The Ericsson JB988 mobile phone featured heavily in the 1997 James Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies
It was a unique fictional creation most famous for opening up and transforming into a touch pad remote control that allowed James Bond to drive his BMW 750iL from the back seat of the car. Additional features included a fingerprint scanner, lock pick and a 20,000 volt taser.
In the film, several different models were used for various scenes and they were cast from metal with non-moving keys.
A closed unit was used in two of the scenes in the film. It featured a magnetised antenna that revealed a key used to open a safe, and the taser prongs that were activated by the four-way pad. In the film, Piers Brosnan famously told one of the henchmen to press the button combination “Recall-3-SEND” which activated the taser function. There was also a hidden switch to power the LED 'tell tale' light.
A second variant was a hinged unit that opened up. There were no actual live displays, colour or otherwise. These were all applied afterwards as a special effect.
To recreate this iconic device, the Mobile Phone Museum worked with the talented team at Phase Two Design
who generously agreed to make the model.
The biggest challenge was packing in all the features in the original size, as seen in the film. Between Phase Two and the Mobile Phone Museum we extracted all the available footage from the film. After studying it closely Phase Two Design realised that several props were used to achieve the large number of features in the handset.
Although it would have been much easier to make the phone bigger to accommodate all the necessary mechanics, the designers wanted it to be authentic to the original size.
By using their many years of product design and development experience, they battled for every 0.1 of a millimetre whist creating the data. The 3D CAD design data was tailored to a number of cutting-edge technologies used to make the components.
A key feature of the mobile handset are the spikes that are hidden until they slide out the thin lower edge. To ensure these spikes had an authentic look and feel in the JB988 model, a 3D printing process known as Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS) was employed to produce the parts in stainless steel. This process is used by Formula 1 teams to make parts for their cars.
We believe this is the first JB988 to include all the movie features at the original size, as seen in the film. This was only possible due to the advances in design tools and prototype technology and Phase Two Design’s deep understanding of them.