Smartphones today come with a wealth of sensors to facilitate a better user experience, provide apps with enhanced information about the world around the phone and provide robust and increased battery life.
Detects when an object is near to the phone. Most commonly used to sense when a phone is held up to the users ear to turn off the display. This saves both battery life and prevents accidental screen touches.
Accelerometer and gyroscope
Accelerometers in mobile phones are used to detect the orientation of the phone. The gyroscope, or gyro for short, adds an additional dimension to the information supplied by the accelerometer by tracking rotation or twist.
An accelerometer measures linear acceleration of movement, while a gyro on the other hand measures the angular rotational velocity. Both sensors measure rate of change; they just measure the rate of change for different things.
In practice, that means that an accelerometer will measure the directional movement of a device but will not be able to resolve its lateral orientation or tilt during that movement accurately unless a gyro is there to fill in that info.
With an accelerometer you can either get a really "noisy" info output that is responsive, or you can get a "clean" output that's sluggish. But when you combine the 3-axis accelerometer with a 3-axis gyro, you get an output that is both clean and responsive in the same time."
Accelerometers are also used to provide 'steps' information for a vendors 'health' application.
The digital compass that's usually based on a sensor called magnetometer provides mobile phones with a simple orientation in relation to the Earth's magnetic field. As a result, your phone always knows which way is North so it can auto rotate your digital maps depending on your physical orientation.
The barometer assists the GPS chip inside the device to get a faster lock by instantly delivering altitude data. Additionally,
the barometer can be utilized to provide 'floors climbed' information to a phones 'health' app.
With the advent of more accurate indoor navigation, the barometer can assist in determine what floor a user is on within an airport for example.
Biometric related sensors provide levels of enhanced security by capturing and validating human related metrics. Including Finger Print recognition, IRIS (eye) scanning and full facial recognition.
Biometric sensors provide a more secure but more convenient way to unlock phones and pay for purchases.
Additionally, biometric sensors can be used to collect a users heart rate and SpO2 (the estimate of arterial oxygen saturation) for use within a vendors 'health' application.
Augmented & Virtual Reality
The highly accurate sensors detailed above, when combined with the powerful CPU & GPU's of modern smart phones, allow very realist and responsive Virtual Reality applications to be created. When the sensors are combined with a smartphones camera they facilitate Augmented Reality applications.
A-GPS (Assisted GPS) | A2DP (Advanced Audio Distribution Profile) | AAC (Advanced Audio Coding) | Accelerometer | Airplane mode | Alarm Clock | Alphanumeric | AMOLED display (Active-matrix organic light-emitting diode) | Analog | Android | ANT+ | Antenna | APN (Access Point Name) | Apple iOS | Apple Pay | aptX | Audio jack | Auto-focus | AVRCP (Audio/Video Remote Control Profile)
Bada OS | Band | Bandwidth | Bar | Base Station | BeiDou Navigation Satellite System | Benchmarking | Biometrics | Bit | BlackBerry OS | BlackBerry Playbook OS | Bluetooth | bps (Bits per Second) | Brand | Broadband | Browser | Byte
Calculator | Calendar | Call alerts | Calling Plan | Camera | Capacitive Touchscreen | Car Kit | Carrier | CDMA (Code-Division Multiple Access) | CDMA2000 | Cell | Chipset | cHTML (Compact HyperText Markup Language) | CIF (Common Intermediate Format) | Clamshell | CMOS (Complementary metal-oxidesemiconductor) | Color depth | Concatenated SMS | Connected GPS | Construction | Corning Gorilla Glass | CPU (Central Processing Unit) | Crosstalk | CSTN (Color Super Twisted Nematic) | CTIA | Custom ringtones | CyanogenMod
D-Pad (Direction Pad) | DC-HSDPA (Dual Carrier or Dual Cell High-Speed Downlink Packet Access) | Digital Zoom | Display type | DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance) | DNSe (Digital Natural Sound engine) | Downlink | DRM (Digital Rights Management) | Dual-band | Dual-Mode | Dual-SIM | DVB-H (Digital Video Broadcasting - Handheld) | Dynamic Memory
EDGE (Enhanced Data for Global Evolution) | EDR (Enhanced Data Rate) | EGPRS | EGSM (Extended GSM) | Email client | EMS (Enhanced Message Service) | eSIM | EV-DO | EV-DV | Exchangeable covers | External Antenna Jack | External Display
FCC (Federal Communications Commission) | Feature Phone | Femtocell | Firefox OS | Firmware | Fixed-focus | Flash Memory | Flight mode | Flip-down phone | FM Radio | FM Transmitter | Form factor | FOTA (Firmware Over-The-Air) | FPS (Frames Per Second) | Frame Error Rate | Frequency | FTP (File Transfer Protocol)
Galileo (Global Navigation Satellite System) | GB (Gigabyte) | Gbps (Gigabits per second) | Geo-tag | GLONASS (Global Navigation Satellite System) | GPRS | GPS (Global Positioning System) | gpsONE | gpsOneXTRA Assistance technology | GPU (Graphics Processing Unit)
H.263 | Half-QWERTY keyboard layout | Handwriting recognition | Haptics | Hot Spot | Hot Swap | HSCSD (High-Speed Circuit Switched Data) | HSDPA (High-Speed Downlink Packet Access) | HSDPA+ (High-Speed Downlink Packet Access Plus) | HSP (Headset Profile) | HSUPA (High-Speed Uplink Packet Access) | HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) | Hz (Hertz)
iDEN (Integrated Digital Enhanced Network) | IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol) | IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) | IP (Internet Protocol) | IP Ratings | IrDA (Infrared Data Association)
Land line | LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) | LED (Light-Emitting Diode) | Li-Ion (Lithium Ion) | Li-Polymer (Lithium Polymer) | LiMo OS | Linux | Location-Based Services (LBS) | Lock code | Long SMS | Long Term Evolution (LTE) | Loudspeaker
Macro | Maemo OS | mAh | Mass Storage mode | MB (Megabyte) | Mbps (Megabit per second) | MeeGo OS | Megapixel | Memory card slot | Memory effect | Messaging | MHz (Megahertz) | Micro USB | microSD | microSDHC | Microsoft Exchange (Server) | MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) | MIDP (Mobile Information Device Profile) | Mil-Spec (MIL-STD) | MIMO | Mini-USB | miniSD | MMC | MMCmobile | MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service) | Mobile games | Mobile High-Definition Link (MHL) | Mobile IM (Instant Messaging) | Mobile WiMAX | Mobility DisplayPort (MyDP) | Modem | Monochrome | MP3 (MPEG Layer 3) | MPEG (Motion Picture Experts Group) | MPEG-4 video | Multitouch input method | Music playback time (battery life) | Music Player
Packet Data | Pager | PC Sync | PCS (Personal Communications Service) | PDA (Personal Digital Assistant) | Percentile rank | Phone Book Access (PBA) | Phonebook | PIM (Personal Information Manager/Management) | PIN code (Personal Identification Number) | Pixel | Pixel density (PPI) | Polyphonic ringtones | POP3 (Post Office Protocol) | Port | Predictive text input | PTT (Push-To-Talk) | PUK Code (PIN UnlocK Code) | Push
RAM (Random-Access Memory) | RBDS (Radio Broadcast Data System) | RDS (Radio Data System) | Resistive touchscreen | Resolution | Ringer ID | Ringing profiles | Ringtone | Roaming | ROM (Read-Only Memory) | RS-MMC (Reduced-Size Multi Media Card) | RSA (Rural Service Area) | RSS (Rich Site Summary) | Ruggedized (Rugged)
S60 user interface | SAP (SIM Access Profile) | SAR (Specific absorption rate) | Screen protection | SD (Secure Digital) | Secondary camera | Sensors | Side Keys | SIM | SIM lock | Single-Band | Skin | Slimport | Smart Watch | Smartphone | SMIL | SMS (Short Messaging Service) | SNS (Social network service) | Soft keys | Soft Reset | Speed Dial | Stand-by time (battery life) | Stereo Speakers | Streaming Video | Stylus | Sub-QCIF | SVGA | Symbian | SyncML
Talk time (battery life) | TCP/IP | TD-SCDMA (Time Division-Synchronous Code Division Multiple Access) | TEST | Tethering | Text messaging (texting) | TFD (Thin Film Diode) | TFT (Thin Film Transistor) | Theme | To-Do list | Touchscreen | Trackball | Transflash | Transflective | Tri-band
WAP (Wireless Application protocol) | watchOS | WCDMA(Wideband Code Division Multiple Access) | Wearable Technology | webOS | Wi-Fi | Windows Mobile | Windows Phone OS | Wireless email | WLAN | WMV (Windows Media Video)