Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Mister Phone with a solution to your iPhone 4 shut-off problem

I'm going to start calling myself Mister Phone.

Back on November 11, 2006, I provided a tip to Motorola Q smartphone users who suddenly lost the sound on their phones.

Just recently, on October 17, 2011, I provided a tip to LG env3 users who suddenly had their phones power off.

Today's tip is for iPhone 4 users. And I don't even own an iPhone.

And yes, I'm talking about the iPhone 4, not the iPhone 4s. I'm not an early adopter (well, not really), and I don't hang out with a lot of early adopters either. I know someone who bought an iPhone 4 a few months ago. No, the person didn't wait to get the iPhone 4s, and no, the person didn't immediately upgrade to the iPhone 4s when it came out. When I'm around, who needs Siri?

So anyways, the person was busily doing important stuff on the iPhone 4 - solitaire, most likely - when all of a sudden the iPhone 4 screen went black. Despite multiple tries, the iPhone 4 wouldn't come back on again.

Before planning an afternoon at our local Genius Bar, I figured I'd do a little reading to see if others were encountering this issue. And it turns out that others were encountering it, for a lot of different reasons. But the first article that I found provided some helpful tips.

As I was reading the issue (in this case, it had to do with a proximity sensor stuck in face mode, whatever that is), I saw this handy-dandy little diagnosis step.

[T]his morning I was told that a friend called and my iPhone rang 4-5 times before going to voicemail although my iPhone appeared dead. If it was turned off, it immediately went to voicemail.

So I tried calling the iPhone 4 in question - and the line did NOT immediately go to voicemail.

Whether we're talking about proximity sensors or not, that at least indicated to me that the phone was actually on, not off. For whatever reason (and we'll get to this later), it just had a black screen.

Now I don't know 21st century Apple products (the last Apple product that I owned personally was a Mac that I had in the 1990s), but this sounds like the Cupertino version of sleep mode or something. So all that I had to do now was wake the thing up.

So I continued to read, and ran across this.

Update: (08/16/10) I have found a way to power it back on easily. And lots and lots of readers in the comments are confirming that the following worked for them. So, don’t despair and try this.

1. Hold the Power and Home button together for 10-15 seconds. Let go of both.
2. Just hold the Power button for a few seconds to see the Apple logo.

Now I don't know which button is which on the iPhone, but I did find two buttons. So I held them both down for a few seconds...and got an Apple. I never even got to the "Let go of both" stage.

So the problem was solved, but why did it occur? Since I don't know what the proximity sensor face mode thingie is, I didn't think about that at first. But as I continued to read this article, I was directed to another article about memory issues on the iPhone 4. And that's where I read this:

As you might already know, iOS 4 introduced multitasking. The way way Apple has implemented is that every app you ever open are kept in the multitasking bar. As time goes on it starts to have an effect on iPhone memory. It uses it up.

Even though Apple has allowed only certain functions of the iPhone to be backgrounded (to help with battery life), the apps hanging around in the multitasking bar do take up memory.

And it seems when your iPhone memory gets completely used up, your iPhone could act like it is dead with no response to touches, button holds or even connecting to your computer.

After reading this, I went to the iPhone 4 owner and asked when the phone had last been turned off and on. The person couldn't remember.

So, while there are a number of possible causes for a phone turning off and on, a simple reboot may take care of the issue. And that applies to all phones - and all electronic devices. Heck, if duct tape had a "reboot" button, I'd reboot duct tape.

I don't know when the next installment of Mister Phone will occur - it's clearly not on a regular schedule - but now I'm wondering if I was working for the wrong part of Motorola.
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