Smartphones as Micro-Computers


A smartphone is a micro-computer that falls under the class of desktop computers. Each smartphone has its own operating system that uses a native development language to run applications. A smartphone uses a variety of input devices to interact with these applications. Applications can be installed through a market that is included in the operating system or by transferring the application package to the phone directly.

For input, each device either includes an onboard or onscreen keyboard to interact with applications. Other input devices, such as a full keyboard or mouse, can be connected via Bluetooth or possibly a USB port depending on the smartphone. Smartphones also have an onboard camera that can take pictures and capture video. They also take advantage of GPS technology and are able to use GeoLocation to interact with map applications (Allen).

A smartphone transfers data by using a mobile network, mainly 3G or 4G, but most include a Wi-Fi or Bluetooth option as well. To use the 3G or 4G mobile network, the smartphone has to be on a phone network plan. Some of these plans include unlimited data transfer but others make you pay extra whenever you go over a certain data limit. This data limit can be increased by paying a higher monthly fee (Kamea).

Storage on a smartphone is included inside the device with an option for MicroSD expansion. Smartphones also take advantage of cloud storage, allowing users to back up information on a remote server and then download the information when it is needed. By taking advantage of cloud storage, users are able to keep local storage free for more applications. Users are also able to restore information if their smartphone is damaged or lost by downloading it again.

Smartphones are desktop computers that can be kept in the pocket of a user. They make data transfer easy and are on the cutting edge of technological advances. The mobile market is constantly changing so developers are always implementing new technology in their devices.

Smartphones Chips

A smartphone uses some of the most advanced processing chips on the market. The chip has to be able to run multiple applications and processes at the same time. At the core of a mobile operating system, applications are handled quite differently than on a desktop operating system. Applications are processed as tasks and called without a user option to close. When a user switches to a new application, the other continues to run in the background unless the user kills the task.

This behavior was created so that if a user received a phone call while using an application their work would not be lost. If a user doesn’t close tasks, a processor could run multiple applications at all times. If the chip cannot process tasks effectively, it would put a drain on the whole system and waste battery life. The processor has to be able to process data quickly and through a variety of different means as a smartphone has the capabilities to receive data through Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, 3G/4G, and GPS.

When a user provides input to a smartphone, the information is transferred through the processor and is handled in different ways depending on what the user is trying to do. The touchscreen input is handled by the CPU and is transferred to the internal memory. The memory processes the information and is transferred to the video interface to show the user response. If there is an output connected through a HDMI port, the video interface would then transfer the input response to the HDMI device (ARM).

Depending on the application being used, the user also has the option to use Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, 3G/4G and GPS to process information. The camera is also handed by the processor in the same way. If a user takes a picture, the picture is stored locally in the memory until it is saved to the storage device that the user had chosen. The user could then use the touch screen interface to call the picture which would then be transferred through the processor to the video interface so that it is displayed on the device (ARM).

When a smartphone has a fast chipset, the user will not feel any lag between their input device and the display of the phone. With the invention of newer chipsets, users can expect their devices to process information at extremely fast speeds. Qualcomm has a new Snapdragon chip that offers new features instead of just being a speed upgrade.

Named the Snapdragon 800, Qualcomm’s new chip supports higher video capture along with the faster speeds. Pictures can be taken with a camera of 21 megapixels or the user can capture video at 4,000 x 2,000 pixel resolution (Tofel). The highest resolution television has a display of 1080p or 1,920 x 1080 pixels (at the time of research). So a smartphone running the Snapdragon 800 would be able to create high definition video above what the highest resolution television could display.

Intel recently announced a next-generation quad core processor that is due out this year. This quad core processor is low-power and is smaller than older models. Smartphones created using this chip could be smaller and last longer on a single battery charge. Intel is also releasing a low-power multimode-multiband 4G LTE global modem that in conjunction with its new low power quad core processor could have a single phone charge last for days (Poeter).

The newer chipset speeds will not be able to be fully utilized if developers do not take full advantage of them when creating applications. If an application is not coded efficiently, it will not matter if a chipset is faster because the application could still possibly run slow. Anytime new technology is released it takes a while before devices are fully capable to take advantage of the upgrades.

Smartphones as a New Sub-Market

Smartphones fit perfectly into the desktop computer sub-market. I do not believe that smartphones offer enough of a difference to cause the creation of another sub-market. A new submarket would demand a different type of use for that device.

Servers as a sub-market handle the transfer of data. Once they are set up, the user inputs data from a remote source instead of using a direct input device into the server. Even though the server is comprised of the same parts as the other sub-markets, it is the way they are used that make them different.

Desktop computers are all about user input and modifications. Users are able to find applications to install that provide a variety of different uses. This is the category that smartphones fit into. Users are able to install applications and use input to directly control the device.

Embedded computers have the chipsets installed and are created with one purpose in mind. An example of an embedded computer would be a DVD player. The computer in the DVD player was created with one purpose, to playback DVD discs.

Since each sub-market is based on the user input side of things, I do not think that smartphones demand their own. If a new sub-market was to be created, I think it would be created for cloud computing (although technically these could fall under servers) or virtual reality devices. A virtual reality device would change the input handling to an extent that would help create a new sub-market.


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Tags: iPhone, smartphones, micro computers, terminal, emulator, Android