What Company Was The First To Use The Term “Smartphone”? In What Year



Welcome to the fascinating world of smartphones! In today’s digital age, smartphones have become an integral part of our daily lives. From communication and entertainment to productivity and convenience, these powerful devices have revolutionized the way we live, work, and connect with the world around us.

But have you ever wondered where the term “smartphone” originated from? How did it come to encompass these remarkable handheld devices with advanced capabilities? In this article, we will delve into the origins of the smartphone and explore the first company to use this iconic term.

With the rapid advancement of technology, the concept of a mobile phone has evolved from a simple device for making calls to a sophisticated tool that allows us to do much more. Today’s smartphones are equipped with cutting-edge features such as high-resolution cameras, powerful processors, ample storage capacity, and the ability to connect to the internet. They have become an extension of ourselves, enabling us to browse the web, access social media, send emails, play games, and even carry out financial transactions.

However, smartphones did not emerge overnight. They have a rich history that traces back several decades, and understanding their origins is essential to grasp the significance of the term “smartphone” and its impact on modern society.

So, let’s embark on a journey back in time to explore the birth of the term “smartphone” and the pivotal role it played in shaping the world of mobile technology.


The Origins of the Smartphone

Before the smartphone era, mobile phones were primarily used for making calls and sending text messages. These devices were clunky, had limited functionality, and lacked the advanced features we enjoy today. However, the seeds of the smartphone revolution were sown in the early 1990s.

Early mobile phones, known as “feature phones,” started incorporating additional features like calculators, calendars, and games. This paved the way for the development of a more advanced device that combined the functionality of a mobile phone with that of a personal digital assistant (PDA).

PDAs were standalone devices that could handle tasks such as note-taking, calendar management, and contact organization. They were compact, handheld computers that offered more processing power than traditional mobile phones.

During this period, several companies recognized the potential of merging the capabilities of a PDA with the convenience of a mobile phone. This led to the creation of early smartphones, often referred to as “PDA phones” or “smart handheld devices.”

These early smartphones featured QWERTY keyboards, touchscreens, and stylus input, allowing users to interact with the device in more intuitive ways. They provided a range of productivity tools, such as email functionality, web browsing capabilities, and access to third-party applications.

Moreover, the integration of wireless connectivity technologies like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth brought enhanced connectivity options to these devices. Users could now access the internet, synchronize data, and connect to other devices wirelessly.

It is important to note that while these early smartphones laid the foundation for the devices we know and love today, they were not as widely adopted at the time. They catered to niche markets and were often seen as expensive and complex for the average consumer.

The true breakthrough in the smartphone industry came when companies started focusing on creating more user-friendly and accessible devices. This led to advancements in touchscreen technology, improved operating systems, and the emergence of app stores, setting the stage for the explosion of smartphones in the late 2000s.

Now that we have explored the origins of smartphones, let’s delve into the fascinating story of how the term “smartphone” came into existence and revolutionized the way we perceive mobile devices.


The Birth of the Term “Smartphone”

As smartphones began to evolve and gain popularity, there arose a need for a term that encompassed their advanced capabilities and differentiated them from traditional mobile phones. The term “smartphone” emerged as a descriptor for these innovative devices. But who exactly coined this iconic term?

While there is no single definitive answer to this question, the credit for popularizing the term “smartphone” goes to the marketing efforts of companies in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

One of the earliest mentions of the term “smartphone” can be traced back to the year 1997. Ericsson, a Swedish telecommunications company, unveiled a device called the GS 88 “Penelope,” a compact phone with a touchscreen and advanced features such as email, fax capabilities, and internet connectivity. Ericsson heavily marketed this device as a “smartphone,” highlighting its superior functionality compared to regular mobile phones.

Following Ericsson’s lead, other companies began adopting the term “smartphone” to describe their own cutting-edge devices. Industry leaders such as Nokia, Palm, and BlackBerry embraced the term to promote their devices that included features like email support, QWERTY keyboards, and expandable memory.

However, it was Apple’s launch of the iPhone in 2007 that brought the term “smartphone” to the mainstream. The iPhone showcased a revolutionary combination of a touchscreen interface, a powerful processor, and an innovative mobile operating system, making it a trailblazer in the smartphone industry.

Apple’s marketing campaigns heavily promoted the iPhone as a groundbreaking “smartphone” that could perform tasks previously reserved for computers. This catapulted the term “smartphone” into the public consciousness, solidifying its association with these advanced mobile devices.

Since then, the term “smartphone” has become ubiquitous, often used interchangeably with mobile phones that offer features and capabilities beyond simple voice calling and text messaging. From Android smartphones to iPhones, the market is now flooded with a wide range of options, each vying to be the smartest and most technologically advanced.

So, in summary, while there isn’t a single company or individual credited with inventing the term “smartphone,” it was the collective efforts of pioneering companies like Ericsson, Nokia, and Apple that popularized and forever changed the way we refer to these remarkable handheld devices.


The First Company to Use the Term “Smartphone”

As the concept of smartphones began to gain traction, several companies played significant roles in shaping the industry and introducing innovative devices. While the term “smartphone” was not officially coined by a single company, there were industry leaders who embraced the term and popularized it through their marketing campaigns.

One of the earliest companies to use the term “smartphone” was Ericsson. In 1997, Ericsson unveiled the GS 88 “Penelope,” a device that featured a touchscreen and advanced communication capabilities. Ericsson labeled the GS 88 as a “smartphone” to highlight its superior functionality compared to regular mobile phones of the time.

However, it was Nokia that truly brought smartphones into the mainstream in the early 2000s. Nokia released a range of devices that were ahead of their time, incorporating features such as email support, internet connectivity, and enhanced multimedia capabilities. While Nokia did not explicitly label these devices as “smartphones,” their advanced functionality and versatility positioned them as precursors to what we now consider smartphones.

In 2002, another key player in the smartphone industry emerged: BlackBerry. The BlackBerry devices offered not only mobile communication but also robust email capabilities through their proprietary BlackBerry operating system. The seamless integration of email and messaging services, along with physical QWERTY keyboards, allowed BlackBerry to capture a significant share of the business market.

However, it was Apple and their groundbreaking iPhone that truly revolutionized the smartphone industry. With its sleek design, multi-touch display, and intuitive user interface, the iPhone introduced a new era of smartphones that focused on user experience. While the term “smartphone” had already been in use, it was the iPhone that propelled it into the mainstream consciousness and set a new standard for what a smartphone could be.

Following Apple’s success, other companies entered the market with their own versions of smartphones. Samsung, HTC, and Motorola, among others, contributed to the growth and evolution of smartphones, each with their unique features and design philosophies.

Today, companies like Apple and Samsung dominate the smartphone landscape, continually pushing the boundaries of technology and innovation. With each new release, they introduce features and improvements that solidify their positions as leaders in the industry.

While the first company to use the term “smartphone” may not be pinpointed with absolute certainty, Ericsson’s GS 88 “Penelope” marked an early adoption of the term. Nokia’s early devices, BlackBerry’s focus on business communication, and Apple’s game-changing iPhone all helped to define and popularize what we now know as smartphones.

As we move forward, it’s worth acknowledging the collective efforts of these companies and their invaluable contributions to the development and growth of smartphones.


The Year the Term “Smartphone” was Coined

The exact year that the term “smartphone” was coined is not widely agreed upon, as it emerged gradually over time as technology advanced and companies sought to differentiate their devices. However, we can trace the term’s origins back to the late 1990s and early 2000s.

One of the earliest mentions of the term “smartphone” can be attributed to Ericsson, a telecommunications company based in Sweden. In 1997, Ericsson unveiled the GS 88 “Penelope,” a mobile device that integrated features such as a touchscreen and advanced communication capabilities. During its marketing campaign, Ericsson referred to the GS 88 as a “smartphone,” emphasizing its advanced functionality compared to traditional mobile phones.

This early adoption of the term “smartphone” by Ericsson laid the groundwork for other companies to follow suit. Nokia, a renowned mobile phone manufacturer, introduced a range of devices in the early 2000s that featured advanced capabilities such as email support and internet connectivity. Although Nokia did not explicitly use the term “smartphone” to describe these devices, they were widely recognized as predecessors to modern smartphones.

It was around this time that other companies began incorporating the term “smartphone” into their marketing efforts. BlackBerry, another influential player in the industry, leveraged the term to showcase their devices’ advanced communication features and email capabilities, catering primarily to business professionals.

However, it was the launch of Apple’s iPhone in 2007 that truly popularized the term “smartphone” and brought it into the mainstream. The iPhone’s innovative design, intuitive user interface, and vast range of capabilities resonated with consumers worldwide. Apple’s marketing campaigns heavily emphasized the term “smartphone” to describe their revolutionary device, solidifying its association with cutting-edge mobile technology.

Following Apple’s success, the term “smartphone” became ubiquitous in the tech industry and consumer vocabulary. Samsung, HTC, Motorola, and other manufacturers further propelled the growth and innovation of smartphones, each contributing their unique features and design philosophies.

Today, the term “smartphone” has become synonymous with mobile devices that possess advanced computing capabilities, touchscreen interfaces, internet connectivity, and access to a vast array of applications.

So, while the exact year the term “smartphone” was first coined may be debatable, Ericsson’s use of the term in 1997 and Apple’s popularization of it in 2007 played pivotal roles in establishing the term’s association with modern mobile technology. The ongoing evolution of smartphones continues to shape our society and redefine how we interact with the digital world.



The term “smartphone” has evolved over time to become synonymous with the remarkable handheld devices we use daily. From its humble beginnings in the late 1990s and early 2000s to the advanced smartphones we have today, this technology has transformed the way we communicate, work, and navigate the world.

Although there is no single company or individual credited with inventing the term “smartphone,” it was companies like Ericsson, Nokia, BlackBerry, and Apple that played significant roles in popularizing and shaping the concept. Their innovative devices and marketing efforts paved the way for the widespread adoption of smartphones and propelled the term “smartphone” into the mainstream.

Today, smartphones have become an essential part of our lives, offering a vast range of features and capabilities that go beyond traditional communication. We can access the internet, capture high-quality photos and videos, stay connected through social media, and utilize countless productivity and entertainment applications from the palm of our hands.

The ongoing evolution of smartphones continues to push the boundaries of technology and redefine our expectations for mobile devices. Companies like Apple, Samsung, and many others strive to introduce new features, improved performance, and cutting-edge innovations that enhance our daily lives.

As we look to the future, it is clear that smartphones will remain at the forefront of technological advancements. The term “smartphone” represents not just a device, but a symbol of the extraordinary capabilities and limitless possibilities that technology brings to our fingertips.

So, whether you’re using an Android smartphone or an iPhone, take a moment to appreciate the journey that brought us here. The term “smartphone” encompasses the rich history, innovation, and the collective efforts of countless companies and individuals who have contributed to reshaping the world of mobile technology.

Embrace the power and convenience of the smartphone in your daily life, and stay excited for what the future holds as we continue to unlock new levels of connectivity, productivity, and entertainment through these incredible devices.

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