Moving a brain-computer interface (BCI) system from a laboratory demonstration to real-life applications still poses severe challenges to the BCI community. This study aims to integrate a mobile and wireless electroencephalogram (EEG) system and a signal-processing platform based on a cell phone into a truly wearable and wireless online BCI. Its practicality and implications in a routine BCI are demonstrated through the realization and testing of a steady-state visual evoked potential (SSVEP)-based BCI. This study implemented and tested online signal processing methods in both time and frequency domains for detecting SSVEPs. The results of this study showed that the performance of the proposed cell-phone-based platform was comparable, in terms of the information transfer rate, with other BCI systems using bulky commercial EEG systems and personal computers. To the best of our knowledge, this study is the first to demonstrate a truly portable, cost-effective and miniature cell-phone-based platform for online BCIs.