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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.