Why does my iPhone phone home when off?
December 25, 2009 2:34 AM Subscribe
Why (and what) is my iPhone transmitting while switched off? My (Australian bought, legitimately carrier-unlocked, T-Mobile-SIM'd) iPhone 3GS is switched off (hold down top button, swipe red switch on screen) but connected to wall power and sitting on top of a poorly shielded computer speaker. Almost exactly at 5:00am it uttered the characteristic "dit dit de-dit dit de-dit dit de-dit" of a GSM phone chatting to a cell tower.
I switched it off
ffs, the GSM radio shouldn't be active! What is it sending to the tower and why?
posted by m1ndsurfer to Technology (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I was at a pub the other day with some friends who were spouting conspiracy-theory baloney about how the CIA/FBI/NSA/USDA can track us and listen to our conversations via our iPhones. "Pshaw", I said, "while technically feasible to remotely install an app which starts an iPhone's mic recording and transmits back to a Three Letter Agency with the screen ostensibly off, Steve Jobs has got better things to do with his engineers' time and would tell the TLA to go jump unless it was law in which case I would have heard about it. You tinfoil-hat nutters!"
But then they told me to turn my iPhone off and see if it still transmits once every three hours or so. I've just done the experiment and lo and behold it does. What's going on? Do I need to be paranoid or is there a benign explanation?