11 technological breakthroughs that led to modern smartphones

After the announcement of the next generation of devices iPhone, let's take a look at what led to their creation.


10 years have passed since the first iPhone appearance, which is considered the twin priority of smartphones in modern form. Users are concentrated on what will receive in a new device and what would like to get in future models.

Apple contributed to the creation of modern smartphones. She suggested a user interface, application store, security mechanisms for logging into the system, voice control, etc. However, no need to forget about the roots and fundamental technologies that appeared many years ago, before the iPhone. Many companies have made their innovative contribution to smartphones and you need to give them a tribute to them.

Let's look at modern smartphones and their key functionality. Who first suggested them? Below we describe important steps in the evolution of smartphones and their technologies, which are now perceived as granted.


The company Sharp was first introduced by the camera integrated into the phone in the late 2000s in Japan. At about the same time, the same did the same samsung. The possibilities of both cameras were very modest. Since then, almost all phone manufacturers have included the camera, the quality and capabilities of which are constantly growing. Nokia For a long time, in its phones, made a major bet on the quality of photos and built-in image editing tools. The camera made smartphones by universal mobile devices, which are photographed much more often than individual cameras. Surely we will continue to observe the development of cameras in mobile devices. Coming augmented reality, virtual reality and 3D, more and more processors from leading manufacturers support these possibilities.


BENEFON has released the first commercially available phone with GPS support in 1999 called Benefon ESC! It was sold mainly in Europe, other mobile phones with GPS appeared soon. In 2004, Qualcomm introduced Assisted GPS technology, which allowed phones to use a cellular signal in conjunction with a GPS signal to determine the location of the device with an accuracy of several meters. GPS almost also works in modern smartphones. Although this feature is perceived as a matter of course, we have one of the fundamental functions in the work of many applications, such as Uber, Lyft, social networks, maps, etc.

High-speed modem

Internet access via 4G network now seems common, and soon speed will grow in networks 5G. Without modern networks 4G LTE, smartphones would hardly be so popular. The Samsung SCH-R900 mobile phone was the first with the support of the LTE modem, it appeared in September 2010. The Samsung Galaxy Indulge apparatus became the first smartphone with LTE in February 2011. HTC Smartphone Thunderbolt from the American television operator Verizon was the second. In June 2013, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor entered the first smartphone with support for LTE Advanced. It was Samsung Galaxy S4 LTE-A, where the rate of data receiving reached 150 Mbps. Now support 4G LG is everywhere and speed continue to increase. This year, Gigabit LTE was launched, the distribution of the 5G network is scheduled for 2020.

Continuous roaming

In the first years of the existence of cell phones it was difficult to go beyond its coverage area, not to mention to call and accept Calls from anywhere in the world. In 1990, European Telecommunications Standard Institute (ETSI) has released the first part of the GSM specification, then the first roaming standards appeared. The following generations of specifications improved this feature and now smartphones are able to connect unnoticed to users to connect to networks of different providers in different geographic zones. We perceive it as proper, although you actually require a serious infrastructure so that we can not think about where you can call, but where it is impossible.

Touch Screens

The IBM Simon phone in 1992 became the first with the touch screen, so some are called its first smartphone. For his time it was a breakthrough, but according to modern standards, the device is extremely primitive. In the 90s, most apparatus with touch screens rather resembled pocket computers than smartphones. The first iPhone in 2007 changed the idea of ​​how touch interfaces should look like. Apple did not invent the touch screen, but brought an innovative interface at the expense of advanced gesture recognition after in 2005 I bought FingerWorks. A year before the iPhone appears, the device LG Prada proposed the first capacitive touch screen. Samsung and Nokia also developed mobile phones with a touch screen, although their interface was not so attractive as the iPhone.

SIM cards

SIM-card gives the phone and smartphone their identity in any cellular network. The first SIM card was developed in 1991 in Munich by Giesecke & Devrient. Today, SIM cards allow more than 7 billion devices to connect to cellular networks worldwide. Apple played an important role in reducing the sizes of SIM cards, representing the Micro-SIM cards in the first generation of iPad tablets. The iPhone 4 in 2010 became the first smartphone with Micro-SIM, iPhone 5 in 2012 was the first with Nano-SIM.

Fingerprint scanners

The first mobile phones with TOSHIBA G500 and G900 fingerprint scanners in 2007. In 2012, Apple acquired AUTHENEC, which was engaged in identity scanners and identity management. The iPhone 5S in 2011 in became the first smartphone for the largest mobile operators in the United States after the machine was released Motorola atrix. In September 2016 , Xiaomi demonstrated a smartphone with an ultrasonic scanner of prints with the application of technology, which Qualcomm got along with the purchase of Ultrascan. Recognition accuracy increases here and the ability to enable the scanner to the screen will appear.

Application stores

Despite the current domination of the Apple App Store store, it was not the first. In November 2011, the South Korean mobile operator KTFreeTEL (KTF) became the first in the world that launched a BREW-based service after Qualcomm introduced this open application platform for devices with CDMA networks support. The Brew platform has not become popular due to the limited capabilities of the phones of those years, but it pointed the way to future generations of app stores. When iPhone appeared, Apple captured the mobile application market, but now she has a major competitor on the Android platform, where stores are much more than one.

SUPER screens AMOLED. They were used in some Samsung and Nokia devices from 2012 and even earlier with low resolution and number of pixels, but not on smartphones. The capabilities of the new SUPER AMOLED screens make sense with the support of the processors of a quick compression video, including 4K format, as well as with fast Internet access speeds through the network like LTE-Advanced, which appeared in the last couple of years.

Wireless recharging

Wireless recharge offered in its devices yet Palm. Samsung uses it in the Types of Fast Charging Standard from Galaxy Note 5 and Galaxy S6 EDGE +. Nokia has been in 2014 in the Smartphone Lumia 920 running Windows Phone 8. Usually each manufacturer offers its own version of wireless recharging, only in the last couple of years, various competing standards began to unite. The benefits of wireless recharging decreases, as companies represent the methods of rapid recharging, thanks to which the time is reduced by 2-3 times. In the near future, wireless recharging will continue to spread on new smartphones.


Smartphone HTC G1 in October 2008 was the first on the Android operating system. Although he could not resist the iPhone, it was only the beginning of a serious competitive struggle. Since then, thousands of devices on Android have been released and its market share is approaching 80%.

The above is a brief list of technological breakthroughs, which led to the creation of those devices that lie now in our pockets. Apple has made a significant contribution to the union and improvement of the technologies created by other technology. Despite this, it was not always she offered something new first and did not always do it successfully. Like all manufacturers, Apple binds ideas and technology from other companies. For this reason, it should be continued to observe the development of technologies, who would not offer them.