The iPhone 4 Proximity Sensor Thing

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One of the problems with being the early adopter of any kind of technology is that there are going to be a few hiccups along the way. We already know about the antenna issue, but the other day, I experienced a problem which apparently, a lot of people are having. Except that mine is almost the exact opposite.

Jason O’Grady at ZDNet touched about his post yesterday entitled, “The iPhone 4’s second Vietname: the proximity sensor(updated).” Quite the attention-grabbing title. Here’s his problem:

The proximity sensor in the iPhone 4 is what tells it how close the phone is to your face so that it can turn the touchscreen off while you’re making a phone call. This has the effect of a) saving battery power, and b) preventing inadvertent touches of the screen by your face.

The problem is that the proximity sensor in the iPhone 4 is on a hair trigger. It’s either too sensitive, miscalibrated or both. In over three years of using the iPhone 2G, 3G and 3GS I’ve never accidentally hung up on, muted or put a call on speakerphone while holding it up to my face — not once. Yet I’ve done it a half dozen times on my iPhone 4 over the past weekend.

He states later in the article that Apple should fix the issue in the next iOS update, and that they should delay the sensor by a second or two to help curb the problem.

That would actually cause issues for me. I’ve noticed that I can put the iPhone down and the screen doesn’t turn on right away, which can be annoying when you’re trying to type in entries for a touch-tone system like I was doing the other day. I did see the screen flash on once when I was on a phone call, but it went off almost immediately and frankly, it could’ve been because I had the phone a touch away from my ear at the time.

My hope here is that all of these problems are easy software fixes, which so far, seems to be the case. I’m not 100% sold on the antenna thing, but at least in the case of the proximity sensor, I think we’re just an update away from a fix.

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Kokou Adzo

Kokou Adzo is a stalwart in the tech journalism community, has been chronicling the ever-evolving world of Apple products and innovations for over a decade. As a Senior Author at Apple Gazette, Kokou combines a deep passion for technology with an innate ability to translate complex tech jargon into relatable insights for everyday users.

2 thoughts on “The iPhone 4 Proximity Sensor Thing

  1. I am on my second iPhone 4 and about to try it again on a 3rd new exchange. I thought it was me but obviously it is an issue for others. I called apple tonight to tell them that this new exchanged phone is doing the same thing and now something new is happening as well as the proximity sensor issue… I have hardly any signal even though I am using it in the exact area I was when I used the first one, and I never had an issue, and there is a strange buzzing noise everytime I am on a call. I waited in line for 9 hours for this?? When I asked the “genius” if they are going to do something about the problem and that I read online that many others have the same issue he said he had never heard about any issues whatsoever. Yeah right! I’m starting to believe that it is some strange cult that does not allow employes to tell the frigging truth! On second thought, I’m returning mine tomorrow!!

  2. They iphone 4 is no longer new so when i had a chance to get one I thought the bugs would be worked out by now. My phone was fine till it updated ios 6.1. now it has the sensitivities issue. Since there is no fix as soon as my contract is available for upgrade I will be switching to an Android.

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