INT. FENCE AROUND SECRET BASE – NIGHT
James Bond is a silhouette against a dark forest, as he tip-toes along the side of a chain-link fence – through the gaps in the fence, we see the spires of a gray factory jutting into the star-speckled night sky.
Bond digs into his pocket and pulls out a smartphone. It’s a Sony Xperia 1 IV, because Bond gets first dibs on new phones. He holds it landscape, pointing it towards the buildings.
PHONE SCREEN: We see the camera app. Bond’s fingers pinch and drag to zoom in. They do so again, and we see the factory taking up the majority of the display. Bond’s finger taps at the shutter button, and the screen flashes to signify the picture has been taken.
We see Bond’s face as he squints at the display, as the light from the device flickers on his face.
PHONE SCREEN: We’re looking at the Gallery app. Bond selects his recent photo, and it appears large on the screen. The finger taps the send button, and on the list of options that appears, we see a WhatsApp icon with Q’s face. Bond selects this, and adds the message “wish u was ere”, then puts the phone away.
Okay, okay – we’ve never seen a smartphone used like that in a James Bond film. In fact, in your average day-to-day life, you probably use smarter processing, connectivity and photography tech than 007 ever has in a film or book. But the Bond films have a history of mobile phones at this point, slotting into his selection of gadgets as the series entered the modern age.
Since the Brosnan days, Bond films have become glorified product placement reels, with stories seemingly written to give 007 moments to look cool with whatever products Eon has been paid to show off. Alongside mediocre lagers and expensive watches, mobile phones are among the products that we often see in the hands of 007 and his comrades.
As the distributor of most of the Daniel Craig Bond films, Sony has lots of devices in these films – though it’s not the only company to have its devices grace Bond’s palm. In No Time To Die, it’s HMD Global (makers of Nokia phones) which steps up to the podium – more like Nokia Time To Die.
James Bond is a bit of a technophobe, if you can call a gadget-toting superspy that – he barely uses his smartphones for anything beyond calling and texting, with few secret functions hidden in these devices. We’ve never even seen him play Snake, Angry Birds or Call of Duty: Mobile. He’d probably kill at the latter.
To celebrate the newest flick, we’ve looked through all the films in which 007 or his companions have used a mobile phone, so you can see how the character progressed from the brick phones of old, to… well, less-old Sony phones.
- How to watch the James Bond movies in order
Tomorrow Never Dies: Sony Ericsson JB988
Bond’s first recognizable mobile is one that doesn’t actually exist. The Sony Ericsson JB988 was designed by Sony explicitly for Tomorrow Never Dies, and it’s not even a spin-off of an existing device, as the J series was designed for kids and only went up to 300 anyway (yes, we do get the ‘JB’ suffix though).
It’s probably a good thing this phone never hit the market, as some of its stand-out features include a 20,000 volt taser and a remote control for Bond’s BMW. Those features in the hands of the public would cause mayhem. Oh well: it really puts the features in ‘feature phone’.
Die Another Day: Sony Ericsson T68i & P800
Though Bond took a digital detox in The World is Not Enough and Die Another Day, another character stepped up to make sure the product placement didn’t stop. Sony’s Ericsson T68i was used by Halle Berry’s character Jinx – though it was literally just used as a bomb, which isn’t the best advertisement in the world.
The bigger phone in the picture, though, was the Ericsson P800 used by Rick Yune’s character Zao (the guy with all the diamonds encrusted on his face). It plays an important role, as it’s how the villain receives information about James Bond at the beginning, including a crisp low-res portrait of Pierce Brosnan which would have looked great in 2002 when the film came out.
Casino Royale: Sony Ericsson K800i & M600i
There are two keyboard-toting Ericsson feature phones in Casino Royale: the K800i used by Bond itself, and the M600i used by Eva Green’s Vespa Lynd.
The K800i doesn’t do much in the film, though Sony pushed the tie-in for the phone’s marketing, which also presented the devices as (at the time, at least) a competitive camera phone. The M600i is much more important, as Bond reads a text Lynd receives on it near the end of the film, for some major information.
Neither of those uses exactly screams ‘super-spy’, but Daniel Craig’s first film marked a point where product placements switched from ‘an annoying part of the movie you can overlook’ to ‘basically the only reason they make these things’.
Quantum of Solace: Sony Ericsson C902 Cybershot
James Bond actually remembered to use his phone in Quantum of Solace, snapping pictures of stuff with that 5MP camera the C902 has, and taking some calls too. Nice work, Jimmy.
The special edition version of the phone 007 uses actually has a James Bond game pre-installed. We can therefore only assume the spy stumbled upon it and discovered he was a fictional character, like some twisted version of Stranger Than Fiction but with an Ericsson phone instead of Emma Thompson.
Skyfall: Sony Xperia T
007 finally joined the smartphone world with Skyfall, as the spy was seen to be carrying and using the Android-toting Xperia T. In fact, it this was the center of a huge promotion for the Xperia T, with Sony calling it the ‘Bond phone’.
In Skyfall, Bond doesn’t really do much with the Xperia T – he receives a text with it at one point, showing off one of the Sony phone’s flashiest features of… receiving texts. He didn’t even try to take a picture with its 13MP camera or look at secret files on its (then-crisp) 720p display. Disappointing.
Spectre: Sony Xperia Z5 & Samsung GT-S5611
Move over, texting in Skyfall, as Bond has an even cooler thing to do with the Sony Xperia Z5 in Spectre – or should we say, call-’er! Bond is seen calling Moneypenny on the Z5 as he zooms around in a car chase, and the phone basically doesn’t show up again. Not exactly the flashy spy xperia-nce we were expecting.
In the film, we also get a rare glimpse at a non-Sony phone, as the Samsung GT-S5611 feature phone shows up, and actually has more plot relevance than the Sony. Bond sends it to Moneypenny so he can carry on communicating with her when he goes dark, and disguises it so no-one can tell. Now that’s what we call spycraft. Understandably, the Samsung logo was hidden in the film though – Sony clearly couldn’t let a single frame of a competitor’s logo get into the movie.
No Time To Die: uh, something Nokia?
When No Time To Die was initially meant to be released, HMD Global’s product placements meant a Nokia phone would be used by Bond – maybe he could do something super-futuristic like access the internet or put it on charge, judging by other Craig films.
At the time, the Nokia 8.3 5G was announced as the tie-in, as that was the brand’s newest device. With Bond 25 being delayed, though, that handset is no longer new. The Nokia XR20 rugged phone is the brand’s newest ‘big phone’, but that’s not debuting in No Time To Die – the older 8.3 remains, alongside a cutesy Nokia 3310 cameo (that’s the famous brick phone everyone’s owned at least once).