Verizon HTC One Faint Ringing Problem

The purpose of this post is 2-fold:

  • See if anyone has any ideas how to get around this issue, and
  • Warn Verge readers and impending Verizon HTC One buyers of the issue.
That out of the way, I ended up buying the Verizon HTC One on the day that it first became available. Immediately, it became clear that I loved this device, and it's been just an absolute joy to use for the past 2 weeks. Unfortunately though, there is one small issue. Twice now the phone just randomly started ringing with the following characteristics:
  1. The ringing is pretty quiet... it took me a good 20-30 seconds to realize it was coming from inside my car (where it happened both times).
  2. It's not the ringtone you have for calls... if anything it sounds like a very generic, old school ringing.
  3. It will not stop until you fully restart the phone (must have Fast Boot option turned off) or make an outgoing call. Even if you restart the phone while Fast Boot is turned on, the sound will return when it turns back on.
  4. It seems to be related to being in a low signal area. As I mentioned, both times it happened to me while I was driving in my car.
After not really thinking too much about it (hey, I'm used to odd things happening on my Android phones), I ran across someone mentioning the "faint ringing" problem in an XDA forum for something else. I immediately recalled having the same issue, and decided to look for answers online. After a cursory "Verizon HTC One Faint Ringing" search, I came up with 2 Verizon Forum threads detailing this issue on both the Droid DNA and the HTC One. Those forum posts can be found at the following URLs:
  • Droid DNA - https://community.verizonwireless.com/message/992153
  • HTC One - https://community.verizonwireless.com/message/993726
As far as I can tell, it looks like this issue has been known on the Droid DNA for at least 8 months now, and Verizon is just starting to even recognize it as an issue... therefore I don't have much faith that they'll fix it quickly on the HTC One. Regardless, there are some things that I've gathered from these forums:
  1. It appears to be just a Verizon and HTC issue. It doesn't happen on any other Verizon phones, and it doesn't happen on any HTC phones on other carriers.
  2. It can happen when the phone is turned off (once again, as long as Fast Boot is turned on). If it's fully turned off, it will not produce the ringing.
  3. It can be easily reproduced in certain physical locations, each of which have low signal on Verizon's network.
  4. It can happen on a phone that has never installed a single 3rd party app, and was just factory reset.
  5. A few people have had luck switching SIMs on the HTC One, but I think that is due to a separate issue where some SIMs handed out with the HTC One were faulty, and gave the phone poorer reception than it should be getting. I would wager that even those who "fixed" the issue with a new SIM could reproduce it again if they were to go to an area with even poorer reception.
  6. Once the ringing occurs, switching on Airplane mode will not stop it. It has to be fully reset, or make an outgoing call.
I would love to find an area where I could reproduce the issue, because I'd like to try a few things:
  1. Use a 3rd party app to fully turn off 3G data. My guess from the low reception thing is that maybe it happens during the handoff between 4G and 3G signals.
  2. I was lucky enough to unlock my bootloader on the first day using HTCDev (before Verizon shut them down), so I could potentially try different things that require root... like perhaps tweaking with the radio... Although, that might require S-Off, which we don't have yet.

Anyways, I figured it's worth getting this information out there, perhaps to warn potential buyers of the issue. Frankly, I still absolutely love the phone, and plan on keeping it even if the issue is never resolved (the only place where I would be embarrassed with this going off would be a movie or a meeting at work... and it's so quite that having your phone in your pocket would almost completely mute the sound).