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Page 1 1001 Mobile Devices Study Guide for the CompTIA A+ Core Series Exam

How to Prepare for Questions about Mobile Devices on the CompTIA A+ Core Series 1001 Test

General Information

This topic is assessed in the CompTIA A+ Core Series test that is numbered 220-1001 and about 14% of the questions on this test concern mobile devices. That’s not a huge percentage when you consider that there are five major topics covered in this test, but it’s enough of an emphasis that you’ll want to know the material in this study guide.

Note that in all of our CompTIA A+ Core Series study guides, the notation (scenario) indicates that questions about that topic will contain a description of a situation and then a question that asks you what to do about it.

Laptop Hardware Installation and Configuration (scenario)

You must be able to install and configure the hardware and components of a laptop in a given scenario. You should be aware of the following hardware and be comfortable replacing it.


The keyboard on a mobile device is smaller sized and typically has certain keys removed or in different locations than a full-sized keyboard.

Hard Drive

These come in three main types: SSD, Hybrid, and Magnetic.

SSD vs. hybrid vs. magnetic disk

  • SSD uses flash memory for fastest response times possible.
  • Magnetic is a traditional drive that spins and reads, using specialized equipment.
  • Hybrid is a combination of both drives and typically more cost effective than a full SSD.

1.8 in vs. 2.5 in

These are the diameters of the magnetic platters inside a hard disk. SSDs do not have magnetic platters, so the dimension represents a size equivalent to a magnetic drive.


Laptop memory typically comes in the smaller SO-DIMM and Micro-DIMM form factors. SO-DIMM is Small Outline Dual In-line Memory Module. The “SO” tells you the memory module has a smaller outline (length and width) than the original DIMM. It is also thinner. As the name Micro-DIMM implies, its outline and thickness is even smaller than SO-DIMM.

Smart Card Reader

Many laptops come with this reader built in, which provides an authentication mechanism. External readers that connect via USB are also available.

Optical Drive

Smaller model laptops will not include an optical drive for DVDs or CDs and, instead, may use an external drive that connects via USB.

Wireless Card/Bluetooth Module

A wireless or WiFi card connects the laptop to a WiFi network. Most laptops include this card to allow for connecting to a wireless network. It can also be added directly to the motherboard. A Bluetooth module connects the laptop to a personal area network or a Bluetooth device.

Cellular Card

A cellular card connects the laptop to a cellular network (3G, 4G, LTE). It is rare for laptops to include this card, but it can be added.

Video Card

Laptop video adapters are most often built into the motherboard or the processor, but some laptops use a separate card that connects to the motherboard. This allows for replacing or upgrading the video adapter without replacing the entire motherboard.

Mini PCIe

Mini PCI Express (PCIe) is a small form-factor for adapter cards such as wireless, Bluetooth, or SSD cards. It is smaller than the older PCI and Mini PCI cards.


The screen displays are similar to desktop displays, but they will typically be smaller. Take steps to protect these screens with cases or other equipment, as they are fragile. Laptops typically use high-resolution LCD screens.

DC Jack

Laptop chargers will come with an AC-DC power converter that is a part of the charger. This takes the AC power from the wall outlet and converts it to DC power that the laptop can use. This is plugged into the DC jack port on your laptop.


Lithium Ion is the most popular laptop battery in use today. It does degrade over time and will eventually need to be replaced in order to maintain a charge.


This is an input device found on laptops that allows you to move the cursor around on the screen with your finger(s) and click to select items, similar in function to a separate mouse on a desktop.


Many laptops have durable plastic frames that are light to carry around. These are inexpensive to replace.


Speakers are usually found integrated in the laptop. Typically, these are not of the best quality, but they do allow you to hear audio, when needed.

System Board

These boards are proprietary to the laptop make and model, and the replacement process is often a bit complex.


Laptop Central Processing Units are designed to consume less power and generate less heat than desktop CPUs. Since laptops often run on battery power, components are designed to limit power consumption. Due to the smaller, more tightly packed form factor of laptops, it is difficult to dissipate heat that builds up inside the laptop case. They may also integrate features with the CPU, such as the video controller.

Laptop Display Installation (scenario)

When working on laptop displays, you must be able to install components in a given scenario. In addition to the display itself, the full display assembly may also include a WiFi antenna, webcam, microphone, inverter, and digitizer/touch screen.


The two types of displays that you should be familiar with are LCD (liquid crystal display) and OLED (organic light emitting diode). The vast majority of laptops use LCD displays. OLED was introduced a few years ago but is still not found on many laptops. However, with a new generation of OLED displays being introduced, you can expect to see more.


LED technology uses backlighting, where light shines through liquid crystals to create images. The light passes through color filters to create the color image. This type can be TN or IPS:

  • TN: twisted nematic LCD; fast response times.
  • IPS: in-plane switching LCD; good for mobile devices, but more expensive.

LCD technology can feature either CCFL or LED backlighting:

  • CCFL: cold cathode fluorescent lamps: older technology; needs more power than backlighting.
  • LED: brighter and more energy efficient than CCFL.


As the name implies, organic light emitting diodes do emit light, so no backlighting is needed. When the element is off, it is completely black, whereas LCD elements cannot be completely black. OLED displays look sharper than the LCD.

WiFi Antenna Connector/Placement

It is important that antenna wiring be placed as high as possible to get the best signal from within your laptop case. Typically, these wires wrap around the outside edges of your display. This is also done to get the best signal possible.


Most laptops include a webcam that allows you to record audio and video. This is usually integrated into the top area, around your display.


There is also a microphone built into most laptops that allows you to record sound. This can be found in numerous locations, with some being a part of the display and others found along the edges of your keyboard.


An inverter is used with older display technology using CCFL (cold cathode fluorescent) lamps. CCFL runs on AC power. This allows the DC power of the laptop to be converted into the AC power needed for these display types.

Digitizer/Touch Screen

This technology enables you to write directly on the display screen. You can also emulate mouse and touchpad actions such as click, drag, and touchpad gestures directly on the screen. This can be found mostly in devices that can act as a hybrid laptop-tablet device.