Browse Definitions:
Definition

mobile device

This definition is part of our Essential Guide: A guide to modern mobile application development strategies
Contributor(s): Ivy Wigmore

A mobile device is essentially a handheld computer. Although the category of mobile device might seem to include any electronic device small enough to be carried around, the term implies wireless communications and the capacity for general computing.

Currently, the most common examples of mobile devices are tablets, smartphones and e-readers. Within the enterprise and in the context of mobile device management (MDM), laptops are also included in the category because they are portable, employees use them in similar out-of-office locations, and they involve similar oversight and security requirements to those of smaller devices. Outside of this context, however, the category of mobile device is generally confined to smaller form factor devices.

The first mobile device, in this sense, was the personal digital assistant (PDA). Popular in the 1990s and early 2000s, PDAs are considered the precursors to smartphones. However, because they could not make phone calls, they were more like a very small tablet. Most PDAs had a physical keyboard and limited software. Some had an electronically sensitive pad for written input. 

The size of a mobile device necessarily involves compromise between the functionality of a larger interface and the ease of carrying a smaller device. The phablet was designed larger than a smartphone for ease of input but smaller than most tablets, to fit in pockets and purses. The devices also include the phone function ordinarily lacking in tablets.

A brief history of mobile computing:

This was last updated in June 2017

Continue Reading About mobile device

Start the conversation

Send me notifications when other members comment.

By submitting you agree to receive email from TechTarget and its partners. If you reside outside of the United States, you consent to having your personal data transferred to and processed in the United States. Privacy

Please create a username to comment.

-ADS BY GOOGLE

File Extensions and File Formats

Powered by:

SearchCompliance

  • internal audit (IA)

    An internal audit (IA) is an organizational initiative to monitor and analyze its own business operations in order to determine ...

  • pure risk (absolute risk)

    Pure risk, also called absolute risk, is a category of threat that is beyond human control and has only one possible outcome if ...

  • risk assessment

    Risk assessment is the identification of hazards that could negatively impact an organization's ability to conduct business.

SearchSecurity

  • intrusion detection system (IDS)

    An intrusion detection system (IDS) is a system that monitors network traffic for suspicious activity and issues alerts when such...

  • security information and event management (SIEM)

    Security information and event management (SIEM) is an approach to security management that seeks to provide a holistic view of ...

  • polymorphic virus

    A polymorphic virus is a harmful, destructive or intrusive type of malware that can change or 'morph,' making it difficult to ...

SearchHealthIT

  • accountable care organization (ACO)

    An accountable care organization (ACO) is an association of hospitals, healthcare providers and insurers in which all parties ...

  • patient engagement

    Patient engagement is an ideal healthcare situation in which people are well-informed about -- and motivated to be involved -- in...

  • personal health record (PHR)

    A personal health record (PHR) is a collection of health-related information that is documented and maintained by the individual ...

SearchDisasterRecovery

  • business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR)

    Business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) are closely related practices that describe an organization's preparation for ...

  • business continuity plan (BCP)

    A business continuity plan (BCP) is a document that consists of the critical information an organization needs to continue ...

  • call tree

    A call tree -- sometimes referred to as a phone tree -- is a telecommunications chain for notifying specific individuals of an ...

SearchStorage

SearchSolidStateStorage

  • hybrid hard disk drive (HDD)

    A hybrid hard disk drive is an electromechanical spinning hard disk that contains some amount of NAND Flash memory.

Close