Characteristics of Mobile Devices | CompTIA A+ 220-1001 | 1.4

In this video you will learn about the characteristics of various types of mobile devices such as:  tablets, smartphones, wearable technology devices, e-readers, & GPS.


A tablet computer, commonly referred to as just simply a tablet, is a mobile device typically with a mobile operating system & touchscreen display processing circuitry, and a rechargeable battery in a single, thin & flat package.  The most common tablets on the market are the iPad Pro, Samsung Galaxy Tab S4, and the Microsoft Surface Pro.  Most tablets usually have these common features:

  • Use of iOS, Android, Windows 10 Mobile, or Chrome OS operating systems
  • Video camera enabled for video chat
  • Stylus pen device for writing
  • Keyboard & other devices attached using Bluetooth
  • Limited or nonexistent port & storage expansion options
  • Apps installed or updated through the operating system’s app store (App Store or iTunes for Apple devices, Google Play for Android devices, & The Microsoft Store for Microsoft)
  • The requirement for plenty of power (either by being plugged into AC power or having most of the battery life remaining) to update the operating system

Note:  Windows tablets with screens larger than 8 inches typically run standard editions of Windows 8.1 or Windows 10.  Smaller Windows tablets typically use Windows 10 Mobile.



Smartphones are a class of mobile phones and of multipurpose mobile computing devices.  They are distinguished from feature phones by their storage hardware capabilities and extensive mobile operating systems, which facilitate wider software, internet (including web browsing over mobile broadband), and multimedia functionality (including music, video, camera, & gaming), alongside core phone functions such as voice calls and text messaging.  Smartphones typically use either Android or iOS operating systems; very few use Windows 10 Mobile.  Most apps that are available for tablets are also available for smartphones as well.  Some of the differences between tablets and smartphones are:

  • Wireless carriers provide operating system updates for Android phones, but Apple provides operating system updates.
  • Wireless carriers provide network-specific updates for iPhones (iOS), but Apple provides operating system updates.
  • Phone carriers provide data-only services to tablets, and regular cellular voice calling is not available on all of them.  Some tablet apps provide real-time voice communication via the data connection.


A phablet is a class of mobile devices combining or straddling the size format of smartphones and tablets.  Phablets feature large displays that complement screen-intensive activity such as mobile web browsing & multimedia viewing.  The term phablet is usually in reference to a smartphone with screen size of 5.5 inches or larger.  Most feature Quad HD (QHD…four times the pixels of HD) or HD resolution panels, and some include stylus pens.  Also worth noting, some phablets also tend to include flash memory storage.


Wearable Technology Devices

Wearable technology is smart electronic devices (electronic device with micro-controllers) that are worn close to and/or on the surface of the skin, where they detect, and transmit information concerning body signals such as vital signs, and/or ambient data and which allow in some cases immediate biofeedback to the wearer.  Examples of wearable technology are Apple Watch and Fitbit fitness monitors.  These devices connect to a smartphone via Bluetooth and can be charged in as little as 15 minutes.  Wearable technology must be compatible with your device’s operating system & features.  Your device must have the Bluetooth enabled in order for your device to connect and sync.

Fitbit & Apple Watch

A virtual reality (VR) headset is a head-mounted device that provides virtual reality for the wearer.  Virtual reality is computer simulations projected into a headset that covers the user’s entire field of vision, creating a virtual world experience.

VR Headset

Augmented reality (AR) is an interactive experience of a real-world environment where the objects that reside in the real world are enhanced by computer-generated perceptual information.  Augmented reality apps on smartphones and tablets generate images that are layered on top of real-world images captured by the device’s camera.  Augmented reality can be defined as a system that fulfills 3 basic features:  a combination of real and virtual worlds, real-time interaction, and accurate 3D registration of virtual and real objects.

Augmented Reality Headset


An e-reader is a device designed as a convenient way to read e-books.  It is similar in form factor to a tablet computer, but features electronic paper (E Ink) rather than an LCD screen.  This yields much longer battery life (the battery can last for several weeks) and better readability, similar to that of paper even in sunlight.  Low-end e-readers with monochrome screens do not display graphic designs well, which limits their suitability for reading graphic novels or technical documents.  Most e-readers are designed for a single function which allows for them to be very compact and efficient.  Popular e-readers are Amazon Kindle and Kobo Clara.  E-readers that support ePub and PDF formats are more suitable for graphically rich books.



The Global Positioning System (GPS), originally called NAVSTAR GPS, is a satellite-based radionavigation system owned by the United States government and operated by the United States Space Force.  It is one of the global navigation satellite system (GNSS) that provides geolocation and time information to a GPS receiver anywhere on or near the Earth where there is an unobstructed line of sight to four or more GPS satellites.  Standalone GPS devices such as Tom Tom GO & Garmin provide turn-by-turn navigation in vehicles.  Most smartphones come equipped with GPS apps such as Apple Maps, Google Maps, & Waze to where standalone GPS units are not really needed, unless a user wants a dedicated GPS unit with a larger screen and less distractions.  One downside to a standalone GPS device is the need to keep maps updated.  Map updates in standalone GPS devices are oftentimes a separate purchase and the user typically has to keep up with a subscription fee as well.  GPS technology can be found in fitness trackers, sports apps, pet tracking collars, and in the medical mobile health care market.  The Internet of Things (IoT) has allowed for GPS technology to become easily integrated into a variety of objects such as tracking personal property such as cars and drones.

Tom Tom GPS Unit