The further we get into the 21st Century, the less need there is for fancy Q gadgets…because you can buy something better and cooler right off the shelf — which brings us to a new gadget for your James Bond: 007 campaign: the iPhone (or any smartphone, for that matter) and the SCOUT (Satellite Communications Operational User Toolkit).

Firstly, the smartphone. It is obvious how useful these things are in the field just from the number of movies and TV shows that are using them as plot elements. Having avoided the smartphone for years, I finally broke down and bought an iPad when they first came out. (Okay, not a phone…unless you drop Skype on it.) The basic features alone make them indispensable for the fictional spy: they’re a phone. They’re a map. They’re email, web access, a file storage device, a recorder, a camera…and everyone has one, so they’re not immediately suspicious.

For both iOS and Android there are easy and fast programming toolkits. Q Branch (or S&T) tweaks can give you crypto tools, R/C controls over vehicles (here’s a nice article on some of the other nasty tricks you can use a smartphone for …), etc. etc… Some hardware hacks and your phone could have IR on the camera or some other funky feature. I’ve found our characters in our Bond campaign depend on their phones more than a gun, car, or any other tool.

Add to that the SCOUT — a new device that uses your smartphone as a communications base for satellite communications, GPS, wifi hot spot, comms analysis, spectrum analyser…here’s the sales sheet for more.

From a plot standpoint, the usefulness of the smartphone was obvious in Casino Royale — bad guys, as much as good guys, live off their phones if you’re a mobile, busy henchman. They’re packed with data, even when the user is careful. There’s phone numbers, at the very least. Even if they are password locked, most people don’t realize that smartphones’ OS usually have a root password for service providers to break in and fix stuff…hacking a phone is fairly easy (especially the Androids.)