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.
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:
- Remove the skin.
- Lift off the transparent cover.
- 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.)
- 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.