They're a pain. In "I just called to say I loved you", Jonathan Franzen wrote "The technological development that has done lasting harm of real significance - the development that, despite the continuing harm it does, you risk ridicule if you publicly complain about today - is the cell phone". They've made several of my stories into period pieces. People no longer get lost in cities or fail to meet people at the right time, unless their mobile goes flat, or they've lost it. Many of the stories I write nowadays begin with characters losing (or forgetting to recharge) their phone.
In the Guardian's Have 40 years of mobile phones given literature bad lines? article, JM Coetzee's quoted - "The telephone is about as far as I will go in a book, and then reluctantly. If people ("characters") are continually going to be speaking to one another at a distance, then a whole gamut of interpersonal signs and signals, verbal and non-verbal, voluntary and involuntary, has to be given up. Dialogue ... just isn't possible."
That said, they make some new plots possible. See
- Mary McLean's post (an anecdote that's sure to become a story or poem)
- Together (one of my Flash pieces)
While videoing with his phone in the snow, my son dropped the phone, which became buried, lens up. It continued recording my son's panic until he uncovers it. See the two minute video
There are Cell phone novels, though I'm not convinced.