Advances in memory and processing power have transformed mobile phones from bricklike boxes to gadgets about the size of a deck of cards.

But BlackBerry user David Fitzherbert has got to be happy his smart phone wasn't any thinner. The 52-year-old Englishman credits his BlackBerry with breaking a life-threatening fall into a narrow crevasse while he was skiing in Switzerland, The Sun of the U.K. reports.

As Fitzherbert traversed a glacier last month, he fell 70 feet (21.3 meters) before becoming wedged between the crevasse's walls, thanks in part to the half-inch thick BlackBerry in his breast pocket. The phone was just thick enough to keep him from falling another 700 feet (213.4 meters).

Fitzherbert, who was trapped for two hours, suffered broken bones, a concussion and hypothermia. He was airlifted to a hospital where the BlackBerry worked well enough for Fitzherbert to call his wife in the U.K.

From the photos, it looks like Fitzherbert was packing a BlackBerry Bold, which measures 4.48 inches (11.4 centimeters) tall, 2.6 inches (6.6 centimeters) wide, and, most importantly, 0.6 inches (1.5 centimeters) thick. That's a far cry from the Motorola DynaTAC 8000X of the early 1980s that was 13 inches (33 centimeters) long, 1.75 inches (4.4 centimeters) wide, and 3.5 inches (8.9 centimeters) thick. Of course, if Fitzherbert had been carrying a DynaTAC, it wouldn't have fit in his pocket.

Update (07/02/09): just received word from Vodafone, Fitzherbert's cell phone provider, that he was carrying a Blackberry Curve 8310 rather than a Bold. For those interested, the Curve 8310's dimensions are a wee bit smaller— 4.2 inches (10.7 centimeters) long by 2.4 inches (6.1 centimeters) wide, although both phones are 0.6 inches (1.5 centimeters) thick.

Image of Matterhorn © Ernst Weberhofer via Flickr

Image of Motorola DynaTAC 8000X © Redrum0486 via Wikimedia Commons