Cell Phone Auto-Death

My cell phone apparently was killed remotely without even a flash of light as a signal. I expected it to become dead soon anyway, and this isn’t a computer as we usually think of them, but it’s interesting.

I bought a replacement phone from the same service provider’s line of phones and I kept the phone number and unused airtime minutes for calls, texts, and lousy Web service. The transfer was to take place half an hour after it was coordinated with the service provider and, once the transfer was done, my old phone would be dead, as the service provider acknowledged. Throughout the time that the transfer was being sought and arranged and for hours afterward, the old phone didn’t have its battery in it. Eventually, I put the battery in and tried to turn the phone on. Nothing happened that I could see. Then I connected it to the recharger, which was plugged in. I do that almost every day. This time, it did not do the usual display showing recharging beginning. Nothing.

Technically, this might have been deactivation. The effect is as if it were death. I do not know if a deactivated phone can be activated by the phone company or a retailer.

I did this where I could have made a call if it had been an earlier day, so I’m sure I was within range of a cell tower. So, one of two explanations applies. The phone was in its last throes of life and it’s a coincidence that it finally died around the time of the transfer of the number and the airtime. Or the service provider had sent a death ray (literally) that the phone caught as soon as I inserted the battery and was turning the phone on, killing it before the phone gave any visual clue to being turned on.

If the latter is true, I hope that’s the way the phone was designed. I’d be concerned if it wasn’t but it happened anyway, because that would have an implication for anything on a network, wired or wireless. I wonder if other devices, such as computer CPUs, could respond to certain signals by dying without the user knowing about the risk.