Choosing and buying new mobile devices, smart phones and mobile service plans can be confusing. The glossary below will give you access to some of the terms and definitions most often used by local cell phone retailers and service providers.
As always, you are the customer, and it's your right to completely understand all terms on contracts and devices before making a purchasing decision, so ask your mobile device and cell phone provider if you don't understand something or need help deciphering contract language before you make a final decision.
The third generation of technology after analog cellular phones and digital phones is often referred to as “3G” or third generation. 3G devices usually feature high data speeds, always-on data access and greater voice capacity than 1G and 2G phones.
Also known as: third generation technology, 3G phones, 3G tablets, 3G technology
4G, or fourth generation phones, are becoming available and more popular. These feature even faster speeds and greater connectivity than earlier models.
Also known as: fourth generation, 4G phones
Options on mobile phones, cell phones and other digital devices that aid those who have hearing and vision difficulties that make using non-accessible phones or mobile devices more difficult. Greater accessibility gives those with vision, hearing and other disabilities greater access to the internet and mobile services through phones, smartphones, tablets, and other web-enabled devices.
Also known as: low-vision accessible phones, hearing accessible phones, open access devices, ADA devices
Mobile accessories include cases, adapters, chargers, cables, app-enabled products, stylus pens, SIM cards, micro SD memory and other memory cards, cell phone camera lenses, cell phone car accessories, cleaning and other care accessories, travel packs, headsets, charms and other decorations, screen protectors, extra batteries and other power options, and more functional and eye-catching add-ons for your phone, smartphone, tablet, and other mobile device.
Also known as: mobile accessories, cell phone accessories, tablet accessories, cell phone add-ons, cell phone extras
A one-time fee for activating service on a new mobile device. Activation fees sometimes apply to customers using existing devices and choosing a new mobile service provider.
Also known as: start-up fees, signing fees, activating fee
Add inga new line of service or new phone to your existing cell phone or mobile device account.
Also known as: adding a line, add-a-line fees, add a line fees, fees for adding a line
The operating system and software platform created by Google. Android-based phones use apps and programs specially written for Android devices.
Also known as: Android platform, Android phones, Android tablets, Android-enabled
Minutes that you can use anytime; these are usually not tied into night and weekend minutes, family plans, friends and family plans and other contract plans. Some plans include antyime minutes to prevent overages and give customers greater flexibility with their cell phones, smartphones, mobile devices and contracts. Anytime minutes may include phone, text and data minutes.
Also known as: freedom minutes, flexible minutes
Software and special features downloadable to mobile devices such as smartphones and tablests. Apps add functionality and usefulness to hardware and include categories such as games, email features, QR and bar code scanners, alarm clocks, note taking apps, website-integrated apps (such as Facebook and Pinterest). Most mobile devices come with some factory-set apps preloaded on the device; more can be downloaded free and for a charge from app stores. Apps need to be compatible with your device's operating system. For example, iPhones require Apple-based apps, while Android-based phones require Android-based apps.
Also known as: application, mobile app, digital app, smartphone app, tablet apps, apps
The capacity of a given data line to carry signals to connected devices. The higher the bandwidth, speed the more information and data can be carried in a certain amount of time.
Also known as: connectivity, bandwith size, bandwith speed, download speed
A cell phone that offers basic wireless services and standard features such as phone calls, text messaging and limited Internet browsing.
Also known as: feature phone, flip phone, early-generation phone, simple cell phone, dumbphone
Billing cycles are month-long cycles in which charges start and end. Most billing cycles correspond with the date you signed up for the current contract, so your bill cycle may not be the first of the month through the last day of the month, and may instead start and end mid-month. It is vital to know when your billing period ends and when the new bill period begins so you can keep track of the minutes and data used during the billing cycle and avoid overage charges. Most cell phone companies will work with you to set your billing cycle to a date that is most convenient for you to remember and pay.
Also known as: billing period, contract cycle, monthly billing cycle
Bluetooth is a short-range wireless technology that connects devices to other close-range Bluetooth-enabled devices and accessories. Bluetooth technology is most useful to pair cell phones and other mobile devices with headsets, speakers, printers, and other accessories to provide handsfree calling, wireless music connections, wireless printer connectivity, and wireless mouse and keyboard connections.
Also known as: Bluetooth pairing, pairing, Bluetooth enabled, Bluetooth connectivity
broadband internet service
High-speed data transmission fast enough to support apps, streaming, video, gaming, online TV, downloading, and high-speed Internet access is available through broadband internet service.
Also known as: broadband internet, broadband connectivity
Business plan are s designed to meet the needs of large and small business owners and workforces. Business plans may require a minimum number of business lines to qualify for the contract. Most local mobile sales and service retailers offer competitive voice and data plans for businesses. These include sharable data plans, flexible texting and voice, and large banks of data for use by businesses large and small.
Also known as: business mobile plans, business data plans, business cell phone plans
Mobile phones with onboard cameras are known as camera phones. All smartphones and most traditional cell phones come with camera phone features that can capture, send and store pictures. Smartphones will allow you to upload and save photos to the cloud for later viewing. If phone-based photography is important to you, be sure to check out the phone camera capabilities and specifications for the phones you're most interested in buying, as the quality of cameras and the images they take can vary greatly among brands, models and generations of phones.
Also known as: phone cameras
The mobile device company that provides your wireless service is known as a carrier. AT&T, Sprint, Virgin Mobile, T-Mobile, Cricket, and Verizon Wireless are examples of carriers.
Also known as: cell phone provider, mobile device service provider, cell phone carrier, cell service carrier, mobile carrier, cell phone company
cell phone repair
Retailers and independent shops often offer mobile device repair, including cell phone repair, tablet repair, smartphone repair and more. These services may include cracked screen repairs, battery replacement, virus removal, Andriod repair, Windows phone repairs, iPhone repairs, charging port repair or replacements, water damage repair and more. Not all repair shops repair all phones or provide all types of cell phone repair services, however, so be sure you call and talk with a technician before stopping by to be sure that they are able to service your type of phone.
Also known as: smartphone repair, cracked screen repair, cell phone repairs, mobile device repairs
Connectivity allows your phone to connect to other devices and networks through wifi, Bluetooth and other connection avenues. Connectivity allows you to share files, use accessories and utilize the internet.
Also known as: cell phone connectivity, internet connectivity, wifi connectivity
Coverage area is the area in which a specific wireless device receives service.
Also known as: coverage, cell phone coverage, wireless coverage, cell phone coverage area
Information sent to or from a user's cell phone, smartphone, tablet or other mobile device, not including phone calls and text messages. The internet, email, games, apps, syncing and other functions may all use data.
Also known as: data usage
The amount of data allowed to be sent to or from a user's smartphone, cell phone, tablet, or other mobile device per billing period. Going over one's data allowance usually results in added fees or overage charges.
Also known as: data package
The permanent termination and cancellation of wireless service. Deactivating service before your mobile device contract has ended may result in early deactivation fees or early termination penalties.
Also known as: service cancellation, early deactivation, cell phone deactivation
Canceling a smart phone, cell phone, or other wireless mobile device contract before the agreed-upon term has ended. Early termination fees may apply
Also known as: early termination fees, early contract termination, mid-term contract cancellation
family wireless plans
Family wireless plans, family cell phone plans and mobile device plans are plans that let you group together a number of phones that are all paid for under the same bill. These so-called family plans are popular because they often give a deal for a large amount of calling minutes, text messaging and data usage for a reasonable cost. Most local mobile device sales and service locations offer family plans, and the top players (including Sprint, AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and others) often compete to offer the best family plans to draw in customers. Consider your options carefully before signing on for family cell phone plans, since the terms and usefulness can vary greatly.
Also known as: family and friends plans, multi-user cell phone plans, family calling plans
Flip phones are cell phones that include a screen and keypad on the same side of the phone and an additional flap that flips over the keypad to open and close the phone during and after use.
Also known as: dumb phone, early generation cell phone
hands-free wireless device
Hands-free wireless devices allow one to use a cell phone, smart phone or another mobile device without holding the device in one's hands. Hands-free devices may be equipped with Bluetooth or other headsets or speaker phone options.
Also known as:
Hard resets restore mobile devices to their original factory settings .Hard resets remove all apps that have been downloaded, app preferences, photos, contacts, system settings and other data stored on the device.
Also known as: factory reset, complete reset, complete phone reset, complete system reset, factor phone reset
Cell phone data plans for single wireless lines. In opposition to family plans and multi-phone business plans.
Also known as: single-phone wireless plans, single mobile device plans
Most mobile sales and service retailers offer competitive voice and data plans for businesses. These include sharable data plans, flexible texting and voice, and large banks of data for use by businesses large and small. As with any cell plan, you will be locked in for a certain amount of time, so shop carefully for the business plan that best suits your business size and needs. The number of devices that may be connected at one time may be limited to a specific number or flexible depending on the amount of data that's being consumed at a time.
Also known as: mobile hot spots, home mobile hotspots, WiFi hotspots, WiFi hot spots
Network extenders extend your wireless connection to areas where your wireless coverage doesn't reach. Network extenders may be purchased from local mobile device retailers.
Also known as: wireless network extenders, wifi extenders, internet access extenders, network hubs
new cell phones
New cell phones include smartphones, basic phones, flip phones, and other portable phones. New phones may have touchscreens or physical keyboards, fit easily in your pocket or be used as a tablet (tablet phones are sometimes referred to as “phablets”), connect to other devices, serve as in-pocket computers, be simple flip phones made for phone calls and not many other services, and more. New cell phones fit a variety of needs, uses and price points, and all come with different cell phone plans and contracts. Local mobile device providers can help you choose the best new cell phone for you and your needs.
Also known as: new smartphones, new flip phones, new mobile phones, buy new cell phones
no coverage area
Areas and locations where cell towers does not exist and where wireless service and cell phone signals are not accessible.
Also known as: no service areas, no cell signal areas
prepaid cell phones
Prepaid cell phones are phones that you pay for each month before use or that are run using prepaid credits. Prepaid cell phones function the same as cell phones and smart phones tied to contracts, except they have no contracts, often have no activation fee, and usually require no credit checks. Prepaid cell phones are popular with people who don't want to be tied to a specific mobile device or cell phone provider, and who like the freedom to choose a great network with no annual contract. Most cell phone providers and mobile device services offer prepaid plans that are flexible and affordable. Prepaid rates may vary depending on the provider, device and features of services you choose.
Also known as: prepaid mobile devices, prepaid smartphones, prepaid wifi connections, prepaid phones, contract-free cell ohones
SIM cards stand for subscriber identity module cards. SIM cards can be moved between mobile devices. SIM cards are used to authenticate users, store subscriber information or apps, store contacts and text messages, and retain other information the user wants to keep on their phones.
Also known as: memory card, subscriber identity module
Smartphones are multifunctional phones that serve a variety of purposes, including functioning as a mobile phone, sending and receiving emails and text messages, as a camera, internet-accessing device, address book, electronic reader (e-reader), credit card, GPS device, flashlight, alarm clock, date book, notebook and more. They are loaded with features and apps that allow you to connect to others, play games, look up information, and more.
Also known as: smart phones, smart cell phones, modern cell phones, new cell phones, new generation cell phones
SMS messages are short, text-only messages sent from one wireless device or smartphone to another.
Also known as: short messaging service, text message, text messaging
Soft resets are the process of turning mobile devices off and on again using the power button. Soft resets don't affect data, apps or programs on your cell phone or mobile device. Soft resets are most often used when mobile phones and tablets lock up, freeze, don't respond or have other issues that need a reset to repair.
Also known as:
Sharing, storing and accessing the same information across multiple devices and online locations is known as syncing. Syncing is often done for contacts, calendars, emails, documents, photos, and other items used on multiple devices or in the cloud.
Also known as: syncing, synchronize, synch devices, sync devices, synchronize mobile devices
Tablets are portable computers that are smaller than laptops and larger than smartphones. They also offer more features than smartphones. Tablets are often used with apps, or to view online TV and movies. Many tablets can be used with word processing software, as an e-reader or electronic reader, and for working and pleasure. They are more portable than laptops and offer more versatility. There are even tablet versions specially-built for kids. Tablets come in a variety of sizes and price points, so learn your options before making a purchasing decision.
Also known as: child-friendly tablets, work tablets, tablet computers, tablet phones, phablets, portable tablets
Connecting a mobile device such as a phone or tablet to a laptop or computer using a data cable or tethering feature, which allows the computer or laptop to access the internet using the mobile device’s wireless network connection. This is useful for homes that do not have internet connections or wifi connections, yet have cell phone access with tethering services.
Also known as: tethering mobile devices, tethering phone to laptop, phone tethering, computer tethering, data tethering
A feature available on some cell phone plans and mobile devices that allows you to speak with two other parties on two other phone numbers simultaneously.
Also known as: 3-way calling, three way calling, three number connections
A short-range, wireless, high-speed internet connection available to wireless data devices.
Also known as: wifi, wi-fi internet access, wi-fi connection, public wifi, public wi-fi
wireless phone plans
A package of services (including voice, messaging and / or data allowances) offered at a set monthly access fee. Mobile device plans include any service plans for cell phones, smart phones, tablets, and other mobile devices. These plans may include individual and shared plans, data plans, talk and text minutes and more. There are even family plans and business plans that help you bundle different devices together for additional savings.
Also known as: cell phone plans, mobile phone plans, mobile device plans, cell phone calling plans
Read moreRead less