How to talk about your Smartphone in English

Everyone owns a smartphone these days.

We can see them everywhere. People use them for many different things — making phone calls, checking apps, using a map or a calendar.

It seems that life is impossible to live without a smartphone in your hand.

But how to talk about your smartphone in English?

What vocabulary should we use to describe it and its uses?

In the following guide, I want to show you exactly how to talk about smartphones. This could be very useful for you if you are preparing for the IELTS test or for another English test.

But it is also good for your General English.

You might be asked to give a talk at college or it may come up in conversation in your daily life.

Let’s check out how to do it right now.

 

What is a Smartphone?

 

A smartphone is a small electrical device that we can carry around with us in our pocket or bag.

It’s like having a small computer in your hand. Most things you can do on your computer at home you can also do on your smartphone.

They are very convenient and useful.

They also have their bad sides… There are many stories of young people becoming addicted to smartphones.

But mostly, we like our smartphones and we use them for good.

 

Essential Vocabulary

 

electrical device

carry around

pocket

convenient

Make sure you understand all the vocabulary above. You can do this by following these steps:

  • Look the new word up in your dictionary
  • Write the meaning of the word in your vocabulary notebook
  • Think of a sentence using the new word and write that in your notebook too

 

Do this for all the following Essential Vocabulary tables that follow in this article. It will really help you improve and remember your English vocabulary.

 

Exercise

Try to say what a smartphone is in a few sentences. How would you introduce what a smartphone is to someone who has never seen one before?

This can be the beginning of your talk in the IELTS test. You just give a brief introduction of what a smartphone is and what we use it for.

 

What does a Smartphone look like?

 

How to describe the appearance of a smartphone?

We can break this down into three basic categories:

  • Shape
  • Size
  • Colour

 

Shape

To describe the shape of your smartphone is pretty simple.

It is rectangular and flat. That’s about it.

So you can say:

My smartphone is rectangular and flat.

You could add:

It is rectangular to make the screen big enough to read the text and to view videos and pictures easily. And it is flat so it can fit into my pocket/bag comfortably.

The manufacturers compete with each other to make the flattest phone. But they also have to compete in terms of screen size.

 

Size

When talking about the size of most things in English, you never have to give the exact dimensions.

If you are in the IELTS test, the examiner doesn’t want to know exactly how big or small your smartphone is. They just want a rough idea.

So you can say:

My smartphone is about 16cm by 9cm.

It is as big as my hand.

It is big enough for me to watch movies on.

It is big enough for me to read books on the screen and not hurt my eyes.

 

Colour

There are many different colours for smartphones.

Many seem to have a metallic colour. Maybe this is the fashion these days.

Plus, you may have a special case or cover for your smartphone. We will talk about this later.

But simply, you can say:

My smartphone is red.

My smartphone is dark blue.

Or whatever colour it may be.

 

Essential Vocabulary

rectangular

flat

big enough

convenient

comfortably

as big as my hand

about the same size as my hand

metallic

 

Exercise

Try to describe what your smartphone looks like.

Yes, it may look the same as any smartphone, but you still have to describe the appearance of it.

Again, imagine you are describing what a smartphone looks like to someone who has never seen one before.

Describing the appearance of things is very common in the IELTS test. So you should get into practice doing this.

 

What can a Smartphone do?

 

A smartphone is very useful. It has many functions.

These are the basic functions of a smartphone:

  • Make calls
  • Send text messages
  • Tells you the time
  • Tells you what day it is
  • Takes pictures
  • Takes videos
  • Can go online

These are the usual features of any smartphone.

But there are quite literally hundreds of apps. And these can do all kinds of things…

 

Essential Vocabulary

useful

functions

make a call

send a text

 

Exercise

What are the basic functions of your smartphone?

What can your phone do without the use of any added apps?

Talk about this. Write your ideas in sentence form and read to yourself out loud.

 

What are Apps?

 

App is short for application. The word app has replaced the word program.

Whereas on a computer we have programs to help us do certain tasks — for example, type out a document, read a document, watch a video, make a video call. On our smartphone, we call these programs apps.

These are some of the most common functions of apps.

  • Messaging
  • Taking pictures
  • Taking videos
  • Picture and Video Storage
  • Music
  • Movies
  • Social Media
  • Health
  • Weather
  • E-Book Reader
  • Map

Let’s look at what these apps do in detail.

 

Messaging

We use these apps for sending messages. You just type in a message and press send.

Most of these apps let you send pictures, short videos or links to websites too. Most people use these messaging apps these days.

Messaging has almost replaced email or making phone calls.

Common messaging apps around the world are:

  • WhatsApp
  • Facebook Messenger
  • WeChat
  • QQ
  • Snapchat
  • Telegram

 

These are some common ways to talk about messaging apps.

I use WhatsApp to stay in touch with my friends and find out what they are doing. I am in many groups too and I can exchange useful information with people that have the same interests as me.

 

I use WeChat every day. I could not live without it! I use it to stay in contact with my friends and family — I make video calls to them every other day. Plus, I use it for work and sending important information to my colleagues. And I am a member of so many groups too. I feel like my entire life is on WeChat!

 

I like to use Telegram as I feel it is safer to use than other messaging apps. I think other apps sell my information or use it for advertising. Anyway, I don’t like them. Telegram seems more under cover to me.

 

Pictures and Video

One of the best things about smartphones is that they can take pictures and videos.

This is very useful and a lot of fun for people.

It could be used professionally or for work purposes. But most of the time, people just like to share pictures and videos with each other.

There are also apps to help you store all your pictures and videos. The files all go on the cloud.

Then there are apps to help you change the picture. These apps can change the appearance of the picture. But there are other apps that can totally change the appearance of someone’s face.

These are very popular these days with social media.

These are some ways to talk about picture and video apps.

I take pictures almost every day. I might see a nice view or scene in my hometown and take a picture to share on my Facebook page. Or just send a funny picture to my friends.

 

I post a lot of pictures on Instagram. I like to look good, so I use one of those filter apps to make me look better. It can get rid of blemishes on my skin and make my eyes look brighter. Some people might think this is too vain, but I just think it’s for fun.

 

Music

Another great thing about smartphones is that we can listen to music anywhere.

There are two main kinds of music apps for smartphones:

Music Player

Music Streaming

A music player takes any of your music files — usually called mp3’s — and plays them.

A music streaming app plays songs for you that are stored on the cloud. You don’t need to store the music file on your phone.

Some music streaming sites have a free service. But you have to listen to advertising every few minutes. But the paid service doesn’t have any advertising.

These are the kind of things people say about music apps:

I listen to music when I am on the bus on my way to school. I don’t want to think about anything else, so I just put my earphones in, close my eyes and listen to my favourite tunes. It helps me to prepare for the day ahead.

 

I use a streaming app called Spotify. I have the free version, which means I get annoying ads every so often, but it’s not too bad. I get to store all my favourite singers and bands without having to buy any music at all.

 

Movies

Most people love to watch movies.

Years ago, people would go to the cinema — this was the only way to see a new movie. Then in the 80s there was video. In the 90s, DVDs.

But now people can stream movies in the same way they stream music.

Most young people only know about this method of watching movies.

This is what you can say about watching movies on your smartphone:

I like to watch the latest superhero movies. And my family has an account with a movie streaming service. I use this account on my phone.

 

My parents don’t really know I use it, and they would be angry if they found out. So I usually watch movies in my bedroom when I am alone.

 

I have a terrible habit of binge-watching a new TV series.

I tell myself I will only watch one episode a day, but I end up watching all of it in three days.

It’s a really bad habit, and I wish I could stop.

 

Social Media

This is the biggest use of apps these days.

The most popular social media apps are:

  • Instagram
  • YouTube
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • TikTok

These apps are used mostly by younger people.

They are used to keep in contact with friends and family. But also to share pictures and videos with each other. Also to share news or to chat in the same interest groups.

This is what people say about social media apps:

I have Instagram on my phone. Sometimes, I might post pics about what I am up to, but mostly I like to just check out other people’s stuff. I follow quite a few people and I like to see their pictures or stories. I don’t let it interfere with my daily life though.

 

I watch YouTube videos on my phone. I don’t make comments, but sometimes I find that I am just watching videos one after another. I am not really looking for anything with purpose, just watching whatever pops up in the feed. I have to stop doing this as I can waste two hours a day easily.

 

Health

There are a few health and fitness apps available.

Each country has its own kind of fitness apps. These apps can help the user monitor their progress in terms of their fitness goals and to check how many calories you consume each day.

You can connect many fitness apps to a band you wear on your wrist. This can then check your heart rate, your temperature and how many kilometres and steps you walk in any given day.

These are the kinds of things people might say about fitness apps:

I have a band I wear on my wrist and I can link it to my fitness app on my phone. It can check exactly how many kilometres I walk or run every day. I use it all the time.

I also use the app for checking my progress in the gym. I can put every exercise I do in the app, and I can then see what progress I have made.

It also checks my weight and my body fat ratio.

 

I love running, so I use an app to monitor every time I go running.

It can tell me how fast I run, my average running speed, and even show me a map of where I run every time. I love to check this and see what progress I am making.

I am training for my first marathon, so using the app is very useful.

 

These are the most popular kind of apps. Now let’s look at the vocabulary.

 

Essential Vocabulary

app

functions

messaging

storage

calendar

note taking

e-book reader

to share

cloud

to post

filter app

to get rid of

blemishes

vain

music player

music streaming

file

mp3

advertising

paid service

earphones

tunes

annoying

ads

binge-watching

episode

bad habit

to chat

interfere

to make a comment

the feed

to pop up

to waste

fitness

monitor

progress

fitness goals

calories

consume

band

wrist

heart rate

temperature

kilometres

steps

 

Exercise

What apps do you use on your phone?

Which one is your favourite? Why do you like this one so much?

Which ones are very useful?

Which ones are just for fun or entertainment?

 

What are Smartphone Accessories?

 

Smartphones are usually accompanied with a handful of accessories. These include:

  • earphones/earbuds
  • selfie stick
  • cases/covers
  • portable charger

There are other accessories, but let’s just look at the most common accessories used by people today.

 

Earphones/Earbuds

Many phones provide a set of earphones when you buy your phone at the store.

We can use these to listen to music privately so we don’t disturb others. It’s a very common sight these days to see people wearing some earphones while going to work on the subway or walking down the street.

Things people might say:

I couldn’t live without my earphones. I have to have music in my life 24-hours-a-day or I just can’t cope. So I take my earphones everywhere with me. I listen to music on the bus on the way to school, as I am walking down the street or just waiting for my friend.

 

I love to use my earphones when I go to the gym. I get on the running machine and just listen to my favourite tunes and forget about the outside world.

 

Selfie Stick

We live in the Age of The Selfie.

A selfie is a picture that you can take of yourself using your smartphone. Some companies saw an opportunity in this and created the selfie stick.

This is a special stick where you can take pictures of yourself without holding your camera at arm’s length.

People could talk about this in the following way:

I post so many pictures on Instagram that I thought it would be a good idea to get a selfie stick. Now I can take pictures of myself very easily instead of stretching my arm.

My parents think it’s really stupid but I think it’s only for fun so it’s okay.

 

Cases/Covers

It is very easy to change the cover or case of your smartphone. Now there are many places that sell cases and covers in a wide variety of designs.

People might say:

I don’t want my phone to look like everyone else’s phone, so I changed the cover to make it look a little special. It wasn’t so expensive and very easy to change.

 

My friend is a huge fan of Marvel comics and so he changes the cover of his phone to look like one of the Marvel characters. He does this about every two or three months.

 

Portable Charger

Smartphones use a lot of battery power. More than the older mobile phones that people used before.

As such, this causes trouble for people when they run out of power.

So now we have portable chargers that we can carry around in our pocket or bag to recharge our phones when we are outside.

This is what people might say about them:

I am on the road most of the day. In my car, but then on foot and going from one client to another. So my phone often runs out of power. I bought a portable charger, and it really helps me out.

 

Essential Vocabulary

accompanied

accessories

earphones/earbuds

selfie stick

portable charger

privately

to disturb

I can’t cope

the outside world

opportunity

at arm’s length

variety

designs

battery power

to run out

recharge

 

Exercise

What accessories do you have for your smartphone?

Why do you need them?

What are the most common smartphone accessories in your country?

What smartphone accessories would you like to see in the future?

 

Questions about Smartphones

 

Look at the list of questions below about smartphones.

Try to answer all the questions using full sentences. Give reasons for your answers and try to provide examples where needed.

 

What was life like before smartphones do you think?

What would your life be like without your smartphone?

What do you like about your smartphone?

What do you dislike about it?

What are the best functions on your smartphone?

Which apps do you use the most and why?

How much time do you spend on your smartphone every day? Do you think this is too much?

When you meet your friends somewhere, do you spend a lot of time looking at your phones?

Have you ever left your smartphone at home by mistake? How did you feel?

If you can’t get Wi-Fi outside somewhere, does it annoy you? Why?

Is your smartphone the last thing you look at before sleeping? Why?

Do you think it is acceptable for people to use their smartphones in a public place? For example, on the bus or the subway? Explain your reasons.

Do you think smartphones can cause any problems in society? How?

What is the best brand of smartphone today? Why do you think so?

What are the laws in your country about using a smartphone while driving? Do you agree with these laws?

 

Conclusion

 

Everyone has a smartphone in the world today — or nearly everyone.

So it is a very common topic that could come up in the IELTS speaking test. You could be asked to talk about a device or machine that you often use. Talking about your smartphone would be perfect then.

But you might also be in a conversation with someone in English and they start talking about their smartphone.

Either way, I hope this article can help you talk about smartphones more easily.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

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