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December 10, 2011

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Emergency call bug hits Android phones

SOME users of Android operating system smartphones may have to dial the Shanghai area code 021 before the emergency 110 number to get connected, police advised yesterday.

The bug may affect smuggled phones from companies such as HTC and Samsung.

This warning came after a man using an Android system-equipped HTC smartphone purchased as smuggled goods told police yesterday that he repeatedly dialed 110 to report a group of suspicious men but could not get connected.

"After I dialed 110, a message repeatedly said, "for police dial 110, to report a fire dial 119, for an ambulance dial 120, to report a traffic accident dial 122," said the man, surnamed Liu. I thought there was a breakdown on the 110 reporting system, so I informed police," he said.

Officers said the problem occurred with smartphones using the Android system, especially those coming into the market as smuggled goods.

Police said some were originally sold in the United States or other Western countries and emergency call numbers were set to dial these countries' emergency services - such as 911 in the US and 999 in Britain.

When users dialed 110 in Shanghai using a smuggled phone, the cellphone would recognize this as an emergency call and automatically switch it to the emergency number for the country it was sold in, preventing callers from getting connected to local police, officers said.

The simplest way to fix the problem is to add the area code before dialing the emergency services, officers said.

For example, users should dial 021-110 to call Shanghai police, they explained.


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