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Stop the iPhone from muting calls with your ear

If you have an iPhone 3G you may have found yourself in the awkward situation where after a while of rambling on, you suddenly hear the person at the other end say “hello? Are you there? hello…”. It’s so annoying! Not to mention embarrassing…now you’ve got to say all that stuff again (making you look like an idiot to bystanders), that’s not cool. So why does this happen? Because your ear has touched and activated the mute button at some point during your conversation thereby preventing others from hearing you. Here’s how you can prevent it from happening again.

Before I continue, I quickly want to point out the irony in the fact that newly minted AT&T iPhone owners are experiencing the exact problem an Cingular (AT&T) marketing campaign claimed happened “only to the other guys”. Check out these videos from the not too distant past:


[step 1] To understand why some iPhone owners accidentally mute their microphone when moving the phone close to their ear or head, you have to understand how one of the iPhones’ many sensors works. The iPhone 3G has a proximity sensor near the speaker. This sensor was specifically designed to tell the iPhone whether or not you’re holding it up to your ear. If this proximity sensor detects your face, it’ll lock the keypad preventing any accidental pressing of buttons.

So why does it still happen to so many people? This is the tricky part…It turns out the proximity sensor gets blocked by many of the 3rd party accessories such as protective cases, covers or sleeves. So, to ensure that your iPhone’s proximity sensor isn’t blocked, simply buy a case, pouch or protective cover that doesn’t cover the proximity sensor and you’ll mute yourself no more.

Here’s the location of the proximity sensor I’m talking about:

[step 2] If your iPhone accessory covers these sensors, then the iPhone won’t be able to sense whether or not you’re holding it up to your ear and will therefore not lock the screen during calls. So wander over to your nearest iPhone accessory store and obtain a case that protects your precious possession but still allows your iPhone to sense your face.
That’s it.

September 3, 2009

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6 comments found

Comments for: Stop the iPhone from muting calls with your ear

  1. Alton Kura

    Stupid case. I got it from some cart in the mall and it was some knockoff made in china. Now I have one from the Apple store and no longer mute my calls.

  2. Daniel Maia

    But mine has no case!

    1. Post author: 
      David Vielmetter

      Hmm, then perhaps your proximity sensor is damaged or covered somehow. Do you have a screen protector? If so try replacing it with a thinner one.

      1. Ward White

        Mine has no case either — and I continue to be frustrated by this problem. I’m on a 4G, not a 3G. And (after some months of the frustration you describe), I previously had learned about the proximity sensor. Now I’m careful that I’m activating it — but STILL get muted calls.

        To me, it’s a bad design on a bad phone that continues to drop calls like crazy — but hey, it’s a great camera!

        1. alt

          try holding your phone 45 degrees.

  3. Dick

    I got the iPhone with their antenna imbedded in the cover! so they require a product that screws up their product. Nice. Thanks for the info – at least I now know what’s happening.

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