Perhaps The Economist has not spent much time in Los Angeles recently, but they have an article about how cellphones have become the new cars when it comes to people expressing their personality and individuality:
Phones are now the dominant technology with which young people, and urban youth in particular, now define themselves. What sort of phone you carry and how you customise it says a great deal about you, just as the choice of car did for a previous generation. In today's congested cities, you can no longer make a statement by pulling up outside a bar in a particular kind of car. Instead, you make a similar statement by displaying your mobile phone, with its carefully chosen ringtone, screen logo and slip cover. Mobile phones, like cars, are fashion items: in both cases, people buy new ones far more often than is actually necessary. Both are social technologies that bring people together; for teenagers, both act as symbols of independence. And cars and phones alike promote freedom and mobility, with unexpected social consequences.
It's not exactly not true, since you can tell a lot about person these days by their choice of handset, but probably not as much you should be able to, since manufacturers are doing a generally terrible job of making actually interesting, stylish phones.