Still No Fix for iPhone 4 Proximity Sensor

While Apple’s new iPhone 4 has been crawling through the ‘Antennagate’ media gauntlet for its signal attenuation problems, an even more serious one has been kicked to the back burner. A surprising number of the new smartphones have a problem with their proximity sensors. I first mentioned the problem nearly a month ago here, and back then it did not seem like that big of a deal—certainly nothing as bad as the antenna issue. Fast forward to the present and the problem seems to be spiraling out of control.

The iPhone’s proximity sensor tells the phone when to turn off the touchscreen when you bring it close to your ear while making a call. Without the sensor, your ears can bump the screen and push buttons. This can result in you hanging up, muting someone or even dialing another number. The defective units do not turn off the touchscreen 100% of the time or sometimes reactivate it in the middle of a call.

Apple’s own forums are exploding with comments about the proximity sensor problem. The thread about the problem is already much more popular than the one about ‘Antennagate.’ In fact, even two PCWorld editors have had the problem themselves. One even had to get three replacement iPhone 4s.

While Apple CEO Steve Jobs did mention the problem during his recent press conference to allay worries about the iPhone 4’s antenna design and promise everyone free rubber cases, his statement was less than reassuring. He said that Apple would try to fix the proximity sensors via a software update. iOS 4 has already seen its first update. Why did this “fix” not make it into that one? Is this just apple posturing and pretending like usual that the iPhone 4 has no problems? It makes you wonder exactly how many units are defective in one way or another that Apple shipped.

Having problems with your iPhone 4’s proximity sensor? Angry? Think that a software fix is just a pipedream? Let everyone know and tell us how the defective sensor is affecting your smartphone experience.

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