"I need a cellphone."
Translation:Ich brauche ein Handy.
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In spoken conversation it would be fine, for written comments better use standard German. Perhaps it might be accepted as "ich brauch'". Duolingo calls it a mistake if you have a word that is written like the one you used. In this case, it is "der Brauch", the custom/the tradition.
Believe it or not, people still use landline phones, especially in business contexts. A (tele)phone can be a cellphone or a landline phone. The word (tele)phone is to the word cellphone what the word pet is to the word dog, i.e. generic vs. specific.
the tele(phone) = das Telefon
the cellphone (the mobile phone) = das Handy / das Mobiltelefon
Regardless of whether you always refer to your cellphone as a phone, in this course, you will not be able to use (tele)phone/Telefon and cellphone/Handy interchangeably.