What’s the difference between a mobile phone, feature phone and smartphone?About to purchase your next phone but don’t know how to tell the difference between a mobile phone and a smartphone? This handy guide will help you weed out the ‘dumb’ phones from the high powered superphones.

The mobile phone landscape has changed dramatically over the last five years or so as the smartphone has grown to command a majority of the mobile market in many countries around the globe.

But what exactly is a smartphone and how is it different from the common mobile phone or a feature phone?

“As a rule of thumb, the best way to differentiate the three groups is to keep in mind its features and therefore, cost. If a phone just makes a phone call, sends a text message and offers very little else, it’s a mobile phone. If it offers a high-megapixel camera, enables you to edit Microsoft Office documents and photos then it’s a smartphone. And anywhere in between is probably a feature phone,” explains Nokia in a post on its Conversations blog.

How to spot a smartphone from a mobile phone:

Mobile phones
The primary “raison d’etre” of a mobile phone (commonly referred to as a ‘dumb’ phone) is to make calls and send texts. These affordable phones may be a dying breed in some developed countries but they remain popular in places such as Africa and India due to their outstanding battery life, durable design and rock bottom (often contract-free) price.

Feature phones
Feature phones lay somewhere between a mobile phone and a smartphone. They are often designed around one or more stand-out features: the ability to capture high-res images, listen to music with enhanced sound quality, charge via a built-in solar panel or connect to social networks via built-in apps. As technology advances feature phones have become more and more like smartphones, with a growing set of features. You can typically purchase a feature phone for between $0 to $99 on a two-year contract.

Smartphones offer cutting edge technology and high-end computer-like features with a flashy price tag to match. A smartphone typically runs on an advanced computing platform aka a mobile operating system (common examples include Apple’s iOS, Google’s Android OS and Microsoft’s Windows Phone OS). Other typical smartphone features include internet connectivity via WiFi and 3G or 4G, a dual or quad-core processor, a range of downloadable apps, a high-res camera and built in GPS. At launch, flagship smartphones such as the Galaxy S III or the iPhone 4S can run upwards of $299 on a two-year contract.