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In addition to telephony, 2000s-era mobile phones support a variety of other services, such as text messaging, MMS, email, Internet access, short-range wireless communications (infrared, Bluetooth), business applications, video games, and digital photography.

Mobile phones offering only those capabilities are known as feature phones; mobile phones which offer greatly advanced computing capabilities are referred to as smartphones.

In 1991, the second-generation (2G) digital cellular technology was launched in Finland by Radiolinja on the GSM standard.

This sparked competition in the sector as the new operators challenged the incumbent 1G network operators.

Feature phones typically provide voice calling and text messaging functionality, in addition to basic multimedia and Internet capabilities, and other services offered by the user's wireless service provider.

A feature phone has additional functions over and above a basic mobile phone which is only capable of voice calling and text messaging.

In 1917, Finnish inventor Eric Tigerstedt filed a patent for a "pocket-size folding telephone with a very thin carbon microphone".

To deal with this problem, some rabbinical organizations have recommended that phones with text-messaging capability not be used by children.

However, in the developing world, they account for around 50% of mobile telephony.

Feature phone is a term typically used as a retronym to describe mobile phones which are limited in capabilities in contrast to a modern smartphone.

Ten years later, in 2001, the third generation (3G) was launched in Japan by NTT Do Co Mo on the WCDMA standard.

This was followed by 3.5G, 3G or turbo 3G enhancements based on the high-speed packet access (HSPA) family, allowing UMTS networks to have higher data transfer speeds and capacity.

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