In certain parts of the world, such as the United States of America and South Africa, a mobile phone is called a "cell phone". During the last decade of the 20th century and thereafter these mobile communications devices have become ever more popular, ever smaller, and ever more functional. Possessing a mobile phone was noteworthy circa 1993, but by 2007, not having one is noteworthy.

Certainly they have rapidly become a ubiquitous part of the social fabric, and are a large part of a change to a more fluid, less planned style of social interaction utilising multiple modes of communication.

The name "Cell phone" is short for "cellular telephone", cellular meaning that the device communicates at any one time with the nearest/best signalling base station, and during that time is in that base station's "cell". The Webster 1913 meaning of "cell" in this context is #1: "A very small and close apartment". Of course it's not that small, it can range for kilometres.

"Mobile", of course means that you can take it with you.

Essence and Accident

Having used both names for the device, I feel that "cell" refers to an accident of the current implementation of the network; but that "mobile" describes succinctly what makes it different from its predecessors. The term "cell" may become inaccurate due to a technological change, but if the "mobile" aspect changes, it will be a different device. Also, "Cell" has many diverse meanings, "Mobile" is less ambiguous."Mobile" is widely understood and descriptive, "cell" is neither. It is opaque, dead verbiage.

Therefore "mobile phone" is a far better term.