What’s the difference between an iPhone and a Smartphone?

Do you have issues with all the new vocabulary regarding mobile phones and the new technologies?
Don’t worry, I will explain it to you and you’ll see that it is actually pretty simple.

 What’s the difference between an iPhone and a Smartphone?
An iPhone is a mobile phone model from the brand Apple. It is produced only by this brand and it has specific characteristics. A smartphone is a generic name given to all the mobile phones that are considered intelligent and have a touchscreen (the iPhone is one of these models, among many others).

After this short explanation, let’s see in detail what an iPhone and a smartphone are, and the difference between them.

The iPhone


The iPhone is a model created by Apple in 2007. Since then, there’s at least one new iPhone each year, sometimes available in different models (S, Plus and C).

Regarding material, the basic functions of these models are:

  • Touchscreen
  • Camera
  • Cellular connection (3G and then 4G)
  • Find my phone system with GPS
  • And, of course, all the mobile phone basics like calls, SMS and MMS

Since its creation, more than 2 billion iPhones were sold worldwide.


Apple is an American company created in 1976 that has always been very innovative regarding computing.

First, there was an amazing revolution around the famous Macintosh computer.

Then, it was time to improve the musical domain with the incredible iPods which replaced the Walkman and CD players.

Finally, it transformed the mobile phones world with the first iPhone created in 2007. This first model was seen like an alien in the middle of all the famous models at the time like the Nokia 2600 (very close to unforgettable 3310).

Today, Apple tries to stay on the top of all these domains:

A big part of Apple’s revenue comes also from its apps marketplace and the content provided to all of its products, which we’ll see later (Apple gets at least 30% for each transaction made).

iPhone operating system

The iPhone uses an operating system that was also developed by Apple and that is reserved to its main products (iPhone, iPad and iPod). 
This operating system is called iOS.
As a general rule of thumb, a major update is available each time a new version of the iPhone comes, but the previous iPhones can benefit too.

The best thing when the first iPhone came out was its system of applications.
You would buy a phone with a certain number of functionalities, but it was possible to customize it with applications that fit your needs (news, games, productivity, social media…).

Other particularities

You should know that the iPhone has certain particularities that other smartphones don’t have. Just like the use of their own operating system, Apple also likes to use their connectors.

For instance, the iPhone X doesn’t have USB connector or a jack.
Apple has decided to bet on its lightning connector which can be used to charge the iPhone and to plug your earphones.

Note also that you are almost obliged to use the iTunes app to connect the iPhone to the computer.

The Smartphone


Smartphones are a class of mobile phones and of multi-purpose mobile computing devices.
They are distinguished from feature phones by their stronger hardware capabilities and extensive mobile operating systems, which facilitate wider software, internet (including web browsing[1] over mobile broadband), and multimedia functionality (including music, video, cameras, and gaming), alongside core phone functions such as voice calls and text messaging.


At first, the smartphone was something extraordinary compared to the ancient mobile phones that didn’t provide an internet connection and didn’t have a touchscreen.

Today, 99% of the mobile phones are smartphones.


There are several smartphone manufacturers.
By the time I was writing these lines, the 3 brands with the highest sales were:

  • Samsung, with the Galaxy series like the Galaxy S10 (high-quality model)
  • Huawei, with the P30 and P30 Pro models which are the best-sellers of the moment
  • And finally Apple, with the iPhone X the latest model (high-quality model)

There are lots of other brands that also have fine smartphones like Sony, Xiaomi or Blackberry.

Since the word “smartphone” is applied to a kind of product, each high-tech brand can make its own.

Operating systems

Each brand can also decide which operating system to use. We’ve already seen that some brands use their own operating systems like the iOS or the Blackberry OS, but it is also possible to use other operating systems available for redistribution like Android or Windows Mobile.

By the time I wrote these lines, most of the smartphones use Android.
Here’re the stats from StatCounter in February 2019:

  • Android: 74.15%
  • iOS: 23.28%

As you can see, there’s not much place left for the other operating systems.
Even the giant Microsoft doesn’t overcome the 1% with its mobile operating system.

Android is developed by Google and it’s installed on the smartphones of all the greater brands (except for Apple), which explains these statistics.
On the other hand, the iOS is used exclusively by the iPhones.

Other characteristics

Considering the number of competitors in the smartphone market, each brand will try to bring some novelties with each new model, so there’s no real limitation in the characteristics you can find.

Display size, depth, weight, double SIM, increasingly powerful camera, SD card, battery performance, connectors, water resistance, etc… Choosing a smartphone is getting more and more complicated and more and more expensive.

If you’re searching for an affordable smartphone, you can choose a Chinese brand (Huawei or Xiaomi for instance).
They still provide models at reasonable prices (less than $450) and with a good quality. You won’t regret your choice.
The prices charged by Samsung or Apple don’t have any logic explanation.

Differences between iPhone and Smartphone


Smartphone is the name given to an intelligent mobile phone, no matter what brand and characteristics it has.
iPhone is the name of a smartphones’ range created by Apple.
It is like if you were trying to compare a “car” with a “Mustang”, that is senseless.

Here’s a small schema to help you better understand:

The huge oval represents all the smartphones in the world.
The iPhone is a sub-category of this oval, just like the Samsung Galaxy or the Huawei PX.


An iPhone can only belong to Apple. It is an exclusive model of this brand (just like a Mustang is a model that belongs to Ford).

A smartphone is a generic name given to 99% of the mobile phones, and it can be produced by any brand (just like the example of “car” I gave before).

Operating system

The iPhones all work with iOS, the operating system developed by Apple for their mobile phones.

A smartphone can use any operating system and t is the brand that makes this choice (even if 99% of the smartphones that don’t belong to Apple use Android).


I hope that the differences between iPhone and smartphone are clear for you now and that you won’t mix the two again.
Keep in mind the image of “car” and “Mustang” if that helps you.

A smartphone is a range of intelligent mobile phones (99% of the actual mobiles phones), while the iPhone is a model of smartphone like many others available.

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