"I'm having an issue with the Proximity Sensor not properly detecting when i'm holding my phone to my ear," says one user in a post to the Apple support forums. "I can confirm that the iPhone sensor is working by covering it with my finger, but when held to my face, the screen blinks as if it cannot decide to disable the screen or enable it. It results on me hanging up, putting calls on mute, and dialing numbers accidentally while i'm on the phone. This occurs on 90% of my calls."
In the thread that follows —– and in various other online threads — dozens of others complain of similar issues. "My wife and I both have the same exact problem with out phones. I was on an hour phone call this evening and my phone muted me 5 times, put me on hold and tried calling my work and then put me on hold and tried to send a text message to my work. This is very disappointing," says another in the Apple support forums.
"Ok, that last one with the text message is kind of funny. But for someone who has had apple products for years on end, this is about the worst experience I've had so far."
Some claim the sensor is too sensitive. Others claim it's not sensitive enough. But this seems to be a difference of semantics. "It does work, but just not correctly. I actually think the issue would be that it is too sensitive, since the slightest movement makes it think you have removed the phone from your face completely," says one user.
"I should also say that the proximity sensor DOES work," says another. "It's just not sensitive enough or something while I'm on a call."
Some users here claim to have found a fix, which involves simply resetting the phone's settings. "Got mine working. Went into settings, general, and I reset all settings. Now the proximity sensor is working when I take the phone away from my head. Good luck, hope it works for you too."
One fanboi has purchased, um, three iPhone 4s, and the problem occurs with each one. "The display activates at less then 1 inch from your head and is slow to deactivate," he says. "I have facetimed, muted, and keypressed all at least 12 times in the first day. Twice just while leaving the Apple store.
"While using the phone in a dark room, I noticed by simply rocking the phone left or right less than 1 inch, the display would activate. Having purchased every version of iPhone on each launch date, I have never encountered this problem. Hopefully, a firmware update will fix this!!!!!"
The good news is that the proximity sensor seems to be equally crap with right handers as left handers. ®
A tip of the hat to iPhone Hacks.