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"Can you hear me now? Can you hear me now? Can you hear me now?"
Much-parodied Verizon ad.

As with the older Pay Phone and Phone Booth, the mobile cellular telephone has accumulated a number of tropes regarding its behavior.

Factors affecting Cell Phones in fiction:

  • Dead zones appear to be either everywhere or nowhere at all. The lack of reception is almost always used as a type of Plot-Driven Breakdown, eliminating cell phones as an option for solving some problem; or the phone will work flawlessly and it will never be questioned (see the subtrope Can You Hear Me Now).
  • The battery's charge level and ability to be recharged operates in the same way.
  • The phone is either indestructible or will explode into pieces when dropped from a height of more than 1 foot. Throwing the phone in any direction will cause it to smash to smithereens as well. On the other hand, a character who falls into water fully clothed will rarely come out with a damaged phone.
  • Non-phone features like Push-to-Talk or PIM are rarely seen or used. SMS (text messages) will sometimes appear, especially in European (particularly British) productions; theyll b wrtn in txtspk although the space constraints that led to the evolution of textspeak are less of an issue with modern phones. This may be justified as many people who grew up with first-generation mobiles still use textspeak out of habit.
  • "Minutes" are often important to the phone's owner, even though this is not really a concern for phone users in real life much anymore (except to pay-as-you-go users). In fact, even users on some prepaidcarriers tend to speak in terms of "credit"; their payments are on the phone as real money which can be spent on calltime, text messages and internet use.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic, because on TV when somebody hangs up on another person while speaking on a cell phone, there's an audible click as if it were a landline phone; in Real Life the line tends to go dead silent. Some phones may have a tone announcing the call has ended due to line drop rather than intentional hang up.
    • Similarly, when making a call using the cellphone's phonebook, the phone will sometimes beep out the number in DTMF, as though it has to dial the number. (Truth in Television for some cellphones, presumably for the benefit of visually-impaired users.)
  • Cell phone communications are ultra secure. In Real Life, the signal can be picked up and decrypted by radio (though this has yet to be actually accomplished in GSM/UMTS based systems which use near military strength encryptions, as well as features such as Frequency Hopping).
  • Cell phones are excessively prone to being dropped into toilets, pools, sinks, cesspools—anything that can make it accidentally inaccessible.

And then there's the behavior associated with using a cellphone:

  • Having a conversation with thin air due to hands free and Bluetooth.
  • Texting while driving
  • "Sorry, I've got to take this" for multiple calls.
  • The courtesy [or lack thereof] of cellphone use in a theater:
    • Receiving calls or texts
    • Making calls or texts
    • Not putting the phone on silent
    • Not turning the phone off altogether (some phones light their screens when they receive a call or message).

Real Life accessories of them are often Gem-Encrusted.

See also Can You Hear Me Now, Cutting the Electronic Leash, Comm Links, No Talking or Phones Warning, and Trope Breaker. Commonly also used in TV shows and movies as Product Placement.

For a rapid fire look at several cell phone tropes, check out No Signal

Examples of Cell Phone include:


  • Mobile Phones existed in media before they existed in Real Life.
  • How Not to Write A Novel has a discussion on how to use mobile phones in fiction and the implications they have for many traditional forms of plot.
  • Many, many pieces of Hentai movies and doujin involve raping a girl then using a phone's camera feature to take snapshots or video of her, with the threat that they'll upload it to all her buddies' phones or email it to her boss/principal/parents/whatever if she reports her attackers to the authorities. This is similar to the British concept of "happy-slapping", which generally involves violent assaults.


  • There is a series of commercials involving a mother abusing text messages so much that not only do they have an intervention, but her tech-savvy teenage daughter can't keep up with her txt lingo abbreviations.

 Husband: What does PBBM mean? I'm not psychic!

Wife: (exasperated) It means "pick up bread, butter, milk".

  • There's another series of commercials in which a cell phone company tells you you've gone over your text messaging limits by sending you one text a minute until the end of the billcycle.
  • Yet another series of commercials has the father freaking out over the texting bills and turning to each member of his family to tell them to back off. They speak their responses in txt lingo abbreviations, and the screen flashes subtitles to translate them.

Anime & Manga

  • As an aside, Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei not only mentions text messaging, but has a character for whom that's her only mode of communication. Perhaps this is more common in Japan than in the west. And she carries hundreds of cell phones on her. The reason? Recharging your cell on school grounds is against regulations. The only way to stop her (she's incredibly rude on that phone) is to put her in the one desk in the room that's out of her plan's coverage zone.
  • Because Detective Conan's first few years of airing span the ramp-up of Japanese adoption of the cellphone (keitai), it is interesting to watch the evolution of its use in the series. (All the more so since the series is "supposed" to take place over the course of a few months thanks to Comic Book Time. At one point nine or ten years into the series's run, Kogoro reflected on how payphones had all but disappeared over the past five years in favor of cell phones—even though they were all over the place in early episodes!)
    • Early episodes:
      • Doctor Agasa gives Conan a miniaturized cellphone "disguised" as an oversized earring with a hands-free cable. (Why a male primary-school student should need an oversized earring is never adequately explained, though it does come in handy for lending to Ran.) Since Conan can broadcast from his voice-changing necktie directly to that phone, at one point he uses it to relay deductions in a case via Ran.
      • Another of Agasa's "inventions", only seen once, is a cellular fax machine and phone concealed in a bento box. (This nearly gets Conan into trouble with Ran when he uses it to make a Shinichi-call in a client's apartment and Ran hears her shouting echoed from the phone in another room.)
      • Relatively few characters have cell phones, and they are the cordless-phone-handset-sized models from the mid-90s with few features and no email capability. When victims have cell phones, last-number-redial is often used as an important clue. In one case, a murder victim dials a 3-letter code that turns out to be the abbreviation for an airport whose name was shared by her murderer. Characters mostly use pay phones (and Conan often gets odd looks from bystanders as he talks through his bow tie in Shinichi's voice in payphone calls to Ran).
      • One episode involves the Detective Boys using a shortwave radio to pick up cell/cordless phone calls between a kidnapper and a worried father, and using clues from the conversation to track down the kidnapper and rescue the victim.
    • Later episodes:
      • Conan gets an ordinary flip/camera phone in the late 300s to early 400s, and the earring-phone is by and large not seen again. Also, phones get smaller and add digital displays. Emails through cell phones start to show up as more important clues. In one case, a phonecam picture of Ran in a bikini Sonoko sends to "Shinichi" also contains an important clue. In another, the internal clock on Kogoro's cell phone is used to provide and then disprove an alibi (it was reset by the bartender). In another, a mailed phone-camera shot of a murder victim is used to falsify the time of death.
      • Ran gets suspicious when she sends a phone-mail to Shinichi and it immediately buzzes on Conan's phone. Conan tricks her by borrowing Agasa's identical phone and swapping it with his own.
      • The same episode has Conan realize that a famous romance author is still writing the old "two lovers separated by a column, each thinking he was Stood Up by the other" type of Poor Communication Kills story, which in the modern age isn't possible unless one or both wasn't carrying a cell phone. This turns out to be because the stories are actually ghost-written by the "writer's" brother, a murder suspect who has been hiding in the house's attic for twelve years and hence has not had experience with cell phones.
      • In one episode, Conan startles Ran and Sonoko by pulling up TV listings via his phone's web browser.
      • One episode has a murder victim leave a "dying message" via cell phone by pressing the "Memo" button to record the incoming call from his murderer gloating over him as he dangled from the window outside his apartment. (Most American cell phones do not have this feature.)
      • In one confrontation with the Black Organization, Conan overhears the touch tones as Vermouth emails her boss. They correspond to notes from a Japanese folk song. For a while afterward, whenever he sees someone using a cell phone particularly when calling numbers in Tottori, whose area code has the same notes he gets a Flash Back of Vermouth.
    • In manga volume #770, Conan is shown to carry two identical cell phones, and has Shinichi "call him" on one for a deduction while doing the voice through the other. (Of course, the main reason he carries two is to be able to answer the phone as either Shinichi or Conan, depending on who gets called.)
    • Cell phones are also frequently used as remote detonators for bombs. ("Trembling Metropolitan Police Headquarters: 12 Million Hostages"; the non-serial movies Captured in Her Eyes and Countdown to Heaven)
  • Text messaging also comes up in Nana (one of the two title characters of which is a really fast texter).
  • Voices of a Distant Star, in which text messages are sent eight light-years into space.
  • Cell phone email in Japan is shown in Super Gals (They message each other back and forth.)
  • In Lucky Star, there is a gag in which Konata says she doesn't return mails from people she knows in real life; at the same time, Cloudcuckoolander Tsukasa starts liking text messages a bit too much.
  • Cell phones are used and abused in Gate Keepers 21.
  • Nanoha uses her cellphone as an alarm clock, among other things in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha.
  • When Fate comes to Earth in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha As and has to buy a phone, there's some discussion on models and capabilities. The picture sending capability of modern cell phones served as a plot point in A's, as it allowed the Wolkenriter to learn just how close the heroes were to their master when Suzuka sent Shamal a Get Well photo for Hayate containing Nanoha and Fate.
  • The heroes of Chrono Crusade have a mobile phone that hangs on the ammo box that Chrono carries around. Why is this unusual? It's set in The Roaring Twenties. That's right, somehow Chrono and Rosette in 1924 have a (vintage looking) phone hanging on the side of a suitcase that works anywhere they happen to be. It's never explained how the phone actually works. (The box is large, so there's probably a lot of wiring inside of it, but it still doesn't explain how it could be used without being hooked into a landline.)
  • In Toradora!!, as soon as they find out that Taiga transferred out, the entire class at once whip out their cell phones, and start texting her. Even the background characters who never had a single line. Taiga replies by forwarding a picture of a single star in the night sky. *sniff*
  • Mahou Sensei Negima plays around with cell phones, as they're sometimes a more reliable means of communication than the telepathy spells that mages often use. Chamo lampshades this, complaining that mages aren't supposed to do that.
  • Mirai Nikki. Everybody has a cellphone, and they're all central to the plot. Remarkably modern in their use, too: in fact, it seems that the main character uses his cellphone far more in order to keep his obsessive diaries than to call people.
  • Shakugan no Shana: In the first season, Yuji tapes Alastor (who takes the form of a pendant) to his cellphone so he can talk to Yuji's mom (who thinks he's Shana's out-of-town guardian) about Shana. In the second season, villain Zarovee is shown attempting to coordinate his actions with his partner via cellphone but gets nothing but static. He complains about the signal, only to have said partner speak up from behind him that he had turned his phone off. Why they used phones instead of the simple magical equivalent could be because they were trying to stay low, and could be because of the hilarity of a giant walking centipede with a flaming skull for a head manipulating a cellphone.
  • Eden of the East has special cellphones as a major plot device and have no issues at any time.
  • In Harukanaru Toki no Naka de - Hachiyou Shou TV series, Akane has her cellphone with her when she gets Trapped in Another World. There, the phone doesn't work because ancient Kyoto isn't supposed to have a support for this type of communication... until episode 22, when Akane receives an incoming call from her mother ("across the time and space", even though it only lasts a second). Fuji-hime remarks that this was probably to give her strength.
    • One of the Hachiyou Shou OAV episodes has the characters using the aforementioned cellphone as a bait to attract a thief, which results in a hilarious scene with Akane explaining to Takamichi what phone calls and text messaging are.
  • Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children has two notable cell phone uses: one where the audience is teased with an end of fight victory tune that is actually a cell phone ringtone, and an extended scene of Cloud's phone getting lost in a lake, which may have been an actual ad in Japan (can't seem to Google this).
  • Busou Renkin: The Busou Renkin of LXE leader Doktor Butterfly, "Alice in Wonderland", was, among other things, a cellphone-jamming device. Word of God is that this particular Busou Renkin was created in order to make a modern high school, where a significant fraction of its students would have cellphones, completely isolated from the rest of the world.
  • Yotsuba&!: Yotsuba carries a cup-and-string in her pocket as her "cell phone". (She's five.)
  • In Street Fighter IIV, Ken Masters carries a cell phone. The series came out in 1995, and this version of Ken is rich to the point where he can spend $20000 a night on a hotel and driving to his mansion from the front of his property takes 20 minutes.

Comic Strips

  • A British newspaper cartoon from the 1920s correctly predicted that when mobile telephones become popular, they would be a constant source of social embarrassment by ringing in awkward situations, such as when you are getting married!

Films — Live-Action

  • Dan Truman gets a text message in Armageddon to let him know that "Dottie", the potentially planet-killing asteroid, has just become public knowledge.
  • In the J-horror film One Missed Call (and the American adaptation), a cell phone would call itself and play for the owner what they'll sound like when they die shortly after.
  • The film Cellular, obviously.
  • Riggs and Murtaugh have a Mobile Phone in the first Lethal Weapon movie. It's the size of a VCR and apparently quite heavy. By the fourth movie Chris Rock is ranting that they make mobile phones so small deliberately, so you keep losing them and have to buy new ones.
  • McClane and Zeus find a bomb attached to a cell phone in Die Hard With A Vengeance.
  • I think there was a bomb attached to a cell phone in the climactic scene in Next, too.
  • Neo and company used distinctive switchblade-like cell phones to call their operator, but had to use "hardlines" in order to log in and out of The Matrix.
  • Iron Man apparently has a handsfree cell phone built into his armor. Very cool. (In the comic in the sixties, he had a rotary phone on his chestplate. Less cool, but still mobile.)
  • Enchanted: Nancy's cell phone gets reception all the way in Andalasia, another dimension. Great reception, actually. Hey, it's a magical place.
  • Carol, her boyfriend Ben, and her son Oliver use calling, text messaging and picture/video messaging a great deal in The Invasion, the 2007 remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers.
  • The Dark Knight Saga
  • Jurassic Park
    • In Jurassic Park 3, a satellite phone is retrieved after its owner (and it) is eaten by a dinosaur (and crapped out) and then used to call home.
    • Used more realistically in The Lost World, where the difficulty of even satphones getting a signal on Site B is lampshaded.
  • The Sony Ericsson K800 became one of the most popular mobile phones in the UK after James Bond used one in Casino Royale. This was intentional on Sony Ericsson's part.
  • Denise Calls Up is about a bunch of overworked New Yorkers who have relationships and even babies together without ever meeting in person, instead communicating via cell phone and other long-distance means of communication.
  • Tim suffers Survivors Guilt due to the accident caused because he was texting while driving in Seven Pounds.
  • Averted in Mystery Team; they use walkie talkies.
  • In Wall Street, the stock brokers use top of the line brick cellphones that, of course, look rather comical to modern eyes.


  • In the Stephen King novel Cell, a signal goes through everyone's cell phone that wipes their brains.
  • The book version of The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension has Go-Phones, which are also pre-Cellular technology videophones.
  • In the Black London novel Street Magic, Pete gets justifiably angry at her stuffy ex and throws her mobile hard across the room. No further mention is made of it until several chapters later, when her coworker Ollie informs her that her companion Jack called him on it.
  • In the Left Behind series this is a constant issue. In a world with global internet technology and no dead zones for phone calls, characters often worry about the well being of others who won't answer their phone only to discover that they simply had the phone turned off.
  • A plot point in the Tom Clancy novel Clear and Present Danger is that cell phones are thought to be completely secure by the drug lords, but the US had succeeded in intercepting their calls after a breakthrough.
  • While not a major plot point, Robert Heinlein's novel Space Cadet has Matt Dodson pull out a phone from his duffel bag, look at the 13 digit phone number, and tell the person standing next to him that he'd call his parents back later. Passé? The copyright date is 1948. This might be the first fictional instance of a cellular phone. And possibly the first description of dodging a cell call, as his friend admits to packing his own phone in his luggage to avoid his parents.
  • Kate gets her daughter a Cell Phone in Adventures of a Demon Hunting Soccer Mom for emergencies only, but her daughter Allie of course broadens the definition as it suits her.
  • The whole plot of the Pretty Little Liars series revolves around a mysterious person going by "A" sending them text messages containing their deepest secrets. Was used for Product Placement in the TV series for the Microsoft Kin phone.

Live-Action TV

  • Soap Operas use texting extensively, because they're intended to reflect real life.
  • Major offender: Twenty Four. Perfect reception everywhere, even for a tiny earpiece, unless the plot demands otherwise.
  • Second major offender: Leverage. They have tiny little earpieces which are implied to not be noticeable by anyone, which offer perfect reception everywhere unless the plot demands otherwise, and have an infinite battery life. In the third season opener, Sophie snuck one of these earpieces to Nathan while he was in prison, and Nathan was able to communicate with the rest of the team who were miles away perfectly over the course of at least several days, even in the middle of a very high tech prison which would effectively be a Faraday cage. Leverage at least has the common courtesy to hide behind a "they were invented by the greatest hacker in the world and are bouncing their signals off of satellites and hijacking available networks or something" Hand Wave. They're still effectively magic, of course.
  • Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide did an episode dedicated to cell phones, which pretty much had all of these. Ned tried to call Suzie, but was foiled by dead zones and distractions, while Moze got a new smartphone, and ended up accidentally running down all but one of her minutes for the month. The episode ends with Moze switching back to her old phone and letting Ned call Suzie with her last minute...but the battery dying in the middle of Ned's call.
  • Doctor Who
    • The Doctor's companions Rose, Martha and Donna as well as one of the 200 bus' passengers in the episode "Planet of the Dead", have all had their cell phone upgraded to a "superphone", which can call across time and space to reach 21st-century Earth. They can also break through steel barriers to contact people in the present. Rose's superphone was created by adding something to her phone, while the rest were simply messed up with the sonic screwdriver. The Eleventh Doctor's companion Amy is implied to have this upgrade offscreen, as the Doctor mistakes her for updating Twitter from an alien planet in "The Girl Who Waited" when she asks to fetch it. Martha leaves her phone behind when she departs, stating that she'll call him back to Earth some day, which she does.
    • Mobile phones are even plot points in two of the season finales (The Master's network in 2007 and contacting the Doctor in 2008).
    • A Black Berry is the tool the Eleventh Doctor uses to save the day in his first episode, "The Eleventh Hour".
    • The Doctor attempts to charge a 1980s mobile phone battery to save the day in "Father's Day".
  • The Torchwood crew tend to use mobile phones enough that they could be considered standard equipment.
  • The cast of The Sarah Jane Adventures make use of their mobile phones in almost every episode.
    • In the story "The Day of the Clown", the computer-lifeform Mr. Smith contacts the phones of children all at once to break the signal hypnotising them by Odd Bob the Clown. The Bane Mother in Invasion of the Bane is also susceptible to the signal.
  • O'Grady
    • One episode has The Weirdness knock out cell phone reception all over town, except in one store, where everyone in town begin hanging out to use their phones. Though arguably, if you're going to have to drive to a certain building to use your phone, you might as well use landlines.
    • Another O'Grady has the main characters lost in the woods, unable to call for help because they couldn't get any reception. At one point, Abby shouted "I've got a bar!"
  • Heroes
    • Hana has a power that allows her to receive text messages sent from cell phones from anywhere to anyone, as long as she is paying attention.
    • Claire had a T-Mobile Sidekick in some early Season 1 episodes, and she talks on cell phones to the Petrelli family in Seasons 2 and 3.
    • During volume 4, a character named "Rebel" (that anyone paying attention in earlier seasons could tell was Micah), constantly warned the other characters of danger through well-timed text messages and directions.
  • Angel had a cell phone, but it frustrated him to no end because he could never really figure out how to use it properly. He would actually turn it off rather than answer it. In fairness, he's over 200 years old.

 Angel: These things were definitely conjured by a bored warlock.

  • Chuck and his keepers stay in touch via cell phones.
  • Ditto the crew of Bugs.
  • Taking and sending pictures apparently doesn't work very well in the Scrubsverse. Also features one indestructible one.
  • In a more realistic use of Cell Phone physics, a last-season episode of Stargate Atlantis had cell phone reception blocked out by a shield, but as the shield weakened they could get to a place where they got about one bar... she called out, but the phone disconnected before she could get her message to Stargate Command. So although the fact she was able to get a signal was kind of random, it was explained, and was as finicky as a real phone would be in the circumstance.
  • The more recent seasons of Power Rangers and Super Sentai seem to love using cell phones as Transformation Trinkets. Since these phones tend to be packed full of magic and/or advanced technology, there's never an issue with dead zones, charge levels, running out of minutes, or eavesdroppers/hackers.
    • Mahou Sentai Magiranger and Power Rangers Mystic Force played with the phone part a little. The normal Transformation Trinket is a cell phone/magic wand. When using their Super Mode powered by ancient magic, they cast spells using a staff with a rotary dial.
    • Samurai Sentai Shinkenger and Power Rangers Samurai mix it up a bit. They have cell phone-shaped devices that transform into calligraphy brushes, with which they write kanji in the air in order to do whatever the kanji says. (Episode 1 of each features the team leader writing the kanji for "horse", and his mount appears out of nowhere!) They also again play with the fact that they are phones; the Sixth Ranger is bad at calligraphy and so uses text messages instead.
  • Kamen Rider Faiz uses cell phones as transformation gadgets and weapons. It also features two characters who spend nearly the entire series as anonymous phone email penpals, unaware that they also know each other in real life. Tragically, when they finally do realize it, the woman is killed on the way to their first date.
  • Burn Notice uses the cell phone at MacGyver-type levels. Michael (the main character) uses cell phone components in bombs, various bugs, and several other creative ways. In the pilot episode, he describes via voice-over how he buys two phones with good batteries and one really cheap phone, whose microphone picks up any noise. He then jury-rigs the two batteries to the cheap phone and modifies it to constantly transmit, making it a pretty good (although very visible) bug.
  • The X-Files was one of the first shows to have the characters regularly use cell phones in ways important to the story.
  • On WKRP in Cincinnati Mr. Carlson was in his office talking with his lawyer when he heard the phone ring. (He had several phones in his office in this episode). He started answering phones left and right and coulnd't find the one which was ringing. Meanwhile his lawyer put his briefcase on the desk, opened it up, and revealed a briefcase phone which he then answered. (Circa 1980.)
  • Lost Tapes pulls effectively a Theater "Turn off your Cell Phone" add in the Jersey Devil episode. The POV characters are hiding from the monster in a closet, waiting for it to pass them by...then their cell phone goes off, alerting it to their presence.
  • Used frequently and imaginatively in Sherlock, where the mobile phone has become a replacement for pocket watches and the ubiquitous telegrams from the books (with Sherlock's justification of "I prefer to text"). The cellphone camera is a major tool for both Sherlock and Watson.
  • Cordelia has a cell phone in the first episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It wasn't until season 7 that another one showed up. After that, they tended to get dropped, or left behind, whenever they needed a reason for people not to be able to reach each other. Buffy did have a pager in the first season, though it was never used. In the seventh season, it is revealed that Xander and Willow have a text code between them. She mentions that she can't remember if a text she just got from Xander means "About to get lucky, don't call me" or "Help me, I'm about to be killed by a demon." Given the circumstances Xander had found himself in, it's never really clear which text he meant to send.
  • Naturally, given the setting, Cell Phones play a major role in The Wire. In the first season, the drug communication is all done on pay phones and pagers, to avoid taps. In later seasons (when those pay phones have all been torn out), the gangs buy short-term phones in bulk from all over the state of Maryland so they can stay one step ahead of the court orders.
  • While most teenage drama's characters use cell phones a lot Gossip Girl is probably the most prominant example. They not only call and text each other about a hundred times a day, they pull of plots against each other by manipulating cell phones, they steal each other's phones to make copies of the information on them, they take pictures and video clips which they later use for various purposes... And of course the blasts from Gossip Girl herself are all sent to the main characters' phones via text.
  • Switched at Birth uses text messaging as the go-to means of telecommunication between characters as much of the cast is deaf. They have access to TT Ys but tend not to use them; when a mainstream technology appears that replaces a clunky special-needs workaround, the latter tends to fade away.



  • Stage productions tend to have pre-show messages that request the audience to turn off (or silence) their cell phones. Some shows have fun with this:
    • For example, the Broadway revival of Rocky Horror suggested the audience set their phones on vibrate.
    • Spamalot tells the audience to "let their phones ring willy-nilly" before reminding them that most of the characters in the show are heavily-armed knights.
    • At least one regional production of Urinetown has an actor planted in the audience whose cell phone rings during the pre-show message—causing the police to drag him away.

Video Games

  • Kate's cell phones are used for her characterization to great effect in Syberia: it is the only plausible way for her to reveal her personality to the player since she keeps to strictly professional tone when interacting with NPCs and avoids monologuing at the Fourth Wall.
  • Aya Braya in Parasite Eve used Pay Phone or Cell Phone to call the precinct and activate Save Point.
  • Similarly used in Dreamfall the Longest Journey, where Zoe's cell phone provides an extra opening for her personality to manifest itself. It is also used to solve various puzzles in the game, such as hacking security robots and picking locks. Yeah, it's a Swiss Army Cellular, apparently, but It Makes Sense in Context. This is only because her friend installed illegal software on it. All other cell phones (and any other electronic device) are networked into the Wire for the Big Brother.
  • In Earthbound, Ness is given a gadget which works as a cell phone with no more minutes: you can only receive calls with it.
  • Cell phones are used in The World Ends With You by the Reapers to send missions to the Players. Joshua even uses his as a weapon (in combination with telekinetically dropping objects on his enemies).
  • Cellular telephones replaced payphones in later Grand Theft Auto games for picking up missions.
    • In Vice City, you pick up a clunky '80s portable phone off a chef you murder early in the game. Turns out that chef was a hired killer, and his employers (who apparently never saw him in person) give you side jobs via that phone. (Granted, they direct you to payphones for the actual assigning, but this is more for gameplay convenience.)
  • Characters in The Sims 2 can buy the NOYIN brand cellphone.
  • A minigame in My Sims Party is cell-phone based: the players move around to find zones with good reception and receive a call.
  • Although it is not actually used in gameplay itself, we see Gretchen Hasselhoff of Backyard Sports using a cell phone in her in-game portrait in some games.
  • Characters from Final Fantasy VII use cell phones regularly to keep in touch—if a character has an important line in a scene, but isn't in the party, they'll call Cloud to literally phone it in. Characters in the Urban Fantasy world of Final Fantasy VIII, however, do not, because heavy radio interference from the special containment facility in space holding an evil dictator blocks long-distance broadcasting. Regular phones and short distance radio seem to be okay, since Squall has a cordless landline phone in his dorm. Cells are also used in Final Fantasy XIII-they look like neon-colored sticks.
  • There's a minigame in Raving Rabbids involving the rabbids rudely using cellphones in a movie theater, and then trying not to get busted by the ushers for doing so.
  • Pokémon
    • In Pokémon Gold and Silver/Crystal and HeartGold/SoulSilver, the player character is giving a Pokegear which is essentially a wristwatch but with the added functions of displaying a regional map, calling registered trainers, and receiving radio broadcasts.
    • You'll mostly be called by your mom, just like in real life, to tell you that she bought you presents for your room, unlike in real life.
    • Also the remakes allow you to refuse to pick up the phone when someone's calling.
  • In Persona 2: Innocent Sin, there is a rumour that when you call your own cell phone number, a guy named Joker comes to grant your wishes.
  • Several characters use cell phones in the Call of Duty Modern Warfare series. Notably, The Reveal of the Big Bad happens because he rings The Dragon up on his cell [1] just after Captain Price's squad has captured him. In the second game, Soap is forced to look for a payphone because his squad's satelite communications with General Shepherd get cut off by The Russian invasion of the United States, and because his squad evidently did not take have any cell phones with them on that mission.[2] He idly wonders if pay phones even exist anymore.
  • In the 2010 Medal of Honor, pretty much the only times a cellphone makes itself known is immediately before the bomb it is attached to explodes. The relative Genre Savvy-ness of various characters is shown by their reactions to the phone ringing. A Navy SEAL immediately kicks the bomb away while his squad dives for cover, while later a Ranger only has time to confusedly remark "A cell phone?" before he and his squad are knocked on their asses by the resulting explosion They were wearing standard-issue reinforced Kevlar Plot Armor.
  • The main character in The Twisted Tale of Spike McFang carries a cell phone. (This was an SNES game, so he was a little ahead of the curve.) When he levels up, his mentor calls him to inform him of the fact, as well as calling for other plot-related purposes.
  • Ibuki from Street Fighter is quite frequently shown with a cell phone, calling her best friend Sarai in the fourth game and recieving a call from said friend in the fifth. She also calls Sakura using it in the fifth game which leads to her role in the overall story of the game. It is quite anachronistic however as her phone tends to vary in appearance when the game is made rather than the actual timeline in the game.
    • Her comic takes her phone usage further, she gets scolded (and her arm twisted in a vicious way by her master Sanjou) for having one. She also is shown texting Sarai and also decorates it with tanuki themed accessories since tanuki are her Animal Motif. In the Unlimited comic she sneaks up on Elena for a "stealfie" with it, where she sneaks up on someone to take a selfie with them while they have a surprised expression.

Visual Novels

Web Original


 Penny: What are you doing?

Billy: ...Texting. It's...very important. Or I would stop.


Western Animation

  • The "Jessica's Story" episode of one of the Cartoon Network "Wedgies", The Bremen Avenue Experience, deals with cell phones interrupting the title band's rehearsal, and at least one of them receives a text message. By the end of the episode, the band start incorporating their phones' beeping sounds into the song they're playing.
  • The kids in Three Delivery have cell phones with photo ID, given to them by the Cool Old Lady Mentor so they can stay in touch while tracking the Monster of the Week.
  • Danny Phantom and his two Sidekicks have cell phones so the latter two can help him fight ghosts.
  • In Ben 10 Alien Force, Ben, Gwen, Kevin and Julie stay in touch with cell phones.
  • The Jonny Quest team had long-range radios that worked more along the lines of cell phones.
  • Cell phones are an invaluable equipment of the Code Lyoko main cast. About every kid in school has one, though, and it becomes a plot point in episode "Satellite", where the teachers tries to forbid cell phones during classes. XANA also uses cell phones as a medium for brainwashing in "Bad Connection".
  • Phineas and Ferb's father actually puts his phone on vibrate willingly when he realizes in a movie theater he's forgotten to do so.
  • Tony Stark uses his cellphone's screen display as a flashlight in Iron Man Armored Adventures. It also is the remote for his armor, and its ringtone is the Iron Man heroic Leitmotif. He also has an unlimited texting plan; fortunate, because Pepper is a Motor Mouth even in text.
  • Merliah (a.k.a. Barbie) from Barbie in a Mermaid Tale has a wrist-mounted videophone which basically amounts to the same thing. How she operates it under the sea is anyone's guess, but it was presumably designed for her to wear it while surfing.

Real Life

  • Mobile phones and the cell system did exist as early as the 1940s, they were just prohibitively expensive. The cell system was essentially invented by Motorola as a way of managing the large number of police car radios that had to be coordinated when tackling organized crime in American cities.
  • The flip phone's design was inspired by Star Trek the Original Series's communicators. The first clamshell phone was called the StarTAC; wonder why?
  • Toy companies have made special cellphones so parents can keep track of their children but the children can't run up huge bills.
  • A man arrested in Egypt was able to contact his bosses for help by using his cell phone and Twitter to announce what had happened. The people on his Twitter follow list contacted people in the US and got him released.
  • Cell phones with cameras are banned from gyms so that people can't take pictures of other gym goers in the shower and post them to the internet, cell phone cameras generally now all play an audible sound when taking photos due to concerns about peeping toms and subway perverts.
  • Flash Mobs are assembled on short notice via textmessaging.
  • If something was filmed in the late '90s or early '00s in the UK, expect to see a Nokia 5110 (known as the Nokia Brick for its size, weight and indestructibility). The first phone to crack the mass market, the best-selling handset of all time (a record it still holds) and fondly remembered by phone enthusiasts. You'll know it when you see it. The 5110, and its successors the 3210 and 3310, were so ubiquitous that The BBC could show them without censoring the brand name and not be accused of Product Placement.
    • It's since been surpassed by the Nokia 1100, which is smaller, every bit as indestructible, and with over 200 million units shifted is said to be the single best-selling consumer electronic device ever.
    • Prior to the Nokia Brick was the even more bricklike Motorola Dyna TAC, the earliest cell phone. First released in 1983, it weighed almost two pounds, was 10 inches long and came with a whopping price tag of $4,000. It mostly shown in fiction now as a joke. In an '80s setting it's used to show off someone's wealth, while doubling as a sight gag because it's so ridiculously huge. If it's shown in the '90s (say after the Nokia phones came out), their intention is to show the character is a loser who can't afford the newer, lighter Nokias.
    • And then there's equally iconic, if less ubiquitous Motorola RAZR, a classic clamshell that for much of the 00's held the title of thinnest and most stylish phone around.
  • Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig called out an audience member whose cellphone ringer went off in the middle of a stage performance. Many stage actors will do this, and sometimes without breaking character.
    • In the same vein, Gwyneth Paltrow called out a reporter for being on his cell phone during her post-Academy Award acceptance press conference. She took the phone from him and tried to have a conversation with the person on the other end of the line, but they clearly did not believe it was Gwyneth Paltrow on the phone.
      • Drag Queens are known for doing this too, to anyone who dares talk on the phone during their set.
    • Similarly, a panel of Naruto voice actors answered fans' phones for them in-character.
  • One of the cleverest responses to stray cellphone calls is a piece by the classical pianist Marc-André Hamelin, who sometimes plays it after hearing an unsilenced handset during a concert. Its title: "Valse Irritation d'après Nokia."
  • Joseph "Erap" Estrada, the deposed 13th president of the Philippines, was famously "brought down by text messaging" in January 2001 when protesters coming from all over the country and marching in the streets in reaction to the progress of his plunder trial communicated and coordinated almost entirely by text messaging.
  • Most of the victories in the 2011 "Arab Spring" revolutions in the Middle East only happened because of the existence and ubiquity of smartphones and text messaging. Kind of hard for leaders to suppress public thought when people can just get a ten-dollar phone and organize a protest party.
  • Cell phones are called 大哥大 ("Big Brother's Big [Helper]") in Southeast Asia because the local Tongs' bigwigs were typically the ones seen with the (then prohibitively expensive) brick cellphones.
  1. The SAS even call it a Cell Phone, even though you'd think British soldiers would say "mobile"
  2. When you think about it, they really wouldn't have any use for them, and they'd have to bother to get phones that would work in Brazil, which may not use the same networks as whatever country they were last in.