UNDERSTANDING SMARTPHONE SPECS: KEY TERMS EXPLAINED

Shopping for a smartphone and navigating all of the technical specifications can be confusing. It’s a big purchase—you want to get it right to get the best value, and the best fit.

Devices have gotten so complex, there’s a litany of technical terms and jargon out there that can overwhelm even the experts among us. Awhile back, we outlined the basics of choosing a good smartphone camera. Here, we’ll explain a few other key smartphone specs to help you make sense of it all.

Processing: The processor is the heart and soul of your phone. Different processors are classed by speed, expressed in gigahertz, or GHz. Modern processors are made up of multiple cores, which are individual processing units that can handle separate tasks. Duties can be split among the cores, allowing for parallel computing, and thus, faster output. Simply put, the faster a processor is—and the more cores it has—the faster your phone should be. 

Display: Display technologies are always changing, and there are a number of factors that affect the quality of a phone’s screen. One of the key factors is resolution, which refers to the number of pixels present in a display. Think of a pixel as one unit of the screen that is illuminated to compose an image. Modern displays contain millions of pixels, and the number is typically expressed in a “width by height” figure in landscape format, like 1920 x 1080. The higher resolution the display is, the more pixels it packs in a given space, and the sharper the image quality will be.

Battery: Battery size is measured in milliamp hours (mAh). The higher the mAh, the greater the capacity, and the longer your phone should last on a charge—though other factors, like the power efficiency of your phone’s operating system and software, the display type, and amount of usage will have a huge impact on battery life.

Memory: Memory on a smartphone is expressed in two ways. Random access memory (RAM) refers to memory used to store things like active operations and programs. When you load an app, close it, and move to another app, the first app is stored in your device’s RAM.  Read-only memory (ROM) is more commonly referred to as “storage” because it refers to the amount of space you have to store new files and media, like photos, songs or apps, on your device. Most phones today come with at least 32GB of ROM, though higher amounts are becoming more common as the range of smartphone uses grows.

Smartphone technology just keeps getting better—today’s value or mid-range phones often match or better the specs of “premium” models from just a few years ago. By understanding what any phone you’re considering offers for these key items, you’ll have a pretty good idea of what to expect from its performance, and whether that phone will be right for how you intend to use it.

43 Thoughts on "UNDERSTANDING SMARTPHONE SPECS: KEY TERMS EXPLAINED"

  1. Judy says

    Only complaint I have with CC is the hold time on the phone when I call.!!

    reply to Judy

    • Nicole at Consumer Cellular says

      Hi Judy, I understand that the wait times can be frustrating and we are diligently working to get that resolved for our customers as quickly as possible by hiring and training new agents. In the meantime, we also have live chat available on our website here.

      reply to Nicole

  2. Ray Kuykendall says

    How do I set up my voice mail?

    reply to Ray

  3. Dorothea Hollander says

    How and where do I find a 5G phone? I’ve only been able to find 4G in my price range. Also if I get a new phone how do I transfer all my information?

    reply to Dorothea

    • Hi Dorothea, thanks for your question. If you have a 4G LTE phone that is VoLTE capable, it would continue to work on our service and may fit into your budget a bit better. Switching information will depend on the phone you are switching over to. Android phones would have you back up information to a Gmail account and then when you sign in, it puts the information back for you. Whereas Apple phones will have you back up to an Apple iCloud ID so that when you sign in on a new phone it’ll move the information for you.

      reply to Jacob

  4. Kim says

    Can I keep my old number

    reply to Kim

    • Hi Kim, thanks for your interest! As long as the number remains active with the current provider during the transfer process, you can switch it over. We will also need the current account number, PIN number if there is one, billing address, and the account holder’s first and last name to submit to your current provider so that they will release the number to us so we would recommend having a bill readily available for this process.

      reply to Jacob

  5. Patrick J Brown says

    I purchased a Gallaxy S10e and it is listed as a 4G phone when in fact it is a 3G phone and Consumer Cellular is no longer going to support 3G phones. Now I must pay off my current phone and spend double to purchase a new phone that supports 5G. Consumer Cellular is a rip off.

    reply to Patrick

    • Hi Patrick, thank you for your post. The Samsung S10e is an LTE phone that has the VoLTE feature available for the phone to use. This means the phone will continue to work even with the updates to the towers. I apologize for the confusion that the email caused.

      reply to Jacob

      • Barb says

        You should explain that in the phone’s description. I am also thinking of buying the Galaxy S10e because the description on your website says it is a 4G, and I would have been so mad if I got it and the phone settings said it is a 3G.

        reply to Barb

  6. Crystal says

    Can I get cc if I have an iPhone

    reply to Crystal

    • Nicole at Consumer Cellular says

      Hi Crystal, in order to use your own Apple iPhone with our service, it will need to be a VoLTE-capable, unlocked, and GSM-compatible model. Please keep in mind that we cannot guarantee compatibility for all phone models, but we generally have good experiences with iPhones.

      reply to Nicole

  7. keith mcclendon says

    my phone quit charging and it says “charging has paused your device has exceeded ideal temperature range” but the phone and the battery are both cold.

    reply to keith

  8. Sue Secrete says

    I am having problems accessing the internet. Please advise.

    reply to Sue

  9. CATHERINE A DUNHAM says

    How can I check the data I have used up till now?

    reply to CATHERINE

  10. Sandy Hibbard says

    How do I get to voice mail with out having to use a password? Would just like to call when notified of messages. Have an I 7 phone.

    reply to Sandy

    • Nicole at Consumer Cellular says

      Hi Sandy, if you want to enable Visual Voicemail for your iPhone, our customer service team can help you with that if you give us a call at 888-345-5509 or chat with us here.

      reply to Nicole

  11. Richard Lawray says

    I have a Moto e5 phone; what’s the best deal for a phone upgrade to be compatible with the upcoming 5G?

    reply to Richard

    • Hi Richard, thanks for your question! The Motorola Moto E5 is actually a VoLTE capable phone which means that the phone will continue to work once the network updates. If you would still like to upgrade the phone though, all of the phones listed on our website will be able to be used going forward. You can take a look at the options we have and their pricing by going to our website here.

      reply to Jacob

  12. Barbara Tripp says

    I would like to get another iPhone 6s but CC doesn’t have this one now. Can I purchase a new one from any merchant and still continue to have service and business connections with CC?

    reply to Barbara

    • Hi Barbara, thanks for your question! If you purchase an iPhone 6 from somewhere else you will just want to make sure that it is completely unlocked from all other providers, is GSM-compatible, and VoLTE capable. We can’t guarantee compatibility for all models, but we’ve had good experiences in the past with iPhones moving to our network as long as they meet the mentioned criteria.

      reply to Jacob

  13. Mary says

    How do you go about getting a phone and your service without waiting on hold forever ?

    reply to Mary

    • Hi Mary, thanks for your post. We definitely understand those hold times are frustrating and appreciate your patience as we hire and train more agents to help with it. If you are currently a customer with us, you can place an order for a phone by going to your online account here and click on the “Upgrade/Replace” option by your number. If you’re looking to sign up for service, you can also use our general website to place the order, or visit a partnered Target location to pick up a phone a well.

      reply to Jacob

  14. Roxanne says

    I have a samsung galaxy J7 Sky Pro phone. Would i be able to use CC?

    reply to Roxanne

    • Hi Roxanne, thanks for your question! If the phone is unlocked from the provider, is GSM-compatible, and VoLTE capable, it may work on our network. We can’t guarantee compatibility for all models, but we’ll do all that we can to see if we can get it working on our network for you.

      reply to Jacob

  15. Judith says

    do you offer a class that teaches the use o a smart phone? I never used one, I have a “dumb” phone.

    reply to Judith

  16. GREG GOLDEN says

    When we upgrade the iPhone 7 plus to an iPhone 11, how much trade-in credit can we get for the old phone?

    reply to GREG

  17. Arnold Lowry says

    Can the Jitterbug smartphone be used on the Consumer Cellular network?

    reply to Arnold

    • Hi Arnold, thanks for your question. If the phone is unlocked from all providers, is GSM-compatible, and VoLTE-capable, it may work on our network. We can’t guarantee compatibility for all models, but we’ll do all that we can to see if we can get it connected for you.

      reply to Jacob

  18. Gerri says

    Does the Samsung A10E have a back button and slide feature. If you order new phone and new acct online how long does it take to arrive?

    reply to Gerri

  19. Arthur R Salas says

    I have a motorola g6 wath 3g, CC is upgrading to 4g or 5g. CC says that 3g will not work after upgrade. Way can’t i just purchase a 4g or 5g sim card from CC, and not have to purchase a new phone.

    reply to Arthur

  20. Elvira says

    Elvira; I have just purchase (2) Samsung A10E (waiting the arrival from cc) . What type of phones are these? & are they 3G or 4G ready. Can one do facetime with these phones?.

    reply to Elvira

    • Nicole at Consumer Cellular says

      Hi Elvira, all of the phones that we are currently selling will work with the network changes. The Samsung Galaxy A10E is an LTE phone, and is VoLTE capable. FaceTime is a feature unique to Apple iPhones, but it can do video calling with third-party applications, such as Skype or Google Hangouts.

      reply to Nicole

  21. Darell says

    Your information screen is a joke.

    reply to Darell

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