Smartphone is fast becoming one of the most essential gadgets we need. It is basically useful in almost every areas of our lives. From performing basic task of making and receiving calls to the complex task of sending and receiving millions of dollars/Naira and managing our financial records.
Talking about the makings of the smartphone is not as interesting as talking about its use. Trust me, if you are not a tech savvy, the mathematics, algorithms related to smartphones will definitely bore you. But talking about it’s make up from the perspective of its use is quite interesting. Maybe it’s mostly because you really get see with examples what each components of your smartphone actually do.
Quick Note: Tech Arean24 won’t be going into the make up details of each details. Reason because we want the day to day users of smartphones to understand each component with regards to what these components actually do and not with respect to its engineering details. So, this post focuses on user experience and not engineering experience.
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What Is a Smartphone
Any mobile phone that is capable of doing anything smart is referred to as smartphones. By doing anything smart we are referring to anything that would otherwise be done by either human or some other device. For example, pictures, accessing the internet, storage, processing, screen touch etc.
Why are mobile devices call smartphones? It is because tasks like taking of pictures was usually done using a digital camera, accessing the internet was usually possible using a MODEM, storing and processing data was done by a computer or some hard drive. But somehow, mobile phones manage to perform all these tasks with ease hence the name SMARTPHONE is really befitting.
But then what makes up the modern-day smartphones and how does it affect its operations.
Component of Smartphones
Smartphones are made up of just two components
- The Hardware
- The Software
We know that there are lots of things that is integrated to make a complete mobile device but all these things put together are categorized as either been a Hardware or Software. Hence, the two main components of Smartphones listed above.
Mobile Phone Hardware
The hardware of mobile phones or smartphones is any part of the phone that you can easily touch and feel. They are the tangible parts of the phone that can be screwed or loosed using any engineering equipment. Basically, if you can see, feel and touch any part of your phone then that part is hardware.
The hardware components of Mobile Devices
There are lots of hardware (physical parts) that makes up a mobile device. They include but are not limited to the following
- RAM (Random Access memory)
- ROM (Read only memory)
- CPU (Central processing unit)
- GPU (Graphics processing unit)
- Phone camera
- Charging port
- Ear phone pot
With the advancement of technology, these components are now clipped inside the phone instead of the regular soldering that was done. So, you can easily replace these hardware components by just unclipping and clipping it back. Let’s talk about these components in brief.
RAM (Random Access memory)
The RAM is the working memory in the mobile phone. RAM stores data and keep record of the activities as you use your mobile phone. It is called RANDOM memory because the CPU can access and use the memory anytime. You can read more about the RAM HERE.
ROM (Read only memory)
ROM is the permanent storage of the mobile phone. Unlike RAM, ROM is accessed by the CPU of the phone when you want to store something in your phone like pictures, music, videos you name it.
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CPU (Central Processing unit)
As the name implies, the CPU is the hardware component responsible for all the processes that goes on inside the mobile phone. It carries out all the instruction that phone users which to perform. For example, when you click your camera app, it’s the CPU that instruct the camera software to get ready to take photos, and when you click the snap button, it’s the CPU that instructs that phone save the pictures inside the location designed in the phone (ROM).
Closing one app and opening another app is made possible because the CPU is asking the device to carry out the instructions you give to it. Though relatively small, the CPU is like the boss that controls all the staff in an organization (the staff here refers to other hardware and software component).
GPU (Graphics processing unit)
This is also a processing unit but solely responsible for display functions, images, videos and animations. GPU is not concerned with everything going on in the computer like the CPU, GPU is designed to focus on graphics. For example, GPU is used in playing of games and the video quality of your mobile phone.
The major difference between the CPU and GPU is that, while CPU carry out every instruction made by a phone user (including those that needs the GPU), GPU majorly focuses on graphics operations (images, videos, display output, games etc).
A hardware component that is responsible for taking photos and record videos of events and occasions with your mobile phone. It can be found at the back and front of the mobile phone. If you are using a punch hole, top notch or even the latest pop-up selfie camera, you’ll notice that there is a camera lens that take your pictures. At the back of your phone that camera lens is also present, it is even more visible now as new phone are having up to four cameras at the back.
Usually at the bottom of your phone, the charging port is responsible for giving more power to the battery of your phone. Modern mobile phones now come with the USB charging port with different USB types. This component is also very easy to change these days as it is placed in a board that can just be swapped and clipped.
Ear phone port
If you don’t have a wireless or Bluetooth (EarPods) then you need this feature. Ear phone port allows for users to plug in a wire ear piece to allow them listen to music or watch movies. Most times it is placed close to the charging port, other times it is embedded in same board as the charging port, it can also be placed at the top while the charging port is at the bottom.
The screen is just below the touchpad of the smartphone. Its responsible for the display of the phone bringing out all the graphics that you need. This hardware component is also clipped inside the board of modern phones. You can easily change it by unclipping it and putting a new one.
Touchpad is just above the phone screen. The glass you touch at the front of your phone is not actually the screen of your phone, that is the touchpad. The touchpad allows you to navigate the screen and it also serves as protection to the screen in most cases (except severe cases where you need a glass screen protector).
Modern smartphones have the touchpad and screen packed together that it becomes very difficult to change one without changing the other.
The above are the basic hardware of the mobile phone that you are possibly using to read this post right now. Note that the CPU, GPU, RAM, ROM, Image processor etc are all part of the SOCs (system on chips).
Importance of mobile phone hardware
- Hardware makes it possible for us to touch and actually use the phone.
- Mobile phone hardware makes it possible for us to use the software installed in the phone.
- Components of hardware like the battery powers and keep our mobile devices alive.
- Camera which is a hardware allows us to take photos of important occasions.
- The hardware like RAM and ROM makes it possible for users to store and make use of the phone.
- Important software is packed inside the hardware of mobile phones like the software in the SOCs.
- Hardware allow for our phone to gave additional functionality like external memory via microSD card and ear phones.
Now that we have talked about the hardware parts of mobile phones and its basic components. It is time to talk a little about the software part of the mobile phones.
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Mobile Phone Software
The software part of smartphones are the intangible parts that brings the phone to live. Mobile phone software refers to the parts of the phone that we can see, feel (by using) but cannot touch them physically. Unlike hardware parts that are screwed or loosed using an engineering tool, mobile phone software is installed or uninstalled.
Smartphone software can be categorized into two main parts
- Mobile phone system software
- Application software for mobile phones
Mobile Phone system software
This refers to the software that is in charge of all the operations of the mobile phone. The system software in mobile phones works closely with the CPU to execute all the instructions or task that a user needs to be executed. System software of smartphones are responsible for linking the hardware components with the application software of mobile phones.
A fine example of a system software is the operating system of the mobile phone. If you are still confused about the system software of your phone then see the explanation below. Have you heard of the word Android 9 (pie), Android 8 (oreo) or the latest Android 10? How about the word iOS used by iPhones? Yes, all the above is a good example of a system software.
Another example of a system software is a GUI (graphical user interface) software of a phone. This software is responsible for how users interact with the phone using icon or some graphics. It is also responsible for how graphics are arranged in the phone screen. A typical example of a GUI software is the XOS for Infinix phones, Hios for Tecno phones etc.
Example of System software in Smartphones
- Android OS
- Windows OS
- Symbian OS
- XOS GUI
- HiOS GUI
Application software for mobile phones
Application software refers to the day to day Apps that you use in your mobile phones. These apps are used by phone users to perform daily tasks like typing, chatting, playing music or videos and games. Application software is designed to run on system software. For example, without an operating system you can’t install an application software. And without a Graphical user interface, you won’t be able to see icons or graphics (images) of the application software.
Examples of Application software in smartphones
- Adobe PDf reader
- VLC media player
- Google Chrome browser
- Firefox browser
- True Caller
The list is a very long one and we can’t possibly list them all. But its good you now have an idea of what we mean by system and application software.
Difference between System Software and application Software of smartphones
System software is responsible for the phone operations which include the installation of application software and the link between the hardware and software of the phone. Application software on the other hand refers to applications that is used by mobile phone users to perform day to day tasks. See the various examples of both type of software above.
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Importance of software in mobile phones
- Without the system software the phone is useless.
- The software brings the hardware components to life.
- Software makes it fun for us to interact with the phone.
- Communication between human and the phone is made possible thanks to the software.
- Daily tasks and related work are possible due to the presence of software.
The relationship between the Hardware and Software components of smartphones
Think of the hardware as the flesh of the smartphone then think of the software as the life of the smartphone. Without the software, no matter how beautiful your phone design is, its just another dead phone. If you have ever seen a bricked phone before you’d understand.
When the software is not around, all hardware components are just as useless as a pot filled with raw rice but no gas is available to cook it. But then without the hardware there won’t be anything to show you what the software actually does.
It’s like having a life without a flesh to show what the life can do. If you have ever had a blank screen before you’d understand this better. Imagine having all function of your mobile phone running but the screen is blank. You won’t be seen what you are doing hence basically you can’t do anything with that phone. Same goes for all other components of the hardware that is present in the mobile device.
It’s just like having a cylinder filled with gas but no rice or food available to be cooked. You can see that the relationship between the hardware and software components of the smartphone can be likened to that of husband and wife.
The hardware needs the software to come to life and perform its operations while the software needs the hardware to show people what it can actually do.
Your smartphone is basically made up of two things, the hardware and the software. These two then have various components that works together to keep the phone alive and running. So, you see that device you are holding, its made up of the part that you can see, touch and feel (hardware) and it’s also made up of the part that you can only feel its presence but won’t be literally able to hold in your hands (software).