Into the Future
Newer phones make use of the UAProf (User Agent Profile) emerging standard, developed and promoted by the WAP Forum. UAProf is itself a derivative of the CC/PP (Composite Capabilities/Preferences Profile) working group within the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), which in turn is built on the W3C's newly hatched semantic vocabulary, Resource Definition Framework (RDF). I mention this pedigree simply to emphasize that UAProf has a lot of backing within the industry. It's the technology to watch as the multi-device web becomes more ubiquitous and different devices capable of interacting with digital services begin to proliferate even more than they do today.
The idea of UAProf is to send you, the application provider, an XML descriptor document describing the characteristics of the device and software configuration of the connecting device. But UAProf goes beyond this to deliver information about the intermediate network between you and the user's device, and (ostensibly) about the user's own preferences as well (for instance, the user might set a preference to always want to see content in a particular language).
For more information on UAProf, visit the UAProf working group page at the WAP Forum site.