If one were to believe that the universe isn't just one single instance of existence created by God according to the ineffable plan, but rather a collection of several universes—a multiverse, if you will—one might believe that each of the other universes contains something almost, but not quite, entirely unlike any other.
This is incorrect.
There is only one universe, and in this universe, Aziraphale, former Principality, once Angel of the Eastern Gate, still of celestial stock but no longer on Heaven's payroll, does not own a smartphone. Or any kind of mobile phone. Or any phone that isn't a very old—some would say "vintage"—rotary landline telephone.
One might believe there is a universe where this isn't the case. One might believe there is a universe where Crowley gifted him the latest iPhone, and he didn't politely accept it only to leave it on a shelf in the backroom, still in its box, next to an older model of Kindle, also still in its box.
This is also incorrect.
To be clear, none of these potential universes exist. But that one extra, extra doesn't exist. Aziraphale does not own a smartphone. There definitely doesn't exist a world where he gleefully posts pictures of his brunch on Instagram and argues with trolls on Facebook.
Anyway let's visit it.
Aziraphale knows what a smartphone is.
He's behind the times, sure. He's been wearing the same coat for 180 years. He calls any music newer than Mozart "bebop". And his bookshop is a monument to dusty old tomes nobody's cared about in three and a half centuries.* He doesn't even stock Warrior Cats! I mean come on.
*He would smite me for saying so, but it's true.
He does know what a smartphone is, though, because it's 2019, and even the most technophobic angels have been exposed to them in some way, especially if their demon boyfriend is just constantly taking selfies and saying things like "I wish I could send you this one, angel..." while artfully draped across a headstone at the cemetery, holding a unicorn frappuccino.
He is firmly in the belief that telephones serve a purpose, and that purpose is to ring someone up and have a conversation. That is what his landline does. So he does not need a smartphone.
He would like to see Crowley's selfies sometimes, though.
One day, a little while after the world was supposed to end but then didn't, but not long enough for it to not be painfully fresh in their memories, the two were having a picnic. Splayed out on a blanket, under a sky that was sort of trying to become sunny, except it was London, so it didn't, tipsy with wine and each other's presence, fingers entwined and foreheads touching, they were just as content as it was possible for two celestial defectors to be.
With his free hand, Crowley fished his phone out of his coat pocket.
"Angel!" he said smooshing their cheeks together. "Selfie!"
Aziraphale looked up to see a screen trained on them. Squared within it were his blushing face and Crowley's goofy grin. He smiled, eyes fixed on the image of Crowley. Crowley hit the shutter and then pulled his hand down.
"Just to have this moment saved," said Crowley. He started to fiddle with the settings on whatever image editing program he was using. Aziraphale watched intently as his fingers tapped various icons.
"I'd rather like to have this moment saved too," said Aziraphale, quietly.
And that is how we ended up at present, in the bookshop, with Aziraphale unboxing a brand new iPhone.
"You shouldn't have!" he says, and in one of the nonexistant parallel universes, he would have meant that literally. He doesn't.
"It's a new world!" says Crowley, unable to hide the pride in his voice. "You'd better join it! Get just a little bit up to speed."
"I should say, your idea of 'speed' can at times be incompatible with mine," says Aziraphale, fondly. Crowley makes a face.
"This is the bare minimum, angel."
Aziraphale laughs in that adorable way he always does when Crowley does something nice for him, and pulls the phone out of the packaging.
"Er..." he says, turning it over in his hands. "So how does this..."
"Here," says Crowley, indicating the power button. "Turn this on, and then it will ask you to set a few things..."
Crowley walks him through the process, which all things considered, goes pretty smoothly; Aziraphale may be slow to adopt new tech, but he's not stupid.*
*Well, sometimes he is, but in domains such as "raising the wrong child for 11 years", and not so much "setting the clock on a smartphone".
When account setup asks for an email address, Aziraphale types one in without hesitation. Crowley sputters.
"You have an email?" he manages to get out, incredulously.
"Since the 80s", says Aziraphale without missing a beat.
Crowley steps back and lets Aziraphale handle the rest of the setup. He has things to consider now.
A few moments later Aziraphale is holding up the phone, staring at the rows of icons.
"What now?" he says.
"You can do anything you want with it," says Crowley. Then, as if sharing a private joke with himself, "There's an app for that."
Aziraphale stops, looks sideways at Crowley, slowly tilts his head.
"What do you use your phone for?" he asks, frowning. Then he brightens up, his face opening up with a big grin. "Of course! Selfies! You invented them, after all."
"Took credit for them," says Crowley. "Humans, fountain of vanity, that lot. But," he reaches somewhere and retrieves a strange, elongated item. "I did come up with these."
Aziraphale's frown returns with a vengeance.
"Some sort of torture device?"
"Close enough. Here," says Crowley, reaching for Aziraphale's phone. "I'll show you."
He attaches the phone to the end of the object and extends it out so that it is suspended roughly thirty inches away. The camera app is already open; he throws an arm around Aziraphale's shoulder.
"Press the button when you're ready," he says, handing over the stick.
"Am I supposed to be impressed?" Aziraphale asks, but he can't help but smile.
He clicks the button and the shutter goes off. He brings the phone back down, pops it off the cradle, and inspects the end result. It's a little blurry, a little off-center, just a bit at an angle, but just like the other day in the park, the two look positively radiant.
"Nifty," he says with a gentle sigh.
Aziraphale stares at the photo for so long, Crowley starts to wonder if he's discorporated off the mortal plane. Then he starts to poke at the screen, exiting the photos app, and exploring the settings.
"Need any help, angel?" asks Crowley, but Aziraphale is so absorbed in his task all he gets is an incomprehensible mumble in response. He decides, then, that it's time to get comfortable, and lays across Aziraphale's lap, just as they have been doing so frequently after the not-actually-the-end-of-the-world.*
*Usually, Crowley naps while Aziraphale reads a book. It's not a book, this time, but close enough.
Crowley is close to dozing off in the soft warmth of Aziraphale's belly when he is startled awake by a cheerful chirp and a shift in weight. Aziraphale clicks his tongue approvingly.
"There," he says, turning the screen so Crowley can see it. He has set the photo they just took as the phone background.
"Nice," Crowley says, trying not to betray the fact that his heart has stopped with OVERWHELMING FONDNESS which Aziraphale can no doubt sense, but he has standards to maintain, satan bless, even if he is strictly speaking no longer bound to fulfilling any hellish duties.
His already stopped heart goes into ventricular fibrillation when Aziraphale then tenderly places a hand on his head, extending his fingers into his curls*, brushing them against his scalp.
*Surviving the apocalypse called for a change in hairstyle.
"Now, dear," says Aziraphale, his thumb doing something magnificent to Crowley's right temple. "What sort of 'applications' do you like?"