Elgan: Which religion has the best cell phone?

Now you can find a phone with services that help you express your faith

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No. 2: The Muslim cell phone

If ever there was a religion that needed a special cell phone, it's Islam. The reason is that good Muslims pray facing Mecca five times a day. If you live in a small Muslim village, you'll be notified as to when to pray by the "call to prayer," which is broadcast loudly from the local mosque. Once inside, the whole building is oriented toward Mecca, so it's easy to get it all right.

Ilkone I-800
The Ilkone I-800 cell phone (Photo courtesy of Ilkone Asia)

But if you're a Muslim in a big, foreign city, which way is Mecca? When are prayers? And where can I find a mosque? A good Muslim cell phone solves all that.

There are several Muslim cell phones available in various countries. The best I've found is made by a Singapore-based company called Ilkone Asia. Called the Ilkone I-800, the phone not only plays its own call to prayer at the appropriate times, but points toward Mecca and plays recorded prayers over the speakerphone.

The phone also comes with the full text of the Quran in both Arabic and English.

The Ilkone I-800 is available internationally, including in Lebanon, Jordan, Qatar, Bahrain, North Africa, Singapore, Turkey, Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, Bangladesh, Iran, Pakistan and India, and it will reportedly become available soon in Europe and in the U.S.

No. 1: The Buddhist cell phone

The best religious cell phone in the world is made for Buddhists. This highly modified and rare Nokia N70 is currently available only in China. Like other religious cell phones, the Buddhist phone has Buddhist ring tones, software and other trappings. What sets this phone apart from the pack is the sheer beauty and detail of the customization.

Nokia N70
Nokia N70 cell phone.

The phone is reportedly gold-plated and contains a piece of jade called the "Buddha video button." When you press it, you can watch a Buddhist video. Another embedded jade piece lies on the back in the middle of the speaker and is just for decoration. The back has an embossed image of the Buddha. It plays classic Buddhist music and 12 sutras. The battery, stylus -- even the little door that provides access to the removable media card -- are all adorned in Chinese Buddhist style.

If you're religious, or even if you aren't, enjoy your favorite cell phone while you can. Because even though each of these is small, pocket-size and mobile, you can't take it with you.

Mike Elgan writes about technology and global tech culture. He blogs about the technology needs, desires and successes of mobile warriors in his Computerworld blog, The World Is My Office. Contact Elgan at mike.elgan@elgan.com or his blog, The Raw Feed.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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