Smartphones with better viewing features and faster processing power have fuelled the demand and use of mobile applications - this trend is universal. In some parts of the world like Africa, mobile applications are being used to address key development goals, transforming lives in tangible ways. This doctoral these shows the need to use a robust set of concepts to undertake rigorous design research in fast changing mobile phone mediated contexts. A design research approach - Mobile Phone Transformations (MPT) is derived from interdisciplinary areas such as design, activity theory, information theory, future studies and paradigms namely technological determinism (TD) and social construction of technologies (SCOT). Mobile Phone Transformations shifts the focus of design from how users interact with a multimedia mobile phone to how people's activities are changed by the mediation of the devices and content services in their everyday life. Design insights that are gleaned after observing real life activities
can result in the creation of innovative mobile phone tools that will have the potency to make transformational impact when used by the target audience.