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  • iPhone 4 Proximity Sensor Malfunctions Reported

    Increasing numbers of iPhone 4 users are reporting the touchscreen becoming active during phone calls when the proximity sensor would normally shut it off, leading to inadvertent button-presses. The reports are coming in with enough frequency and consistency to suspect a hardware or calibration issue with at least a particular subset of iPhones. No word from Apple yet.

    The iPhone's proximity sensor uses a small infrared LED and uses the reflection from nearby objects to deactivate the touchscreen when it's close to your head. If you hold it up to an iSight or other camera that can read near infrared light, you can usually just see the glow. The problem may be in how sensitive the detector is set to be on some phones or an actual problem with the detector. So far I haven't noticed it with my own phone, if I make a call and hold a finger in front of the sensor with my finger the screen deactivates out to about an inch away.

    An email from a MMi member this morning reported hearing keypress tones during calls, and in one instance his phone tried to initiate a FaceTime call while he had the iPhone to his head. There's an Apple Support thread with forty-one posts as of the time of this writing, most with similar reports. One user says the display activates when he rocks it from side to side.

    Anyone out there seeing this?
    This article was originally published in forum thread: iPhone 4 Proximity Sensor Malfunctions Reported started by Paul Daniel Ash View original post
    Comments 159 Comments
    1. oops1975's Avatar
      oops1975 -
      Just had a appointment with a Genius Expert at Apple store. He looked at it and said that he can't reproduce the issue so he is going to order replacement. I asked him to get a 32GB.. He put me on some priority list.. don't know what that is.. but in the apple store app.. it shows my pickup date as Jan 1st 2050..

      Anyway, I think that apart from some kind of software issue, the location of the sensor is also causing this. It is above the speaker now compared to left of the speaker for all previous models... Till I get my new phone I am going try to adjust the way I hold to the new location.. I know it sounds weird but I like the phone and I would hate to give it up...
    1. iphone925's Avatar
      iphone925 -
      Can anyone tell me if this can be fixed via software or no so i can make my decision of returning my IPhone 4 cause if it can be fixed via software update I am sure apple will do it but if its a bigger problem then that I probably will return the Iphone 4 and stick with 3GS this proximity problem is very annoying
    1. geoffe's Avatar
      geoffe -
      I keep hitting the mute and it's kind of funny because everyone I talk to keeps saying "are you still there?...hello hello"
    1. iphone925's Avatar
      iphone925 -
      Quote Originally Posted by bobright View Post
      What has Apple suggested when reporting the problem? Im sure a replacement would be the same, they need to just make a new round of phones and recall all the damn current ones.
      Well i am waiting on my replacement so let's see how my replacement works out I will keep you guys updated
    1. iGuzman56's Avatar
      iGuzman56 -
      do you know why in the apple store app it says it will be here janaury 1 2050, cuz they put me on the priority list for an iphone 4, i also said i wanted a 32gb iphone 4
    1. bobright's Avatar
      bobright -
      I dont like the occasional proximity issue I have when on the phone.....but on the other hand I do like how sensitive the touch screen is. Typing is a breeze with very light taps on the screen. So I'll probably just swallow it.

      Does anybody think a shield would probably solve the problem as it takes away some of the sensitivity?!
    1. mikelliott's Avatar
      mikelliott -
      Same issues here:

      Sensors allows phone to come on
      Number tones heard while in a call
      Facetime call initiated on it's on
      Regular calls initiated on their on
      Calls muted
      Calls on speaker
      All while phone at my ear and an a call; some long, some short.
    1. mld54's Avatar
      mld54 -
      I got my phone on the 23rd, and for the first couple of days I had the problem with the calls getting muted or cut off. I could make a call and put my hand near the phone if my hand was any farther than 1/8 inch away the screen would come on. I read about other people having this problem after setting their phone up from a restore of their old phone. They said that after they did a restore and set it up as a new phone the problem was corrected. I also set mine up from a restore from my old phone, so I figured I would try it. After doing a restore and setting it up as a new phone the problem is gone. I haven't had it happen since and now I can move my hand about a inch away before the screen comes on. I guess I'm just lucky
    1. KiraXD's Avatar
      KiraXD -
      Quote Originally Posted by prankz55 View Post
      Mine goes on loudspeaker or hold ...
      yeah same here
    1. severe's Avatar
      severe -
      Has everyone here tried reseting all settings, as suggested?

      FWIW, I took that advice a few days back and, consequently, ran into a new issue with the Passcode Lock. Long story short, by advice of Apple Support, a clean restore, as a new phone, fixed the issue. I had restored from backup at one point, but that hadnít solved it.

      With the proximity issue, I'm not sure if it was the reset or the restore that finally fixed the issue, but I've since been trouble free with either problem.

      Try restoring your iPhone, set it up as a new phone, and then resync your media to the phone. Avoid restoring from a backup.

      Hope this helps. Good luck.
    1. iphone925's Avatar
      iphone925 -
      Yes i have tried resetting all settings and also try to setup the phone as a new device not a restore and nothing seem to help Anyhow I am going for a phone replacement lets see if that helps any I doubt it though cause lot of people said even after getting the new one it didn't help

      Okay i Just got the replacement phone today and Same problem Proximity is not working the way its suppose to be So does anyone know if apple can fix this through a software or returning the phone would be good cause I can't handle this proximity sensor issue

      Everybody Please Report this proximity problem here as well


      So they can know how serious is the problem with this proximity problem
    1. tellytel's Avatar
      tellytel -
      My sensor works fine. Its just in a really crappy spot. I don't know why apple changed it. Now its above the ear piece so holding it on your shoulder is hard unless your pressing it to your face. Pretty stupid. Why fix something that's not broken.
    1. iLaw-One's Avatar
      iLaw-One -
      Quote Originally Posted by tellytel View Post
      My sensor works fine. Its just in a really crappy spot. I don't know why apple changed it. Now its above the ear piece so holding it on your shoulder is hard unless your pressing it to your face. Pretty stupid. Why fix something that's not broken.

      I initially had proximity sensor issues, but after careful examination(guess like most people, I was initially expecting the sensor in it's previous spot) I found that not only did apple change it's location, but instead of three dots, it's now only a tiny slit above the earpiece.

      I guess the decision to do this must've come from lack of space after placing the front camera, and unless you're left handed, placing it on the opposite side won't work as there's also the rear facing camera to contend with!!

      IMHO, the iPhone 4 is a brilliant design. My only gripe with apple is their decision to go ahead knowing the antenna design was fundamentally flawed, and also their obvious lack of rigorous testing of every conceivable senario, knowing most if not all previous owners would be doing a restore as opposed to setting up as a new phone!

      Maybe they were too focused on preventing jailbreaking(the dev team found something of such, but have equally found new exploits...haha) that steve and johnny weren't thinking straight??

      I'm impatiently counting the days until the jailbreak for this beautiful monster is released!!!
    1. laz305's Avatar
      laz305 -
      Yep this has happened to me and was not a pretty sight. I was on a call and it hung up and called my boss at 2:30am. This is the straw that broke the camels back. I don't see how an update will fix this problem and I can't have something like that happen again.
    1. jason_wehrwein's Avatar
      jason_wehrwein -
      I have tried the reset all with no luck fixing this
    1. severe's Avatar
      severe -
      Me again. It's been a couple weeks and I just wanted to post that this proximity issue still persists for me. In my previous post, I was under the impression that things were fine again. They are not.

      BTW... the GF and I purchased our phones at the same time. She has the issue as well. Her first iPhone. My third. She's quite unimpressed. I'm slightly embarrassed.
    1. readbmr's Avatar
      readbmr -
      Hi all i had the same issue, Restored all settings and hey presto all ok now as have tested making 20 calls and have lots of apps running at bottom, so no issues now, Just try Reset All Settings
    1. virtualcappy's Avatar
      virtualcappy -
      I've had my i4 for 3 days and prox sense works fine (set up as new phone). I suggest a replacement... My impression is this is not a very common problem so I would think an exchange would fix.
    1. dsarmstrong's Avatar
      dsarmstrong -
      Mine keeps turning to key board or muting my call and sometimes speaker. I talked to Apple but they wanted 69.00 to help me fix it. or I could go Apple store which all of them are at least three hours away!