Swedish: mobiltelefon

fresh basil

English - United States

I am writing to ask whether native Swedish speakers use the term mobiltelefon (spelled as such) for cellphone or smartphone. Or, are there other terms in play? Does it vary by region?

The context is a museum exhibit on the global uses of cellphones. I'd appreciate any help anyone can give me. Thank you!
  • Segorian

    Senior Member
    Icelandic & Swedish
    Several words exist. In the day-to-day language, these are the most common, whether referring to an older style cellphone or a smartphone (all of this is off the top of my head):
    • mobil (= ‘phone’): the most frequently used word, occurring, in some contexts, in over 90 percent of cases; in others, perhaps only slightly more often than the second and third words on the list
    • telefon (= ‘telephone’ / ‘phone’): in common use; heard somewhat less often than the first word on the list, but quite a bit more often than the third
    • mobiltelefon (= ‘cellphone’ / ‘mobile phone’): although used less frequently overall than the first two words, there are certain contexts where it seems to be the preferred term
    Words for ‘smartphone’ specifically (all are used if there is a need to emphasize that the phone in question is indeed a smartphone, and not a more traditional cellphone, but much less frequently in other contexts):
    • smartphone (direct loan from the English): commonly used; in some contexts, heard at least as often mobiltelefon (for example in sentences such as “There is an app for your smartphone”)
    • smarttelefon: rarely used
    • smartmobil: very rarely used
    In the written language there is a slight preference for mobiltelefon, but only some highly formal contexts “require” that word.

    Finally, I'm not aware of any regional variations in the use of words for this type of equipment.