A PHS (Portable Handheld System or Party Henshu (Editing) System) (also called Cellphone, Handset, or Phone) is a mobile electronic device used to make mobile telephone calls across a wide geographic area in the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII. In terms function and appearance, a PHS is the same as Mobile phones in the real world.
First introduced in Final Fantasy VII as the Personal Handheld System, used by the player party to communicate with each other during the game, the mechanic continued over to other games in the Compilation; appearing to serve much the same purpose in Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII-, Dirge of Cerberus -Final Fantasy VII- and Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, and becoming both a plot device and gameplay mechanic in Before Crisis -Final Fantasy VII-.
On the release of Final Fantasy: Advent Children, the Panasonic FOMA P900iV mobile phone was also released to coincide with the Compilation as an affiliated product. The model acted as the template for all future appearances of the PHS devices in the compilation.
The PHS, the means of switching party members at Save Points and on the World Map, is a cellphone. Cloud receives it in Kalm from his allies after they escape Midgar. Barret temporarily holds it in Lower Junon so it does not break when Cloud has to swim. Later on in the story, if Cait Sith is not in the party at the Temple of the Ancients, and during the second visit to the Forgotten Capital, he will contact Cloud via the PHS to inform him of his plan to sacrifice his body and alert the party of the Sister Ray cannon's transfer from Junon to Midgar, respectively.
The phone prominently featured in Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children and future Compilation installments is the Panasonic FOMA P900iV product-placement, which helped market both the movie and the phone. In Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children Complete, it is shown that the background of Cloud's cellphone has the Fenrir emblem watermarked behind the menu.
The game's living main characters (except Red XIII, Cait Sith and Vincent Valentine who buys one after Marlene comments on how he doesn't have a phone and calls Cloud in the Reminiscence of Final Fantasy VII), as well as Rufus Shinra, the Turks and the movie's antagonists, Yazoo, Loz and Kadaj, all seem to own a phone. It is Cloud's phone, however, that features the most prominently.
Cloud's phone became a symbol of his isolation after he learns he has contracted Geostigma, adding insult to injury for his self-imposed guilt of failing to prevent the deaths of Aerith and Zack. Cloud no longer answers his calls, forcing callers to merely leave voice messages, and he rarely, if ever, calls them back. Tifa scolds Cloud for isolating himself using the phone as an example, saying "you don't answer the phone, but I don't see you throwing it away either". Later, during Cloud's scuffle against the three Remnants of Sephiroth at the Forgotten Capital, he accidentally drops his phone in the lake. When Cloud's phone reaches the lake bottom, Aerith's spirit leaves a message on it before it deactivates.
As a joke in the film, during his entrance in the battle against Bahamut SIN, Vincent asks Tifa where the cellphone store is, as he lacks one. Shortly after the events of the movie, as chronicled in Reminiscence of Final Fantasy VII, Vincent finally acquires a phone, revealed in Dirge of Cerberus to sport his trademark dirge design. In a humorous instance, he calls Cloud to pass on a message to Yuffie Kisaragi to tell her she has no right to call his phone. In fact most of the dialogue in Reminiscence are phone conversations, as none of the characters are seen outside of the Final Fantasy VII montages.
In a humorous scene, Loz's ringtone is the beginning snippet of the Final Fantasy VII Victory Fanfare, as it rings shortly after Tifa narrowly "defeats" him in Aerith's church before he gets back up and answers it.
Part of standard Turk equipment, the player Turks use their cellphones to receive orders from Veld or Tseng and keep in contact with their superiors and each other. With the phones they can report emergency information or be given on-the-spot instructions.
Vincent has finally acquired a phone bearing his dirge design, though it is thought to be destroyed during the attack on Edge. In the game's final cutscenes, Cloud appears to have gained a new phone to replace the one he loses in Advent Children, identical to his original, probably as a reference to his having moved on with his life.
Despite taking place before the original game, the phones featured in Crisis Core are the same models as those of Advent Children and Dirge of Cerberus. Zack periodically receives e-mail from numerous contacts, as well as important calls, throughout the game.
Called "handsets", the cellphones are seen as a standard issue among SOLDIER members. Angeal Hewley, Zack, and Sephiroth have been seen using them, and Kunsel gives Zack a crash course on how to use his at the beginning of the game. It can be assumed that the menu (or at least, the missions menu) is what Zack reviews on his cellphone screen, as Angeal accesses his phone in that way to abort a training session in the prologue. The phones also have a wireless connection with shops, allowing Zack to purchase or sell items.
- In On the Way to a Smile: Case of Yuffie, it is revealed that the original PHS used by the player party was considered "outdated" and the members of the player party replaced it with the cellphones seen in use during Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children.