What is mobile phone hardware and software?

The short answer is that mobile phone hardware are the physical components of your mobile/smartphone while the software comprises the non-physical parts that make the mobile phone work.

Hardware components of mobile/smartphones generally include:

  • Central processing unit (CPU)
  • Batteries 
  • Random Access Memory (RAM)
  • Read Only Memory (ROM)
  • Removable Storage (Memory Cards etc.)
  • Input Components (Keyboards, Touchpad, Microphone)
  • Output components (Speakers, Earpiece, Screen)
  • Internal accelerometers

Mobile Phone Software / Operating System

The most popular mobile/smartphone operating systems in the mobile phone industry includes: 

  • Android Operating System (Developed by Google)
  • Windows (Developed by Microsoft)
  • IOS (Developed by Apple)


Android is an open source mobile operating system developed and released by Google in 2007. The Android mobile operating system is based on a modified version of the Linux kernel. It was designed primarily for touchscreen mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. Android OS is developed by a consortium of developers and software companies known as the Open Handset Alliance (OHA) and is commercially sponsored by Google. The OHA is composed of Mobile operators, Software companies, Commercialization companies, Semiconductor companies, Handset manufacturers. It was unveiled in 2007, with the first commercial Android device launched in September 2008. It is perhaps the most widely used Operating system in the smartphone industry.


User Interface 

The android os user interface is based on direct manipulation and a virtual keyboard. Android also supports external game controllers and keyboards that can be connected either via bluetooth or USB. Android devices boot to the homescreen which is an analogue of the desktop in computers. The home screen is typically made up of app icons and widgets. Clicking on an app icon will launch the app while widgets display live and auto-updated content such as weather or stocks.

System font 

Roboto is the default font on Android. Android OS also lets the user access and make use of downloadable fonts. Roboto is a sans-serif typeface family developed by Google as the system font for its mobile operating system Android. A user can also change their font style and size by navigating to settings>display>font.

File Manager

Android file managers can be a powerful tool for keeping your handset organized. In most android devices, the File Manager can be accessed from the applications menu under “File Manager”.

Notification center

Notifications appear to users in different locations and formats, such as an icon in the status bar, a more detailed entry in the notification drawer, as a badge on the app’s icon, and on paired wearables automatically.


Android OS features various accessibility settings including, TalkBack, TalkBack braille keyboard, Select to Speak, Live Caption, Voice access, Sound amplifier and much more.


The Android OS offers a split screen feature that allows users two run two apps simultaneously. Check out this video for how to run Split Screen on your android device. https://youtu.be/pBNoHRCcLFs

Switching applications

Android OS has an option to let users switch between apps without having to close the app that they are currently using.

Ending task

On the Android OS Apps and Background services can be closed or killed by using the Task Manager. 

Google Assistant

Google Assistant is the official virtual assistant available on all compatible android devices. It is an artificial intelligence–powered virtual assistant developed by Google. Unlike the company’s previous virtual assistant, Google Now, the Google Assistant can engage in two-way conversations. Google Assistant was first released in 2016 and is programmed in C++.


The Windows Phone is a discontinued family of mobile operating systems that was developed by Microsoft in 2010 for smartphones. WP was created as the replacement successor to Windows Mobile and Zune. Work on this mobile operating system had begun as early as 2004 but would not see a release until 2008. Due to issues with market decline and profits the Windows Phone was discontinued by Microsoft.


User Interface

Windows Phone Operating System has a user interface that is based on Microsoft’s “Metro” design language, and it was heavily inspired by the user interface in the Zune HD. 

System font

By default, Segoe UI is the font used by Windows.

File Manager

Files provides users with access to files stored on their phones and SD cards. With the app, users can browse, search and launch files; share one file or multiple files; create folders for organizing files; and copy, move, rename and delete files.

Notification center

The very first updates of the Windows Phone OS lacked the notifications center that were available on both Android OS and iOS. However due to popular demand the feature was later added on Windows Phone OS. 

Beginning with Windows Phone 8.1, users were now able to swipe down from the top of the display to reveal the combo Action/Notification Center. 

The Notification Center can be found on the lower half of the display. It features a time-sorted list of incoming notifications that the user may have missed. Apps can be individually configured to have their notifications appear in the center. Likewise, non-essential notifications can be sent to the center as well, including updates to Facebook or Twitter where a banner notification and audible alert would not be necessary. These ‘ghost notifications’ augment the user experience by providing non-disturbing alerts. To dismiss the alerts, users can hit the ‘clear all’ button or swipe to the right to dismiss them.


With Windows Phone users with certain impairments are not left out. The WIndows Phone has an ease of access feature that enables users with Visual impairment to operate their devices with ease. This includes a narrator, two pinch zoom,magnifier, high contrast, text size etc. 


Multitasking is invoked through long pressing the “back” arrow, present on all Windows Phones. Windows Phone 7 uses a card-based task switcher, whereas later versions of the software utilizes true background multitasking.


Cortana is a virtual assistant developed by Microsoft, which uses the Bing search engine to perform tasks such as setting reminders and answering questions for the Windows Phone user.


iOS is developed by Apple Inc. It is the operating system that powers many of the company’s mobile devices, including the iPhone, iPod Touch and up until 2019 it also powered the iPad. Statistically, it is also the second most used mobile operating system in the world just behind Google’s Android OS.

The first generation of iOS was introduced in 2007. The App store now contains more than 2.1 million iOS applications and these apps have been downloaded more than 130 billions times. The most current version of the iOS, iOS13 can only be run by iPhones with 2G of RAM or more, these include Apple iPhone 7 above. 

The iOS user interface is sleek and based upon several different types of direct manipulation and multitouch gestures. 

Apple provides regular and major updates to the iOS via iTunes. On all recent devices running the operating system, iOS regularly checks for available updates, and if one is available, will prompt the user to permit its automatic installation. 

The iOS is well known for its security and restrictions. 


User Interface

iOS home screen is rendered by Springboard. It displays app icons and a dock at its bottom where iPhone users can pin frequently used apps. The home screen appears whenever the user unlocks the phone or presses the “Home” button while in another app.

System font

iOS originally used Helvetica as the system font. Currently, beginning with iOS 9, Apple now uses San Francisco, an inhouse font designed by Apple which is aimed at maximum legibility and font consistency across its product lineup.

Notification center

Prior to iOS 5, notifications were displayed in a modal window and could not be viewed after being dismissed. In iOS 5, Apple Inc introduced a new Notification Center which allows users to see a history of notifications. The user can now tap a notification to open it’s corresponding app, or clear it.


iOS offers various accessibility features to help users with vision and hearing disabilities. One major feature, VoiceOver, provides a voice reading information on the screen, including contextual buttons, icons, links and other user interface elements, and allows the user to navigate the operating system through gestures.

Split Screen

iOS does not currently have a split screen feature. 


Multitasking came to iOS with the release of iOS 4 in June 2010. However, only certain devices including iPhone 4, 3Gs and iPod Touch 3rd generation were able to access that feature. The iPad did not get multitasking feature until iOS 4.2.1 in November of the same year.

Switching applications

To switch between apps on iOS, double tap the home button. 


Siri is an intelligent personal assistant integrated into Apple’s iOS. The assistant uses voice queries and a natural language user interface to answer questions, make recommendations, and perform actions by delegating requests to a set of Internet services. The software adapts to users’ individual language usages, searches, and preferences, with continuing use. Returned results are individualized.

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