What Is a Wi-Fi Enabled Cell Phone?

By Elijah Chau

Wi-Fi enabled cell phones allow for expanded functionality.
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Since the advent of smartphones, the previously bright line between phones and computers has gradually blurred. Thanks to faster processing power and larger feature sets, the differences between the two have been reduced. In one significant example, Wi-Fi enabled phones allow smartphones and computers to access the Internet via the same kind of connection.


Having Wi-Fi on a cell phone means it can connect to any wireless network just as a wireless enabled laptop or desktop can do. Users can use the phone's interface to log into a network and use the data connection for tasks such as email or multimedia streaming.


Wi-Fi typically comes as an installed feature on modern smartphone platforms like Google's Android, RIM's BlackBerry OS and Apple's iOS. Lower end cell phones lack the processing power to make the most of online content, so Wi-Fi is usually omitted.

Financial Benefits

Using a Wi-Fi connection on a smartphone diverts some of the load from a user's data plan. Through Wi-Fi, the phone only downloads data content through the local network, instead of the carrier's. This can save some money, because many carriers have data caps on smartphones -- if a user downloads enough content to exceed that limit, extra charges can be incurred.

Performance Benefits

Carriers often tout the high speed of their 3G networks, but performance can vary greatly, depending on your location. Because local networks have consistent and higher transfer speeds, it will often be much easier to download and upload content from a smartphone via Wi-Fi.