The mobile phone, also known as the cellphone and cell phone (smartphone in Grand Theft Auto V and Grand Theft Auto Online), is a recurring portable communication device that has been carried by protagonists in various Grand Theft Auto games. Prior to Grand Theft Auto IV, the phone's use was fully scripted and uncontrollable in the case of making calls at will; the functionality of mobile phones is greatly expanded in Grand Theft Auto IV, and then even further in Grand Theft Auto V.
In Grand Theft Auto, mobile phones technically function identically to pagers, delivering messages (often one-way) to the player at the bottom of the screen, representing verbal communication instead of the pager's text messages. Much like the pager, messages delivered via a mobile phone are displayed in text form beside the graphical representation of the phone.
The mobile phone is also present in the Grand Theft Auto: London mission packs and functions identically to GTA's mobile phone, but is refashioned into a walkie-talkie as modern mobile phones were not available in the 1960s.
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City marked a return of the mobile phone after being absent in Grand Theft Auto 2 and Grand Theft Auto III. The mobile phone's role remains unchanged as it is often used between missions and important events, but primarily complements face-to-face interactions between characters.
Since GTA Vice City, players can choose to answer a ringing mobile phone; failing to answer a call will usually lead to the phone repeatedly ringing between a period of silence until the player answers it, or after the effects of not answering the phone is activated (i.e. a drop in the player's relationship with a girlfriend). During a verbal exchange on the phone, the player's mobility is reduced while the player holds the phone, being incapable of jumping, sprinting, or holding and shooting a weapon until the call ends. Players may also have the option to skip an in-between-mission phonecall.
In GTA Vice City, Tommy Vercetti retrieves a phone from Leo Teal during "Back Alley Brawl", allowing him to receive calls from in-game characters about missions or other topics. The phone's design is based on Motorola DynaTAC, a hugely successful cellphone during the 1980s.
In Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, Carl Johnson has a phone which he uses to make and receive calls. Again, these may be about missions, relating to the general story, tips from other characters, or may serve no particular purpose — for example, the prank calls CJ receives from Catalina. The HUD icon exists in game files, but it won’t show in normal gameplay. If the player has not visited a girlfriend for a long time, they can sometimes receive calls from any of the six of the girlfriends telling the player to come and date them. The phone's design is that of an early flip-phone, with a small LCD display for numbers. It is based from the Motorola MicroTAC cellphone of the late 1980s/early 1990s, specifically the Digital Personal Communicator model.
In Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories, Toni Cipriani retrieves a phone from a deceased Sindacco member in "Snuff". This phone is presumably the phone he uses from then on, as Toni originally called using a payphone in "Home Sweet Home". The phone's function is similar to those in GTA Vice City and GTA San Andreas, but is depicted as a late-1990s clamshell phone. It is based from the Motorola StarTAC clamshell cellphone.
The phone was meant to appear in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories but was instead replaced by the pager. Some characters can still be seen using mobile phones, which assume the same design as in Vice City.
Grand Theft Auto IV
- Call various characters, including storyline-relevant contacts, or friends and girlfriends for leisure activities; use of the phone can also trigger certain missions, like "The Holland Play", preemptively calling some characters may trigger story-related dialogue quicker;
- Receive text and multi-media messages from people;
- Access cheats;
- Access multiplayer;
- Call emergency services (like police cars, ambulances, and fire trucks) for assistance;
- Change the phone's ringtone and text size.
- The player can change the text size in the phone with the "Text Size" in the options menu; for the console versions of the game, this is only available if the resolution is set to 1080i.
In GTA IV, the player starts out with a Badger phone (given to Niko Bellic by his cousin Roman during the second mission) which features a monochrome display as well as limited functionalities (listed above). During "Photo Shoot", the player is given an upgraded replacement, a Whiz wireless phone equipped with:
- A digital camera used in certain missions but otherwise has little practical use other than to see in first person view, as camera shots outside relevant missions are not saved;
- Support for advanced polyphonic ringtones and animated phone's wallpapers (known as "themes" in the game).
Themes and advanced ringtones of the phone can be purchased via a website on the in-game internet. Access to vipluxuryringtones.com is initially unavailable in GTA IV until the second model of the phone is acquired.
In The Lost and Damned and The Ballad of Gay Tony, the player's phones are practically identical to Niko's second phone but with cosmetic changes. Johnny and Luis each have a unique theme for their phones; as Johnny's phone assumes a more hardy appearance with a black leather case and has a unique "Lost MC" theme featuring The Lost Motorcycle Club's emblem, while Luis Fernando Lopez' phone appears to be more luxurious and modernised than Niko and Johnny's phones and is round, similar to Johnny's, has a glowing blue keypad and a unique "Club" theme.
Protagonists' phones resemble the following real-life phones:
- Niko's phone sort of resembles a Sony Ericsson W302 without directional buttons.
- Johnny's phone is nearly identical to Niko's phone, but given it comes covered in a phonecase, it looks more rounded than Niko Bellic's rectangular phone and the numbers on the keypad are separate buttons, whereas the numbers on Niko's phone use a "key strip" layout, used on phones like the Motorola Razr.
- Luis' phone resembles an HTC Desire (although the HTC debuted in early 2010 and the TBoGT timeline is set in 2008), but with a traditional keypad instead of Desire’s touchscreen.
As an exclusive feature in The Ballad of Gay Tony, the player can replay any accomplished mission via their phone in order to be able to get a better score on them.
|Character||Appears from||Disappears at|
|Angus||Clean and Serene||N/A|
|Ashley||Clean and Serene||N/A|
|Billy||Clean and Serene||This Shit's Cursed|
|Brian||Clean and Serene||N/A|
|Clay||Clean and Serene||N/A|
|Elizabeta||Buyer's Market||After Shifting Weight|
|Jim||Clean and Serene||Was It Worth It?|
|Ray||Diamonds in the Rough||Was It Worth It?|
|Terry||Clean and Serene||N/A|
|Character||Appears from||Disappears at|
|Armando||I Luv LC||N/A|
|Bulgarin||...Blog This!||Departure Time|
|Henrique||I Luv LC||N/A|
|Mom||I Luv LC||N/A|
|Mori||Practice Swing||Departure Time|
|Rocco||Ladies' Night||Departure Time|
|Tony||I Luv LC||Departure Time|
|Yusuf||Chinese Takeout||Departure Time|
If the player has damaged a vehicle to the point where the engine won't start, the phone can be used to "jumpstart" it by calling any number or contact — the engine will spontaneously function again, although no damage will be repaired. For convenience's sake, one can cancel the phone call as soon as "Calling..." is seen on the phone's display — the engine comes back to life as soon as the call is initiated.
In the console versions of the game, the phone can also be used as a kind of "super handbrake", to instantly stop any vehicle, no matter the speed. Initiating the camera while driving will instantly stop the car — the player can leave the phone open to the "Camera" menu option, and then press (on PlayStation 3) or (on Xbox 360) when they want to stop. This is presumably a bug, and was fixed in the PC version — activating the phone camera while driving on PC will merely change the game camera to the "hood cam" perspective, and activate the phone camera as normal. As this exploit requires a camera function, it can only be performed once the player has acquired the second model of phone.
If the player pulls out the phone while passing through a tollbooth, the toll can be payed without stopping the car completely, as long the player slows down the speed of the vehicle.
In the PS3 version, an additional option is available in the phone. It is a SIXAXIS tutorial that teaches the player on how to use the SIXAXIS controller in the game. Selecting SIXAXIS tutorial (disabled during missions or when having a wanted level) in the PS3 version will place the player at the runway of Francis International Airport.
In the PC version, the Video Editor is an option in the phone.
In both versions, the game will exit out of gameplay and all unsaved progress will be lost.
Grand Theft Auto V
In the GTA V Game Informer cover story, Rockstar Games has said that GTA V will "preserve the mobile phone concept", but Rockstar has made changes to it, such as the player not receiving phone calls from friends all the time (as seen in GTA IV). Rockstar made these changes because of the criticism fans made about there not being enough to do when you're not doing a story mission and since a lot of it was hidden on the phone, they've taken that and moved it onto the map. Rockstar also said that even though it may lose some "functionality", it will gain new features as well. Rockstar described it as being a contemporary phone, with Dan Houser saying that the player will use it for things like "accessing the internet", (much like a smartphone). All pictures taken in-game can be shared to the Rockstar Games Social Club via Snapmatic
During the main storyline, Michael owns an iFruit 9iX smartphone. However, he can be seen 9 years earlier with a a different mobile phone, during the mission Prologue. Even though this is not a touch-screen phone, Michael will operate it as such if the player uses first-person perspective. On the other hand, Trevor carries a Facade smartphone, and Franklin a Badger smartphone.
Protagonists' phones resemble the following real-life phones:
- Franklin's phone resembles a Samsung Galaxy S III, only with more rounded edges.
- Michael's phone clearly resembles an IPhone 4/4S. In the enhanced version it resembles IPhone 5C.
- Trevor's phone resembles a Windows Phone, possibly a Nokia Lumia 820. In the enhanced version, however, it resembles a Sony Xperia E.
The protagonists' smartphones reference three of world's most popular smartphone platforms: Android (Franklin's, similar to a Samsung Galaxy S III), Windows Phone (Trevor's, possibly similar to Nokia Lumia 820), and iOS (Michael's, which obviously resembles the iPhone 4/4S). Their phones are also suited to their real-life counterpart typical users: Samsung phones are favored by youngsters, while iPhone is favored by wealthy people and Nokia has a reputation of surviving harsh conditions much like Trevor's lifestyle, and is known to be one the most durable phones out there (in the enhanced version, Trevor's phone has a crack on the screen, further referencing his reckless and violent way of life). The software of the three platforms, however, is mostly based on iOS, and aside from aesthetics in-game all three phones function in the exact same way.
Unlike in previous games, contacts are not removed from phones - this means that the numbers for deceased characters remain in the player's contact lists long after their deaths.
In GTA Online, players can use their mobile phones to bank their cash into Maze Bank's website. They can also use the phone to contact several other features present in the multiplayer. Unlike in Story Mode, the Online Protagonist will only pull out his/her mobile phone to use the Snapmatic (cell camera) app, and due to perspective, only other players will see this. The player themself will only see the shadow of their character holding the phone if it's sunny enough, their arm extending to the phone in selfie mode, and putting it away after exiting Snapmatic. This was done so that they can still use weapons in self defence while on the mobile phone.
It is identical as Michael's iFruit phone, only with different apps and the colour of the + button.
In the top left corner, there are 3 bars that represents a cellphone's signal strength.
- In GTA IV and GTA V (also GTA Online), NPCs can also sometimes call people, when in sight it is possible to hear their phone ringing and them answering it and talking to the caller.
GTA San Andreas
- In older editions of the game, if the player has dual pistols wielded and gets a phone call, Carl will pull out two phones.
- If Carl has his phone out and runs into water being sprayed from a Firetruck, chances are that if he is just finishing a conversation and is about to put his phone away, he instead will keep it in his hand. This is because the water makes Carl fall when instead the animation for putting the phone away is supposed to play, so it is skipped altogether.
- When Carl is answering a phone call in front of an oncoming train, Carl will get stuck on the train while he is talking to the phone. Mostly, Carl will remain in the train resulting a glitch, and his health bar will be depleted slowly, causing him to be wasted.
- If the player switches or fires weapons after a phone call, the phone will not disappear on CJ's hand. Switching to other weapons, or entering a car would then remove this trick.
GTA IV and EFLC
- The second model of the phone can be customized with themes and ringtones from websites. On the streets of the Liberty City random pedestrians will sometimes take out their phones to receive a call. If the player looks closely, pedestrians will have the same theme applied on their phones as the player.
- Dimitri's voicemail remains Russian because the subtitles and the words don't match each other but it is translated into English when received.
- If the player calls Mikhail after "The Master and The Molotov", his voicemail will change to Ilyena's voice.
- There's a built-in ringtone called "Pager". That song is a simplified version of the GTA I theme's background music. It was also the pager's ringtone in GTA III, and was in the GTA Vice City intro under the retro Rockstar Games logo.
- Whenever a phone is seen on advertisements, it always has a battery life with one segment missing (the battery level appears to be at 69%, another reference to the 69 sex position). However, character's phones have unlimited battery life.
- Niko can still access a phone before Roman gives him his old one. The only options on this phone are Multiplayer and Video Editor (only on PC).
- If something affects Niko's stance while he is speaking with someone on the phone (getting hit by a car, getting shot, etc.), he will put the phone away and instantly hang up, ending the call early.
- If the protagonist receives a phone call whilst in a vehicle, a radio interference noise will be heard, much like in real-life.
- In The Lost and Damned, Brian Jeremy's phone number is never removed from Johnny's phone even after Johnny kills him.
- While the player can use the Camera feature outside of missions, it cannot be saved in any way.
- If the player uses the keypad to call a cheat number or special number from GTA IV, weird sounds are heard at the end of the call, a man will say to check their website for special information, a foreign man might say "Stop prank calling me!" similar to other phone numbers, and by calling Gracie Ancelotti's phone number, it is possible to hear something that sounds like someone hanging up a phone. These are all different than the usual "BUSY" message that comes as soon as you call any number. Some numbers, such as Roman Bellic's Cab Depot and Beatrix Fontaine's number, will automatically go to busy, however. Try the numbers on the Phone Numbers page under the GTA IV section or look up a cheat to get one of these responses.
GTA V and Online
- One of the ringtone sounds in GTA V has a beat of Fatamarse's Bump To The Music from GTA III.
- Of the three protagonists, Trevor is the only one who can not change the background wallpaper on his phone, as his Facade has the permanent "brick wall" theme, satirizing the limited customization typical of Windows phones.
- While hiding from the police whilst having a wanted level, if the player brings up their mobile phone, the police might rediscover the player's current location and the map once again flashes red and blue.
- If the player calls one of his contacts while standing in shallow water, the phone may ring indefinitely never being answered nor go to the answering machine. This will last until the player hangs up.