Police deployed on Monday after an iPhone automatically dialled 999, wrongly believing its owner had been in a crash.

crash detection
Photo: “CCCchristine” via Facebook.

In fact, the iPhone 14 had flown off the windscreen on Route Twisk on Monday morning and detected a sudden impact, causing it to alert the authorities.

Its owner, motoring journalist Christine Ho, said on Facebook that she had accidentally left her phone on the windscreen: “I totally forgot I left it OUTSIDE the windscreen when I drove off! The iPhone flew off at one of the corners on the twisty TMS [Tai Mo Shan] route (without me knowing). Luckily Apple’s ‘Find My’ function helped me locate the phone when I finally realised it’s gone missing.”

crash detection
Photo: “CCCchristine” via Facebook.

She said the phone was found near a bus stop, where a police car was parked nearby. Only later did she understand that officers were trying to locate her: “My lost and found phone’s screen read: ‘It looks like you’ve been in a crash.’ Then I received a call from the police…”

“It turned out that the impact caused the phone to ‘think’ I had crashed, so it automatically called the police. The police said when the phone dialled 999, it sent out a computer generated message with my phone number and also its latitude and longitude! That’s why they’re looking for me at pretty much the same spot.”

crash detection
Photo: “CCCchristine” via Facebook.

Christine said she felt sorry about the false alarm and trouble it had caused, though was grateful to know the iPhone crash detection feature could have saved her life.

In response to HKFP, police said: “In respect of the ‘Crash Detection’ function on electronic devices, the Police have been maintaining close liaison and exchanging observations with stakeholders in order to fine-tune the algorithm, alongside ensuring the accuracy of relevant automated reporting mechanism.”

Correction 10:30am: An earlier version of this piece incorrectly stated that police found the iPhone. In fact, the driver did. We regret the error.

Support HKFP  |  Policies & Ethics  |  Error/typo?  |  Contact Us  |  Newsletter  | Transparency & Annual Report | Apps

Help safeguard press freedom & keep HKFP free for all readers by supporting our team

contribute to hkfp methods
YouTube video

Support press freedom & help us surpass 1,000 monthly Patrons: 100% independent, governed by an ethics code & not-for-profit.

Success! You're on the list.

Hong Kong Free Press is a new, non-profit, English-language news source seeking to unite critical voices on local and national affairs. Free of charge and completely independent, HKFP arrives amid rising concerns over declining press freedom in Hong Kong and during an important time in the city’s constitutional development.