Bloomberg BusinessWeek reports that the iPhone 5S Gold is accepted as payment by people around the world. The actual phone is the payment, not some digital bits on the phone. A recipient then either uses the phone as a personal phone or sells the phone at the higher local price. This usually happens with phones bought in the US and sold elsewhere.
Within a couple days of my return, I exchanged both phones for domestic work, valuing them at the $815 I’d paid. The second phone’s recipient sold hers for its local value ($1,130) to an acquaintance, she said, with payments to be made over time. She told me the new owner sold the phone at an additional markup on an installment plan that will cost the final buyer about $1,350.
This illustrates that money is anything that people believe has value and can be traded easily to another person. iPhones have some good money characteristics: high value relative to its weight; the same worldwide; and widely known. Some downsides: can’t be divided into smaller pieces and loses value as new models appear.
See the Bloomberg BusinessWeek article.