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I am writing a sentence about the history of mobile phone, but I am not sure whether I should use a singular or plural noun,

I think mobile phones were invented to make our lives more stressful.

I think mobile phone was invented to make our lives more stressful.

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You can use either singular or plural here, but if using the singular you must use the definite article:

I think the mobile phone was invented to make our lives more stressful.

The singular would be more common than the plural though. That's because in this sort of sentence the singular means the "type". If we think about it, a person invented one mobile phone, and lots of copies were then made of it. 5 billion mobile phones weren't all invented separately.

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    I would argue that whichever one is more common depends on the context. The plural sounds much more natural in casual conversation, while the singular would most likely be used in something like a documentary. – Alexander May 9 '17 at 16:31
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    While I agree that five billion mobile phones weren't all invented separately, I doubt that one person invented the mobile phone, and every phone in existence today is a copy of that one original. The mobile phone was probably a culmination of several patents stemming from the work of multiple research labs, with teams of people incrementally improving the technology. – J.R. May 9 '17 at 20:04
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    Anyway it doesn't matter what actually happened. It matters what you want to emphasise. If you want to speak of the concept "the mobile phone", say that: we know that no such single invention literally happened, but that doesn't matter. If you want to speak of the origin of billions of little beasties stressing you out, then saying "mobile phones" might help shade the meaning in that direction. – Steve Jessop May 9 '17 at 21:11

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