Smartphones contain many parts that work together to give us the comfortable experience we take for granted. The proximity sensor helps streamline many of the ways we use our phones and you won’t recognize those things until it’s not working.
Let’s take a look at what a proximity sensor in a cell phone is and how to fix a broken one.
What does a proximity sensor do?
A proximity sensor is one of many smartphone sensors. Its role is to detect how close you are to your phone and respond accordingly. This helps activate features in response, such as lighting up your screen when you look at it or turning the screen off when you hold your phone to your ear.
The proximity sensor in your mobile phone detects your facial features to unlock your phone. If you put your phone in your pocket, the sensor prevents accidental touches. It’s a handy chip that you may never be aware of in your everyday life, but it plays a great role in providing little conveniences.
How to test your proximity sensor
If you are not sure if your phone’s proximity sensor is working properly, there are tests you can do to verify it. We recommend that you restart your phone before trying any of the following to remove temporary bugs/glitches that may be affecting your phone.
One way to test the sensor is to lift your phone up to your face to see if it lights up. Another way is to make a call and hold your phone to your ear to see if the screen dims. If these don’t work, you can download a free third-party app like Sensor test to perform a proximity sensor test.
You can also diagnose your Samsung phone through the Samsung Members app to see if the sensor is working normally. If none of these methods yield any results, your proximity sensor is probably not working properly and you should try one of the solutions below.
1. Clean dirt and dust near the sensor
Dust and grime may not seem like a big problem, but once they start to build up, they can be harmful to your phone. If dust is blocking your proximity sensor, it can prevent your face from being properly detected.
Using a clean cloth or ear swab, gently wipe the top part of your phone where your sensor is located. If you are not sure where it is, please refer to the image above. Regardless of your phone model, the proximity sensor is always on the top of your phone.
Test if it works now after cleaning. Also make sure there are no cracks or scratches nearby as this can also affect your sensor. If they are present, you may need to visit a repair center.
2. Check if a screen saver is blocking it
Screen protectors are another major cause of the proximity sensor not working properly. If the glass is too thick or not suitable for your phone, it can cause detection problems. If you have recently installed a new screen protector, gently separate this material from your touchscreen and wipe your screen.
Check if the phone’s sensor is now working using the methods mentioned earlier. When buying screen accessories, make sure to select one made specifically for your phone model and test to make sure it works properly.
3. Update your phone
Bugs and glitches can always occur and mess with your phone. This could be due to incompatible software updates or just temporary issues that resolve on their own. Phone manufacturers release updates to address these bugs so it’s a good idea to make sure your phone is updated.
To check for pending updates for your phone, visit Settings > System > Advanced > System Update. On Samsung phones you can find it under Settings > Software Update > Download and Install.
4. Use an app to recalibrate your device’s proximity sensor
Recalibrating your phone’s sensors can help you resolve issues that may be due to bugs or glitches. Calibration is important because it ensures that your sensors read the information accurately.
You may have already come across it with Google Maps, which asks you to recalibrate your compass every now and then to always be able to pinpoint your position accurately.
Just like resetting your phone, recalibrating your sensors can make sure they work properly. To recalibrate your proximity sensor, use the Reset/Repair Proximity Sensor app, which is free on the Play Store.
5. Reset your device
If all else fails, chances are your phone is damaged and needs to be taken to a technician for repair. Therefore, before doing this, it is worth resetting your phone. Doing so will erase all data and make it a clean slate again. This may remove any bugs that may not have been resolved by other means.
It is recommended that you backup your data before doing this and sync all your information with your Google account. That way you won’t lose any information and Google will restore everything for you once the reset is complete. Samsung phones have their own backup tools.
You can check out our guide on how to factory reset your Android phone if you are not aware.
6. Take it to a technician
If none of the above methods can fix your proximity sensor, chances are it is damaged and needs to be taken to a repair center. If you recently dropped your phone or had an accident, this is the most obvious cause. The proximity sensor is very fragile and can be easily damaged by too much pressure.
We recommend that you take your smartphone to an official repair center and have it handled by professionals. While it may be tempting to follow a YouTube video and fix it yourself, the smartphone is a delicate device that you should not try to fix without some knowledge.
Your phone may still work without a proximity sensor
Smartphones are endlessly refined to make our lives easier. Technically, you can use your phone without the proximity sensor, and you may even find that it’s quite easy to get used to your phone without it.
That said, the convenience it offers is not self-evident. The value these small components add plays an important role in the overall experience you have with your phone.