WHY does any cell phone have a proximity sensor???

So after 2 days with my new Samsung Galaxy S4, I seriously thought that I was going to have to return it. There was no way to use the keyboard while making a call; the screen would instantly go black. Nobody has any choice BUT to use a kb during most calls-- think of all the times you have to press numbers about 80,000 times while negotiating through unending menus while stuck in automated customer service hell, if nothing else. It took AT LEAST an hour of searching to find out that it was the proximity sensor, which turns off the screen when the phone is held to your ear!!

Not everyone wants to use Bluetooth or even earbuds or speakerphone; a lot of people go old school and actually hold the phone to their ear at least some of the time. So WHAT is the point of a proximity sensor feature in the first place?? What good could it possibly do? When would you ever use it? Why? I’d feel better if I at least knew… I need closure… :wink:

It saves battery and it also prevents you from pushing buttons on the touch screen with your earlobe, earrings, and cheek.

It would be very inconvenient if you brought the screen up to your ear and activated the on-screen hangup button with your face.

Incidentally, I owned a phone that had a strip of plastic for shipping that covered the proximity sensor. One of the most common complaints on the internet was that the screen would go blank when someone called. It was because most people didn’t bother to remove the plastic strip.

I have the same phone, OP, and have had the same problem especially when entering my voice-mail password. What works for me is holding the phone in my left hand and using the same hand to hit the keys. Works for me.

Well, SO far it’s working to just have that sensor off… but the thing is that the screen goes blank INSTANTLY with it on and does not turn back on again when it’s away from your face and you’re trying to punch keys literally half a second later. That’s why I can’t see that the usefulness in terms of battery time or anything else could possibly be worth it. And Kayaker, either I can’t picture how this works, or you have the biggest hands in the world! :wink:

It seems like something is not working properly with your phone. The phone has to turn on again when it is away from your ear so you can easily type on it.

You know w hat they say. . .:wink:

My password is set to be quick and easy. I do not set off the proximity thing if I hold my phone a certain way and use that hand’s thumb to hit ****. Trial & Error?

this may be appropriate…

I know that it HAS TO if it’s going to work, but IS IT doing this for anyone else? Does anyone else actually have a Galaxy S4? Have they noticed this problem, if so?

And here’s the thing that really doesn’t (seem to) make sense: the only way to get this problem to go away is to turn OFF the proximity sensor. Because it annoys me and I don’t ever want to use it, I don’t really care about the extra battery use problem. However, I read the entire story in the link that kayaker sent, and it seems that some people can’t get this keyboard function to work unless it’s on speaker phone, which is a whole different reason. (aka, how to annoy everyone stuck in the same room with you. Not to mention those messages on the Visa customer service line that loudly announce they want your credit card number entered now. You might as well send engraved invitations to anyone who wants to spy on what you’re entering.) People also talked about problems such as calendars showing the wrong date and issues with group texts.

This is not an intuitive phone at all, which isn’t a major problem. On the whole, I’d rather have things work well than have them be easy to figure out. But if these are intrinsic problems rather than just challenges to finding the existing solution, I’m starting to wonder if I really should return this phone.

I’ve had an S2 and an S3, both with the proximity sensor. Both worked correctly. When I put the phone to my ear, the screen went off so I wouldn’t accidentally press a button. When I took the phone away from my ear to do something like press a button on the keypad, the screen would turn back on. This is a very useful feature so you do not accidentally press buttons you don’t mean to.

Basically, it sounds like there is something wrong with your phone. Are you holding your fingers over the sensor at the top? Are you really holding it away from your face entirely? I just did a google search and someone mentioned that their case protector was causing the issue by partially covering the sensor (theirs was an otterbox but others have been mentioned).

I have never used a phone case, so my experience correlates with that at least.

I doubt there is much wrong with the phone from a design standpoint, seeing as how the Galaxy S series is one of the most popular series out there. Millions have been sold, yet there is no rampant cry about how poorly the sensor works. If there’s something wrong with your phone, then it’s specific to the particular one you bought, not the whole series.

Hey all,

I appreciate the replies, but I think that what I’m actually going to do is to take this to General Questions. It’s actually a factual question rather than just “I don’t like this.” What I need to do is to find out if others on this board have found that this is happening with an S4 (not earlier versions.) I have seen other complaints about the exact same thing happening on this exact model, so I need to find out what’s going on while I still have time to return this phone.

I wish you would stop focusing in on that part of my reply. The battery issue is minor and now I wish I hadn’t even mentioned it. The issue is that you might press buttons on the touch-screen with your face. People get upset when they raise the phone to their ear and accidentally press the “end call” button on the screen.

Check to make sure there is nothing covering the sensor. Make sure you have taken off all of the clear sticky plastic that was on the phone when you got it. That strip of plastic looks like it would make a great screen protector, but it might be restricting the light going to the sensor. Make sure the face of the phone is clean. No glue left over from the packing material, no grime that has accumulated, etc.

The problem is that sensor isn’t working like it was intended.

It’s either malfunctioning and/or needs to be repaired/replaced.

I have the same phone. When I enter numbers during a call using my right hand, the prox detector sees my hand and blanks the screen. Through trial & error I’ve learned that using my left thumb to push numbers while the phone is cradled in that hand avoids the detector and it works fine. Just an idea/workaround.

Returning the phone for repair/replacement is a PIA for some people. I learned to accept the pink case accidentally shipped rather than do a return, so I know.:smiley:

I have a Galaxy S4 and it doesn’t do what yours does. The screen goes off when it’s next to my ear but comes back on as soon as I take it away from my face.

I don’t see why it would be so hard to detect the difference between an actual press and just rubbing up against a face. My sister’s iPhone does it. If there’s a large mass touching it, the keypress doesn’t register. I figured that out when I my fingers were too big to press buttons, unless I do so rather lightly. Otherwise, too much of my finger hits the screen.

A proximity sensor seems ripe for this kind of problem, since it can’t tell the difference between a face and a hand.

I have a GS4, had a GS2 before that, and an iPhone before that. They have all worked identically. Phone to ear, screen off. Take phone away from ear and screen blinks back on with plenty of ability to listen to prompts on a call at my ear and then enter key presses once I take it away from my ear, and then back to my ear again.

There’s no way to know whether it’s the phone or the user without seeing the OP do it. Maybe stop in a store and see if someone who works there can duplicate the problem?