How to tell when the mobile phone you're calling is off

Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images

According to research by Ofcom, 60 percent of mobile phone users keep their device switched on all of the time, even when in bed. Calling a mobile phone and not getting an answer can be frustrating if you are trying to get hold of someone. Determining whether the phone is switched off is a simple process.


Dial the mobile phone number. Press the send or green handset button to activate the call. Count the number of rings. If your call goes straight of voicemail, it is likely to be turned off or not receiving a signal. Some mobile phone providers play a standard greeting that advises the caller the phone is switched off.

Flight mode

Smartphones have a setting called "flight mode" or "airplane mode." This allows the user to use certain functions of the device such as accessing the calendar or playing games but they won't be able to receive or make calls as the cellular antenna is switched off. In this case, there will be no outward rings.


If you call the mobile number and hear a continuous tone, the phone is likely to be disconnected. Another sign is if there is no tone at all. Leave it a few hours and call again as it may be a temporary disconnection.

Fun facts

Research by Ofcom in 2011 concluded that 23 percent of older people (aged 65+) have their mobile phone switched on only when they need to use it. 71 percent of teens with smartphones generally have their mobile phoned switched on all the time. This compares to 51 percent of regular mobile phone users in the same age group. There are indications that girls have their phones switched on more often than boys do.