The Science Behind Smartphone Technology

There are around 5 billion cell phones in the world today and 10% of them are smartphones. These numbers will continue to swell in the coming years as predicted by many business experts. Smartphone manufacturers use technical terms to define the phones they have in the market. As a smartphone owner, it definitely helps if you understand exactly what these smartphones are made up of. Such knowledge will allow you to determine if the phone does meet your requirements and whether or not they are the real attributes or simply hype.


Think of the smartphone processor as the human brain. Without it, the phone would never function regardless if it has all the other elements connected to it. When shopping for a phone, you will most likely find high-end models with 1GHz processor. Major manufacturers include Qualcomm, Texas Instruments, and Samsung and they all offer 1GHz processors. The higher the number, the faster and smoother the smartphone experience.


smartphone, the more applications you can run without experiencing lag. Most of the high-end phones have at least 512MB of RAM, which allows you to play games, browse, make calls, or text without fear of having a slow phone.


Size is usually a concern. A few years back, most people wanted a small device that can fit their pockets. With the introduction of large screens of at least 5 inches, there are even more choices. Most smartphones though use liquid crystal display or LCD. This technology is fine as it provides reasonably crisp graphics. For the manufacturers, they are not so expensive to produce.

LCD has two main types: Thin Film Transistor (TFT) and In-Plane-Switching LCD (IPS-LCD). TFTs are made to improve the quality of the image, but the visibility outdoors and the viewing angles are poor. In addition, they require tons of power, which is why most lower-end smartphones and tablets still use them. On the other hand, the IPS-LCD, which is often called the Retina Display, is designed to improve viewing angles. It is not power hungry and thus, powerful smartphones use them.

nother type of technology used in phone displays is Active-Matrix Organic Light-Emitting Diode (AMOLED), which is brighter and provides a more natural view in direct light. However, many consumers comment on its colors are oversaturated. There is also Super AMOLED introduced by Samsung, which differs from AMOLED as it has its touch sensors directly on the phone’s display.


Most phones today have lithium-ion batteries in which lithium is the chemical found within the battery cell that moves to the battery’s cathode. These batteries are rechargeable and can last more than alkaline batteries. If the phone is large, it usually has 1500mAH capacity, but most other smartphones have 1400mAH. Most of the power goes to the screen when it is turned on which is why large phones need large capacities as well especially for business purposes.

Raw Materials Used

Apart from the components mentioned above, there are minerals used in smartphones, which include:

  • Barium for protection against radiation
  • Beryllium for processors and connections
  • Cadmium for switches and in some batteries
  • Copper for the copper wires to produce high electrical conductivity
  • Hexavalent Chromium for stronger, more durable metal housings
  • Gold for wiring and sometimes as coating for the wires
  • Mercury for lighting of the devices
  • Nickel for the circuit boards
  • Tin for soldering and building the electronic assemblies
  • Oil for plastic casings as well as the other plastic components
  • Zinc for circuit boards
  • Iron, lead, and aluminum are also used in some smartphones. It is easy to say that smartphones have evolved so rapidly and it is expected to do so in the next five years.

William Stevens is a writer who creates informative articles in relation to technology. In this article, he describes the work behind the creation of smart phones and aims to encourage further study through OU Engineering Management Masters Online.