After the category of “smartphone” has been completely debased, I think it’s time to put some new distinctions in place, with new criteria. In that vein, all my categories will have new names, so as not to be confusing.
The following categories are meant to be mutually exclusive, and descending: a phone in a given category has all the features of phones in previous categories.
Email phones BlackBerry is the forerunner of those phones. These phones can hook into Exchange, IMAP4 as well as various IM protocols, and communicate over those, as well as SMSs.
Internet-aware phones These are 3G/Edge phones which do not have a reasonable browser or hook-up to e-mail. They have a browser which supports basic, static, HTML.
Dumb phones Make/receive calls, send/receive SMSs, and that’s it.
If you’ve been reading so far, you’ll notice one topic I ignored — apps. This is completely intentional. As the classic YouTube video claims, “my niece’s shitty Booster phone has apps”. Seriously, my 10-year-old Nokia 3200 had enough support so you could get apps on it. Who cares?
You’ll also notice that I did not mention hardware features (with the slight exception of 3G/edge). This is also intentional: the difference between the categories is not based on hardware (touchscreens, keyboards, etc.) but on software (browser, e-mail).