Case Study Resources

This applies to both HL and SL.

The Case Study is available here: Case Study 2012-2013

At higher level, 40 marks out of 100 on paper 2 (1 hour out of 2.5 hours) are devoted to the case study. At standard level, it’s 30 marks.

In your answer you should highlight:

  1. New developments that have happened since you started your IB course
  2. Current, real-life applications of the technology
  3. The social significance of the case study material

You will be free to consult the case study during the examination. You are not expected to remember it.

Some past case study questions are available here: Case Study Questions


A report from MIT’s Technology Review that suggests that slow data storage media on smartphones is the cause of the latest performance bottleneck:

Some ideas about the directions that future Smartphones will take. Worth reading the comments at the bottom. I agree that either the term “Smartphone” will have to go, or we will have to lose the concept of “phone” entirely.

Good article about the impact of smartphones on the medical profession. Very suitable for citing in the exam. Just what the examiners will be looking for I think.

Here is an overview of some of the security features of the iOS and Android platforms.

This is some stuff I ripped from Dave Mulkey’s site:

Smartphone Case Study Questions

Use the Case Study, the Internet, the web-links below and any other resources
(including other students) to answer the following questions, thus preparing for

  1. (a) State 3 common features of a Smartphone, not including making phone calls.
    (b) Explain why it is useful to “converge” so many features into a Smartphone.
  2. (a) Explain the main difference between ROM and RAM.
    (b) Explain why a phone probably contains BOTH RAM and ROM.
  3. (a) Explain the major difference between Flash Memory and RAM.
    (b) Explain the purpose of Cache Memory.
  4. (a) Outline 2 reasons that a Smartphone would not use the same OS as a PC.
    (b) Outline 1 example of compatibility between Smartphone Operating Systems.
    (c) Outline 1 example of incompatibility between Smarthphone Operating Systems.
  5. (a) Outline 2 reasons that a Smartphone would not use the same CPU as a PC.
    (b) State the meaning of RISC and outline why this is useful in a Smartphone.
  6. (a) Outline 1 common use of Bluetooth in a Smartphone.
    (b) Explain the major difference between WiFi and Bluetooth.
  7. (a) Explain how Frequency Hopping works.
    (b) Explain why Frequency Hopping is important for Smartphone networks.
  8. (a) Outline 2 major differences between Infrared connections and USB connections.
    (b) Outline 1 reason that WIMAX is better than WiFi.
  9. Outline the infrastructure necessary to connect a Smartphone to the Internet.
  10. (a) Explain why “packet switching” is a significant improvement in Smartphone operations.
    (b) Explain why GigaBit data transfer rates are needed in 4G phones,
    including a specific example.
  11. (a) Outline the difference between Analog and Digital data transfer.
    (b) Outline 2 clear advantages of Digital over Analog data transfer.
  12. (a) Outline one useful feature of MPEG4.
    (b) Outline the difference between compression and encryption algorithms.
  13. (a) Explain why encryption might be important for a Smartphone user.
    (b) Explain why keeping data in your data centre reduces the need for encryption.
  14. (a) Explain why a company might forbid employees from running some
    applications in the Smartphone.
    (b) Explain what a computer virus is and how this could effect a Smartphone user.
  15. (a) Explain the term VPN.
    (b) Explain the difference between a VPN Cache and Cache Memory.
  16. (a) Outline 2 methods that a company can use to provide security when
    an employee’s Smartphone has been lost or stolen.
    (b) Explain why your methods from (a) would or would not be
    effective against a “man-in-the-middle-attack”.
  17. (a) Outline Smartphone features that might be specifically useful for
    each of the following professions (do not include phone calls):
    Educators , Travelling businessmen , Police
  18. (a) Explain what “24/7” means.
    (b) Outline one advantage and one disadvantage of 24/7 connectivity.
  19. Outline 2 useful innovations that might become available in Smartphones
    in the near future (say 5 years) that are not generally available now.
  20. (a) Explain what “phishing” is.
    (b) Decide whether “phishing” is exclusively a problem for Smartphone users
    and justify your answer.

More Questions from Dave Mulkey

(4a)  A SmartPhone is likely to contain 4 types of memory:
—- ROM
—- Cache Memory
—- RAM
—- Flash Memory

For each of the 4 memory types, outline what might be stored in it that would probably NOT be stored in the other memory types.  In each case, explain why this is the best choice for the purpose in a SmartPhone. [8 marks]

(4b)  Outline one common security precaution that could prevent SmartPhone users from having their privacy compromised. [2 marks]

(4c)  Outline 2 significant differences between a Bluetooth piconet and a cell phone network. [4 marks]

(4d)  Describe 2 significant advantages of using a touch-screen in a SmartPhone rather than alternative devices. [4 marks]

(4e)  Outline 2 reasons that a SmartPhone user might have difficulty using a normal web-site. [4 marks]

(4f)  Convergence has led to SmartPhones with many features beyond making phone calls. Describe 2 tasks that can be performed by a high school student that could not be performed as well with a computer or a traditional cell phone. Include clear reasons that the SmartPhone is better for each task. [4 marks]

(4g) Describe one advantage and one disadvantage that society as a whole may experience as the number of SmartPhone users increases in the near future; justify your ideas. [4 marks]

(4i)  In the near future (within 5 years) we can expect technology improvements that enable new features in SmartPhones.
(i)  Suggest one useful new feature that might become available on SmartPhones in the near future. [2 marks]
(ii)  Outline one (or more) technological improvements that must occur in order to make your suggestion (above) possible. [2 marks]

(4j)  We still do not have real 4G SmartPhones available, but they will be available soon. Describe an improvement that will be noticeable when we have Gigabit per second connections, including an explanation of why this doesn’t work with megabit connections. [2 marks]

(4k)  Explain 2 reasons that a SmartPhone uses a different CPU than a desktop or notebook computer. [4 marks]

Extra Interesting Case Study Links

Cell Phones at HowStuffWorks

Frequency Hopping Explained


Kill-Switch Stories

Harald Haas: Wireless data from every light bulb

More About Kill-Switches

Unlimited Computer Graphics Power

Scientific American Video about Ubiquitous Computing

Official Smartphone Case Study Links

All About Symbian




www .bluetooth .com/English/Products/Pages/Bluetooth_Low_Energy_Technology_Advantages .aspx


How Stuff Works

Memory Breakthroughs for SmartPhones


Smartphone security lacking at many businesses,294698,sid14_gci1348589,00.html

Smartphone Security Put on Test

Symbian Ships Nearly 300,000 Devices A Day In Q2 2010  (broken link)

Virus writers hit Google Android phones

What really is a Third Generation (3G) Mobile Technology
www .itu .int/ITU-D/imt-2000/DocumentsIMT2000/What_really_3G .pdf

Nokia Morph Concept

Are You Addicted to Your Mobile Phone?
http://connecttheworld .blogs .cnn .com/2010/04/20/are-you-addicted-to-your-mobile-phone

Using Your Smartphone Safely .html

Worst Computer Viruses


Apple Iphone Design

Bluetooth at How Stuff Works

Smartphone surge helps ARM

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