The evolution of mobile phone technology has introduced new possibilities to the field of medicine. Combining technological advances with medical expertise has led to the use of mobile phones in all healthcare areas including diagnostics, telemedicine, research, reference libraries and interventions. This article provides an overview of the peer-reviewed literature, published between 1 August 2006 and 1 August 2011, for the application of mobile/cell phones (from basic text-messaging systems to smartphones) in healthcare in both resource-poor and high-income countries. Smartphone use is paving the way in high-income countries, while basic text-messaging systems of standard mobile phones are proving to be of value in low- and middle-income countries. Ranging from infection outbreak reporting, anti-HIV therapy adherence to gait analysis, resuscitation training and radiological imaging, the current uses and future possibilities of mobile phone technology in healthcare are endless. Multiple mobile phone based applications are available for healthcare workers and healthcare consumers; however, the absolute majority lack an evidence base. Therefore, more rigorous research is required to ensure that healthcare is not flooded with non-evidence based applications and is maximized for patient benefit.