A smartphone is a mobile phone built on a mobile operating system, with more advanced computing capability connectivity than a feature phone. The first smartphones combined the functions of a personal digital assistant (PDA) with a mobile phone. Later models added the functionality of portable media players, low-end compact digital cameras, pocket video cameras, and GPS navigation units to form one multi-use device. Many modern smartphones also include high-resolution touchscreens and web browsers that display standard web pages as well as mobile-optimized sites. High-speed data access is provided by Wi-Fi and mobile broadband. In recent years, the rapid development of mobile app markets and of mobile commerce have been drivers of smartphone adoption.
The mobile operating systems (OS) used by modern smartphones include Google's Android, Apple's iOS, Nokia's Symbian, RIM's BlackBerry OS, Samsung's Bada, Microsoft's Windows Phone, Hewlett-Packard's webOS, and embedded Linux distributions such as Maemo and MeeGo. Such operating systems can be installed on many different phone models, and typically each device can receive multiple OS software updates over its lifetime. A few other upcoming operating systems are Mozilla's Firefox OS, Canonical Ltd.'s Ubuntu Phone, and Tizen.
The handset was publicly announced at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, February 2008, and started shipping in September 2008. Europe, Middle East and Asia-Pacific are the first locations to provide the handset for consumers. The American and Chinese versions were expected shortly thereafter. The general UK release date for the N96 was 1 October, although London had a separate date of 24 September when the device went on sale exclusively at Nokia's flagship stores on Regent Street and at Terminal 5 (Heathrow airport).