Tech jargon buster

What do common technology words mean?
Tech jargon buster




1080p is a resolution that's often used for videos and screens. It's also known as Full HD because it gives super sharp picture quality.


2G is the Second Generation of mobile networks. It carries calls and texts and gives you very slow mobile internet.


2K is a resolution that's slightly higher than Full HD, so it gives slightly better image quality.


3G is the Third Generation of mobile networks. It carries calls and texts and gives you access to fast mobile internet.


4G is the Fourth Generation of mobile networks. It gives you incredibly fast mobile internet but relies on 3G to carry calls and texts.


4K is a super sharp resolution that's more than 4 times sharper than Full HD. It's the same resolution used in the best cinemas.


720p is a resolution commonly known as HD. It gives sharp images and is often used for phone screens.



An accelerometer can tell when your phone or tablet's moves, letting the screen rotate automatically and giving you tilt controls in games.


AMOLED is a type of screen technology most commonly used by Samsung. It has very bright colours and is extremely power efficient.


Android is an operating system that runs a lot of phones. It's made by Google and is easily customised, which is why it's so popular.

Aperture (f-stop)

The aperture or f-stop of your phone's camera tells you how much light can get through the lens. The lower the aperture, the more light can get in and the brighter photos will be.


Auto-sync is when your phone automatically connects to a website or another device to update itself. It could be checking for new emails or loading your photos onto your computer when you plug it in.


BlackBerry OS

BlackBerry OS is an operating system that runs all BlackBerry phones.


Bluetooth lets you connect to other Bluetooth enabled devices wirelessly. So you can play music to a speaker or take a call on headphones without wires.


Capacitive stylus

A capacitive stylus uses small electrical signals to let you controls phones and tablets that have capacitive touchscreens.

Capacitive touchscreen

A capacitive touchscreen is designed to pick up the small electrical signals from your fingers to let you control it. They are a lot more sensitive than previous resistive touchscreens that relied on pressure to give you control.

Cloud storage

Cloud storage lets you store files on the internet so you can access them on any device from anywhere.


Cortana is the software on Windows Phone that lets you control your phone with your voice.


Data allowance

When you have a smartphone on a pay monthly contract, you'll have a monthly allowance of calls, texts and data. You data allowance tells you how much mobile internet you can use without being charged extra.

Depth of field

Depth of field is a feature of photos. If a camera gives a good depth of field in photos, it means that objects closer to the camera are in focus while ones further away are blurred.

Digital noise cancellation

Digital noise cancellation eliminates noise from the outside world when you're listening to something through headphones. This lets you hear your music or movies more clearly.

DIS (digital image stabilisation)

Digital image stabilisation uses software to remove blurring in photos that's caused by the camera moving.


DLNA lets gadgets that are connected to the same Wi-Fi network to share files. So you could use it to watch a movie that's saved on your phone on your TV.

Dual band

A dual band phone can connect to two different frequencies of mobile signal, letting it work in Europe, Africa, Austalisia and most of Asia.

Dual core

A dual core processor is one that has two parts. They can each do a different task at the same time or they can team up to do one thing faster.

Dual flash

Dual flash is used by some phone cameras to produce more natural light. It uses two flash bulbs, each a different colour, to try and get perfect lighting.



EDGE wass the first 3G network and so gives your phone access to the internet. Phones can still connect to it, but by today's standards it's very slow.


Fitness band

A fitness band is a wrist-worn gadget that can track things like the amount of exercise you do and the calories you burn. They usually need to connect to a smartphone to work fully.

F-stop (aperture)

The f-stop or aperture of your phone's camera tells you how much light can get through the lens. The lower the aperture, the more light can get in and the brighter photos will be.

Full HD

Full HD, aka 1080p, is the most common screen resolution for new phones and TVs. It tells you that your screen measures 1920 pixels by 1080 pixels.


GB (gigabyte)

A gigabyte is a unit used to measure a file size or storage capacity. 1GB is roughly the size of a standard definition movie.

Gesture control

Gesture control refers to how we use touchscreens. Gestures include swiping, pinching and tapping on the screen to use a phone or tablet.

GHz (gigahertz)

Gigahertz is a unit used to measure processor speed. A higher number of GHz lets a phone do things more quickly.


GLONASS (Global Navigation Satellite System) is a Russian satellite-based navigation system.

Google Now

Google Now is Google's advanced search system. It can take voice commands to control your phone or search the web and predicts what information you want, like football scores or flight details, based on preferences you give it so you don't even need to search.

Gorilla Glass

Gorilla Glass is a special type of toughened glass that's used to protect a lot of touchscreens. It's scratch and shock resistant, so shouldn't break easily.


GPRS, or General Packet Radio Service, is a 2G phone signal that is used for sending picture messaging. It also gives you very slow internet access when outside of a 3G or 4G area.


GPS, or Global Positioning System, uses satellites to find your location, making it possible to use your phone as a Sat Nav.


HDMI (High Definition Multimedia Interface)

HDMI is used to connect things to a HD TV. Its big advantage is that it lets you play videos in high definition.


HDR, or High Dynamic Range, is a camera mode that helps your photos show more detail when there are areas that are bright and others that are shaded.

Hexa core

Hexa core describes a processor with six parts. Each one can handle a separate task, or they can team up to do things more quickly.

Hot swap

Hot swap lets you change a memory card in your phone or tablet without turning the device off first.


HSPA, or High Speed Packet Access, is a 3G mobile connection. It gives you high speed internet access.


Image processor

Image processors are the part of a camera that takes all the information from the sensor and turns it into a digital image. The best camera phones have dedicated image processors, but most phones use their main processor to handle photos.

Infrared blaster

An infrared (IR) blaster lets you control your TV with your phone as if it were a remote. Phones with an IR blaster will come with a built in TV app that controls it.


iOS is Apple's software that runs the iPhone and iPad.

IP (ingress protection)

IP (ingress Protection) ratings tell you how much water and dust a phone can be exposed to. The highest rating is 68, meaning it's water and dust proof. Other ratings indicate a level of resistence.


IPS, or in-plane switching, is a technology used with LCD screens. It helps the screen show colours better and lets you see the screen clearly from a wider angle.

IPS Quantum display

IPS Quantum display is a unique screen technology used by LG to create brighter, more colourful and thinner mobile phone screens.



LCD (liquid crystal display) is a type of screen technology that's extremely common. It's big advantage is that it usually gives natural colours.


LED (light emitting diode) are very small, very bright lightbulbs that use little power. That's why they're used as flashes for camera phones and notification lights.

Light sensor

Light sensors are common on smartphones. They're found on the front of the phone and detect levels of light and tell the phone to make the screen brighter or dimmer to compensate.

Lightning connector

Lightning connector is Apple's own cable that's used for charging the iPhone and iPad.

Live Colour LED

Live Colour LED is a brand name used by Sony for a type of screen technology that is used in the Xperia Z2 smartphone. The new screen is supposed to use less power and give perfect colours.

Live tile

Live tile is the name given to the boxes on the Windows Phone homescreen. This is because each box can automatically update to bring you the latest information.


LTE, or Long Term Evolution, is the 4G internet connection. It gives you access to extremely fast internet.


mAh (milliamp-hour)

mAh is a unit used for measuring battery capacity. It's a great first indicator for battery life of smartphones and tablets.

MHz (megahertz)

MHz is a unit used for measuring processor speed. The higher the number of MHz, the faster your phone will be able to do things.

Micro SIM

Micro SIM cards are small SIM cards used in a lot of the top smartphones. They help to save space while still letting you receive the same great signal from your network.

Micro USB

Micro USB is a type of connector used by a lot of phones to connect to a computer or to charge.


MicroSD is a type of memory card. It's very small and can have a very large capacity, making it perfect for smartphones.


MMS, or multimedia messaging service, is like a text message but it contains an picture or audio file.

Mobile data

Mobile data is used to connect you to the internet on your phone when you aren't using a Wi-Fi network. Data use is measured in megabytes and gigabytes.


Something is modular if it's made up of easily separated blocks, or modules. For phones, this would let you buy the modules you want, like a camera or heart rate monitor, and build your own perfect phone.

MP (megapixel)

Megapixel is a unit used to measure the size of a photo. Digital photos are made up of millions of tiny dots of colour called pixels, and a megapixel is 1 million of these dots.


Multitasking is when your phone or tablet is doing more than one thing at once. You could have an app like Facebook or your emails running in the background to keep you updated while you watch a movie.


Nano SIM

Nano SIM is currently the smallest type of SIM card. SIM cards let the phone decode a specific network's signal. A Nano SIM is used to save space in smartphones so there's more space for other important things.


NFC, or near field communication, lets you easily transfer data over a very short range. It's most commonly used for contactless payment but can also transfer files between NFC enabled phones.


Octa core

Octa core is a type of processor that has eight parts. Each one can handle a different task at the same time, or they can team up to get one thing done more quickly.

OIS (optical image stabilisation)

Optical image stabilisation uses tiny ball bearings or springs around a camera's lens to keep it steady even if your hands are shaking. The result is much sharper photos and videos.

Open source

Open source is a type of software for which the original code is freely available. That lets people use the software for free and make whatever changes to it they want. Android is the most popular open source software.

Operating system

Operating systems are the software that run all of the essential parts of a phone, tablet or computer.


Pay as you go

Pay as you go is a type of SIM card where you pay only for the calls, texts and data that your use. You top it up with money, and then are charged as you use your phone.

Pay monthly

Pay monthly is a type of SIM card that needs you to sign a contract. You pay a monthly bill by direct debit and get a set amount of call time, texts and data to use each month.


A phablet is a large smartphone. Traditionally it would have a screen between 5.3" and 7".


Pixels make up digital images. They're tiny dots of colour and the more of them you squeeze into an image, the more detail you should get.


Processors are the things that power phones and tablets. They're like the engine in a car and the bigger your processor, the faster your phone will go.

Proximity sensor

Proximity sensors are found on the front of smartphones and they tell the phone to switch the screen off when you're making a call. This stops you accidentally pushing buttons with your face.



Qi (pronounced chee) is a type of wireless charging technology that's commonly used in smartphones.

Quad band

Quad band phones can connect to four different frequencies of mobile signals, meaning they will work anywhere in the world.

Quad core

Quad core is a type of processor that has four parts. Each one can handle a different task at the same time, or they can team up to get one thing done more quickly.

Quad HD

Quad HD is a resolution commonly used in high-end smartphones and measures 2560 pixels by 1440 pixels. It has four times as many pixels as 720p HD.

QWERTY keyboard

A QWERTY keyboard is one that's like the keyboards used with home computers. While smartphones have QWERTY keyboards on their touchscreens, the term is normally used for phones that have physical keyboards.



RAM, or random access memory, is the memory your phones uses when running tasks. The more RAM you have, the more things your phone can do at once.


Resolution refers to the number of pixels on a screen or in a camera sensor. A higher resolution means more pixels, which should give a sharper image.


SIM free

A SIM free phone is one that does not come attached to a network. SIM free phones are bought on their own without any network connection but can be used with network you like.


Siri is a virtual assistant on iPhone and iPad. The software can control your phone and search the internet through voice commands.


A smartphone is a mobile phone that has internet access and apps.


A smartwatch is a watch that has apps. They usually link to your smartphone to give you notifications and often to make calls and send texts.


SMS, or short messaging service, is the technical name for a text message. They are short written messages sent over mobile networks.


Snapdragon is the brand name for Qualcomm's top mobile processors.

Standard SIM (mini SIM)

A standard SIM, or mini SIM, is the most common type of SIM card. It lets your phone decode a specific mobile network's signal.

Standby time

Standby time is a common way to reference battery life. It tells you how long a battery will last if the phone is left switched on but unused.

Stereo speakers

Stereo speakers are a pair of speakers that play the same sounds at the same time to give music or movies better sound quality.


Streaming is where you are downloading something from the internet and using it at the same time. So you could be streaming TV on BBC iPlayer where you're watching the start of the show while the end is still loading.


A stylus is a type of pen designed to be used with touchscreens. The thin tips mean you can use your phone more easily and with greater accuracy.


Super AMOLED is a type of screen technology most commonly used by Samsung. It has very bright colours and is extremely power efficient.

Sync (synchronise)

Syncing is when you copy data that's stored on one device onto another. For example, you could sync a to do list that's on your computer with your phone or sync emails that are online with your tablet.


Talk time

Talk time is a commonly used way to reference battery life. It refers to how long you could be constantly talking on a phone before the battery runs out.


Tethering is when you share your phone's mobile internet signal with other devices.

Top up

When you have a phone on pay as you go, you will need to top it up regularly with money by buying a voucher from Carphone Warehouse. Money is then taken from this top up when you make calls, send texts, or use mobile internet.

Tri band

Tri band phones can connect to three different frequencies of mobile phone signal. That means they'll work everywhere in the world apart from Central and South America.


Ultra HD

Ultra HD is a high resolution used for TVs and phone screens. Ultra HD screens measure 3840 pixels by 2160 pixels - that's exactly four times as many pixels as Full HD.


UltraPixel is a brand name that HTC uses to describe how the pixels in its cameras are bigger than normal. This lets each pixel capture more light, which is meant to make photos brighter and more colourful.


Unlocked phones will work with any SIM card that you put in them as they have no attachement to any network.


Upgrade is when you already have a phone with a network and you want a new phone with the same network. You can upgrade with Carphone Warehouse no matter where you originally bought your phone from.

USB host

USB host is where your phone can have accessories, like storage devices, plugged into its micro USB port.

USB Type-C (USB 3.1)

USB Type-C is a new type of USB connection. Its main benefits are its small size (about the same size as micro USB), the fact that its symetrical so the plug will fit in any way up, and that it can carry enough power to charge laptops (meaning you could user the same charger for your computer and your phone.)

User interface (UI)

A user interface is the piece of software that you see on your phone. It controls the looks of the software and lets you interact with the operating system and other apps.


VPN (virtual private network)

Virtual private networks let you securely access a network remotely. The most common example is connecting to your work's network from your smartphone.



A wearable is a piece of technology that can be worn. Examples include smartwatches, fitness bands and Google Glass.


Widgets are found on Android phones. They're small versions of apps that sit on your homescreen, letting you use parts of your phone without having to open the entire app.


Wi-Fi is a wireless internet connection common with modern home broadband.

Wi-Fi hotspot

Wi-Fi hotspots are areas where there is a Wi-Fi signal. Coffee shops are usually Wi-Fi hotspots and give you free access to their internet.

Windows Phone

Windows Phone is an operating system created by Microsoft. Its big advantage is that it links up very well with Microsoft's other products like Office and Xbox.

Wireless charging

Wireless charging lets you charge your phone without plugging it in. You need a phone that supports wireless charging and a charging plate. You then just need to place the phone on top of the plate.



Xenon is a type of flash that's common in digital cameras but is now uses in a few smartphones. It's extremely bright and gives a natural colour.

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