In episode 2 or 3 of Luke Cage, he is asking around town if anyone has seen a lad, showing a picture of him on a fairly large/newish Android smart phone. But Luke is struggling to find cash for rent, and is trying to live off the grid by working off the books for cash, and do so honestly (edit: or at least, according to his personal honor code), all of which would seem to make it tricky and a strange priority if it were his own phone. Having a photo of the lad on it seems a bit odd too. Was he borrowing Pop's cell phone, or was it just manifesting out of comic book handwave or advertiser suggestion? enter image description here

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    @cde Added a screenshot and refinement near the word honesty. That is, maybe "personal honor code" is more accurate, though given Luke was a former cop wrongfully imprisoned and nearly killed by corrupted jailers who escaped and wants to avoid re-imprisonment and death... when the system is broken and murderous, perhaps avoiding certain rules while acting as he did is about as honest as he could be without getting killed (er, if that's even possible, considering how invulnerable he seems to be).
    – Dronz
    Commented Oct 15, 2016 at 5:05
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    Maybe he is struggling to pay rent BECAUSE he spends his money on fancy phones EVER THINK OF THAT? Commented Oct 20, 2016 at 0:15
  • @AndrewWhatever Good point! Seriously, yes, that's part of why I asked. Not only are both expensive, the same things that make it tough to find jobs and places to live without being on the grid, would seem to apply to smart phones, especially if you're trying to avoid police or bounty hunters or corporate enforcers who might have ways to track cell phones. And a cell phone would seem to me a lower priority. Though it could be just a device not on the phone network as far as I watched the show.
    – Dronz
    Commented Oct 20, 2016 at 0:56

2 Answers 2


These days, cell phones are ubiquitous in TV and movies, because they help speed the plot along so conveniently. Writers rarely bother to stop and explain where they came from, and they didn't do so here.

However, there's a couple of ways he might have one:

  • He's only been working at Pop's for about 5 months. As some point before that (within the past year, at least), he owned a bar and made enough money to keep it open. While he lost his bar and home when Kilgrave forced him to blow up the bar, some smaller items, like his cell phone, might have been on his body and survived. This doesn't explain how he pays the bill, but maybe he's always had a prepaid one (since he's fugitive anyway).
  • There are programs where low-income people can obtain cheap cell phones from social services. Having access to a phone is often important to finding and keeping a job, taking care of children, etc., so it's becoming considered less of a luxury item and more of a necessity.
  • Or, the easiest answer, one of his friends or employers bought it for him. His jobs don't really seem high-paying enough to justify that, but some employers supply their employees with cheap cell phones to guarantee they can be on call all the time. Or Pops might just be done Luke a favor.
  • I didn't see this episode yet, but others explanations : it wasn't maybe a legal buy (stolen? etc.), and could be a "copy", as you can find in lot of places.
    – Larme
    Commented Oct 12, 2016 at 8:21
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    +1, but I'm discounting the "phone survived on his body after the bar burned down" aspect of this answer, simply becase this is what he looked like after leaving the burning bar. (For anyone who can't see that image, he's literally on fire). Commented Oct 12, 2016 at 8:44
  • I haven't seen him use it for anything else yet, and I don't know his story before this series, or from what might be shown in later episodes, but is there someone who is looking for him that he needs to take cash only wages to avoid, but having a smart phone (especially the same one before he starting hiding) wouldn't make him just as easy to find, or more?
    – Dronz
    Commented Oct 12, 2016 at 22:00

The most top of the line smart phone is only 600~700 bucks, bought straight out. Less or free with contact. Without a specific model, we can't assume it's the highest end phone. Even pre-paid service have high quality phones. And in 2016, a smart phone is as ubiquitous as a TV or car, even for someone paycheck to paycheck on two jobs struggling to pay rent. You can't get work or around without one in modern day New York.

It's simply just likely that he bought a decent phone, out of pure necessity. Luke also has nice clothes. He isn't rocking tattered shirts or jeans.

Hell, go walk around New York City, even some homeless or children have quality smart phones.

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