iPhone Defines New “Superphone” Category

Sep 22nd, 2008 | By | Category: iPhone

At GigaOm, John Sangiovanni offers his take on the emergence of a new category of phone, the superphone:

The product that created and continues to define the superphone category is the iPhone. The iPhone offers an elegant user interface powered by an impressive array of integrated hardware, all wrapped up in a masterwork of industrial design. 

He goes on to offer superphone requirements:


  • Display with at least 320 pixels on the short axis
  • 3G connectivity or greater (plus additional radios as appropriate…Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, etc.)
  • Location-sensing technology (GPS, high-resolution signal-strength-based location, or equivalent)
  • Hardware-accelerated graphics subsystem


  • Integrated web browser that supports current desktop development standards
  • Published native developer SDK that allows programmatic access to the specialized hardware/software features listed above.


  • Integrated process for certification and searchable catalog distribution of 3rd-party applications. (Many will add that having a truly open distribution channel would be ideal, and I agree. However, through the publication of Zumobi’s iPhone app, we have found Apple’s AppStore certification process to be efficient and transparent.)

In reality, what Apple has done with the iPhone is not create a superphone – but a hyperportable computer. The defining aspects of the iPhone have nothing to do with its phone capabilities, which are pretty modest, and have everything to do with its power as a mobile computer. 

There’s going to be lots of talk over the next few years about Android, Blackberry and Microsoft phones moving into the hyperportable computer category, and they’ll all be called iPhone-killers at some time or another. 

If they try to compete as superphones, though, they’ll end up as iPhone wannabees.

Instead, they must focus on becoming hyperportable computing platforms – and face the challenge of competing with Apple’s unmatched operating systems.

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No Responses to “iPhone Defines New “Superphone” Category”

  1. Nokia beat Apple with a “superphone” years ago. The current Nokia E90 offers all the requirements of a “superphone” mentioned above. The E90 came out at least a year before the first iPhone.

    Even though it does not have the slick UI of the iPhone, it does have a full physical keyboard without being much larger than a regular cell phone.

    – Marc

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