Part 1 – Signal Issues

Header image: Signal by Luke Nadeau (via Flickr) – Used according to creative commons 2.0 license.

September 1st 2016

I don’t pay too much attention to my phone while I’m at work. I am a computer programmer (or “software engineer”, which sounds much cooler) and I work in an open space. A rather quiet one, to be fair, but I often find myself wearing headphones even when I’m not listening to music, only to help me zone-in and focus on what I need to do.

That’s why, the first time I noticed my phone wasn’t getting any signal, I didn’t care too much. I thought my carrier was doing something funny. It happens sometimes.

However, later that same day, I noticed that my phone was again reporting no signal. A few hours had passed since I first noticed, I didn’t know if it was a coincidence that I looked at it twice when it had no signal, or if it didn’t get any signal for the whole time, so I asked a few colleagues with the same carrier, but they were seeing no issues on their phones.

Then the workday was over, and I went back home. Later that evening I received  a couple of phone calls, so I concluded that whatever happened that morning, was gone as mysteriously as it came.

September 2nd 2016

The next day, I noticed again that the phone lost the network during the night. I went to the office, and that day I kept an eye on my phone every now and then to see if the network was still gone, and sure it was. It was gone until the end of the day, when I went to my father’s for dinner, and was able to make a phone call on the way there.

But I was suspicious, so I installed a GSM monitoring app on my phone (this one, if anyone is interested); to try and catch the signal issue. I didn’t have to wait long, I caught the bastard in less than an hour of monitoring.

Signal Monitornig screenshot
Screenshot from the signal monitoring app

As you can see in the screenshot the network went “Fuori Servizio” (out of service), and then back “In funzione” (working) twice in about half an hour, with a total of slightly more than 25 minutes of radio silence. I started to be worried, and did some tests: I swapped sim card slot, and tried in a different sim card, which didn’t seem to influence the erratic behaviour. I was out for dinner, and wasn’t really participating very much to the conversation, so after these initial tests failed, I stopped looking at the phone, until the next day.

September 3rd 2016

The next morning, when I woke up, the phone was still reporting no service, I waited some more, did some other things, and finally looked at the GSM monitoring app again.

Signal Monitornig screenshot (2)
Here’s how five hours of network silence look like

The phone lost signal around 6:00 AM and did not regain it. Meanwhile, my girlfriend’s OnePlus Two was doing totally fine, so I borrowed hers and swapped sim cards. His phone (with my sim card in it) quickly showed a reassuring half-full signal indicator, while mine (with her sim card), was still dead.

I jumped on the car and drove to the nearest phone shop of my carrier, and they happily tried with a brand new sim card, but nothing changed.

I spent that afternoon unrooting, backing up and resetting my phone to factory settings, first from the menu, then from the recovery, then looking online for similar problems and hopefully solutions, to try as much as I could to fix it without having to send it for repairs, but I ultimately gave up. There was nothing I could do: I needed to contact the OnePlus support.

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