If Your Phone is Dead Will it Ring? + Tips To Stay Connected

We all dread that moment when our phone signals the dreaded low battery warning in the middle of a crucial conversation. It gets worse when you’re anticipating important calls, and your phone decides to take a nap. What really happens if your phone dies and does it ring?

Generally, if your phone is dead, it will not ring. You may receive a missed call notification when power is restored. The caller is redirected to voicemail or will hear a not reachable tone or message, indicating the receiving mobile phone is off or currently unreachable on the cellular network.

Curious? Here’s more about what happens when someone attempts to reach your fully drained phone.

Zombie carrying smartphone wondering if your phone is dead will it ring

What Happens When Someone Calls My Dead Phone?

With your mobile phone being completely dead or powered off, different scenarios can unfold from the caller’s perspective. Primarily, your phone does not ring on your end, since it requires power to process incoming calls and activate the ringing mechanism.

This doesn’t mean the caller is immediately aware of your phone’s status.

There might be instances where the caller hears a Not Reachable Tone or a carrier-provided message indicating that the phone isn’t currently reachable. This is a network’s way of informing the caller about the unavailability of the recipient’s phone.

Note: It’s not a foolproof indication of a dead phone, as other factors like network coverage issues can also trigger this message.

In some cases, due to network latency, the caller might not hear anything for a brief moment while the redirection process occurs. The silence could last a few seconds before the network manages to redirect the call as per the setup on your phone.

The most common setup is an immediate redirection to voicemail, provided you have voicemail set up.

This feature allows the caller to leave a message for you to listen to once your phone is powered back on and connected to the network again. It’s advisable to have voicemail set up to ensure you don’t miss any critical information when your phone is dead. This redirection is almost instantaneous, making it a reliable way for others to reach out to you even when your phone is not operational.

Lastly, it’s worth noting that the experience from the caller’s end can slightly vary based on the network providers and even internationally. Different countries and carriers have distinct ways of handling calls directed to dead or powered off phones.

Now that you understand that you’ve got the basics, you might be curious about the mysterious Not Reachable Tone – a common yet often misunderstood network notification, unpacking its meaning could be quite enlightening.

Network Notification Not Reachable Tone: What Does it Mean?

When you attempt to call someone and hear the Not Reachable Tone, it is a network notification indicating that the phone you are trying to reach is off or currently unreachable on the cellular network. This tone is a common default for many carriers, and serves as a straightforward way for the network to communicate the status of the phone on the other end of the call.

Upon hearing this tone, the caller will typically also hear a network default recording advising them to try calling again later. This recording is not just useful information, but also a subtle prompt for the caller to not get frustrated and keep attempting to reach the person they are calling.

The behavior and the type of notification can vary by mobile provider and country. Each mobile carrier and country might have their set of standards, protocols, and even laws for how such scenarios are handled.

When power is restored to the device or when it’s turned back on, the phone may receive a missed call notification. This is a feature that helps the user to know that someone tried to reach them while their phone was off or out of service.

Be sure to check with your mobile carrier to understand how these notifications work and to ensure that your voicemail and missed call notifications are set up properly.

“It went straight to voicemail.”

I think at this point we’ve all jumped to conclusions when a call is redirected to voicemail immediately. But let’s understand what’s happening, this transfer occurs.

Woman leaving a voicemail since her recipient's phone is dead and won't ring

Exploring Voicemail Redirection on a Dead Phone

When your phone is dead or switched off, any incoming calls can be redirected to voicemail, provided this feature has been set up on your mobile account.

Naturally, this feature gives the caller an opportunity to leave a message for you, which you can listen to once your phone is powered back on. This workflow has been a staple of modern telecommunications since the days of recording to audio tapes in the home.

The difference between a dead phone and rejecting an incoming call boils down to the amount of time that the caller hears a ringing tone on their end.

When the call goes straight to voicemail, this is due to the cellular network being unable to connect or have an updated record of the phone being connected to a tower.

As mentioned earlier, once your phone’s power is restored, you will typically receive a notification for missed calls and new voicemails. These notifications ensure you are informed about the calls and messages you missed while your phone was dead.

Advanced users may have their calls redirecting to a VoIP service. The service may offer subscribers voicemail transcription or speech to text delivery. The voicemail text and audio file will be forwarded to the recipient via text message or email. This is a great option when a subscriber may not have a cellular connection but does have one form of Internet or another access.

By setting up your phone to redirect calls to voicemail, and by using services that can send voicemail transcriptions to your email, you ensure that you don’t miss out on important communications, even when your phone is dead.

While voicemail is a reliable option, call forwarding presents another efficient solution to ensure you never miss critical calls, even when your phone is dead.

Call Forwarding: Another Option If Your Phone Is Dead

Call forwarding is a feature that allows the redirection of calls to a secondary number when your primary phone is dead or unreachable. This is an automatic process if set up with your mobile provider first.

This feature is ideal for individuals with multiple domestic or international numbers and plans. If you often juggle between different numbers or have separate lines for personal and work purposes, call forwarding can be a lifesaver. Moreover, it’s also quite beneficial for those who travel frequently across borders and have to switch between local and international numbers.

To activate call forwarding, you can use your carrier’s website or mobile app, which generally is the easiest way. Alternatively, you can dial special codes on your keypad, which varies a bit here in the US. Here’s a good cheat sheet, depending on your carrier.

Once activated, it operates seamlessly without requiring any manual intervention each time your phone is dead.

Additionally, it’s a good practice to inform close contacts about your secondary number and the circumstances under which they might reach you on it. This way, they would have clear expectations and would not be surprised or confused when they are redirected to a different number.

I have a single phone with dual SIMs activate on 2 separate networks. I automatically forward missed calls to the other number. This configuration ensures I receive calls if I’m unreachable on one or the other cell network.

Of course, this won’t help if my phone runs out of power. The catch-all for both services is to transcribe the voicemail (like I mentioned earlier) and email it to me. This way I can get the message on my laptop.

While call forwarding is a robust solution, wouldn’t it be better to extend your phone’s battery life to avoid reaching that point?

Stressed businessman holding smartphone worried his phone won't ring when it's dead

Maximizing Battery Life to Avoid Missed Calls

Maximizing battery life is essential to avoid missing important calls. Here are some tips to achieve this:

  • Limit High-Demand Tasks: Avoid activities like video streaming and gaming that drain battery life swiftly.
  • Manage Location Services: Turn off or limit apps that frequently access location services, conserving battery.
  • Reduce Screen Brightness: Lowering brightness extends battery life, ensuring phone availability for calls.
  • Timely Charging: Keep a charger and cord handy to maintain phone availability, especially during long days.
  • Battery Saver Mode: Enable battery saver mode to limit background data and reduce screen brightness.
  • Close Unused Apps: Regularly close apps running in the background to conserve battery.
  • Update Software: Keep your phone updated, as software updates often bring battery life enhancements.
  • Use App Firewall: Advanced users can control chatty apps with tools NetGuard (what I use) or TrackerControl.

Pro Tip: Checkout NextDNS. I use this DNS filter service as a second layer to an app firewall, so tracking and telemetry traffic doesn’t waste my battery.

I have written a previous article with 15 FAQ on maximizing your smartphone’s battery life.

Other Questions You Might Have

How do calls get directed when my phone is in Airplane Mode?

When your phone is in Airplane Mode, it behaves similarly to when it is turned off. Incoming calls will be redirected to voicemail, and you’ll receive a missed call notification once Airplane Mode is disabled, and you’re reconnected to the network.

What happens to text messages when my phone is dead?

Text messages are stored on the carrier’s servers and are delivered once your phone is powered back on and connected to the network. They are not lost, but may be delayed in their delivery.

Can Wi-Fi calling work if my phone is dead?

No, Wi-Fi calling requires the phone to be powered on and connected to a Wi-Fi network. If the phone is dead, no form of calling, including Wi-Fi calling, will function.

Is there a way to remotely turn on my phone if it’s off?

Remotely turning on a phone that is completely powered off is generally not possible. Some devices may support wake-on-LAN features, but these are not commonly found in smartphones.

How long do carriers keep undelivered voicemails or texts?

Carriers have varying policies, but most will keep undelivered text messages for a few days to a week. Voicemails are usually stored for a predefined period that can range from a few days to several weeks, depending on the carrier’s policy.

Mike Chu

Mike is a web developer and content writer living as a digital nomad. With more than 20 years of devops experience, he brings his "programmer with people skills" approach to help explain technology to the average user. Check out his full author bio by clicking here.

Recent Posts