Superphone vs smartphone: what's the difference?

Superphone vs smartphone
A superphone can be an Android phone - the Samsung S2 narrowly qualifies - but it definitely can't be an iPhone

What do you call a smartphone that's a little bit smarter than other smartphones? A smarterphone? A brainyphone? Nope: it's superphone, and if you're not sick of the word already you will be by the end of 2012.

This year's top mobile phone buzzword describes top-end, multi-core 3G and 4G smartphones, and it's definitely not a big old load of marketing nonsense designed to encompass dual-core phones, quad-core phones and pretty much anything else that runs apps.

So what does it mean, what's the difference between a superphone and a smartphone, and whose phones are eligible? Here's a clue: not much, and not Apple.

Superphones mean Android smartphones

Or at least, they did initially: Google coined the term when it launched the Nexus One back in 2010. According to Android partner Samsung, a superphone smartphone has a 1GHz processor or better, really nice cameras, 3D graphics acceleration, motion sensors, at least 720p HD video capture and playback, high quality 3D gaming, 3G (ideally 4G) and social networking apps.

You will be shocked - shocked! - to discover that Samsung just happens to make phones that fit or exceed that specification.

Superphones don't mean iPhones

Samsung's Omar Khan says that superphones have at least 4-inch screens and proper multitasking that doesn't stop apps when you leave them. You will be shocked - shocked! - to discover that by that definition, the iPhone 4 and 4S aren't superphones.

Superphones are Windows Phones

The next version of Windows Phone, dubbed Apollo, will be coming in the middle of 2012 and will be aimed squarely at "the business/superphone market".


SUPER WINDOWS: A superphone can be a Windows Phone - Apollo is aimed at the business/superphone market - but it definitely can't be an iPhone

Superphones are BlackBerry phones

RIM's been promising BlackBerry superphones for ages, and its QNX-loaded phones are due this year. The devices will have dual core processors, 4.1-inch screens and will be out... eventually.

Superphones are dual-core phones, or maybe quad-core phones

The original superphone specification only asked for 1GHz processors, but during 2011 that definition evolved and every self-respecting superphone needed to be a dual-core phone. Inevitably the dual-core phone processor is starting to become a quad-core phone processor. It's almost as if superphone is a nebulous marketing concept that applies to pretty much anything new and shiny.

Superphone means quad-core phone, definitely

True smartphones will arrive in 2012, ARM says, and by superphone it means a multi-core phone. Initially we'll see superphones with dual-core processors, but quad-core phones will inevitably follow.

Superphones don't mean quad-core iPhone 5s

The iPhone 5 may come with a quad-core A6 processor, but you will be shocked - shocked! - to discover that no matter how super it is, it won't be able to call itself a superphone if it doesn't grow at least half an inch.


BAD APPLE: The iPhone's too small to be a superphone, and even if it gets bigger it can't be one, so ner ner ner


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Carrie Marshall

Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall (Twitter) has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR.