A feature phone

A feature phone is a mobile phone which at the time of manufacture is not considered to be a smartphone, but nevertheless has additional functions over and above standard mobile services. It addresses the market for customers who don't want the features of smart phones, and also typically allows a lower price point.

Difference between smartphone and feature phone

However, because technology changes rapidly, what might have been considered a smart phone 10 years ago may only be considered a feature phone today. For example, today's feature phones typically also serve as a personal digital assistant (PDA) and portable media player and have capabilities such as camera phones, touchscreen, GPS navigation, Wi-Fi and mobile broadband access.

Feature phones is the term generally used to describe low-end devices, while smartphone is used to describe high-end devices, though there is no official definition to distinguish the two categories.[1][2]. Originally, the term referred to mobile phones with more features than other contemporary "dumb" mobile phones,[3] and smartphone and feature phone are not mutually exclusive categories.[4]

A complication in distinguishing between smartphones and feature phones is that over time the capabilities of new models of feature phones can increase to exceed those of phones that had been promoted as smartphones in the past.

Feature phone

Most feature phones require a SIM card to start (indicated on the display with "Insert SIM Card"), commonly run on proprietary firmware, and typical miss airplane mode, which make them more vulnerable to telephone tapping and mobile phone tracking in contrast to smartphones.


Main article: Smartphone

One of the most significant differences between smartphones and feature phones is that the advanced application programming interfaces (APIs) on smartphones for running third-party applications[5] can allow those applications to have better integration with the phone's OS and hardware than is typical with feature phones. In comparison, feature phones more commonly run on proprietary firmware, with third-party software support through platforms such as Java ME or BREW.[6]


Feature phones have a different type of operating system compared to smart phones. However they may still allow installation of third-party applications, for example via the Java ME or BREW.


In 2011, feature phones accounted for 60% of the mobile (cellular) telephone installed base in the United States.[7]


  1. ^ "Feature Phone". Phone Scoop. Retrieved 9 May 2010. ((cite web)): Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)
  2. ^ Andrew Nusca (20 August 2009). "Smartphone vs. feature phone arms race heats up; which did you buy?". ZDNet.
  3. ^ http://news.cnet.com/Sendo-sets-date-for-smart-phone-redux/2100-1037_3-984688.html
  4. ^ http://www.brighthand.com/article/Study_Says_Smartphones_Will_Outsell_Handhelds/
  5. ^ "Smartphone definition from PC Magazine Encyclopedia". PC Magazine. Retrieved 2011-12-15.
  6. ^ Cite error: The named reference phonescoop-smartphone was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  7. ^ Don Kellogg (1 September 2011). "40 Percent of U.S. Mobile Users Own Smartphones; 40 Percent are Android". Nielsen Company. ((cite web)): Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)