Proximity sensor the real issue with dropped calls

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by Mark Booth, Jul 2, 2010.

  1. Mark Booth macrumors 68000

    Mark Booth

    Jan 16, 2008
    When you bring the iPhone 4 to your ear, the proximity sensor detects your head and shuts off the display so you don't inadvertently touch one of the on-screen buttons with your face. That's how every iPhone since the original has worked. But, unfortunately, there is some weirdness with the proximity sensor in the iPhone 4. You can have it right next to your ear and, for whatever reason, the display will come back on (or flicker on and off). When the display is active, it is all too easy to accidentally hit the END button and disconnect your call.

    It has happened to me twice now. And I can hold the iPhone 4 up to my ear while watching in the mirror and by carefully and slowly moving the iPhone 4 around next to my ear, I can cause the display to come on. It takes practice to find the the "just wrong" position, but it's easily reproducible.

    Now, anyone that's been paying attention already knows about this bug. But the point of this message is simply....

    I'm betting that the VAST majority of dropped calls that people are blaming on the "death grip" and signal attenuation are, in fact, dropped calls due to the proximity sensor bug.

  2. Mark Booth thread starter macrumors 68000

    Mark Booth

    Jan 16, 2008
    BTW, it is my opinion that EVERY iPhone 4 has the proximity sensor bug. Some of you just haven't had it happen yet.

  3. DennisVar macrumors newbie

    Jun 21, 2010
  4. thelumpya2 macrumors regular


    Nov 24, 2008
  5. kaelell macrumors 6502

    Nov 16, 2009
    are you saying its a bug or that the sensor is too sensitive?

    I personaly have not had any problems with "normal" use. ofcourse if you move the phone around to find the sweet spot your asking for trouble. I could probably repeat that with a 3GS.

    If its a bug, then I guess it could be only certain phones are doing it.
  6. Mark Booth thread starter macrumors 68000

    Mark Booth

    Jan 16, 2008
    I HONESTLY believe the proximity sensor bug is the real issue with the majority of dropped calls people are experiencing.

    Unfortunately, thanks to all of the videos showing the dropping signal strength, that is the first place most people's minds go when they experience a dropped call. They immediately ASSUME it was because they were holding the iPhone in their hand. They don't stop for a moment to consider that it might have been the proximity sensor bug (or they don't even know about the proximity sensor bug because they've been to busy only reading topics about the signal attenuation).

    On my iPhone 4, I can easily cause the signal attenuation by putting my finger on that lower left corner antenna seam. But I cannot get it to drop a call, not matter how hard I try. Even if I only started with 2-3 bars of signal, it won't drop the call.

    But I've had two dropped calls due to the proximity sensor bug.

  7. iphone529 macrumors regular

    Jul 23, 2007
    like you I had this issue, I fixed it by restoring the iPhone and set up as new phone, yes all of your settings and notes will be gone, but it fixes the issue.
  8. TwoBytes macrumors 68030


    Jun 2, 2008
    lots of people have done that and it's come back - don't be fooled buddy. It's a software fix which is coming up soon.

    In the meantime, use headphones!
  9. Nicklaus macrumors 6502


    Jun 19, 2010
    Winter Park
    I never made the connection to that but it surely could account for some of my dropped calls because I am always making other things happen with my face.
  10. Mark Booth thread starter macrumors 68000

    Mark Booth

    Jan 16, 2008
    My personal belief is that it is a bug that can be cured in software. I do not believe the proximity sensor is defective. Just some weirdness in the software.

    I encourage every iPhone 4 owner to try this for themselves:

    Initiate a call to a number (a friend, or your home phone.... someplace where the person on the other end won't mind if you're not talking to them), stand in front of a mirror, and slowy change the positioning of the iPhone 4's speaker against your ear. Try slightly angling the bottom of the iPhone away from your cheek while also moving the speaker around your ear.

    If you do it long enough and carefully enough, I am confident you will hit the "magic spot" where you'll see the display come on WHILE the iPhone 4 is still up against your ear.

    Of course, that should NEVER happen because of the risk of accidentally touching one of the on-screen buttons with your cheek. If that button is the END button, BINGO.... call is ended and to those unaware of the proximity sensor bug, it SEEMS like it was a "dropped call".

  11. nooaah macrumors 68000


    Sep 3, 2009
    Philadelphia, PA
    If you tapped "disconnect" with your face, you wouldn't get the "call failed" screen and the BEEP BEEP BEEP that some of us are way too familiar with.
  12. ryannazaretian macrumors 6502a


    Sep 21, 2008
    Just curious because I haven't experience the issue...

    The proximity sensor is right above the ear piece. You can simulate putting positioning your finger within about 2.5" and my screen shuts off after about 1 second, and turns back on in about 1 second as well when I remove my finger from the area.

    My question is, what does it do when you try this? Does it work properly? My best guess is that the delay in shutting off the screen is a bit too much, but I really have no idea.

    Not saying that it isn't a problem, just saying that I'm curious to what causes the problem as I'm not able to recreate it.
  13. FireSokar macrumors regular

    Jun 21, 2010
    This is not a bug, the iPhone is meant to be vertical not damn near horizontal. a proximity sensor works by detecting its distance from a object, adjusting its angle / holding it ackwardly even tho the ear piece is still against your ear will cause the sensor to notice its not within x amount of distance. The sensor does not do 360* it only detects a couple degrees from the front of the phone. Phones are designed to have the speaker close to your ear and mic next to your mouth, not ear to speaker and mic to the sky / shoulder. I have never had a problem with the proximity sensor in the iPhones 3G,3GS,4 because I like a normal person talk into my phone the way its designed. If you insist on talking in your phone so the mic is not near your mouth put it on speaker phone.
  14. iphone529 macrumors regular

    Jul 23, 2007
    I'll Post it again, RESTORE your iPhone and SET up as NEW. It eliminates the issue completely.
  15. OnNightfall macrumors regular

    May 13, 2010
    Wow, the things I could say about this but I'm just going to ignore this was ever posted. To the original poster, I agree 100%. Apple fix this **** already.
  16. nikhsub1 macrumors 68020


    Jun 19, 2007
    mmmm... jessica.'s beer...
    Really? I've done this and I continue to have the proximity sensor issue... With all my other iPhones I was able to talk with the phone wedged in between my ear and shoulder - I can't do that with this phone, the sensor won't shut off...
  17. ryanide macrumors 6502

    Jul 23, 2002
    can anyone verify this?

    I'm sorry to doubt you, but it's a lot of work to Restore and start as new.
  18. wikoogle macrumors 6502a


    Jun 12, 2009
    Good post OP.

    I wonder if we can get apple to respond to this issue/release a fix for it.
  19. iphone529 macrumors regular

    Jul 23, 2007
    Your doing something wrong then, are you sure after you restore you choose, set up as new? If it doesn't work just go into the apple store and get a replacement.
  20. Gizmotoy macrumors 65816


    Nov 6, 2003
    I hope you at least see the hypocrisy of this statement given that you've taken to berating those who claim the signal issue affects all phones.

    You just did the exact same thing you make fun of them for. So I'll use your tactic against you... JUST RETURN IT! :D
  21. kernkraft macrumors 68020


    Jun 25, 2009
    I don't know whether it was a call from Apple's legal department or whether it was an undisclosed contract to 'support' the site, but Macrumors forgot to do any SEO with this "iPhone 4 dropping calls" problem. Usually, if I look for Mac or iPhone-specific issues, a hit from MR appears on Google fairly highly ranked.

    This time, it's nothing. People have been complaining about dropping calls for days and days; thousands and thousands commented; yet Macrumors is just not there. I also noticed a change of tone in Arn's comments.

    Has somebody been drinking Kool-Aid?
  22. OnNightfall macrumors regular

    May 13, 2010
    Like I said in my thread. The antenna issue has a temporary fix (Buy a case). I never own phones without cases so that's a non issue for me. Moving on, the proximity issue has NO temporary fix. Short of being forced to buy a Bluetooth headset or using headphones which is ********. Proximity Sensor > Antenna lssue. Drop calls are clearly as a result of the proximity because it happens to me when having full strength 5 bars. Apple needs to identify this as an issue just as much as the antenna. I've called and complained and posted on these forums like crazy. We need a fix!
  23. xaquaticx macrumors regular

    Feb 6, 2010
    So you mean he was holding it wrong? I see. Non-issue. Thanks Mr. Jobs.
  24. zub3qin macrumors 65816


    Apr 10, 2007
    Since doing the restore, are you able to use our phone cradled on your shoulder without the proximity sensor issue? This worked fine on the old iPhones but is the surest way to disable the sensor on this phone.

    If this works for you, I'm all for trying the fix.
    Please let us know.
  25. Loiterer macrumors member

    Jun 23, 2010
    Dead wrong. You can tell whether it's a dropped call or a hangup, a dropped call beeps three times and the screen displays "Call Failed." When you hang up the phone, with your face or otherwise, you don't see that message or hear any tone.

    Did you also not see any of the 4,253 videos people have made with the phone NOT on the ear, but just in the hand and still the call drops?

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