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Development of mobile phones (1992 to 2014)
Nokia 6300 mobile phone with camera in X-ray image
Active phone call on a modern smartphone

A mobile phone , also known as a mobile phone in German-speaking countries , previously also a radio telephone or GSM telephone (based on the GSM mobile communications standard ), also known as a Natel in Switzerland , is a portable telephone that communicates with the telephone network via radio and can therefore be used anywhere. In 2013, for the first time, more internet-enabled cell phones with touch-sensitive screens ( smartphones ) were sold worldwide than conventional cell phones. The three largest manufacturers of smartphones worldwide in 2015 were Samsung , Apple and Huawei , followed by Lenovo , Xiaomi , ZTE , LG , Oppo , Coolpad and TCL-ALCATEL . Conventional cell phones are now mainly sold as feature phones for a small market, for example in developing and emerging countries, or for people who want to use devices that are as easy to use as possible with a long battery life.


The DynaTAC 8000X, an early commercial cell phone

There were a few forerunners before the devices that are now referred to as cell phones. The development of mobile radio began in 1926 with a telephone service on trains operated by the Deutsche Reichsbahn and Reichspost on the route between Hamburg and Berlin. This telephone service was only offered to 1st class travelers.

At an early age, artists and writers expressed their fantasies about the possible excesses of mobile telephony. This is how Gustav Hochstetter describes a stressed company boss in 1913 who, on medical advice, is supposed to recharge his batteries by walking in silence. Suddenly he hears something from his backpack in the seclusion of the mountains - his wife calls him:

“'Yes, yes, Ludwig, are you amazed? That thing cost a lot of money. A brand new invention: the miniature portable cordless phone. '"

- Gustav Hochstetter

In 1926 the draftsman Karl Arnold drew a visionary picture of the sense and nonsense of mobile telephoning on the street in the picture “Wireless Telephony” in Simplicissimus . Another literary description of a mobile phone utopia comes from 1931. It can be found in Erich Kästner's children 's book Der 35. Mai or Konrad rides in the South Seas :

“A gentleman who was driving on the sidewalk in front of them suddenly stepped on the pavement, pulled a telephone receiver out of his coat pocket, spoke a number and called out: 'Gertrud, listen, I'm coming to lunch an hour later today. I want to go to the laboratory first. Goodbye, honey! ' Then he put his pocket phone away again, stepped on the running tape, read a book and drove on his way. "

- Erich Kastner

The first mobile phone calls were made possible via end devices installed in motor vehicles -  car telephones  - in 1946. The US company Bell Telephone Company offered its mobile telephone service , which was used for the first time on June 17, 1946 in St. Louis ; starting October 2 of the same year, a car phone service was available from the Illinois Bell Telephone Company in Chicago .

The first car telephones that could be used in the A network were available in West Germany from 1958, with coverage of 80% of the territory of the Federal Republic of Germany being achieved by 1968 . The devices were initially quite large because of the vacuum tubes used for radio technology , but soon became much smaller with the introduction of transistors . Talks were hand-switched , the device prices were around 50% of the car price. From 1972, the Federal Republic of Germany switched to the B-network , which for the first time had the option of making dial-up connections.

In 1973, a team of developers at Motorola led by Martin Cooper and chief designer Rudy Krolopp produced the first prototype of a cell phone. "For the inner workings, the engineers at Motorola plundered VHF radios at the time and combined them with a powerful power storage device, the metal hydride battery." In October 1973 they applied for a patent. Cooper made the first call on a cell phone on April 3, 1973, calling his rival at Bell Labs .

From 1974 there was also an automatically switched B network in Austria . Seven years later it had 1,000 participants. The area where a participant is staying (Austria was divided into around 3 areas, each with its own area code) had to be known in order to be able to call them. In 1975 the national car telephone network ( Natel ) was introduced in Switzerland . Natel B followed from 1983 ; In the same year the first commercial mobile phone " Dynatac 8000x " , developed by Motorola since 1973, was officially presented.

From 1985 the small-cell analog C network existed in Germany and Austria . It enabled a lower transmission power of the telephones and thus smaller, no longer practically tied to car installation (also in the trunk). "Portables", small boxes with a handle and a connected telephone receiver and a longer antenna, came onto the market. In 1987, the Natel C car telephone network was introduced in Switzerland .

The introduction of comprehensive digital cellular networks ( D-Netz in the late 1980s / early 1990s in Germany, Austria and Switzerland) made it possible to further reduce the battery power required for cell phones and thus their size. In 1992, Motorola introduced the first GSM- enabled mobile device, the International 3200 , in the USA . In the summer of 1992, the networks D1 (operator: DeTeMobil Deutsche Telekom Mobilfunk ) and D2 (operator: Mannesmann Mobilfunk ) began operating in Germany. In Switzerland, Natel D was launched on a GSM basis. In 2001, the British took Manx Telecom on the Isle of Man the world's first UMTS - network in operation; UMTS has been commercially available in Germany since 2004. The 3G standard UMTS is characterized by significantly higher data rates, which significantly accelerates internet-related applications, especially on smartphones. The previous trend of downsizing devices has been partially reversed by larger devices with large touchscreen screens . At the end of 2009, the first fourth-generation ( 4G ) cellular networks became available; with LTE and later LTE-Advanced , the maximum possible data rates increased again. It has been possible to use the 4G networks for voice services in Germany via VoLTE since 2015 . In 2019, licenses for 5G were auctioned and the first masts were introduced in large cities.

Structure and technology

The Siemens S25, one of the first dual-band GSM phones, 1999

Like the wired telephone , the mobile phone consists of a loudspeaker , a microphone , a control unit ( keyboard and display ) and a controller (usually a microcontroller ). In addition, it has a radio component ( transceiver , antenna ) and its own power supply (usually an accumulator ). With GSM telephones, a SIM card is generally required for operation (until 2009 with the exception of emergency numbers), which is used for identification with the cellular network .

Cell phones in Europe now work according to the GSM standard. They use frequencies around 900  MHz ( D-Netz ) or 1800 MHz ( E-Netz ). The first telephones that support dual-band GSM, i.e. D and E networks, appeared towards the end of the 1990s. The first GSM phone with dual-band technology was the Motorola 8900 . Tri- band mobile phones can also operate on 1900 MHz or 850 MHz; these frequencies are mainly used in the USA . Quad-band mobile phones can handle all four frequencies. While the GSM base stations for cell phones have transmission powers of up to 50  watts (D-Netz) or 10 watts (E-Netz), cell phones have transmission powers of max. 2 W (D-Netz) or 1 W (E-Netz) off. GMSK (Gaussian Minimum Shift Keying, a further developed, optimized version of the FSK ) is used as the modulation type for transmission .

In the next (third) generation of mobile radio devices there are two competing standards: Universal Mobile Telecommunications System , abbreviated as UMTS, as a further development of GSM and the CDMA2000 standard , which is particularly widespread in the USA. Both UMTS and CDMA2000 are based on Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA), but are not compatible with each other. Both work at frequencies around 1800 to 1900 MHz, use many small radio cells and are optimized for higher data transmission speeds and higher numbers of users. Due to the smaller radio cells and due to further developed modulation methods , the transmission power of the mobile phones could be reduced to 0.125-0.25 W compared to GSM.

Operating systems

Older GSM telephones (such as the Siemens S25 shown in the picture above) usually only have a single operating system that takes care of all tasks. Modern smartphones, on the other hand, use a real-time main operating system on which the user applications are executed, and the so-called baseband operating system , which takes over the actual communication with the cell phone network. The baseband operating system works in a similar way to a conventional non-smartphone operating system, but usually has no user interface and runs in the background on its own processor and memory separate from the main operating system.

With smartphones, the main operating system of the mobile phone is usually not produced by the manufacturer, but operated under license. By far the most common operating system among smartphones is Android . Other common systems are iOS from Apple and the Windows NT- based Windows Phone from Microsoft. A proprietary operating system from the manufacturer is usually used on conventional non-smartphones or classic cell phones . Other operating systems tend to lead a niche existence and could not establish themselves on the market. These include the Firefox OS, which has only been available since 2013, and the discontinued systems Bada , Symbian and Series 40 and Asha . A few cell phones run with Linux-based operating systems (e.g. Sailfish OS , Maemo , MeeGo and Tizen ), for the further development of which some companies from the cell phone sector established the LiMo Foundation in 2007 . However, the development was largely stopped.

The transition from smartphones to PDAs and tablets is fluid (see phablet / smartlet ).


A mobile phone generally has the following interfaces:

  • At least one modem ( GSM , 3G or LTE for fully digital cell phones) that enables communication between the end device and the cellular network. With many telephones, text messages can also be sent and the Internet can be accessed via the modem. Sometimes the modem can also transmit in the previous modes, rarely simultaneously, or the mobile phone has a second modem.
  • The wired interface is usually a USB interface. Older cell phones also have proprietary cable interfaces for smart accessories (e.g. Nokia Pop-Port ) or connectors for a cradle in motor vehicles.
  • Infrared was widespread in cell phones until it was replaced by more efficient data transmission standards. Bluetooth , W-LAN and NFC
    are often used as more powerful interfaces for close range in cell phones .
  • An analog audio interface (usually a 3.5 mm jack connection ) and a video interface (composite video or mini- HDMI connection) are particularly found on smartphones .
  • A cell phone either has an extra charging socket to charge the batteries, or the USB port is used for this purpose. Sometimes it is also possible to charge wirelessly using an alternating magnetic field (e.g. Qi )


Nokia 6310i on the power supply
MicroUSB as today's standard mobile phone charging plug (except Apple)

The chargers differ from manufacturer to manufacturer. In response to pressure from the European Union , all major mobile phone manufacturers (except Apple) agreed to introduce a common standard for charger plugs based on the micro-USB plug from 2010 onwards . This means that in future all newer cell phones can be charged with the same charger.

Since 2016, a USB-C connection has been used more and more instead of a micro-USB , in which the plugs can be used in any orientation and other functions can be integrated. From 2017, all cell phones and smartphones sold in the European Union , as well as other smaller devices that can be used on a mobile basis, such as tablet PCs , must be able to be supplied with standard charging devices.


Usual designs

  • (Candy-) Bar / bullion / bars - classic design that the shape of a chocolate bar ( english bar candy resembles), for example, Nokia 6230 . Cell phones, whose keypads are protected by simple flaps or sliding mechanisms with no further function, are counted among the “candy bar” phones like the Nokia 7110 or the Siemens S25 .
  • Flip / Clamshell / Klapphandy - two-part mobile phone with a hinge in the middle. When opened, the upper part usually carries the display, the lower part the keyboard. When folded, both parts are opposite and are thus protected. Example: Motorola RAZR .
  • Jack-Knife - horizontal swivel joint, for example Sony Ericsson W550i
  • Slider (sliding phone) - the display and control buttons are pushed up vertically using the dial buttons, for example Samsung SGH D500.
  • Swivel flip phones - with a rotatable screen, for example Samsung SGH-P900.
  • Touch Phones - Smartphones that are controlled primarily with the fingers using a touchscreen display and possibly a technology known as multi-touch . In 1992, IBM presented the first mobile phone with a touchscreen. Other sources include cell phones with touch-sensitive screens of the candy bar design.

Special shapes

  • Wrist phone or cell phone watch
  • Cellular GSM desk telephones - copied from conventional corded landline telephones - like GSM gateways, these, too, are primarily suitable for stationary use. In Germany, for example, the GDP-02 model from the Czech manufacturer Jablotron was marketed by O 2 and Vodafone .
  • Cellular gateways - special forms of cellular end devices for stationary operation that enable the connection of telephone systems and conventional landline telephones .
  • Combined designs - Some end devices, mostly from the "Experimental" or "Fashion" segment, are constructed from different designs with combined folding, rotating or sliding structures.

Solar powered cell phones

After the arrival of the solar-powered mobile phone charging stations , the South Korean company "CR Telecom" introduced a solar mobile phone back in 2001. The charging times roughly corresponded to the conversation times, but the devices could only be charged effectively when the sun was shining. In the same year, the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems presented the prototype of a "Siemens C25" mobile phone with a solar-powered battery. These novel modules were inexpensive, but they too did not provide enough energy for acceptable conversation times.



Mobile phones usually make it possible to send text messages, possibly also combined with multimedia content. The "Short Message Service" enables short text messages with a length of up to 160 characters. The first short message was sent from a PC to a mobile phone on the British Vodafone network in December 1992 . In 1994 a mobile phone was also able to send an SMS directly for the first time. The name SMS has become common for short messages , although the abbreviation SMS actually only describes the carrier service.

Originally offered free of charge as a pure “waste product”, SMS developed into the main source of income for the network operators. In 2005, over 61 million short messages were sent nationwide per day, by 2011 the number had increased to 148 million. On closer inspection, the success of this service is not surprising, because it is much more usable in combination with a mobile phone than its now almost forgotten predecessor, the digital radio message receiver (so-called pager ). Further developments of SMS exist under the name Enhanced Message Service (EMS) and Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS). MMS offers the possibility of using a mobile phone to send multimedia messages (videos, images, sound and text) of up to 500  kB to other mobile devices. MMS is not compatible with SMS or EMS, end devices must explicitly support MMS. Otherwise, some network operators offer access to the MMS via the Internet and a password that is communicated to the recipient via SMS.

For the deaf and the severely hard of hearing, the "SMS" function offers the possibility of using a mobile phone, just like the video and writing phone .

The number of short messages sent in Germany rose to 163 million per day by 2012. Since then, there has been a clear downward trend, within two years the number of short messages sent plummeted by 55%. Instant messaging programs such as WhatsApp and Telegram are seen as the reason for this . At the beginning of 2014, around 50 billion messages were sent daily with the WhatsApp messenger; in April of the same year the number rose to 64 billion. With 55 billion sent units, SMS has fallen below the level of instant messengers. While every German citizen sent two text messages a day at the beginning of 2014, every WhatsApp user sent 30 messages a day.


Lens of a mobile phone camera (here Sony Ericsson K700i )
Smartphone as a camera replacement

For cell phones with a built-in camera, the terms “photo cell phone” and “photo cell phone” had become established as differentiating criteria. However, due to the increasing spread of the photo function in mobile phones, these terms have quickly lost their meaning again.


In 1999 the world's first mobile phone with an integrated digital camera, the Toshiba Camesse with the GEOS-SC operating system , appeared on the Japanese market . The Camesse quickly became a cult device in Japan and had several successors. There are several services on the Japanese Internet that can be used to upload and publish private Camesse photos. With the Camesse, the photos could be edited directly in the mobile phone with graphics software. Since 2002, more and more cell phones have been equipped with an integrated camera . In these mobile photo telephones, the image recording devices are usually located on the back of the mobile telephone.

Technical progress

A tree in autumn, recorded with the iPhone 3GS cell phone camera
Snapshot of the same tree captured with a Canon EOS 70D

Initially, the photographic quality of the first mobile camera telephones did not come close to that of digital cameras made at the same time. By the end of 2002, there were no cell phone cameras that could take pictures larger than 640 × 480 pixels. In Germany , the Sharp GX 30, released in 2004, was the first camera phone with a 1- megapixel camera. The resolution of cell phone cameras has grown steadily since their introduction and reached its peak in the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra with 108 megapixels. However, the resolution of modern cell phone cameras is in most cases no higher than 8 to 13 megapixels, since a higher resolution on a small image sensor, such as that found in a cell phone, leads to poor image quality and the optical lens system usually does not allow finer details . The Apple company does not offer smartphones with a camera resolution of more than 12 megapixels.

Videos can usually be recorded with the integrated cameras . Their quality varies greatly and depends on the manufacturer, model and state of the art . Conventional non-smartphones usually deliver poor recordings. Video recordings require a powerful graphics processor to achieve acceptable results. This is often the case with modern smartphones, which means that the resolution of the film material is mostly full HD, but also 4K or even 8K. Cell phone cameras usually cannot match the quality of SLR cameras, but cell phone cameras can still be used for recording sophisticated films.

Cell phone cameras also make it possible to read printed QR codes . These usually contain a URL to a website. Another possible application is the tracing of food.

In the course of the attempts to integrate cameras in cell phones, there is also the reverse variant, the integration of a cellular modem in a camera. An example of such a device is Samsung Galaxy Camera . This compact camera uses the Android phone operating system. Clip-on lenses for mobile phone cameras and digital cameras that can be controlled with an application on the phone are also available on the market.


The increasing merging of simple cameras and mobile phones also harbors dangers that lead to criticism of this functionality:

  • Larger companies are increasingly forbidding their employees to bring cell phones with camera functions onto the factory premises. These represent a security risk in the area of ​​factory espionage . Where a film and photography ban was previously in effect, this leads to a de facto ban on cell phones. If enforced consistently, this leads to a great deal of effort and incomprehension among staff and visitors.
  • Camera cell phones have come under fire due to increasing voyeurism , for example in bathing establishments or changing rooms, where the victims are photographed or filmed unnoticed with the inconspicuous cell phones.
  • As camera cell phones became more widespread, young offenders made headlines more frequently, using them to photograph or film acts of violence and then make them available to others ( happy slapping ). The case of a filmed rape of a 16-year-old by four 13- to 15-year-old youths in 2006 in the Volkspark Jungfernheide in Berlin became known .


Music player

Mobile phones have been available with an integrated FM radio (the earphone cord is used as an antenna) since 1998 and with an integrated music playback function since 2000 . With such mobile phones, music files can be loaded into the device memory like an MP3 player . Since 2001, many mobile phones have offered the option of expanding their respective storage capacity using a memory card - up to several GB , depending on the model .

Internet access

Website on a smartphone

Many mobile phones, which came on the market before the popularization of smart phones, have a browser for surfing on WAP - and Mobile HTML - pages . The first WAP-enabled cell phone was released in 1999. The WAP technology is now obsolete and has been replaced by the possibility of using the conventional Internet on the mobile phone. During the presentation of the iPhone, Steve Jobs criticized the WAP technology as "baby internet" and presented the Mobile Safari internet browser as the "first real internet browser on a smartphone". Modern smartphones usually have a browser included with them HTML pages can be viewed relatively comfortably. Alternatively, third-party browsers such as Opera Mini can be installed on smartphones .

Modern smartphone applications offer a wide range of uses for Internet access, such as calling up stocks or weather data, and navigation based on online map material. Instant messengers also use the mobile internet to send text messages.

Push to talk

The push-to-talk service (“press to speak”) enables short voice messages to be sent to individual users or groups. This service is no longer supported in Germany (previously only Telekom / D1). With the popularity of instant messengers, the push-to-talk function is experiencing a certain renaissance, as such programs offer such a function. In contrast to the original push-to-talk, however, this is not provider-supported , but is based on the infrastructure of the instant messenger.


The first third-party applications, so-called apps (abbreviation of Application , English for "application") were made possible by the introduction of the Java ME (Java Micro Edition) in 1999. In the years that followed, several cell phones were equipped with Java technology, which made the applications known as midlets gain a certain popularity. The Java platform was discontinued in 2007.

With the appearance of smartphones, the possibilities of applications were further expanded. When the first iPhone appeared , Steve Jobs was in favor of a closed operating and application system and said that web apps would do the service of natively installed applications just as reliably and quickly. Nevertheless, Apple announced on October 17, 2007, at the urging of the board of directors and the media, in February 2008 to release a software development kit (SDK) for developers. The result for end users was the App Store , from which apps can be downloaded. As a result, the mobile phone can be expanded to include many possible uses.

With the help of the programming environments (SDKs) the mobile phone - like many other computer systems - can be modified more seriously. A device can thus perform completely different tasks than the original mobile phone functions. Since the introduction of smartphones, SDKs have mainly been used for the development of commercial applications (the apps mentioned), such as: B. Xcode for iPhone.

GNSS reception

GPS and GLONASS signals are used by navigation programs in cell phones . The first smartphone with a built-in GPS receiver appeared in 2005 . It was the Siemens SXG75 . The Motorola A780 followed shortly afterwards , but both were not widely used due to low sales figures. The Nokia N95 or HTC P3300 followed in 2007 . GPS receivers could also be connected externally via Bluetooth or cable beforehand. Earlier attempts to integrate GPS hardware in mobile phones failed because of their enormous energy requirements, but some models came onto the market as early as 2001. Since around 2012, many smartphones have been receiving GLONASS signals in addition to GPS.

In contrast to navigation devices, many mobile phone manufacturers still charged fees for navigation in the early days. This usually takes place via the detour that the network provider actively compares the position and map using its own software, in ( A-GPS ) by adding a radio cell location, which is then billed in data volume or kilometers, often only via an online card that secondarily enforces access to the Internet.

However, a number of apps now also offer a completely free offline tour, provided the mobile phone is compatible and has enough memory of its own for the map. An external GNSS mouse can improve the reception of the cell phones.

In the early days, navigation programs such as Trekbuddy only provided compass navigation or required previously stored route data or GPS points for precise street navigation.


Many network operators only offer mobile telephones through their independent service providers - also known as "brands" or subsidiaries - that are equipped with software that they have specially adapted (so-called "branding" or "customization"). Many changes are made specifically for the network operator or for the customer's service provider before the customer purchases the mobile phone. This extends, removes or changes the functions of the telephone. Customers are automatically led to the portal pages of the service providers or the "brands" through additional menu entries in the browser ("favorites") - in extreme cases even through additional buttons - FAQ pages are stored, SIM lock set up, phone number entries for hotlines are left behind , the network operator name and the background in the display have been changed, etc. In the meantime, normal comfort functions, such as adjusting an image stored on the device to the screen size by pressing a button, are often removed with branding. It is also common to prevent games and similar software (mostly via Bluetooth and infrared) from being saved on the phone in order to bind the user to the provider's “download portals”, which are often paid for. It is technically possible to replace the network operator's software with that of the phone manufacturer ( debranding ).

Further transmitting and receiving units

Mobile phones that can be used to call and receive at the same time with two network cards are called dual SIM mobile phones . Modern dual SIM telephones have 2 complete transmitter and receiver units that do not have to be changed manually as with older models. Triple SIM cell phones are also available in stores, with which you can operate up to three SIM cards in one device.


Origin of the name "mobile phone"

As a common name for the newly introduced GSM mobile phones, the term “mobile phone” became established in German colloquial language from around 1992. The word “mobile phone”, which is often used in Germany, is, however, a pseudo-Anglicism , since in English-speaking countries it is used almost exclusively as an adjective (“practical, convenient, handy”) and not as a name for a mobile phone. Some - such as the Association of German Language  - recommended the Germanized spelling “Händi”, which, however, did not catch on. There are numerous contradicting explanations for the origin of the term, which have so far not been conclusively proven. During the Second World War, Motorola first produced the SCR-536 handie-talkie , which you could hold in your hand like a telephone, in addition to the SCR-300 walkie-talkie , which was carried on the back . To this day there are successors of this name, which has also been listed in English dictionaries since 1963. The first D-Netz mobile phone to have the term mobile phone in its name was the HandyTel 100 introduced by Loewe in 1992 .

In German-speaking CB and radio amateur circles, the term mobile phone was already used before 1992. It meant a hand-held transceiver , i.e. a hand-held transmitter and receiver. Mostly small radios for VHF bands that looked similar to a telephone were meant, e.g. B. the YAESU FT23. These radios were relatively small and could be operated with one hand; other CB radios were much larger and usually had to be operated with two hands.

The US American and South African English mostly speak of the cell (ular) phone ( cell is the cell around a transceiver in the mobile network), in British English of the mobile phone or mobile for short . Although it is used by non-native speakers and there have been a few attempts to introduce it in English, the noun “cell phone” is neither used nor understood in English-speaking countries.

A handy flashlight model from the Daimon company was registered as a trademark in 1937 under the name "Handy": It was the first "Handy" in Germany.

In Switzerland , the term Natel (an abbreviation for N ationales A uto tel efon) has become common. However, the expression is claimed by the telephone company Swisscom as a protected trademark solely for its services. In the course of the opening up of the mobile communications market, the name mobile phone, which is independent of the network operator, is spreading more and more in (German-speaking) Switzerland . The then Federal Chancellor Corina Casanova declared in 2008 that the Swiss Federal Chancellery did not use the word mobile phone because it was an example of how anglicisms "often have a different meaning for us than they have in English". In addition, the registered brand name Handy has existed in Switzerland since 1958 for a well-known dishwashing detergent from Mifa AG , which is sold by the Migros retail group .

Terms in other languages ​​or countries

In other languages, too, very plastic terms for the mobile phone have become established. Usually the name is based on an obvious property of the device.

Its most important characteristic is portability: the Latin word stem mobile can be found in the German term mobile phone . The term can also be found in English ( mobile phone , mobile ) and in many other languages, such as Spanish ( móvil ) or Catalan ( mòbil ). In addition, the terms “portable” ( portable in French , keitai ( 携 帯 or ケ ー タ イ ) in Japanese ) or “travel phone ” ( matkapuhelin ) in Finnish have become established.

In some countries, the designation of the cell phone depends on where it is stored: "Pocket phone" ( cep telefonu ) in Turkish , " Pocket phone" ( fòn phoca or fón póca ) in Scottish Gaelic and Irish .

In still other languages, the designation aims to ensure that mobile phones are held in the hand for making calls : "Handtelefon" ( fòn làimhe ) in Irish, hand phone in many Asian countries (especially: Singapore / Malaysia ), sau kei or shǒu jī ( 手机 ) (each "hand machine") in China , mue thue as short form of thorasap mue thue โทรศัพท์ มือ ถือ ("hand-held telephone") in Thailand .

Often the name also takes up the “cellular” character of the cell phone network; A common designation is therefore “network” or “ cell phone ” - for example the English cellular phone / cell phone (especially US-American English), the Spanish celular , khelyawi in Lebanon , komórka in Poland or Ponsel ( tele pon sel ular ) in Indonesia . In Italian , in addition to the term ( telefono ) cellulare - which reflects the American usage - the diminutive form telefonino , ie: "little telephone", is used. While in Portugal the term telemóvel is common, in Brazil (telefone) it is said celular .

In other countries, the name is derived from the GSM standard: Bulgarians refer to mobile phones as Mobifon ( мобифон ) as well as dzhiesem ( джиесем ), and Icelanders as Gemsi (which in Icelandic also means something like young sheep ). There are regional differences in the designation in the Dutch-speaking area. While the general term is mobiele telefoon , which is often used in the Netherlands itself in the abbreviated diminutive mobieltje , the term GSM is particularly widespread in Flanders, but also in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg . The term gsm (in English pronunciation) or mobitel is also used in Slovenia . Also mobilnik is in use.

In some countries, the mobile phone is named after network operators or manufacturers who were the first to establish themselves. In Switzerland, for example, the term “ Natel ” is common, which was coined by the network operator's brand name of the same name.

In addition, there are also completely different names: In Iran , mobile phones are used as "companion phones" ( telefon-hamráh or hamráh -تلفن همراه) referred to in Israel as the "miracle telephone " ( pelefon - פלאפון). It should be noted here that Pelephone was also the first Israeli network provider. The word was therefore also adopted in Palestinian Arabic and pronounced as bilifōn .

In many Arab countries like the United Arab Emirates or Saudi Arabia it will be Jawwal -جوالdenotes what "that which walks through the area" means and is the name of the first network operator there. This is also the case in the Palestinian Autonomous Territories , but the Israeli name bilifōn has remained there .

In Danish , Swedish and Norwegian , mobile phone means mobile phone or mobile for short . In Sweden , Ficktelefon (in Swedish Ficka = "(pants) bag") and nalle can also be heard colloquially . The latter means "teddy bear" - that originally came from the expression yuppie-nalle , since until the late 1980s only rich yuppies could afford cell phones, which they then proudly carried around "like a teddy bear".

Name for early, bulky devices

An originally German term for particularly clumsy, early cell phones is "bones", a term that was originally used for the telephone receiver because of its characteristic shape .

The mobile phone in everyday life

Cell phones as a disturbance of the peace

In some environments, especially during performances in cinemas, theaters or operas, and especially in places of worship or in cemeteries, the use of mobile phones is often perceived as annoying. That is why cinema operators, for example, are starting to actively or passively prevent their use. In countries like the USA, it is now common practice to use jammers to ensure interference-free performance. In other countries such as Germany , however, the use of the transmission frequencies is prohibited, as these are reserved exclusively for the network operators. The operators therefore rely on passive interference from cell phones through good screening of the halls. However, this also means that cell phones emit the maximum transmission power.

In many countries, making mobile phone calls on public transport is often perceived by passengers as annoying and as an indirect compulsion to listen in, especially since people usually speak louder than when talking to people present. In some countries, such as Japan, it is frowned upon to make phone calls on public transport or even to let ring tones sound; announcements are made to draw attention to this rule of conduct. In Graz , a telephone ban was issued in 2008 on public transport, but this is not enforced.

Cell phones and road traffic

Telephoning in the car without a hands-free system is a
traffic offense in Germany

The use of a cell phone while driving without a hands-free system is prohibited for vehicle drivers in many countries (including Germany, Austria and Switzerland). If the ban is not observed , fines will be imposed , and in Germany an entry of one point in the register of fitness to drive will be imposed. In Germany in 2011, 450,000 drivers were caught with a mobile phone at the wheel.

In Germany, according to Section 23 (1a) StVO, the driver of the vehicle may only use a cell phone or car phone or other electronic device that is used for communication, information or organization if the cell phone or the device's receiver does not have to be picked up or held and the device is operated via voice control or only a brief glance is required for operation that is appropriate to the situation. This does not apply when the vehicle is stationary and the engine of motor vehicles is completely switched off. A violation of the ban on the use of mobile phones and other electronic devices used for communication, information or organization is punishable by a fine of 100 euros and the entry of a point in the register of fitness to drive. In the case of violations that endanger others or result in a traffic accident , the fine increases to 150 euros or 200 euros. In addition, in these cases two points are entered in the register of fitness to drive and a one-month driving ban is also imposed. The ban on using a mobile phone also applies to cyclists in Germany. According to the current version of the catalog of fines, a warning fee of 55 euros is provided for a violation by a cyclist. Children under ten years of age who ride a children's bicycle are considered pedestrians according to the StVO , which is why they are not prohibited from using a mobile phone.

Reading the time (OLG Hamm, Az. 2 Ss OWi 177/05), the use of a mobile phone as a navigation system (OLG Cologne, Az. 81SsOWi49 / 08) and "pushing away" a Call (OLG Cologne, Az. III-1RBs39 / 12). The use of a mobile phone as a heat accumulator, however, was not considered contrary to the prohibition of the use of a mobile phone as in the sense of § 23 para. 1a StVO (OLG Hamm, 2 Ss OWi 606/07), the recording of the mobile phone, exclusively for the purpose of to move it from one storage location to another (OLG Cologne, Az. 83 Ss-OWi 19/05) as well as picking up a mobile phone that has fallen on the passenger footwell in order to put it on the passenger seat (OLG Düsseldorf, IV-2 Ss OWi 134 / 06-70 / 06 III). According to a ruling by the Hamm Higher Regional Court on October 24, 2013, “repeated illegal use of a cell phone or car phone [...] is suitable to justify the ordering of a driving ban due to persistent breach of duty” (Ref .: 3 RBs 256/13). The reason given for the ban is the distraction of the driver and, if necessary, the "elimination" of a hand for steering . In contrast to Germany, a " headset " is not recognized as a hands-free device in all other countries . There are special motorcycle intercoms for motorcyclists who want to use their mobile phones while driving. However, as the latest studies show, even when using a hands-free system, a vehicle driver can be distracted considerably from the traffic situation. According to British studies, the driver's impairment caused by telephoning must be equated with that caused by alcohol.

In Austria, using a mobile phone while driving a vehicle has been prohibited since July 1, 1999. A payment of 50 euros is planned as a penalty; if payment is not made immediately, the security authorities can impose a fine of up to 72 euros or, alternatively, a 24-hour prison sentence.

The connection of the mobile phone to the hands-free system of the vehicle can be made either via a so-called snap-in adapter or wirelessly via the Bluetooth data transmission standard, namely via the Bluetooth profile Hands Free Profile (HFP) or remote SIM Access Profile (rSAP), rSAP is preferable due to the use of the car's external antenna , but so far only a few cell phones support it.

If pedestrians are distracted by their mobile phones, the risk of accidents increases significantly. According to a 2019 study by the insurance group Allianz on pedestrian accidents in Germany, two thirds of pedestrians occasionally make calls while walking, every second pedestrian taps the display or the mobile phone buttons while walking, and around a third listens to music. When typing text, the probability of an accident doubles, and when listening to music it is fourfold.

In road accidents, those involved in the accident often use the camera function of the cell phone to document the scene of the accident - possibly in addition to the traffic accident record by the police.

The mobile phone in the hospital

Switching on cell phones is often not allowed in hospitals because there are fears that the electromagnetic fields could impair the function of medical devices. Investigations by the University Hospital Giessen have shown, however, that medical devices can only be impaired by mobile phones at a distance of less than one meter. So it would be sufficient to limit the ban in hospitals to rooms such as intensive care units. A study conducted at the Mayo Clinic also found that hospital equipment is not affected by cell phones: In 300 tests, the researchers found no evidence that cell phone use could interfere with equipment in intensive care units and other areas of the hospital .

All approved devices, especially those in hospitals, of course, must have a minimum level of interference immunity which must be a multiple of the signal achieved when using cell phones.

The mobile phone on the plane

In the meantime, using a mobile phone during the flight is also permitted in some aircraft. Systems have been developed for aircraft that sometimes make the use of cell phones possible on board. Several airlines are planning to equip their aircraft with transmitters that transmit the radio signals from cell phones to the cell phone networks via satellites. The transmission power of the mobile phones is reduced to a minimum by the on-board system. The aviation standardization committees EUROCAE working group 58 and its American counterpart RTCA special committee 202 have dealt in detail with the topic and developed test regulations for the verification of the electromagnetic compatibility between mobile radio and on-board electronics. EUROCAE has set out the associated verification procedures and analyzes in document ED-130. In Germany, the Air Vehicle Electronics Operating Ordinance (LuftEBV) regulates the use of electronic devices on board aircraft. In the new version of the LuftEBV, which came into force on March 7, 2008, the use of radio technology inside the cabin was relaxed compared to previous versions of the regulation based on the work of the above-mentioned EUROCAE and RTCA bodies. The first mobile radio systems have already been approved by the European aviation authorities in accordance with the relevant building regulations for aircraft. At the moment, however, using cell phones is not permitted in the vast majority of aircraft. For the 1.8 GHz GSM radio networks (E-networks), the cruising altitude of commercial aircraft (more than 10 kilometers) is already at the edge of the range (cell size usually max. 8 km), D-Netz cells are up to 50 km Radio range. The fuselage of many commercial aircraft is made of aluminum and significantly attenuates radio signals. The first wide-bodied aircraft , the fuselage of which is made largely of carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic , are the Airbus A350 and the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

Cellphone ray filter

In many cases, so-called cell phone radiation filters are offered, which are supposed to protect against radiation. Such stickers or foils can impair the emission of the device. This can disrupt the control loop between the handset and the base station. Then the mobile device (and also the base station) transmits with higher power than would be required in the respective situation without the foil.

The attachment of any devices (flashing antennas, metal foils and the like) to a mobile phone is only permitted if the manufacturer expressly allows it, otherwise the approval for the operation of the device in the EU according to the relevant laws and guidelines expires (Austria). In general, any change that affects the radio properties (in particular the attachment of electrically conductive objects) can lead to severe penalties, especially in the case of reinforcing, directing or disruptive effects.

Cell Phones in Art

A number of art projects have used cell phones to facilitate interaction. For example, during its Blinkenlights 2001 campaign at Alexanderplatz in Berlin, the Blinkenlights project enabled mobile phone users to control light installations via SMS. Another example is the so-called “saroscope” by the artist Martin Hesselmeier. The saroscope reacts to electromagnetic radiation and thus enables a. Visitors to Art Cologne 2008 can influence the movements of the kinetic object with their mobile phones.

Mobile phones are stuck with well-known art motifs in order to achieve individualization in everyday life. For this, printable labeling foils are used, these guarantee protection of the housing from scratches, as well as the use of the mobile phone as a unique art object with motifs by well-known artists.

Emergency call function

The emergency number 112 can be reached with any mobile phone (some mobile phones can also be used to access the emergency call center via the "911"), even if there is no credit. Since July 1st, 2009 it has been necessary to insert a SIM card . In doing so, Germany implemented an EU directive aimed at preventing the misuse of emergency numbers. At times, 80 percent of the emergency calls made were abusive.

Useful life

The average duration of ownership of a mobile phone in Germany is 18 to 24 months, depending on contract terms and innovation cycles. Around 100 million old devices are disposed of in Europe every year. That corresponds to 10,000 tons or 400 truck loads. Since March 24, 2006, consumers in Germany have been able to dispose of mobile phones free of charge in accordance with the Electrical and Electronic Equipment Act.

Mobile phone industry


In 2013, 1.8 billion GSM phones were shipped worldwide, 1 billion of which were smartphones. The generated smartphone sales were $ 181 billion. The market leader among manufacturers is Samsung, with a market share of 31%. Of all GSM telephones in operation worldwide, 1.336 billion run with the Google Android operating system, 360 million with Apple iOS. Android is the market leader with a market share of almost 80%.

The mobile phone industry is experiencing both strong growth and rapid target product change. Strong growth was forecast for the mobile phone industry around 1999. In the first half of 1999, sales of privately used cell phones in Germany rose by 7% to DM 1.35 billion. In 2013 it was € 8.3 billion for the year as a whole. When the commercial, fully digital 900 MHz GSM mobile radio was introduced in Germany in 1992, there were 1 million mobile phone owners nationwide. By 1998 the number rose to 13.9 million. In 1998, 46.3 million mobile phone owners were forecast for 2005; in fact, the figure was around 57.4 million in 2005. By 2013 the number rose to 63 million; 40.4 million of them were smartphone users.

Sales of so-called smartphones have increased steadily in recent years. The meaning of the term has also changed: While originally (2004) a mobile phone with PDA function was referred to as a smartphone, today (2014) a mobile phone with a large touch-sensitive screen and apps is understood as a smartphone. It is therefore not very long that a distinction has been made between conventional cell phones and smartphones. In 2006, 64 million smartphones were sold worldwide; in 2005, total sales of mobile phones were estimated at 810 million worldwide. Sales of smartphones would have made up roughly 8% of total sales in 2006, for comparison: in 2013 it was 55% of global sales of mobile phones. The number of smartphones sold has also increased steadily in recent years, in 2010 it was 300 million, in 2011 490 million and in 2013 one billion.

In 2016 there were 7.1 billion cell phones in use worldwide.

Raw material situation

In 2010 there were almost 5 billion mobile phone contracts worldwide and one billion devices were manufactured annually; the average shelf life or useful life was three years . A mobile phone consists of 56% plastic, 25% metal and 16% glass and ceramics, plus three percent other items. The metals or transition metals used include:

  • Tantalum : Coltan , the starting material for tantalum will last 150 years, but production is limited. There is currently (2010) no substitute material.
  • Gallium : It is a by-product of aluminum and zinc production. The reserves are not short.
  • Indium : 600 tons are refined every year. The extraction is linked to the extraction of zinc. It has so far been irreplaceable for flat screens, displays and light-emitting diodes.
  • Lithium : Lithium is not a rare element (more common than, for example, lead); however, it is difficult to obtain due to the greater distribution.
  • Palladium : The limited amount of raw materials is being squeezed by demand from the automotive industry.
  • platinum

Other important metals are copper (circuit board manufacture), gold and silver (corrosion-resistant contact surfaces, bond connections ) and tin and lead ( solder connections ). Due to RoHS, lead will hardly play a role in new cell phones anymore. Also Beryllium is included as well legierbarer material in printed circuit boards. Antimony is a component of lead-free solders and is contained in the plastic housings and the keyboard as a flame retardant.

The recycling requires the separation of the material mixture. One ton of “mobile phone” contains 4 grams of platinum, 340 grams of gold and 3500 grams of silver. That is why the recycling of used products is an important source of raw materials, especially since 80% of the materials used in a cell phone can be reused. This would require a specialized industry and the complete take-back of used cell phones. In June 2012, the Advisory Council on Environmental Issues advocated the introduction of a deposit system for mobile phones, with the Chairman of the Environmental Council Martin Faulstich suggesting a deposit of between 30 and 100 euros.

It takes up to 30 metals and minerals to make a cell phone. Some of these metals are mainly mined in mines that are controlled by so-called warlords . These finance their army and thus the civil war with the profits from the mines . B. the East Congo conflict .

Cell phone manufacturing cost

There are often considerable differences of up to 75% between the end customer price of cell phones and the manufacturing costs. Even the processors are often hardly more expensive than single-digit dollar sums due to the mass production in purchasing for the device manufacturer, as are the screen display and the built-in memory.

For example, reported B. the show Spiegel TV on August 26, 2012, an iPhone 4, which was then 629 euros, cost only 155 euros to manufacture (components and wages for assembly), excluding costs for e.g. B. Licenses, software development, freight, sales, marketing, administration, taxes and customs.

Some consumer sites like isuppli.com also regularly publish results on the discrepancy between the value of hardware and the prices charged by manufacturers. The Samsung Galaxy S4 phone, released in 2013, has around $ 236 component and material costs. This eliminates z. B. About 30 dollars on the processor, 75 on the screen and 16 on the infrared gesture and temperature sensors. The smartphone appeared in Germany with 16 GB of storage for around 649 euros, which corresponded to around 836 dollars, but still without the modern processor listed in the list.

working conditions

The production of mobile phones is criticized because of the working conditions in the manufacturing companies (see e.g. Foxconn ).

In order to eliminate the problems in the manufacture of mobile phones, a transparent supply chain for the conflict raw materials and the companies involved is necessary. However, this can hardly be guaranteed at the moment. With the Fairphone there is a mobile phone whose manufacturers have set themselves the goal of addressing these problems.


Cell phone pocket and case

Hard case smartphone cover made of plastic

A cell phone pocket is a pocket for storing cell phones. Like a cover, it can also be used to protect against damage such as falls, heat, cold, moisture, etc. Another goal can be to display a certain design ( skins ) or colors. Most of the time plastic , synthetic leather or textiles are used as material for cell phone cases. Cell phone cases are available in the following variants:

  • Hard and soft cases : Both variants refer to a cover for the smartphone. The hard case often uses harder materials like plastic , while the soft case usually uses silicone .
  • Bumper : This accessory sits over the frame of the cell phone and acts as a kind of bumper.
  • Flip case and case : Both variants are precisely tailored to the size of the smartphone. They cover the entire device and can be opened like a book or a wallet.
  • Slim case : The slim case hugs the cell phone and is usually made of neoprene .
  • Back cover : The back cover focuses on the back of the phone.
  • Hybrid cover : Usually a hybrid cover consists of two parts, with the inner cover made of silicone . This is clamped into the outer cover. The hybrid cover is also known as an outdoor case or outdoor cover .
  • Cell phone pouches and cell phone socks : pockets in which cell phones can be put in and taken out again.
  • Arm pockets : These pockets are tied over the upper arm. They are intended for outdoor use, such as fitness and sports.

Protective film

A protective film is a film that is intended to protect the screen from damage such as cracks and dirt (grease, dust, etc.). Also bulletproof glass or liquid glass can be used as a screen protector.

Input pen

An input pin ( fachsprachlich English stylus or stylus ) is a pin for the operation of the touch screen is used. The input pen enables more precise operation than with the fingers, since only the thin tip touches the screen. This also prevents the screen from being soiled by fingerprints.


There are several holders for cell phones, for example for vehicles or photography. The cell phone can be placed in the car as a radio or navigation system, or pictures can be taken with a tripod or a selfie stick .


SIM card

Mobile telephones are popular objects of theft, whereby not only switched on, registered mobile telephones are interesting (since the thief can make calls with them at no cost), but also switched off telephones secured via the PIN on the SIM card . The SIM card can be easily removed at any time. If the device is not approved for a specific network operator, all you need to do is insert a new SIM card in order to be able to offer the device on the gray market as full. To prevent this, we recommend securing the device with a so-called lock code or security code. Depending on its respective setting, the device is then deactivated after a certain period of inactivity or after being switched off and can only be reactivated using the code. The use of the security code is limited, however, since the thief can circumvent it by generating a so-called "security master code". The security code locks the mobile phone, while the PIN code locks the SIM card.

Samsung has a newer form of anti- theft protection : after theft or loss of the mobile phone, if a thief or finder inserts another SIM card, uTrack sends an SMS with the "new" number of the inserted SIM card to a previously entered phone number . The rightful owner can then carry out the location himself or by passing it on to the police .

For theft of mobile phones (with map) So two recommends:

  1. Request for the number to be blocked (depending on the SIM card: provide your own number and a possibly agreed password)
  2. Apply for the blocking of the entire device by specifying the device-dependent IMEI number (often stated on the sales contract or on the original packaging. The IMEI number is on the type plate and can also be displayed by entering * # 06 #). Despite the technical possibilities available, only a few network providers block devices based on the IMEI number.

A simple solution to protect against loss is to use a second, very small, battery-operated radio with low transmission power (1 mW), which emits an acoustic signal safely without exposure to radiation and without any operation, if the wearer of the mobile phone leaves it lying down and is away. Such devices usually use Bluetooth .


Cell phone insurance is offered against the loss or damage of a cell phone . However, the insurance conditions sometimes differ considerably; Theft, damage from falls and moisture may be included. If the mobile phone is stolen at home, household insurance often replaces the device. But here too, various conditions must be met. Household contents insurance only pays for theft if there is evidence of forced entry from outside through traces of burglary on windows or doors.

Most of these insurance policies are not recommended as they are usually expensive in relation to the scope of insurance offered. In addition, owners of cell phone insurance can very rarely hope for reimbursement of costs from the insurer in the event of theft. This is pointed out by the market watchdogs responsible for insurance at the Hamburg consumer center. The reason for this is the high demands placed by insurers on how consumers have to carry their cell phones with them. A Forsa survey that is representative for Germany on behalf of the market watchdog finances showed that 77 percent of all cell phone owners surveyed keep their cell phones in public places in such a way that the insurance does not have to pay in the event of theft.

SIM lock and netlock

SIM-Lock and Netlock are procedures with which mobile phonesare boundto a SIM card , a network operator or to a certain type of contract. A mobile phone with a SIM lock can only be used with the SIM card supplied with the phone. The mobile phone cannot be operated with any other SIM card, not even with a SIM card from the same network operator.

In Germany, SIM lock was mainly used for prepaid packages , but subsidized mobile phones with a contract are now being blocked more and more often, but with the more customer-friendly Netlock . A phone locked with Netlock can at least be used with other SIM cards from the same network operator.

Simlock is also used colloquially at Netlock. In Switzerland, devices designated by the operator as "SIM-Lock-protected" are only provided with a Netlock; other SIM cards from the same network operator also work in it.

By blocking the subsidized cell phone in whole or in part, the package provider intends to prevent the customer from making “third-party calls” to the competition. This is the only way he can ensure that the subsidies for device costs are offset by call income.

Usually the SIM-Lock and the Netlock can be deactivated after two years free of charge or within this period against payment of a fee of 100 euros. Unlocking is usually done by the user himself using the unlock code.

In addition, there are instructions and software on the World Wide Web for the independent removal of SIM and network locks. Often a one-digit or two-digit amount is required for this. With the increasing implementation of improved security mechanisms in mobile radio devices, special equipment is often required to remove the SIM lock.

A SIM or NET lock can also be bypassed with thin intermediate cards; This way the device is left untouched and you can still use it with third-party (network) SIM cards because the intermediate cards manipulate the network / operator IDs of the SIM card inserted during runtime.

Unauthorized unlocking is illegal in some EU countries. In Austria, unlocking is possible and permitted in cell phone shops for five to ten euros.

Cell phone tariffs

For the use of certain services in the cellular network, fees are incurred, the cost regulation created by the provider ("provider") for these is known as the "cell phone tariff". There are differences in mobile phone tariffs mainly in the type of chargeable services, the prices and the type of billing. See also roaming for the use of cellular networks abroad.

Paid services

Sending text messages and making calls, as well as all other services in which data is sent over the cellular network, are usually billed. Exceptions are usually the query of the account balance, often - but not always - also calling up the mobile box.


The price is generally based on the type (and duration) of the service and the networks used, occasionally also the time of day / day of the week.

  • Type of service:
  1. Calls: price depends on the duration / frequency (billing per second, minute, etc.).
  2. Text and data transmissions (SMS, MMS, etc.): price depends on size, but not necessarily increasing proportionally (i.e. an MMS holds many times more data than an SMS, but is not more expensive by the same factor)
  • Networks used: In general, calls in the network of your own provider are cheaper than those from third-party providers or to the fixed network; International calls are generally more expensive than domestic calls.
  • Time of day / weekday: In the evening and at night the services are usually cheaper than during the day, on public holidays the costs are lower than on workdays.

Billing type

There are two main types of billing:

  • With postpaid , often colloquially known as a “mobile phone contract”, the costs for the services are included retrospectively as part of a fixed contract (the minimum contract period is normally between 18 and 24 months). Often included are basic fees and minimum sales. However, there are also postpaid providers without a contract. Special tariffs with flat rates are also available , which are often referred to as flat rates for advertising purposes.
  • With prepaid , every service is debited directly from a rechargeable credit account, basic fees and minimum sales occur in exceptional cases. Ideally, the credit is on the SIM card; if this is exhausted, no other participants can be called except emergency numbers. Providers are increasingly switching to tariffs that allow credit to be topped up by debiting the customer's account. At times, the terms and conditions or the customer's consent enabled multiple automatic debits without further inquiry. In the meantime, court rulings have rejected this as a surprising clause and limited it to the maximum one-time automatic debiting of a fixed amount.

Network operator

Various network operators are represented in the German-speaking area and in countries with larger German-speaking populations:


Market shares of the GSM mobile network operators in Germany in 1999
Market shares of mobile network operators in Germany in 2015
Market shares * of the three mobile network operators in Germany (as of November 2018)

Network operators in Germany are:

There are also

  • Mobile Virtual Network Enablers (MVNEs), which build on the networks of the network providers and offer basic technical services and infrastructure for
  • Virtual Network Operators ” ( Mobile Virtual Network Operators , MVNOs) who sell mobile communications services to end customers without operating their own networks. A virtual network operator can restrict itself to one basic network (often as a subsidiary or sales brand of a network operator) or act as a so-called independent mobile phone chain and use several / all basic networks / offer them to the customer. Representatives of this genus can be found
    in England, Germany and Switzerland in particular .

Due to the porting of the number , the (possibly virtual) network operator used can no longer be recognized by the area code.

In response to pressure from consumer advocates and damaged cell phone users, providers are offering tariffs (postpaid) that contain a cost limit. Call destinations can also be blocked and value-added numbers can be blocked (in Germany: 0190, 0900, 0137, 0138 numbers and 118 directory inquiry services). Other protection options include blocking international calls, premium SMS, MMS services, GPRS services, WAP gateway, M-pay and top-up vouchers.


The mobile communications infrastructure in Austria is provided by the following providers:

In addition, mobile phone providers also appear on the Austrian market as virtual providers, so-called MVNOs .


The following companies are GSM licensees:



Software-related hazards

Like all devices with an integrated computer , a cell phone is not free from software errors . So far, a few cell phone viruses are known for Symbian- based devices. Viruses that can paralyze cell phones are mostly based on software errors. The main dangers are in the form of malware that pretends to be under false names in service messages or through so-called bluejacking , which exploits errors in the Bluetooth implementation. It is advisable to only switch on Bluetooth when needed or at least to make yourself invisible to others. Unexpected Bluetooth messages should be rejected.

Discussions on health threats

Since cell phones actively emit electromagnetic waves, the effects of these waves must be examined in the context of electromagnetic environmental compatibility . There are people who subjectively perceive different symptoms when using the phone (from warmth to light pressure or headaches). It is unclear whether the symptoms are caused by the mechanical application of the receiver and the locally reduced cooling of the skin surface, the nocebo effect or, objectively, by the electromagnetic exposure of the tissue. In blinded experiments, the perception of symptoms triggered by mobile phones could not be confirmed. The battery of a cell phone also generates heat during operation, which is possibly transferred to the tissue through thermal conduction .

Studies on possible cancer development

It is controversial and not fully clarified what influence the effects of mobile phone radiation have on the development of cancer .

  • A study published in the British Medical Journal in 2006 showed that making calls with a mobile phone - even after a longer period of use (approx. Ten years) - does not increase the risk of developing a brain tumor . After evaluating the data from a total of 2,682 people, 966 of whom were tumor patients, the researchers came to the conclusion that cell phone radiation was a risk factor, at least for the brain tumors of the glioma type considered in the study .
  • This flaw in the study design prompted Professor Lennart Hardell (Örebro University Hospital) and Professor Kjell Hansson Mild (Umeå University) to conduct a meta-study in which they reassessed a total of 11 studies. With the result that if the cell phone is used for one hour a day over a period of ten years, the probability of developing brain tumors or acoustic neuromas increases three times (and five times on the side on which the cell phone is used ). Since at least ten years is assumed for the development of brain tumors, Hansson and Mild anticipated an increase in the near future in 2007.
  • According to a study published on March 24, 2012 in the British Medical Journal , the expected increase did not materialize: While the number of cell phone users increased sharply, the rate of tumor diseases remained about the same, even if one took the interval of 10 or more years required by Hannson and Mild between telephone use and onset of illness.
  • Evaluations by Hardell et al. (2013), taking long-term use (> 20 years) into account, show an accumulation of special (benign) acoustic neuromas that correlates with the duration of use.
  • A 2015 review article in Reviews on Environmental Health compiles numerous findings on the physiological effects of microwave radiation - cancer development and others - below noticeable warming and discusses in particular a specific mechanism of action, voltage-gated calcium channel activation .

WHO assessment

The WHO follows in a publication from the year 2011, the estimate of the International Agency for Research on Cancer , classifies the cell phone radiation as "possibly carcinogenic". A 2006 study concluded that there are genetic differences in how cells are sensitive to radiation from cell phones.

Other impacts discussed


The carrier frequencies of 900 MHz and 1800/1900 MHz are far below the frequencies at which molecules can ionize. As with the photoelectric effect , this can only occur at frequencies of at least 800 THz = 800,000,000 MHz that are about a million times higher. Damage similar to that caused by UV radiation or radioactivity ( sunburn , cancer ) due to ionization can therefore be excluded.

Effects on the blood brain barrier

In scientific studies since the beginning of the 1990s, in particular from the working group of the Swedish neurosurgeon Leif G. Salford at the University of Lund , results have been obtained that open the blood-brain barrier in the non-thermal range after exposure to GSM Describe frequencies. Other working groups cannot confirm Salford's results. Other working groups also question the methodology used.


The study "Protection of people with implants and body aids in electromagnetic fields of mobile radio, UMTS, DECT, Powerline and induction radio systems" commissioned by the German Federal Ministry for Economics and Labor in 2005 came to the result that the disruption of a pacemaker by 0 , 9 GHz and 1.8 GHz GSM mobile radio stations as well as 2.1 GHz UMTS mobile radio stations can be excluded if the reference limit values ​​are observed. Radio wave exposure from cell phones in the 1.8 GHz GSM range and UMTS frequency range (2.1 GHz frequency band) do not cause any interference in pacemakers. The same applies to the operation of GSM telephones in the 0.9 GHz band when they are held up to the head to make calls. In the study, if GSM telephones that transmit in the 0.9 GHz band were held in front of the chest at a distance of 5.5 cm from the pacemaker, then 7% of the pacemakers suffered interference. It was exclusively an older pacemaker.


It is also suspected that the radiation from cell phones, when carried in a pocket or on a belt, could render men sterile, as the radiation could render sperm immobile. However, the measurements are partly based only on imprecise, unscientific methods, but partly also on diverging studies by several universities, which, however, come to different results depending on the study design and are often dubious.

Recommendations of the Federal Office for Radiation Protection

The Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfS) considers "according to the current state of scientific knowledge [..] the internationally established maximum values ​​[to be sufficient] to protect against proven health risks." To protect against "uncertainties in the risk assessment", it is nevertheless advisable to keep exposure to electromagnetic fields low as a precaution. It recommends the use of headsets , SMS , mobile phones with low SAR values, landline telephony, short phone calls and avoiding calls with poor reception. In 2008 it spoke out “against the marketing of children's cell phones, even if they are marked with the Blue Angel .” However, this recommendation can no longer be found on the BfS website.

Judgment of the court in Ivrea

On March 30, 2017, a labor court in Ivrea , Italy , was chaired by Dr. Luca Fadda, in which a tumor disease ( acoustic neuroma ) as a result of frequent professional cell phone calls was recognized as an occupational disease for the first time . The complaint was made by 57-year-old Roberto Romeo, who, as an employee of Telecom Italia , made regular calls with a mobile phone for 15 years. This is a judgment of the lowest labor court in Italy.

See also


  • Frauke Behrendt: Cell phone music - sound art and "mobile devices". epOs-Music Osnabrück 2005, ISBN 3-923486-03-0 .
  • Günter Burkart: Handymania. How the mobile phone changed our lives. Campus, Frankfurt am Main 2007, ISBN 978-3-593-38351-4 .
  • Nicola Döring: Mobile communication. Psychological use and impact dimensions. In: B. Batinic, M. Appel (Ed.): Medienpsychologie. Springer, Heidelberg 2008, ISBN 978-3-540-46894-3 , pp. 219-238.

Web links

Commons : Mobile phone  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: mobile phone  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: Handy  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Mobile phone , mobile phone - entries in the vocabulary of the University of Leipzig , last queried (or crawled ) there in 2011; also with " frequency class : 12" (for the first mentioned mobile phone ) and "frequency class: 9" (for the second mentioned)
  2. Garnter: Smartphones Accounted for 57.6 Percent of Total Sales in Fourth Quarter of 2013 , accessed February 15, 2014.
  3. Frank Riemenschneider : Smartphone sales 2015: Chinese suppliers take market share from Samsung - Blackberry finally dead. Elektroniknet from March 17, 2016, viewed on January 23, 2017.
  4. sPhone.de , accessed on June 5, 2017.
  5. Gustav Hochstetter: Walking in silence! In: Prager Tagblatt No. 223. August 17, 1913, accessed on December 26, 2013 (in the archives of the Austrian National Library ).
  6. image “wireless telephony” (PDF) in: Simplicissimus , 1926 (vol. 31) issue 38, p. 498; Retrieved March 14, 2012
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