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Cell phone "basic" mode triggered by low battery

If you need just a few more minutes of run time...
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Ever get stuck with a dead cell phone, and your charger is nowhere to be found or you're far from an outlet? Or maybe your power is out?

I don't think it would be that hard to have a switch on the back of the phone to disable all "extras" and the phone will function only as a phone and nothing else. Example- Your phone still has power left, but there's not enough power to actually finish the whole startup. So, every time you try to turn it on, it tries to start up, but fails due to low battery. So you flip a switch and... then push "power" again, and the phone turns on again, but at a very basic level. all non-phone funtions are now disabled, and the screen now displays in black and white, and the backlight is dimmed, but still on. If it's a flip phone with a screen on the outside, that screen is turned off altogether, as is it's backlight. The phone no longer syncs it's clock with the cell phone tower. the camera (if present) will not work at this point, but if you're using this switch, you're probably in somewhat of a pickle and you most likely need the phone more than you need the camera. It also ceases to emit "key tones". if the batteries are REALLY running low, there is also another switch to disable the screen's backlight . When you flip that switch, the backlight is disabled but the SCREEN will still be on. to turn the light back on, just put the backlight switch back to it's "normal" position. All phone-related functions, such as address book, recent call/missed call list and messages will still function.

The switch can be used at any time, so if you're trying to stretch battery life, you could just turn off all the other crap whenever you're not using the phone as anything other than a phone. Like you could just put it back in normal mode whenever you want to use the camera, bluetooth, or the phone's MP3 player, and then flip it back when you're done. It wouldn't be a big deal if it required a reboot upon flipping the switch, because most phones don't take that long to start up. and yes, the battery meter will still show up even in "basic mode". On phones that don't open and close, usually the backlight for the screen turns off after a set time. In "basic mode" it should actually turn off the backlight and also turn off the actual screen altogether.

Now, if you already have a somewhat basic phone, this won't do much to improve battery life, but at the very least it could show black/white instead of in color (I believe that all currently-sold phones have a color screen). But if you have a black berry or a razr or something like that, this could help you a lot.

Dickcheney6, Jul 01 2008

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       I am sure there was a "basic power hack" out there. Might have been handset specific, might have been urban legend. Most handsets have some non-transceiver operations available at low power. Think alarm clock when battery is "zero".   

       Anyway, bun for eliminating Extras, extra bun for eliminating them one-by-one, like contestants on *pick a reality show*.
"Sorry keytones, the tribe has spoken!"
  

       It seems you can't *buy* a mobile without FM radio, camera, dictaphone, base-station identification, broadcast GMT +x. Incidentally, my battery's "half-life" is decreased in areas of low base-station density. My theory is, it autonomously "ups" the power to find more base-stations. Increased power consumption has been noted where the "phone" has not moved out of the "cell". Mobiles are like women, not happy with only one option.
4whom, Jul 01 2008
  

       //It seems you can't *buy* a mobile without FM radio, camera, dictaphone, base-station identification, broadcast GMT +x. //
Try shopping for a phone in an emerging market, like India or Africa. Here, basic models are the norm.
Nokia has a model whose only "feature" is an LED flashlight (really useful in areas with uncertain electricity supplies after dark) - it has shipped over a quarter of a billion of them.
AbsintheWithoutLeave, Jul 01 2008
  

       I am in one of the markets you mention. Granted, I could get a "Firefly", but it came free with my Nokia "control the world" handset. I tried to buy another one, not for sale! Only came as a promotional item, with the purchase of a contract or another handset. Bizarre!   

       Because of this you find old handsets (brand new, out the box, retro) reaching a price "Americans would not pay". Battery life being more important than "add-ons". And then batteries become important. Batteries sell for more than the average phone, in fact, you can exchange a phone for a battery.   

       Basic models are *not* the norm from the mobile market but, in fact, garner more favour than your 3g-hsdpa's, on the black market. This is given impotus from the pay-as-you-go (pre-paid) airtime model. So, yes, basic models are the norm, but only if you pay more for airtime. Conversely, pay less (by half) for your airtime and receive a phone that could, transferred into dollars, feed your family for a month.   

       Now you wonder why these handsets are the norm? And you wonder why emerging market mobile entrepeneurs have unseated William Gates III at the top of the log! Its the power I tells ya, the power.
4whom, Jul 01 2008
  

       Unless I am wrong I think that the transmitter/receiver part of the phone uses more power than anything else. I doubt that the backlight even uses nearly half of what the actual radio transmitter components need.
Jscotty, Jul 01 2008
  

       It seems to me that phones require a fair bit of juice to talk. Turning off the screen probably wouldn't help you.
Bad Jim, Jul 01 2008
  

       /Unless I am wrong I think that the transmitter/receiver part of the phone uses more power than anything else//
Depends on the signalling system and the distance from the tower. In some markets, the camera (and so the display also) are the worst culprits.
AbsintheWithoutLeave, Jul 01 2008
  

       // LED flashlight // Are you suggesting using Morse code as a signalling fall-back?
Dub, Jul 02 2008
  

       I use a PDA so the screen is larger than most, but then so is the battery and cutting the backlight makes huge differences in battery life.   

       Most of the digital phones work on a system where they will transmit just enough to be heard, so bad reception sites will kill a battery faster than anything. You can test this by putting you phone in a metal box and in my experience the battery life will drop to hours.   

       The biggest battery saver would be dropping incoming messages or even incoming monitoring, that would expand battery life exponentially.
MisterQED, Jul 02 2008
  

       I believe that if the backlight were disabled (at your option, of course) and the screen were set to display only in black and white (in low power mode, it's a color screen but when the phone is in low power mode it only displays BW) the phone would at least work, although if the batteries are that low, then it may sound "static-y" but as long as you could still hear each other, then this would be work-able. If you've seen those higher-cost phones, like the razr or the blackberry for example, you'll know the screen is almost like a mini computer screen in terms of quality/brightness. I'm guessing that takes quite a bit of power to have the screen running at it's "fullest". If it only displayed BW, and the backlight was turned off, I suppose it could get you more air-time. also maybe the phone could only alert for actual phone calls at this point, and it won't do anything if a text message/voicemail is recieved. This idea isn't about building a basic phone with very few, if any, extra features, it's just about building the kind of phone that is the norm these days (color screen, built in camera, FM radio/mp3, and all sorts of other crap) but with a switch that sends the phone into a mode where all non-phone features are disabled temporarily, making it use less battery power. Long story short, it's not about building a simple phone with a BW screen and no extras, it's just to get people out of a jam.
Dickcheney6, Jul 02 2008
  

       I like it, but i think it can be taken further. A 'phone with a totally dead battery could be plugged into a landline socket, used as a landline and charged at the same time using the power coming down the landline itself. Also, i don't think the display is needed, as they don't exist on older normal blowers.
nineteenthly, Jul 02 2008
  

       thumbs up!
kevinthenerd, Jul 02 2008
  

       Ninteenthly, that's a good idea, would help in power outages, but I don't know how much power a land line phone jack provides- I don't know if it would be enough to drive the phone AND charge the batteries- but it could certainly power the phone, cause its plugged directly into the phone jack. it would be like having a regular land line phone with a color display and all that other junk. In fact, since it's on the land line you could use it even if there was no cell signal as long as it was plugged into a functional land line. If that were not a comment but an actual halfbakery entry, i'd bun it.
Dickcheney6, Jul 12 2008
  

       OK, i might do that then, but if it's M-F-D'd as an echo, i'll get rid of it.
nineteenthly, Jul 12 2008
  
      
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