In 2013, when French troops intervened in Mali to help fight Islamic militants and Tuareg rebels, I arrived in Timbuktu not long after its liberation. The cellphone network had been down for days, so I did not bother to charge my phone. But every night, when the gasoline-powered generators in town rumbled to life, a long line of people formed to charge their cellphones. Why, I wondered, would anyone need a cellphone without a network connection?
It was a question as dumb as my simple Nokia phone. A cellphone is a digital Swiss Army knife: flashlight, calculator, camera and, yes, audio player.
Great story on New York Times
I'd have to agree.