iPhone – fix blank screen problem

I bought an iPhone 3G two weeks ago, and mostly I’m happy with it. I’ll probably write a few posts about my iPhone in the next couple of weeks.

Today, I want to talk about a glitch that I ran into and — more importantly — the solution I devised.

The problem was this:  when I tried to use the phone, the screen would go blank / black.

For example, I often use a cell phone to check when the next bus is coming. You dial the bus company, wait for the electronic voice to answer, and then you enter a four-digit number to identify your bus stop.

Any phone can do that — including the iPhone, theoretically. But I soon ran into a glitch. When the electronic voice answered my call, and I tried to type my four-digit number, the screen would go blank.

When the screen is blank, you can’t enter your bus stop number:  not only because you can’t see what numbers you’re touching, but because the touch screen is completely unresponsive when the screen is blank!

Even worse:  because the touch screen is unresponsive, there’s no way to get the screen to turn back on! The only means of escape is to hold down both the home button and the sleep button in order to crash your iPhone, and then reboot it.

I want my phone to work properly, damn it! Thankfully, I was able to diagnose the problem and devise a solution.

NB. It’s not a software problem. Restoring your iPhone won’t fix it.

The source of the problem is the proximity sensor:

When you lift iPhone to your ear, the proximity sensor immediately turns off the display to save power and prevent inadvertent touches.

“To prevent inadvertent touches” — that’s why the touch screen is unresponsive.

It’s obvious that the glitch has something to do with the proximity sensor. It seems to think that I still have the phone to my ear even when I hold it at arm’s length.

I guessed that the proximity sensor was being thrown off by the transparent, protective cover I had placed over the iPhone’s touch screen.

iPhone protective cover and skin

I have a skin on my phone, similar to the one pictured on the right. Beneath the skin I’ve positioned a transparent cover, pictured on the left. The transparent cover protects the touch screen.

The proximity sensor is positioned near the ear speaker at the top of the iPhone. Here’s the solution I devised:

iPhone blank screen fix

  1. Remove the skin.
  2. Lift off the transparent cover.
  3. Cut the transparent cover just below the opening for the ear speaker. (Along the dotted line in the picture, except that you’re cutting the transparent cover, not the skin.)
  4. Put the transparent cover and then the skin back on.

Once you cut the transparent cover away from the proximity sensor, the problem is solved.

Who needs to protect the area around the ear speaker anyway? It’s the touch screen that requires protection.

Meanwhile, the edge of the transparent cover is neatly covered by the skin, since the cut is under the dotted line.

15 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Lou
    Apr 23, 2009 @ 00:02:54

    Thank you so much for the info! my wife has the new 3G and the screen went black on her, now we live in So. Ca, but she is in Maui helping her sick father. She freaked out with the idea her phone was not working and having to travel back to Ca alone in the morning. I searched the problem found you and called the phone she borrowed and her iphone was back on in 10 seconds! she peeled the protective screen off and blow you a kiss! lol Thanks man Lou T.


  2. vijay soni
    May 09, 2009 @ 11:08:56

    hey thanks my phone is working by the solution u suggested.


  3. val
    May 31, 2009 @ 04:04:00

    wow!!!!!!!!! i’m so thank ful- i was so worried! thanks so much- u saved me from restoring n loosing everything


  4. Stephanie
    Dec 24, 2009 @ 14:04:40

    Thank you so much! I was having an issue with not being able to click on the speaker icon because the screen would go black whenever I’d answer an incoming call. I don’t have a protective cover on my screen but, after reading your post, I learned that the proximity sensor is causing my problem. Apparently, when I go to click on the icon, my hand is passing over the sensor making the phone think it’s near my ear thus blacking out the screen. This make me feel so much better!!


  5. Hameed
    Jan 10, 2010 @ 21:36:00

    OMG ! Thank you so much ! I pulled off my screen protector and it started working. I spent 2 hours stressing, panicking, I tried almost every solution available on the internet and yours helped me out, and I’d like to thank you again, you’re a life saver !


  6. Hilary
    Apr 13, 2010 @ 21:38:37

    Thanks! Simple yet very affective!! The issue was really irritating! Appreciate the help!


  7. Brian
    Apr 20, 2010 @ 13:56:39

    You’re solution didn’t work for me! And I’m freakin’ out over here! My screen is completely black,but yet I can hear the sound and people can still call the phone,but no screen! What could be the problem!? I don’t understand….


  8. amy
    May 03, 2010 @ 12:14:30

    my iphone just turned off and not back in..i did the solution..hold the top button and the main button for 10 seconds at the same time..the iphone logo appear but in seconds only and turned black again..help me please..what should i do?


  9. miracle
    May 27, 2010 @ 23:22:51

    wony work


  10. TK
    Jun 22, 2010 @ 10:56:26

    Thank you for your post. My iPhone ‘died’ while I was traveling and I thought all was lost but no


  11. larry
    Jan 28, 2011 @ 11:55:01

    im really happy i tried it and my iphone is back on im really glad i listen to your instruction thanks so much


  12. Fawksie
    May 07, 2011 @ 20:12:30

    Just opened an iPhone 3G I was rebuilding for the final time to put in the SIM eject lever, and then spent a good three hours futzing with the display connectors under a magnifying glass thinking I’d damaged some of the conductors. Not in a million years would I have expected the screen protector I applied at the same time to have that effect. Thanks a lot.


  13. Iphonenoob
    Jan 07, 2012 @ 03:06:47

    thank u dude for ur information, i thought may b my phone display has gone 🙂 thank u 🙂


  14. Iphonenoob
    Jan 07, 2012 @ 09:40:28

    hey i have the same problem again! but now i cant fix it 😦 plz tell me in brief……


  15. che
    Aug 19, 2012 @ 20:51:20

    thank you homie for this, help wonderfully!!!


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