the internet. They run off a mobile operating system and are similar to computers in this sense.


Short Message Service is the most widely used form of text messaging. You can send anywhere up to 160 characters via SMS to another phone. If an SMS runs longer, then this will be split into multiple messages.


This means that phones have a sealant protecting against liquids. Splash-resistant phones can withstand rain and small splashes.

Standby time

The longest time a phone’s battery can last on standby. This is reduced with every usage.

Streaming video and music

Online streaming of video and music involves the transmitting or receiving of data. It does this continuously so that you can enjoy media immediately.


A pen-shaped device used for navigating your smartphone or tablet.


Siri is a virtual assistant exclusive to Apple products. Using voice queries you can ask Siri a question and Siri will respond with an answer or action depending on your request.


Super Active Matrix Organic Light Emitting Diode. The layer that detects touch is embedded directly into the screen. This means devices can be made thinner, more sensitive to touch and reduce glare.

Talk time

This is the amount of time your phone has to handle calls. This typically meant from a better life sense.


A mobile that can receive and send signals at three different broadband frequencies. Typically, this consists of one foreign frequency for roaming and two domestic frequencies.

Triluminos display

A Sony-coined term. It’s a screen that enhances colours, saturation and reduces fading when viewing under direct sunlight.


A type of display that allows a user to operate a mobile by touching the phone screen.

Unlocked phone

An unlocked phone means it doesn’t have to be used by one carrier. This means you can insert a SIM card from any network into the device.

USB cable

A Universal Serial Bus that allows you to transfer data from one peripheral device (phone, camera) to another, such as a PC or Laptop.

USB 3.0 Micro B

 USB A -Type

USB B-Type

USB-C cable

USB Mini-b (5-pin)

USB Micro b

Voice commands

Voice commands are a hands-free method of communication. It allows you to control your phone, ask questions or make a request to text or call a contact.


This is a type of message a caller can leave if their call hasn’t been picked up. The message is stored on your network provider’s server and can be accessed by calling your providers voicemail service.


Voice over Internet Protocol refers to making calls through the internet as opposed to the traditional line of network.

Water resistant

Water resistant phones are given an IP rating to determine their level of effectiveness. IP67 means they can withstand splashes and up to 3ft deep of water for 30 minutes. IP68 phones mean they can be held underwater up to 30 minutes under 1 metre of depth.

Windows phone

Windows phones are a discontinued line of phones that were developed by Microsoft in 2010.

Wireless charging

Wireless charging uses a special mat that allows an electromagnetic field to transfer energy to your device and allow it to charge its battery