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Old 12-01-2014, 03:45 AM   #1
Üb3rL0rd
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Question What is the difference between a "smartphone" and a PC?


Hello,

I have been using PCs for over 15 years but when it comes to "smartphones" I'm a noob.
Can someone please explain me the difference between a smartphone and a PC?

PC has a mobo BIOS, CPU, GPU, RAM, storage(SSD/HDD) etc.
To install OS you select boot device and boot from install image and use the command line or GUI installer. Then you install device drivers so that devices work in a OS.

In a smartphone you have to gain root access inside OS to even get to bootloader (I assume it's something similar to PC BIOS?) Then you have to flash your phones memory, WHY??? And you risk bricking it. Is "BIOS like" memory stored on the same memory used for OS and general storage? If so that is retarted.

Now on PC you can brick your mobo or GPU by flashing BIOS but you don't need to do that just to install OS. And mobos usualy have dual BIOS to recover from that. And you can reflash your GPU BIOS if you have a second GPU so that your system boots.

1. There's ROM and OS terms used. I am not sure what is the difference between the two and there's conflicting information on the internet stating that it's the same thing or that ROM is something more like distro. Can someone explain this one to me?



2. How come there are no generic drivers on a smartphone? I thought it's a pocket PC with calling capabilities but it seems it's not?



3. Are there any rolling release smartphone OSes?



4. It seems that all phones are somehow vendor locked. Once samsung, LG, Sony or anyone else stop supporting your phone, you no longer get OS updates and have to buy a new phone to get new Android update. I am not sure how this is achieved. Is this on OS level, preinstalled software level or modified kernel level? Is there a phone that isn't locked like that?



5. How come there are no Linux distros for phones? Ubuntu Touch seems to be like a linux distro. I really hope it brings more distros to phone. So far I have found Replicant which is said to be Android distro. And CyanogenMod which is ROM whatever the difference between the two is. Is Android not a Linux distro?



6. Maybe smartphone isn't anything like a PC? In that case is there a tiny TRUE PC that has proper BIOS and which acts like your desktop or laptop, that allows you to install any OS you like without such thing as flashing memory and potentially bricking it?



And I want to add that I absolutely hate the vendor locked **** on different phones. I wish we had Linux distros, running on efficient x86_64 chips or perhaps very powerful ARM chips. I wish I could configure my phone just like on Arch linux, I wish I could pick my "desktop environment" etc. And I really hope Phoneblocks/Project Ara succeeds so we can build PC like, fully modular phones. Samsung, Sony, LG all of them are nothing but a middle man between hardware manufacturers. Just like Dell, lenovo, hp, acer is between you and Intel, Nvidia, AMD, Asus, msi, Gigabyte etc. Why can't we have a tiny PC powered by efficient ARM chip that would act the same way all computers do?
 
Old 12-01-2014, 02:16 PM   #2
rtmistler
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Smartphones are embedded computers.

Android is Linux, just in a form where you have the Android touch interface and application wrappers.

Vendors have customized OS upgrades specific to their devices because they each have similar but different hardware to support on their devices and as a result they customize their Android release to match their specific phone or tablet.

The vendors have spent a lot of money to develop their products. As a result they offer features in alignment with their business relationships, and market strategies. They are not producing and selling an open platform therefore they are not giving information freely. This information is sometimes detectable for energetic individuals who wish to tinker and then post the fruits of their labors. It's not always worth the vendor's time to chase down someone and it's probably questionable as to whether or not they'd have any case, their main defense is that you have nullified their warranty by making modifications to their core software if you have done so and the only things they can do for you is to provide the capabilities to default your device and then upgrade it according to their product offerings. Thus if you've done all sorts of customizations and finally attempted a customization that screwed it all up or if something failed and you had to default your device, you only get their supported capabilities.

The bottom line is while they are very close to PC's, they're not and that's not their target market.

I'm typing this all on a full PC. It has a full sized keyboard. If I were using one of those ultra baby sized keyboards, I could not type it all, I'd be very angry at the time it would take and I wouldn't be writing so much. Further if I were using a tablet and a touch keyboard, I'd be writing less and it would be auto-correcting like crazy so I'd be giving you a recipe for chocolate cake instead of what I wrote here.

Have you bought a smartphone or tablet? Use it, try to write a document with it, try to print something with it. Try to edit a spreadsheet or powerpoint presentation with it. Try to draw or edit photos with it, or clip/edit/produce a movie file with it. If you're a programmer, try to write some code with it. All that stuff "can" likely be done with a tablet, but it's a pain to do, and ultimately less easy to do with less real-estate, less capabilities, etc. Likewise, I bet I can buy a mouse, full sized keyboard, full sized screen, etc and drive those from my tablet (not sure about the screen, just a guess here) but then it would all cost just about as much as an economy laptop or netbook.

Further, tablets have ARM processors, they're good, no complaints we build them into embedded devices we manufacture, like routers or WIFI devices. But a full computer uses a Pentium or late model x86 processor, 2 to 3 times faster, with more computing cores, more memory, in fact a memory management unit (MMU) which ARM does not have. They come with an interface bridge which supports USB devices, a large screen, as well as interfaces for hard drives. Again, not that you can't do that with ARM, but for now the full sized PC market is mainly based off of x86 or whatever Apple uses, used to be 680x0. A cheap desktop will be much faster than a tablet for computing and have horsepower to spare. The cost and aggravation to add features, software and appendages to a tablet or smartphone to make it work similarly to a PC is not something I personally would spend my time doing. A nice project for those inclined.

Last edited by rtmistler; 12-01-2014 at 02:18 PM.
 
Old 12-01-2014, 02:32 PM   #3
schneidz
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i consider pc's to be personal computers and smart-fone/tablets to be private computers.
 
Old 12-01-2014, 03:18 PM   #4
jefro
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It isn't easy to put a few thousand parts and a few million lines of code on every device.

Java was once sold as the write once and run anywhere. I have never seen it work that way.
 
Old 12-01-2014, 05:17 PM   #5
michaelk
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Unfortunately most people are only familiar with a the PC (windows x86_64 w/ keyboard mouse etc) and assume that all computers are similar. The main purpose of the BIOS (Basic Input Output System) is to boot the computer. In the dawn of computers it was called the bootstrap loader (aka bootloader not the same thing as grub). All computers have some sort of boot loader but not all have a BIOS.

ROM is read only memory and there are many types i.e. the BIOS is stored in flash EEPROM (electrically erasable programmable read only memory). The operating system (OS) is unrelated to how it is stored.

PC computers are generic in nature. Lots of different models with different chipsets for sound, graphics, wifi etc so having lots of different drivers are required. Embedded systems like smartphones can not be modified so no need to include extra stuff that wastes memory.

I also consider smart phones as computers.
 
Old 12-01-2014, 05:28 PM   #6
Üb3rL0rd
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Thanks for the replies. When I got my first smartphone I expected a fully fledged PC but instead of x86 chip using ARM chip. I am kind of dissapointed even if it doesn't make too much sense to use smartphone as a PC. It would be amazing if we could simply dock it and and use it on a big monitor with mouse and keyboard and carry it and use it like a phone (something like Ubuntu touch perhaps?)

Anyway, is there a PC that fits in your pocket but also has calling and messaging capabilities? Perhaps Intel x86 Atom phones are somewhat different from the bunch? You know a phone that boots like your PC, has BIOS settings, motherboard, CPU, GPU, RAM, SSD, etc.
A phone that stores OS, drivers and all that data on SSD while seperately containging a memory module for bios on mobo so you don't have to flash it?
Does something like that exist?

I am starting not to like this embedded pigeon hole a "smartphone" is

Last edited by Üb3rL0rd; 12-01-2014 at 05:35 PM.
 
Old 12-01-2014, 05:31 PM   #7
schneidz
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^ moto atrix ?
 
Old 12-01-2014, 06:05 PM   #8
michaelk
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I don't know of any but a phone with basically 30+ year old design flaws... Not me.

If you have a MHL compatible phone you can connect it to a suitable TV or monitor via HDMI and some are capable of connecting a bluetooth keyboard and mouse like the Samsung Galaxies.
 
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Old 12-01-2014, 06:16 PM   #9
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Lol just an idea:
Nano ATX motherboards sold by Asus, Gigabyte, msi, asrock and others with integrated Sound, network and all that stuff
x86_64 CPUs made by Intel and AMD. CPU should be low voltage, low heat, passively cooled, very efficient.
GPU could be intergtared (APU) or tiny discrete mobile GPU (AMD Nvidia)
RAM sold by Corsiar, Kingston, and all the others
Tiny SSDs sold by Samsung, Corsair, Adata, intel and all others
Batteries...
And cases or shells sold by corsair, coolermaster, thermaltake and others...
Maybe Project Ara will make this possible.
Phones cases or shells could come with with slots for each module. CPU module, RAM module etc.

So you buy components pop them in the slots that come with the case, put slots together in a case and install OS



That would be perfect but probably not gonna happen cause phone's live would be greatly extended and sales would drop.
That's the main reason they like to say PC sales are dying. Cause most people build a PC that works for 5 years and can be upgraded down the line by not buying an entirely new PC. YOu know change GPU every 3 years while you may still have enough CPU power for 5 years. Phones would suffer the same fate. And we can thank corporate greed and capitalism for that. Money>Innovation+efficiency

Last edited by Üb3rL0rd; 12-01-2014 at 06:23 PM.
 
Old 12-01-2014, 06:28 PM   #10
syg00
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Have a read of this thread. Basically a Samsung phone as a low power system.
I'm (still) looking at one for an owncloud server I can leave on with very little heat/power. When I get sufficiently motivated ...
 
Old 12-01-2014, 06:37 PM   #11
schneidz
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Quote:
Originally Posted by michaelk View Post
I don't know of any but a phone with basically 30+ year old design flaws... Not me.

If you have a MHL compatible phone you can connect it to a suitable TV or monitor via HDMI and some are capable of connecting a bluetooth keyboard and mouse like the Samsung Galaxies.
...
http://www.reddit.com/r/gadgets/comm...me_theater_pc/
 
Old 12-01-2014, 07:41 PM   #12
frankbell
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Quote:
smart-fone/tablets to be private computers
Just as an aside, there's nothing private about a smart phone/tablet. Applications from the app stores spy on you, your phone carrier may or may not be spying on you, right along side the NSA.

To answer OP's original question, a smartphone is a computer with a phone attached.
 
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Old 12-01-2014, 07:52 PM   #13
dugan
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And if you want a phone that has both an open hardware platform and an open software platform, there are certainly options. A Geeksphone Revolution, for example, is capable of running both Android and FirefoxOS.
 
Old 12-01-2014, 08:55 PM   #14
rokytnji
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Quote:
Does something like that exist?
At 1 time it did. I still kick myself in the @$$ for procrastinating getting one. But by the time I was ready.
They quit selling to the general public and just went with vendor sales.
It is old tech now, but no one has made one/anything like it since.

My favorite feature was the batteries it used.

Last edited by rokytnji; 12-01-2014 at 08:57 PM.
 
Old 12-02-2014, 09:03 AM   #15
schneidz
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Quote:
Originally Posted by frankbell View Post
Just as an aside, there's nothing private about a smart phone/tablet. Applications from the app stores spy on you, your phone carrier may or may not be spying on you, right along side the NSA.

To answer OP's original question, a smartphone is a computer with a phone attached.
maybe private is the wrong word... i was just trying to make a pun to illustrate that laptops can be shared though mostly personal and cell-fones tend not to be shared and mostly for private use.
 
  


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