A glossary of Android terms

Android dictionary

If you're new to Android, you might find yourself wondering exactly what we're talking about from time to time. As such, here's a glossary of terms you're likely to run across. (Are we missing something? Let us know here!)

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

A

  • Acer Iconia a100: The first 7-inch Android Honeycomb tablet. Suffered from a poor screen.
  • Acer Iconia a500: A 10-inch Honeycomb tablet with a bevy of full-size ports. 
  • Acer Iconia A510: The sucessor to the A500, upgraded with a quad-core Tegra 3 processor.
  • Acer Iconia Smart: An Android phone from Acer with a 4.8-inch 1024 x 480 screen at a 21:9 aspect ration. It's a skinny, tall device. 
  • AcclaimA mid-range Samsung phone on U.S. Cellular. 
  • ADB: Android Debug Bridge. A tool used to connect and sends commands to your Android phone from a desktop or laptop computer.
  • Aero: The first Android phone produced by Dell for AT&T. Not exactly a popular device. 
  • AllyA mid-range Android phone made by LG for Verizon. 
  • AMOLED: Active Matrix Organic Light Emitting Diode. Basically, a very colorful, bright, display found in some smartphones. (See also Super AMOLED.)
  • Amon Ra: Developer of a custom recovery mode for Android.
  • Android: Google's open-source mobile operating system. It's used primarily in smartphones but also can be found on tablets, Mobile Internet Devices (MIDs) or even in kitchen appliances and automobile navigation. 
  • Android Market: The original name for Google's repository for Android applications. Rebranded in March 2012 to Google Play.
  • Android Sideload Wonder Machine: A simple program for Windows or Linux and Mac that lets you easily sideload applications.
  • Andy RubinVice President of Engineering at Google, overseeing project strategy and development of Android. Founder of Danger, which created the Sidekick and was later bought by Microsoft.
  • AOKP: The Android Open Kang Project. A group that takes the open-source Android code and compiles it with other customizations for multiple devices.
  • AOSP: The Android Open Source Project. When you hear about Android being "open source," this is what we're talking about. It's a repository of the code released by Google, which can be downloaded and compiled by anyone. (If you know how.) 
  • Apex: A mid-range phone from LG on the US Cellular network. 
  • .apk: The file extension of an Android application.
  • AppsShort for "applications." The programs you download and run on a smartphone. Can be free, or for sale.
  • App Inventor: Google's web-based system by which Android applications can be made without having to know how to code. Discontinued by Google, but released as an open-source project. 
  • Apps2SD: An unapproved method of storing applications on the device's microSD card. An official method was included in Android 2.2, mostly making this moot.
  • Aria: A 3.2-inch touchscreen phone made by HTC, with Android 2.1 and HTC Sense. 
  • Archos: A line of mid-grade Android tablets. Not all that well known, but held in fairly high regard.
  • Archos G9 89: The smaller tablet in Archos's G9 series, the 89 is packed with an 8.9-inch display, Honeycomb 3.2 out of the box, and a whopping 1.5 GHz dual-core OMAP processor. Comes in both solid state and physical hard drive flavors.
  • Archos G9 101: The 10.1 incher in the G9 series. Same specs as the G9. Did we mention the G9s come with a kickstand?
  • Archos GamePad: A 7-inch gaming focused tablet, running Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, with a full set of physical controls on it, including joysticks  and directional pads.
  • ASUS Eee Pad Slider: A 10-inch Honeycomb tablet with a slide-up screen that reveals an attached mini-keyboard.
  • ASUS Eee Pad Transformer: A slick 10-inch Honeycomb tablet with an optional keyboard/trackpad dock that turns the tablet into a laptop. 
  • ASUS Transformer PrimeThe first Tegra 3 quad-core tablet. Follows in the footsteps of the original Transformer with a detachable keyboard. Launched with Honeycomb, but will receive an update to Ice Cream Sandwich. 
  • AT&TOne of the four major U.S. carriers.
  • AT&T Samsung Galaxy S II: The official name for AT&T's Samsung Galaxy S II. 
  • Atrix 4G: A 4-inch monster of a Motorola phone on AT&T. Has dual 1GHz processors, 1GB of RAM and a laptop dock for running the full desktop version of Firefox while simultaneously making phone calls and texting. Also has a desktop dock to do the same from the phone.
  • AWS: Stands for Advanced Wireless Services. It is a band of frequencies used for cellphone connectivity, occupying the combined 1700MHz and 2100MHz frequencies (aka 1700/2100MHz.) Used primarily by T-Mobile USA for HSPA+ service, and by other carriers for LTE service.
  • Axis: A 3.2-inch mid-range Android phone on Cellular South. 

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B

  • Backflip: An odd little phone from Motorola that featured a backward-flipping camera. Has the distinction of being the first U.S. smartphone with a front-facing camera. Was the first Android phone on AT&T.
  • Bionic: See Droid Bionic.
  • Bloat(ware): Applications -- usually unwanted -- that are preloaded onto a device. It's a bit subjective as to what constitutes bloatware, and the flip side is that these applications are what allow carriers to sell phones and tablets at subsidized prices.
  • Bluetooth: A short-range radio build into smartphones that lets you connect headsets, speakerphones or even computers to your smartphone.
  • Bootloader: An internal mode on a phone that helps in the flashing of ROMs and other behind-the scenes actions.
  • Bravo: A low-end 3-inch Motorola device on AT&T.
  • Breaksclusive: Not breaking news, not exclusive news. It's BREAKSCLUSIVE!
  • BSI: Backside Illumination. Used to improve low-light performance in smartphone cameras.
  • Burst: A 4-inch smartphone on AT&T from Pantech. Powered by a 1.2GHz processor and Android 2.3.

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C

  • Captivate: AT&T's version of the Samsung Galaxy S. 
  • CarrierA company that provides cell phone service.
  • CDMA: One of two major standard for cell phone communications. Is used by Sprint and Verizon in the United States, and by a few nations elsewhere. Is largely seen as a dying standard. (See also GSM)
  • CESNorth America's largest consumer electronics show, held in January at the Las Vegas Convention Center. 
  • Charm: A cute little 2.8-inch Motorola device with full QWERTY keyboard. Released on T-Mobile in August 2010. 
  • Citrus: An entry-level Android 2.1 device from Motorola on Verizon. 
  • Civilian: What we lovingly call a non-smartphone nerd. Someone who doesn't buy a phone every few months.
  • Cliq: A 3.1-inch Motorola offering on T-Mobile. It's been replaced by the Cliq XT. Is known as the Dext outside of the U.S. 
  • Cliq 2: A 3.7-inch phone with a horizontal sliding keyboard. Manufactured by Motorola, on the Verizon network.
  • Cliq XT: The follow-up to the Cliq, featuring a small trackpad. Launched with Android 1.5.
  • Clockwork: Developer of the ClockworkMod custom recovery mode for Android.
  • Command line: In Windows, it's a DOS prompt or Command Prompt. In Linux or Mac, it's Terminal.
  • Continuum: A Samsung phone on Verizon sporting a second front display called the "Ticker," which can be used to show RSS feeds, weather, scores, music controls, etc.
  • Craplet: A cheap tablet, often one that doesn't even have Google apps installed.
  • CTIAA bi-annual U.S. convention of the wireless industry. Nobody really knows what the abbreviation stands for anymore.
  • Cupcake: Android 1.5. (More on Android versions here.)
  • CyanogenThe online handle of one Steve Kondik, relatively famous in the hacking and modding community and the creator of the CyanogenMod series of ROMs.

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D

  • Dalvik Cache: Writable cache that contains the optimized bytecode of all apk files (apps) on your Android device. Having the information in it's own cache makes applications load faster and perform better.
  • Defy: A 3.7-inch Android 2.1 device from Motorola on T-Mobile.
  • Defy Mini: A mid-level Android 2.3 device for Europe and China from Motorola. Has a 3.2-inch display and 600 MHz processor.
  • Desire: An HTC phone announced in February 2010; basically the Nexus One with the Sense user interface.
  • Desire HD: The follow-up to the Desire, with a larger screen, more memory and Android 2.2
  • Desire Z: The European version of the G2.
  • Dext: The non-U.S. version of the Motorola Cliq.
  • Devour: A mid-range Motorola phone for Verizon with a sliding keyboard and Motoblur.
  • DLNA: Dynamic Living Network Alliance. A method for wirelessly streaming photos and videos from your smartphone to your TV.
  • Donut: Android 1.6. (More on Android versions here.)
  • Dream: See G1.
  • DroidAn extremely popular horizontal slider made by Motorola on the Verizon network. The first to run Android 2.0 (and Android 2.0.1). Is currently running Android 2.1. Also the name for a line of Verizon Android phones.
  • Droid 2/Droid 2 Global: Launched in August 2010, the Droid 2 follows the lines of the original Droid, with some keyboard refinements and a faster processor. Launched with Android 2.2. Was quickly replaced by a CDMA/GMS "world" version that works outside the U.S.
  • Droid 3: The third iteration of the original Droid on Verizon from Motorola, with a dual-core processor and qHD display. 
  • Droid 4: Motorola's fourth iteration of Motorola's original Droid. Has a redesigned keyboard and a non-removable battery. Also on Verizon.
  • Droid Bionic: Made by Motorola, a 4.3-inch dual-core Tegra 2 phone with a qHD display and LTE data.
  • Droid DNA: Made by HTC, a 5-inch 1080P screen and typical "Droid" design language. It has a sealed battery and no expandable sotrage.
  • Droid Eris: Manufactured by HTC for Verizon, was one of the first phones to run the HTC "Sense" user interface. Currently is end-of-life. U.S. version of the Hero.
  • Droid Incredible: Manufactured by HTC for Verizon. Featured an AMOLED screen, which later led to shortages.
  • Droid Incredible HD: See Thunderbolt.
  • Droid Incredible 4G LTE: HTC and Verizon's mid-2012 Incredible device, which was a strange cousin to the HTC One line. It had a low-end screen but quality specs at an affordable price.
  • Droid Pro: A 3.1-inch phone from Motorola with a full QWERTY keyboard on the front. Launched on Verizon with Android 2.2.
  • Droid RAZR: A 4.3-inch smartphone from Motorola on Verizon. Is 7.1mm thin at its skinniest point. Has a non-removable battery.
  • Droid RAZR HDMotorola and Verizon's refresh of the RAZR line, with near stock Android and a similar design as the original (although it is thicker).
  • Droid RAZR MAXX: Like the Droid RAZR, only with a 3300 (also non-removable) battery.
  • Droid RAZR MAXX HDMotorola and Verizon's refresh of the RAZR HD, with nearly stock Android and on-screen buttons similar to the Galaxy Nexus. Motorola claimed "32 hours of normal use" on the device.
  • Droid X: Motorola's 4.3-inch touchscreen only phone, announced in June 2010 for a July launch on Verizon.
  • Droid X2: Motorola's 2011 refresh to the original Droid X, with a dual-core processor and improved components, but still running Android 2.3 Gingerbread with a nearly identical exterior hardware to the original.
  • Droid Xyboard: Originally unveiled as the Motorola Xoom 2, the Xyboard is Verizon and Motorola's refresh to the original Xoom with a 8.9- or 10.1-inch screen.

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E

  • Early Termination FeeAlso known as an ETF, it's what a carrier chargers you to break out of your contract. Usually are prorated.
  • Earth: Mostly harmless.
  • Eclair: Android 2.0-2.1. (More on Android versions here.)
  • Element: Pantech's waterproof 8-inch Android tablet. Is a 4G LTE device on AT&T.
  • EOL: Stands for "End of Life." Means a carrier or manufacturer is phasing out a particular product. It does not necessarily mean that phone or tablet is bad, nor will anyone come and take your EOL'd device away from you.
  • Epic 4G: Sprint's version of the Samsung Galaxy S. Has 4G data and a horizontal sliding keyboard.
  • Epic 4G Touch: Sprint's version of the Samsung Galaxy S II. Is a 4.5-inch, 3G/Wimax smartphone.
  • ETF: Stands for Early Termination Fee. What you have to pay to get out of your contract with a carrier.
  • EVO 3D: Sprint's follow-up to the massively popular Evo 4G; this time around, Evo's got a 3D display, one of the first of its kind.
  • EVO 4G: Sprint's 4.3-inch Android phone manufactured by HTC with the Sense interface and 4G capability.
  • EVO 4G LTE: Essentially Sprint's version of the HTC One X. Has a bigger battery and removable microSD card, and was one of Sprint's first LTE devices.
  • EVO Shift 4G: A unannounced horizontal slider on Sprint. Essentially the carrier's version of the G2, though with 4G data.
  • Excite X10Toshiba's dual-core Android tablet that's just 7.7mm thick.

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F

  • Factory restore/reset: See hard reset.
  • FascinateVerizon's version of the Samsung Galaxy S.
  • FastbootAnother mode akin to the bootloader, from which you can manually flash low-level components onto a phone.
  • FC: Short for "force close," meaning an app that has crashed.
  • Flipout: A forgettable Motorola device on AT&T with a rotating screen that uncovers a full QWERTY keyboard.
  • Froyo: Android 2.2. Announced at Google IO in May 2010, first released onto the Nexus One. (More on Android versions here.)

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G

  • G1The very first Android smartphone. Manufactured by HTC for T-Mobile. Released elsewhere as the HTC Dream.
  • Galaxy Camera: A 16-megapixel, Android-powered camera from Samsung. Running Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, the Galaxy Camera was unveiled at IFA 2012 alongside the Galaxy Note 2.
  • Galaxy Nexus: The first Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich device. Made by Samsung, it was to be announced at CTIA in San Diego in October 2011. But that announcement was postponed by a week or so, reportedly due to the death of Steve Jobs. The GSM version was announced on Oct. 18 in Hong Kong. Verizon launched its LTE version on Dec. 15, 2011.
  • Galaxy NoteA monster of a 5.3-inch device from Samsung. Has a stylus and is being marketed as an in-between for phones and tablets. Also being marketed toward artists.
  • Galaxy Note 2: Samsung's second-generation Galaxy Note phone, with a 5.5-inch screen. The Note 2 includes a 1.6GHz quad-core Exynos CPU, 2GB of RAM, and runs Android 4.1 out of the box. Samsung has also included an improved S Pen, and LTE connectivity in some markets.
  • Galaxy S: A high-end series of smartphones from Samsung. Announced in March 2010 at CTIA, they include the T-Mobile Vibrant, Verizon Fascinate, AT&T Captivate and Sprint Epic 4G.
  • Galaxy S II: The successor to the Galaxy S line of phones by Samsung.  It has a 4.3 inch display, a dual-core processor, front facing camera and is billed as the world's thinnest smartphone.
  • Galaxy S III: Samsung's third flagship in the Galaxy S line, unveiled in May in London.
  • Galaxy S Blaze 4G: A dual-core 1.5GHz smartphone from Samsung with a Super AMOLED display. On T-Mobile's 42Mbps network.
  • Galaxy Tab: Samsung's 7-inch Android tablet. Launched in fall 2010 with Android 2.2.
  • Galaxy Tab 8.9: Samsung's 8.9 inch Android tablet. Launched in September 2011, a few months after its bigger sibling, the 10.1. 
  • Galaxy Tab 10.1: Samsung's 10.1 inch Android tablet.  The Galaxy Tab 10.1 will ship with Honeycomb and has both rear and front facing cameras.
  • Geotagging: Wherein in your phone finds your location via GPS and attaches coordinates to pictures you're taking. Can be a privacy/security concern.
  • Gingerbread: Android 2.3. Mostly a behind-the-scenes update, though there are some UI tweaks. First loaded on the Nexus S. (More on Android versions here.)
  • Gmail: Google's web-based e-mail service.
  • GoogleOur benevolent overlord, and owner of Android.
  • Google Now: An enhanced, location-aware section within the Jelly Bean Google search app. Offers timely info, such as weather updates, transit times and locations, photo spots and travel times when out and about.
  • Google Play: Google's one-stop online shop for movies, music, apps, games and books. At the time of its launch on March 6, 2012, it basically was a rebranded Android Market.
  • Google TV: Announced at the Google IO conference in May 2010, it's a combination of hardware and Android that features a full web browser, Android applications, and combines it with video that's available online -- Youtube, television, etc.
  • Google Wallet: Google's attempt at a mobile payment system based on NFC. Wallet has also come to encompass Google's online payment system used in Google Play.
  • Gorilla Glass: A scratch-resistant glass product from Corning used on a number of smartphones and tablets.
  • GPS: Stands for Global Positioning System. Uses a constellation of satellites in space to find your location on the ground.
  • GSMOne of two major standard for cell phone communications. Is used by AT&T and T-Mobile in the United States, and by the majority of carriers worldwide. (See also CDMA)

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H

  • Hack (Hacking): Modifying the Android system to add customization, features, or bypass carrier and manufacturer restrictions. See root.
  • Hard reset: The act of resetting your phone to its "factory" state. Erases all user data, logins and passwords. May or may not erase what's on the internal storage or microSD card, too. (Also see soft reset.)
  • Hero: An HTC phone released as the Droid Eris on Verizon. Also known as the G2 in Europe. Is different than the Sprint Hero.
  • Honeycomb: Android 3.0. The first version of Android designed with tablets specifically in mind. Allows apps to "fragment" or split over a single screen. Is the first Android version to fully support dual-core processors. The first tablet with Honeycomb was the Motorola Xoom.
  • HTCA Taiwanese smartphone manufacturer. And a darn good one.
  • HTC ChaCha: A full portrait QWERTY keyboard and 2.6 inch display on an Android phone from HTC.  It runs Gingerbread and has a dedicated Facebook button.
  • HTC Flyer: A 7 inch Android tablet from HTC with a solid aluminum body and a completely revamped HTC Sense specifically designed for tablets.
  • HTC JetstreamHTC's first 10.1 inch tablet endeavor, the Jetstream runs Honeycomb with a Sense overlay. It's one of AT&T's first LTE devices, but at $800 on contract, its far from the most popular tablet on the market. 
  • HTC One: A series of three phones form the Taiwanese manufacturer. Comprised of the One XOne S and One V, they're the first for HTC to feature Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and the Sense 4 customizations.
  • HTC SalsaA 3.4 inch HTC phone that runs Gingerbread and has a dedicated Facebook button.

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I

  • i1A mid-range Motorola smartphone with Android 1.6 and the push-to-talk system.
  • Ice Cream Sandwich: Android 4.0. The follow up to the tablet-centric Android 3.0/3.1 that brought Honeycomb-like features back to Android smartphones. First appeared on the Samsung Galaxy Nexus.
  • IFA: Internationale Funkausstellung -- an annual consumer electronics show hosted in Berlin, Germany.
  • IMEI: Stands for International Mobile Equipment Identity. Basically a unique identification number assigned to every phone.
  • Incredible: See Droid Incredible.
  • Incredible S: A 4 inch HTC phone with a Super LDC display and a front facing camera.
  • Infuse: A monster 4.5-inch phone with a Super AMOLED display and 1.2GHz processor on AT&T.
  • Inspire: A 4.3-inch HTC device with Android 2.2 and 1GHz Snapdragon processor on AT&T.
  • Intel: The longtime processor manufacturer. Entered the Android arena in 2012 with its "Medfield" Atom processor. At CES 2012, announced a deal with Motorola.
  • IPS: Stands for "in-plane switching." Gives better viewing angles and better color reproduction. First gained popularity in Apple displays, then made its way to mobile devices.

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J

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K

  • K800: From Lenovo, it's the first Android smartphone to be released with Intel's Atom processor. Is a China-only device.
  • Kernel: The basic Linux building block of Android. It's what lets your phone do its thing.
  • KeyboardEither "physical" or "on-screen," depending on the phone.
  • Kindle Fire: Amazon's first entry into the tablet arena. With a 7-inch screen, 1GHz processor and 8GB of storage. The device was released in November 2011.
  • Kindle Fire HD: Amazon's 2012 refresh of the Fire line. This included a 7-inch and 8.9-inch model, the latter offering LTE connectivity also. They had bumped specs and improved build quality.
  • Kyocera Echo: The first dual screen Android device, debuting on Sprint in Spring 2011.  Magicians and goldfish are not included.

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L

  • Launcher: Collectively, the part of the Android user interface on home screens that lets you launch apps, make phone calls, etc. Is built in to Android, or can be purchased in the Android Market.
  • Legacy: Code name for "old."
  • Legend: HTC's aluminum unibody phone with Android 2.1 and Sense.
  • LGA Korean electronics and smartphone manufacturer.
  • LG Marquee: Launched on Sprint in October 2011, the Marquee has a 1 Ghz single-core processor, 512 MB RAM, and Gingerbread; the 4-inch NOVA display is a standout. 
  • LG Optimus 3D: An LG Android phone with 3D video capture.  It has a dual-core processor and dual channel memory, making it the fastest Android phone to date.
  • LG Optimus G: LG's high-end 2012 device, with international, AT&T and Sprint variants. It has a 4.7-inch IPS display and Snapdragon S4 Pro processor.
  • LG Optimus L3​LG's entry-level device for the style-conscious consumer.
  • LG Optimus L5: LG's 2012 mid-level Optimus handset for the style-conscious consumer.
  • LG Optimus L7: LG's high-end 2012 fashion device.
  • LG Optimus PadAn 8.9 inch Android tablet from LG.  It ships with Honeycomb, and has dual cameras for 3D video capture.
  • Linux: An open source variant of Unix that is used as the underlying system on Android devices.
  • Live wallpapersAnimated wallpapers introduced in Android 2.1.
  • LTE: Stands for "Long-Term Evolution." Is considered to be one of the "true" methods of 4G data (even if it technically isn't). First rolled out by Verizon in late 2010, and then by AT&T in late 2011, and Sprint will begin using it in mid-2012.

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M

  • Magic: See myTouch 3G.
  • Manufacturer: A company that physically builds cell phones.
  • Mecha: See Thunderbolt.
  • Merge: An HTC phone that was slated for Verizon but has yet to be released. Features a horizontal keyboard and (approx.) 3.7-inch touchscreen. Also featured Bing instead of Google services.
  • MetroPCS: Regional and Prepaid carrier in the U.S. generally put in the "second tier" carrier category. As of late 2012, also pursuing a merger with T-Mobile USA.
  • Mobile World Congress (MWC): A European wireless industry trade show, held in Barcelona, Spain, the past few years.
  • Moment: A mid-range Samsung phone that has data lock-up and is forgotten about by everyone except sdx-developers. (definition via @chibucks)
  • MotorolaManufacturer of smartphones and other hand-held wireless devices.
  • MotoblurMotorola's custom Android interface. Heavy on widgets and social networking, low on sophistication. Deprecated as of Android 4.0.
  • Motoluxe: A 4-inch Motorola smartphone with Android 2.3, destined for outside the United States.
  • MTP: Stands for Media Transfer Protocol. Designed by Microsoft, and used by devices that have a single, unpartitioned storage structure to transfer files to and from a computer.
  • myTouch 3G: The U.S. version of the HTC Magic. Specifically, the T-Mobile branded version. Also came in a limited edition branded by the Fender guitar company.
  • myTouch 3G Slide: A followup to the myTouch 3G, featuring a horizontal sliding keyboard and an updated version of the HTC Sense user interface.
  • myTouch 4G: An HTC device and one of the first T-Mobile phones to have HSPA+ data. Also has a front-facing camera and a modified version of the Sense user interface.

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N

  • Nexus: A line of smartphones created in conjunction with Google. Also known as "Pure Google" devices. Generally are the first to launch with major updates to Android, as well as the first to receive updates. See also Nexus One, Nexus S, Galaxy Nexus.
  • Nexus One: The "Google phone." Initially sold only at google.com/phone. Was the first Android phone with a 1GHz Snapdragon processor and Android 2.1.
  • Nexus 4: Manufactured by LG and released in November 2012, the fourth-generation Nexus smartphone boasts a 1.5GHz quad-core Snapdragon chip, 2GB of RAM, a 4.7-inch 1280x768 IPS display and was the first phone to ship with Android 4.2. It's also notable for its affordable asking price, starting at $299 SIM-free in the U.S.
  • Nexus 7: The first Nexus-branded tablet, made by ASUS and released in July 2012 following an unveiling at Google I/O 2012. Nexus 7 has a 7-inch, 1280x800 IPS display, a 1.3GHz quad-core NVIDIA Tegra 3 CPU, 1GB of RAM and 8, 16 or 32GB of storage. In late 2012, a 3G/HSPA variant was offered in some countries. Nexus 7 is renowned for its low starting price of $199.99 on the Google Play Store.
  • Nexus 10: A high-resolution, 10-inch Nexus tablet made by Samsung. Released in November 2012 running Android 4.2, Nexus 10 sports a 2560x1600 PLS LCD display, and is powered by Samsung's Exynos 5 Dual CPU, backed up by 2GB of RAM. 16 and 32GB storage options are available. Nexus 10 debuted on the Google Play Store at $399.
  • Nexus S: The second "Pure Google" phone, this time developed by Samsung. It's basically a Galaxy S phone, with a 4-inch screen, near-field communication (NFC), and the first phone to run Android 2.3 Gingerbread.
  • Nook (Tablet): Barnes & Noble's Android-based e-reader. Features a black-and-white e-ink display.
  • Nook Color: A full-color, full-touchscreen Android-based e-reader from Barnes and Noble. Can be hacked to basically serve as a full-fledged Android tablet.
  • Nook HD: Barnes & Noble's tablet refresh for 2012 with better screens and build quality. They came in both 7- and 9-inch varieties.
  • NFCNear-field communication. Short-range communication between your phone and something else -- another phone, a cash register, etc. Used by some credit cards as a method of quick payment.

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O

  • OEM: Stands for Original Equipment Manufacturer. Usually a company that produces a component or entire device for another company. (Example: HTC was the OEM for the Google Nexus One.)
  • (HTC) One S: The middle sibling of the HTC One line. Its shining feature is that it's just 7.8mm thin. Has a 4.3-inch Super AMOLED display and dual-core Qualcomm processor. Available with an aluminum micro arc oxidation coating, or in a more traditional paint scheme
  • (HTC) One V: The little brother of the HTC One line. Revives the old HTC Legend design with a 3.7-inch Super LCD 2 display, single-core processor and a 5MP camera.
  • (HTC) One X/One XL: The top of the three phones comprising the HTC One line. The One X sports a 4.7-inch Super LCD 2 display and 8MP camera. There actually are two versions of this phone. The GSM One X has the Tegra 3 system on a chip. The One XL has a dual-core Qualcomm S4 and an LTE radio for data. (Complicating matters, AT&T's LTE version is simply called the One X.)  
  • (HTC) One X+: A minor revision to the One X, running a 1.7GHz Tegra 3 CPU in a matte-finished chassis. The One X+ also boasts a battery upgrade, and includes LTE support in the U.S.
  • Onstar: The navigation/information/safety service that helps you keep your hands on the wheel while driving. Provides turn-by-turn navigation, live help from operators, and crash detection. Has a companion Android application.
  • Open GL: An open source 3D graphics library used in many devices, including Android devices
  • Open Source: Software which is liberally licensed to grant the right of users to study, change, and improve its design through the availability of its source code.
  • Optimus: A line of smartphones from LG. In the U.S., they've mostly been mid-range.
  • Optimus 2X: The first dual-core Tegra 2 Android smartphone. LG announced it in late 2010. Launching with Android 2.2, but will be upgraded to Gingerbread.
  • Optimus Mach: A high-end 3.8-inch device from LG in South Korea.
  • Optimus One: A mid-level, 3.2-inch Android 2.2 device from LG. This is the European version.
  • Optimus S/T/U/M: The U.S. versions of the LG Optimus One mid-range Android device. The letters point to which carrier they're on -- Sprint, T-Mobile, US Cellular, MetroPCS.
  • Optimus Z: A high-end Korean smartphone from LG with a 3.5-inch touchscreen and TV antenna.
  • OTA: Stands for Over the Air. The act of moving data to your phone -- downloading, really -- without having to plug it in. Most Android system updates are OTA, as are application downloads.

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P

  • Pantech: A South Korean smartphone manufacturer.
  • PenTile: A subpixel layout scheme, patented by Samsung, that allows greater luminance at a lower power draw. RGBG Pentile uses alternating green pixels and has more definition than RGBW, which adds a white subpixel.  The Galaxy Nexus and Nexus One use an RGBG style PenTile matrix, and the Motorola Atrix 4G and RAZR use the RGBW matrix.  There's a lot of contreversy surrounding PenTile displays, and our advice is to look at each screen type and decide for yourself which is acceptable.
  • PIN: Stands for Personal Identification Number. Often four digits.
  • Pixel: An individual dot on the display. Also a way to measure the resolution of a camera (usually in millions of pixels). Pixels usually are made up of sub-pixels. The arrangement of those sub-pixels affects the way you see images and text.
  • PPI: Pixels per inch. How we determine a display's "pixel density." The more pixels in a display, the better graphics and text look. 
  • PRL: The Preferred Roaming List, basically a way of telling your phone which towers to connect to first.
  • Project Butter: Software enhancements introduced in Android 4.1 to improve the smoothness of on-screen transitions and animations. Project Butter uses software tricks like vertical sync (vsync) and triple-buffering to display a smooth, consistent frame rate throughout the UI.

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Q

  • Q:uit asking us when your phone will be updated.
  • QR code: A black-and-white barcode that, when scanned by your phone, can open a web link, point to an application in the Market, etc.

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R

  • Reset (hard, soft): The rebooting of the phone. A soft reset is turning your phone off and on, or pulling the battery. A hard reset also is referred to as a factory reset, and wipes your personal information from the device.
  • Resolution: The term used to describe how many individual pixels are in a display. A common phone resolution is 720x1280, or 720 pixels in the short dimension, with 1280 in the long dimension. The more pixels you have in a display, the better the pixels per inch (ppi), making text and images more crisp.
  • Revolution: A 4.3-inch Android 2.2 device from LG, featuring LTE data. It's the Verizon version of the dual-core Tegra 2 Optimus 2X.
  • ROM: Literally, "Read Only Memory." In Android, it's what you load for a major software update. "Custom ROMs" are just that -- developed outside control of a manufacturer or carrier.
  • Recovery Mode: A small separate operating mode you can boot your device into, used for device administration. Two popular custom recovery modes are Amon Ra and Clockwork.
  • Revue: Logitech's Google TV set-top box. It features a full-sized keyboard, plus wireless capability. One of the first Google TV devices.
  • Root: A method of unlocking the Android operating system to allow deeper programs deeper access than is allowed out of the box. (For more on root, click here.)
  • Root (SD card): The base folder (or top level) of the card. Often referred to as /sdcard in a file structure.
  • RTFM: Read the (ahem) friggin' manual.

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S

  • Samsung: A Korean electronics company. Manufacturer of the Galaxy S series of Android phones, among others.
  • SD card (or microSD card): A small plastic "card" that expands the available storage memory on your phone. Used by applications to store data, and you can store ringtones, pictures, etc., on it.
  • SDK: Stands for Software Development Kit. Generally, a set of tools used to create software for a certain platform following guidelines provided in the kit. For Android, the SDK provides tools to create applications that run on Android devices.
  • Sense: A custom user interface (or skin) on top of Android. Exclusive to HTC smartphones.
  • Services: Portions of code that run in the background to provide content and services to applications.
  • Sideload: The act of installing an app outside of the Android Market. AT&T (tries to) prohibit its phones from doing this.
  • Sideload Wonder Machine: A simple open-source program that lets you sideload apps via computer, bypassing any restrictions a carrier might have put in place.
  • SIM card: The little card used in GSM phones (AT&T, T-Mobile, Rogers, etc.) that connects the phone to the network.
  • Soft reset: The act of rebooting your phone, whether intentionally or otherwise. Same effect as when you remove and replace the battery. (Also see hard reset.)
  • Sony Ericsson: A joint wireless venture from Sony and Ericsson. Dissolved in 2012, and the mobile arm will be marketed under the Sony name.
  • Spectrum: LG's follow-up to the Revolution on Verizon. Has a 4.5-inch 720p display. Launching with Android 2.3 Gingerbread. 
  • Spice: A 3-inch vertical slider from Motorola with Android 2.1.
  • SprintOne of the four major U.S. carriers.
  • Streak: Dell's 5-inch tablet/MID device. Also known as the Dell Mini 5. Launched with Android 1.6, later updated to Android 2.2.
  • Super AMOLED: A generation ahead of AMOLED displays. Lighter, more power-efficient and less reflective than AMOLED. (See AMOLED)
  • Super AMOLED Plus: Take an AMOLED screen. Instead of eight subpixels per pixel, there are 12. Pretty awesome, actually.
  • Super Phone: Something other people call smartphones. If you see it used at Android Central, e-mail your favorite editor so the rest of us can make fun of the person responsible.

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T

  • T-Mobile: One of the four major U.S. carriers. Had the very first Android phone, the G1.
  • Tegra 2NVIDIA's "System on a chip" that features dual-core processors, a powerful graphics processor and other acts of awesomeness.
  • Tegra 3: NVIDIA's quad-core system on a chip.
  • TetheringThe act of using your smartphone's data to provide Internet access to another device, such as a laptop. Can be done wirelessly, or via a USB cable.
  • Thunderbolt: The first LTE phone from HTC. Has a 4.3-inch touchscreen and 1GHz Snapdragon processor, 8MP camera on the back and a front-facing camera for video chat.
  • TouchWiz: Samsung's custom user interface. Born from Windows Mobile and made much better with the Galaxy S line.
  • Tripit: An excellent itinerary manager for Android.

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U

  • USB: Stands for Universal Serial Bus. Is a method of connecting devices to a computer. Most smartphones now use microUSB cables to charge and sync.
  • UMS: Stands for USB Mass Storage. Devices with SD cards or partitioned internal storage mount that storage as UMS when connecting to a computer. Files can then be moved to and from the device.

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V

  • Vanilla: A term used to describe stock Android.
  • Verizon: One of the four major U.S. carriers. Launched the "Droid" line of phones.
  • Vibrant:T-Mobile's version of the Samsung Galaxy S.
  • ViewPad 4A quad-band GSM Android phone from Viewsonic.
  • Viewsonic: A longtime electronics maker that also includes some Android devices.
  • Viper: A mid-level Gingerbread phone from LG on Sprint. Announced at CES 2012. 
  • Vizio: A longtime television maker that's expanding into the Android-based Google TV.
  • Vortex: A low-end Android 2.2 device from LG on Verizon.

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W

  • Widget: A slice or certain view of an application that can be placed on one of your homescreens, for quick and easy access. [YouTube link]
  • Wildfire: A low-end 3.2-inch HTC smartphone.
  • Wildfire S: An updated version of the Wildfire from HTC with a 3.2 inch HVGA display and a 5 MP camera.
  • Wipe: To completely erase a device. See hard-reset.
  • World phone: A phone that works on CDMA networks as well as GSM networks outside of the home country.

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X Y Z

  • Xoom: Motorola's 10.1-inch dual-core Android 3.0 Honeycomb tablet. Announced in January 2011 at CES. Launching with 3G, will be "hardware upgradable" to LTE in the second quarter of 2011.
  • Xperia: A line of phones by Sony Ericsson, including the X10, X10 Mini, X10 Mini Pro and X8.
  • Xperia ArcSony's early 2011 "superphone" with a new design, running Android 2.3 with an 8MP camera.
  • Xperia Arc SA refresh to the original Arc, the S had an improved processor, better camera and display. Unfortunately, even though it was released in late 2011 it still ran Android 2.3.
  • Xperia Ion: Sony's 4.6-inch, 720p Android 2.3 smartphone with a 12MP camera. Also sold on AT&T in the U.S.
  • Xperia Neo: A 3.7 inch Android phone from Sony Ericsson.  The phone runs Gingerbread and was announced at Mobile World Congress 2011.
  • Xperia Play: The long-awaited Playstation phone.  It has a 4 inch FWVGA display and will run games at 60 fps.
  • Xperia Pro: A 3.7 inch Android phone with a horizontal sliding keyboard, running Gingerbread.
  • Xperia S: A 4.3-inch, 720p Gingerbread device from Sony with a slick see-through panel near the buttons.
  • Xperia T/TL/TX: Sony's late 2012 flagships, sporting a 4.55-inch HD Reality Display, a 13MP rear camera and a dual-core Snapdragon S4 CPU. In the U.S., the Xperia TL is offered on AT&T with a slightly redesigned chassis and LTE support. In parts of Asia, the Xperia TX is sold instead of the T, and includes a smaller battery and no removable storage. All three run ICS out of the box.
  • YouTubeGoogle's web-based streaming video service. Accessible from an Android phone.
  • z4root: An app that allows easy rooting of a number of Android phones.

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