A mobile phone (also known as a wireless phone or cellular phone) is a short-range, electronic device used for mobile voice or data communication over a network of specialised base stations known as cell sites. In addition to the standard voice function of a mobile phone, telephone, current mobile phones may support many additional services, and accessories, such as SMS for text messaging, email, packet switching for access to the Internet, gaming, bluetooth, infrared, camera with video recorder and MMS for sending and receiving photos and video.
A multi mode (also known more specifically as dual, tri or quad band) mobile phone is a phone which is designed to work on more than one GSM radio frequency. The multi-mode case occurs mostly in GSM which was originally specified in the 900 MHz band, but expanded to the 1800 MHz band, later adding 1900 MHz and finally 850 MHz in the Americas.
For CDMA or TDMA phones, multiple bands usually means it supports both digital and analog communications. Multi-mode phones have been valuable to enable roaming but are now becoming most important in allowing the introduction of WCDMA without customers having to give up the wide coverage of GSM. Almost every single true 3G phone sold is actually a WCDMA/GSM dual-mode mobile. This is also true of 2.75G phones such as those based on CDMA-2000 or EDGE.
The special challenge involved in producing a multi mode mobile is in finding ways to share the components between the different standards. Obviously, the phone keypad and display should be shared, otherwise it would be hard to treat as one phone. Beyond that, though, there are challenges at each level of integration. How difficult these challenges are depends on the differences between systems.
The different variants of the GSM system have only different frequencies and so aren't even considered true multi-mode phones but rather are called multi-band phones. When talking about IS-95/GSM multi-mode phones, for example, or AMPS/IS-95 phones, the base band processing is very different from system to system.
This leads to real difficulties in component integration and so to larger phones. Mobile phones are now heavily used for data communications such as SMS messages, browsing mobile web sites, and even streaming audio and video files. The main limiting factors are the size of the screen, lack of a keyboard, processing power and connection speed. Most cellphones, which supports data communications, can be used as wireless modems (via cable or bluetooth), to connect computer to internet. Such access method is slow and expensive, but it can be available in very remote areas.
Connection speed is based on network support. Originally data transfers over GSM networks were possible only over CSD (circuit switched data), it has bandwidth of 9600 bit/s and usually is billed by connection time (from network point of view, it does not differ much from voice call). Later, there were introduced improved version of CSD HSCSD (high speed CSD), it could use multiple time slots for downlink, improving speed.
Maximum speed for HSCSD is 42 kbit/s, it also is billed by time. Later was introduced GPRS (general packet radio service), which operates on completely different principle. It also can use multiple time slots for transfer, but it does not tie up radio resources, when not transferring data (as opposed to CSD and like).
GPRS usually is prioritized under voice and CSD, so latencies are large and variable. Later, GPRS was upgraded to EDGE, which differs mainly by radio modulation, squeezing more data capacity in same radio bandwidth. GPRS and EDGE usually are billed by data traffic volume. Some phones also feature real keyboards, such as the LG enV.