I called 911 from my watch without service

RonFromOregon

macrumors regular
Original poster
Jul 16, 2008
100
67
I was playing around and accidentally completed a call to 911 on my Apple Watch Series 4.
- I have no service activated on my watch
- The call went through in about 3 seconds (I've heard of delays up to 2 minutes when calling without service activated). I disconnected as soon as I heard an automated message (0 for police, 1 for fire, etc).
- A minute or two later, I got a recorded message call back on my iPhone saying that if there is a real emergency, please call back.
 

KrisLord

macrumors 68000
Sep 12, 2008
1,552
1,092
Northumberland, UK
I was playing around and accidentally completed a call to 911 on my Apple Watch Series 4.
- I have no service activated on my watch
- The call went through in about 3 seconds (I've heard of delays up to 2 minutes when calling without service activated). I disconnected as soon as I heard an automated message (0 for police, 1 for fire, etc).
- A minute or two later, I got a recorded message call back on my iPhone saying that if there is a real emergency, please call back.
Where was your phone during this?
 

caspergirl

macrumors regular
May 15, 2010
134
28
Maybe attempted the call by using the iPhone like calling from iPad by using the SIM card if the iPhone
 

iamasmith

macrumors 6502a
Apr 10, 2015
587
183
Cheshire, UK
IIRC cell phones in the USA, all of them, activated or not and locked or not need to be useable to call emergency services which may explain a cellular Apple Watch being able to do so.

This particular thing gives rise to a lot of wasted 911 calls on Christmas Day when folks want to try their gifted phones before they got a SIM.
 

cwanja

macrumors 6502a
Jun 23, 2010
632
283
Texas
I was playing around and accidentally completed a call to 911 on my Apple Watch Series 4.
- I have no service activated on my watch
- The call went through in about 3 seconds (I've heard of delays up to 2 minutes when calling without service activated). I disconnected as soon as I heard an automated message (0 for police, 1 for fire, etc).
- A minute or two later, I got a recorded message call back on my iPhone saying that if there is a real emergency, please call back.
Do you have a watch that has the cellular option? If so, the replies will be the reason why. If not, likely was connected to your phone and your phone made the call.

IIRC cell phones in the USA, all of them, activated or not and locked or not need to be useable to call emergency services which may explain a cellular Apple Watch being able to do so.

This particular thing gives rise to a lot of wasted 911 calls on Christmas Day when folks want to try their gifted phones before they got a SIM.
Any cell phone device can call 911 with or without service.
Which brings me to a question - can you tell from the phone app whether a call was made from the watch or your phone? Is there an icon next to the "outgoing" icon? I realize the Watch has its own number and all, but it is "synced" to your phone number.
 

iamasmith

macrumors 6502a
Apr 10, 2015
587
183
Cheshire, UK
..
Which brings me to a question - can you tell from the phone app whether a call was made from the watch or your phone? Is there an icon next to the "outgoing" icon? I realize the Watch has its own number and all, but it is "synced" to your phone number.
On my S3 it shows the same list on the watch as on the iPhone. You could check your carrier bill as on EE in the UK there's a seperate number for billing purposes which isn't actually used to address the phone but may give you more detail.
 

Mac 128

macrumors 603
Apr 16, 2015
5,360
2,927
How do people not know this!?

What do they think that “lifeline” charge on their phone bill is for?
 

Farrellcollie

macrumors 6502a
Apr 23, 2011
521
176
I didn't know it. I did not even pay attention to a lifeline charge on my bill. And if I had seen it, I still would not have known what it was.
 

Mac 128

macrumors 603
Apr 16, 2015
5,360
2,927
Actually “lifeline” is a catch all phrase, that applies to specific low cost services subsidized by full paying customers.

Various carriers may have different names for it, but at least on ATTs bills, it’s actually listed plainly as a 911 Emergency Service fee.

https://www.att.com/ecms/dam/att/consumer/help/pdf/Wireless-Sample-Bill-Guide.pdf

At a minimum, people should be asking questions about the charges that appear on their bills, but outside of that, this kind of essential information should be taught to school kids, and provided to new work hires as part of safety orientation, etc. Anyone can access emergency services from any phone device, whether it has service or not, whether they know the passcode to unlock it or not.

It’s just surprising to me that people don’t know this, especially in a world increasingly devoid of land line phones. Then again, I also read the emergency procedures card on any airplane type I haven’t flown before, so I guess I shouldn’t be.
 

scriptkitten

macrumors regular
Jul 11, 2007
183
57
I know I can turn of the screeching alert on my watch/phone when I activate the emergency call but can I prevent a 911 operator from being all “hello hello hello”? As a woman, if I’m being attacked or hiding I might not want the 911 operator to out my location.
 

Mac 128

macrumors 603
Apr 16, 2015
5,360
2,927
I know I can turn of the screeching alert on my watch/phone when I activate the emergency call but can I prevent a 911 operator from being all “hello hello hello”? As a woman, if I’m being attacked or hiding I might not want the 911 operator to out my location.
How effective is placing a finder over the speaker grille on the side of the S4 as way to physically mute it? Then they could effectively hear you whisper into the mic your situation without necessarily engaging in a conversation.

Man or woman, there are always situations where a person would not want their location revealed.
 
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