Read these 8 Cell phone storage Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Data Storage tips and hundreds of other topics.
Cell phones pack ever-increasing power in ever-decreasing packages. Digital storage allows for this innovation.
Cell phones, like PDAs, use ROM (Read-Only Memory) and RAM (Random Access Memory). The cell phone stores its programs in the ROM memory and your data in RAM. The phone never really turns off completely, even when it seems to be off, in order to keep the data in RAM for disappearing.
Older, talk-only mobile phones used 4 MB-8 MB of RAM for working memory and data storage. Cell phones now average 128 MB of RAM for data storage and another 128 MB-256 MB of memory for software and storing music and photos. Often more storage can be added via an expandable memory slot for a digital memory card.
At the same time, the size of the chips have been reduced, which is critical to keeping cell phone size small.
Manufacturers don't usually publicize the size of the RAM in the cell phone. But you can tell by the number of features offered in the phone, the size of its digital memory.
Bottom line: The cell phone revolution relies on digital memory fitting greater capacity in smaller packages. On most new phones, you can expand memory even more with a digital memory card.
Memory cards enable you to do more with your cell phone than make calls. You can use the memory card to store and transfer photos or music, or to add new programs to your smartphone. Your cell phone needs to have a slot to put the card into. Right now, most cell phones sold do not have memory card slots. Generally, only smartphones -- phones that combine cell phone and PDA functionality -- have expansion slots. Smartphones only make up about 5 percent of all cell phones sold in the U.S., though that number is expected to grow rapidly.
Bottom line: If you want to expand your cell phone's memory options with a digital storge card, you need a smartphone.
Virtually all of today's cell phones, no matter how powerful, run on flash memory. But this may change soon. Microdrive technology is advancing just as fast as flash memory. The internal difference between the two is that the microdrive is a mini hard drive, while flash is standard ROM digital memory.
The external differences are less clear at this point, but that may change in the future. Right now, both have similar memory capacity -- under 10GB -- and compact size. Flash memory also requires low power and in shock resistant. Hard drives, however, have better data life, faster data transfer times, and will likely soon have more capacity, as the engineering advances. But a a hard drive isn't shock resistant and has more moving parts to break down.
Bottom line: Right now, you don't have much choice. Virtually all cell phones run on flash memory. But this will likely change in the near future, thanks to continuing advances in microdrive technologies.
New cell phone features come out every day, thanks to advances in digital techonology that put more storage in smaller chips for less cost. Here's a roundup:
High-speed networks: Cell phone providers like Verizon and Sprint developed high-speed data networks, making fast Internet browsing and video broadcasting instant realities.
VCast: With a high-speed network -- called EV-DO -- in place, Verizon has begun offering Vcast, a video-on-demand service that includes syndicated and original programming. Just watch the cost of those downloads.
Voice over IP: New technologies from Motorola and Skype allow smartphones with Wi-fi to place phone calls on a voice-over IP Internet network, greatly reducing or eliminating the cost of the call. Not quite ready for prime time, especially with providers who don't want to lose precious revenue.
Music: Both Motorola and Sony Ericsson have released cell phones designed to double as MP3 players. Motorola's is even branded with Apple's iPod/iTunes system. But the big news will be when Apple engineers the iPod to add phone capabilities.
Secure credit card transactions: You can already but from Amazon over your phone, but to go to the next step of e-commerce, you need your card data store securely, but accessible over your phone. Nokia, Philips and Sony have formed a group to come up with an international standard.
Bottom line: There are new features seeminly every day from cell phone providers, including video broadcasts and digital downloads. But the only thing they all have in common is that you're going to pay for them -- sometimes big money.
Say you don't have a smartphone, but you want to use a memory card to hold photos you've taken with the camera. Can you expand the memory? Not unless you have a cutting-edge phone. Some of the latest non-smartphone cell phones have mini-SD slots or Memory Stick slots. These include models from Nokia, Motorola and Sony Ericsson. But these phones are new, expensive and sometimes not even available yet in the US.
If you want to upgrade your phone's storage capabilities without buying a new one, you are pretty much out of luck. If you look around the Inernet enough, you can find services that promise to upgrade your phone's RAM. But you'll void the warranty as soon as the phone is opened by non-authorized personnel. And it would probably cost close to what it would for upgrading your phone anyway.
If your next cell phone purchase is going to be a smartphone, you'll be choosing between Palm and Pocket PC models. In many ways, this is very similar to choosing a PDA. You look at convenience, power, available software and memory.
In terms of memory/digital storage, you have two major points to consider. How much inboard memory does it have (RAM and ROM)? And what are its expansion capabilities?
Palm and Pocket PC have different memory structures. Basically, Pocket PC smartphones have more onboard memory than Palm. But the Palm OS is more efficient than Windows systems, and needs less RAM power to run efficiently. So it comes out a wash in terms of inboard memory.
In terms of memory cards, there's a similar argument. Virtually all smartphones have slots for memory expansion. Most Pocket PC smartphones use compact flash cards, while Palm smartphones use SD cards. So here, there's also no clear winner.
A new wrinkle -- Palm just put out the Treo 700W smartphone, which runs the Windows Mobile system, but as enhanced by the Palm design team. So this may offer the best of both worlds, but it's still early to tell.
Bottom line: In terms of digital storage and expansion, most Palm and Pocket PC smartphones are about equal in capabilities. So your final decision will probably be based on other factors.
The cell phone's future is easy: More memory in smaller packages = more phones with more capabilities sold to many more people. Just like today's cell phones would have seemed like space-age handsets to folks a decade ago, the same thing will likely happen a decade from now. Consumers are demanding more features -- high-resolution cameras, Web access, etc. And all of these features require more memory to make them happen.
A new technology that might make a big difference in cell phone capabilities is a new kind of RAM that will store data in magnetic fields. This will allow the data to stay in the memory even when the phone is shut off, which will help power consumption and data recall times.
So what does this mean to you, the average consumer? Stay the course. Remember that today's cutting-edge features become tomorrow's standards. So if you think you can't afford that fancy new camera phone or PDA-enabled smartphone now, just wait a while for the technology to move forward and the prices to come down.
Hard-drive based cell phones are likely to be available in the U.S. in the near future. Samsung made the first move last fall with a hard-drive based cell phone, the SPH-V5400. The phone has a 1.5GB microdrive built-in, making it a natural for digital still or video photography, or as an MP3 player -- or both. It is a smartphone, running on the Windows Mobile operatng system.
At $800 list, with no U.S. release in sight, it's not going to change anyone's life soon. But with convergence between the cell phone, PDA, digital cameras and Internet surfing devices the next big thing in portable electronics, this is a serious opening salvo in the next electronics war.
Bottom line: There is a cell phone with a hard drive -- released last fall by Samsung -- but it's notable mainly for the first out of the gate and won't be available here anytime soon.