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Technoblog about life

Jun 29, 2009 “When I make a call on iPhone the screen goes black and never/randomly goes normal again”. Solution.

iPhone with all its user interface bells and whistles, great functionality and stylish design is a great device, I have very little doubt about that. Unfortunately for a few days I was experiencing a problem with it that made me think being the best organizer ever it is one of the worst phone ever. You see, on a regular phone you always have this little red button that would immediately hang up when you press it. In iPhone everything is done via touch screen and software and there is no guarantee this software won’t fail you. All my long experience with conventional phones only twice lead me to a situation when I was unable to hang up the tube. A few days with iPhone brought me a dozen of such accidents. The problem was simple: once I make a call the screen randomly goes black. Sometimes this was happening a few seconds after the start of the call, sometimes only when I move it to my ear. I checked my wife’s phone and it appeared it does the same and this is actually a battery-saving feature. But her phone was returning to normal state once you move the phone from ear and mine wasn’t. It just stayed in this strange state when you can hear and talk to someone, but can’t do anything that could only be done via the touchscreen including hanging up. Here is the solution …


In a few days after I discovered such misbehavior I decided to call Apple and ask them to replace obviously broken iPhone. It was clear to me that the accelerometer used for detecting moving iPhone from ear is just broken. I called them, explained the situation and a very nice serviceperson from Apple asked me to hold on for a moment. And during that moment I realized that my wife’s phone stopped working propely too! It got the same problem as mine despite she never experienced it before. So while staying on hold I went to the internet and did a quick research. It appeared that a lot of people are having the same problem with different variations. The other discovery was that it is not motion sensor, but proximity sensor is responsible for turning the touchscreen on and off (some people say it is ambient light sensor used, but it is not). What a surprise! So I found that in order to fix the problem you need to

  1. Check that the iPhone screen is clean.
  2. If you have a protective film applied make sure it is properly aligned, clean and there are no bubbles under it and the film stuck to the entire screen surface (that was the problem with my phone and my wife’s phone too)
  3. If you’re using a protective case make sure it doesn’t overlap with the proximity sensor located near the speaker in the top part of the iPhone.
  4. Finally if the screen went black and you can’t do anything about it put your palm on the phone for a second and then remove it – the screen will turn on again.

That’s it. Oh, BTW, nice Apple serviceperson said they have never heard about that problem. Strange … google says something different: “iphone screen goes black during call”

This post is published in Hardware.

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