What happens when a cell phone is physically destroyed?

In relation to the Malaysia airplane mystery - some of the relatives of passengers are saying they are calling the passengers’ cell phones and they’re ringing.

Does it really make a difference if the phone is physically destroyed? Would you expect to get some sort of out of service message instead of a ring tone?

If you want to run an experiment for the sake of science, take the battery out of a cell phone and call it from another phone.

If the passengers followed the instructions of the plane crew and put their phones in “airplane mode” (everyone does that, right?), then the last place the phone would have registered was where the plane took off. When the relatives tried to call, the phone would be paged where it last registered and no response would be received. They would hear a ringing tone until it timed out and which point it would go to voice mail or an announcement that the call could not be completed.

If the passengers left their phones on, the phone would be paged in the place where the phone was last able to registered with a compatible cell site. Again, the phone would be paged there and presumably no response would be received. Proceed as above.

Phones can send out a “powerdown” message. If the phone were catastrophically destroyed, presumably there would be no opportunity to do so. If the phone does send out such a message and the cell carrier’s system chooses to use it, then theoretically the call could be sent to voice mail immediately.

But I guess the main point is just because the callers are hearing a ringing tone when they dial the numbers, that is no proof that the phone itself is ringing. The ringing sound you hear is just a recording generated by the cell phone carrier’s tone and announcements module to reassure the caller that they should wait on the line while an attempt is made to connect the call. It is not a sound coming from (or being sent to) the actual phone.

The network doesn’t know where the phone is until the phone checks in (“camps” on a base station.) International travel requires the phone to find a nearby cell, negotiate with it to see if that cell’s carrier will carry the traffic (ie they have an agreement with your own carrier) and then set up a record with your home carrier about how to forward the traffic (and how to bill for use.) Until that is done, the home carrier doesn’t know where the phone is. The network will try to contact the phone in the last place it saw it - which is probably the airport. If the phone was turned off whilst in range of the cell the cell may record that it has left the cell. But not always, and many phones are simply put into flight mode, something which may not cause the cell to think it has left. So, the network is probably trying to find the phone where it last saw it. Eventually it will decide the phone isn’t there, but until it has some reason to - like a different cell sees the phone, it will keep trying there. During that time, a caller will get a ring tone. Eventually the cell will time the phone out, and someone tries to call they will get either instant connection to voicemail, or an error message about the phone being off.

Ninja’d again :smiley:

Here’s a relevant article from NBC on what may be happening.

The basic fallacy here is that the “ringing” sound you hear is actually the recipient’s phone ringing. ** It is not.** It has never been that. The sound is a recording that is sent to the sender’s phone to make them think that something is happening, as opposed to silence. As long as the recipient’s phone cannot be located, and the number has not been deactivated, the sender will hear the “ringing” sound until something times out or the sender hangs up.

This is the way the phone system has worked for the last 60 years, at least.

It’s tempting to think that your missing loved one’s phone still works, but it is nothing but ignorance.

Note that NBC News is not compatible with Chrome and some other browsers, presenting a mostly blank page.

Interesting. I’m using Chrome. Maybe it’s a plug-in, mine’s naked.

What happens when a cell phone is physically destroyed?

An angel gets its wings. :o

I’m on Chrome and it works fine for me.

Huh, I’ve never observed a ringing when a phone isn’t connected to the network. If it’s turned off, or out of range, I’ll get a recorded message saying it’s uncontactable. Never ringing.

Huh, I thought I’d heard god killed a kitten.

Could be, but that’s the only site I can’t display – I just tried the same link again, and get a partly-displayed page. Looks like a Javascript problem (why does anyone still use Javascript?). IE6 works fine, Firefox works better, but wants Java to finish the page.

Results: Verizon network, phone was on, and I pulled the battery without turning it off. I called it from my desk phone a minute later. Three rings, then got my voicemail message.

That’s exactly the way it works for me (Cellcom), but other carriers might handle it differently.

And if you don’t have voicemail set up, presumably the ringing would continue or you’d get a “cannot find subscriber” message.

I would expect to get the same response if I dialed a phone that was flying over the Indian Ocean with no cell service, blown to smithereens or trapped on the island from Lost (which is the most likely explanation of where the plane is).

In the context of this particular question, maybe it’s a little soon for this answer. :frowning:

Sometimes extensions and add-on block things. If you’re using Chrome and it doesn’t work try opening the extension in an incognito window

Thanks for running the experiment and reporting back!

I avoid extensions and add-ons. With fifty-eleven news sites to choose from, all of which work except NBC, it’s not worth my time to fiddle with it.

I assumed this would be about House of Cards. They go through them like candy.