‘I could swear I had one around here somewhere, give me a minute.’ He digs through a pile of flip-phones. Actual digging, with a shovel. Its edges are rubberized, but the way he’s using it, that probably doesn’t matter much. He briefly stops to look around, as if the one he’s looking for will just reveal itself.
At the time, nobody knew what they were thinking. Big-name brands were coming out with old-school flip-phones long after the world had moved on to smarter devices. Made boatloads of them, shipped truckloads to all retailers they knew. Retailers, of course, wouldn’t dare touch the things. No way they were going to sell. Most tried shipping them back, but the boxes always ended up back at their doorstep.
The buzz this generated was enough for the phones to gain a small cult following. As minimal as their hardware was, being able to get full-featured GSM devices for spare change was great for the DIY community. Intrepid workers as they are, it wasn’t long before they discovered something special about the seemingly disposable things.
There’s a couple fuses placed rather prominently on their circuit boards. Shorting any of them makes the phone unable to communicate with cell towers. More interestingly, shorting just the right ones enables the phone to communicate with other, similarly modified phones directly. Not just texts, calls too. Over relatively long range, even without direct line of sight. In this mode, they eat through their tiny battery almost instantly, but that’s a small and easily fixable price to pay.
‘Ah, there it is!’ He takes a phone from the pile. ‘These white ones are pretty rare, aren’t they?’
What’s more, not all models are compatible with each other. Certain cliques want to stay exclusive, so they use a compatibility group that’s hard to come by.
‘What’s a whiz-kid like you want with an old piece of junk like this, anyway?’
‘Just a little hardware project with friends.’ I smiled. ‘You might hear about us on the news if we do well!’