iPhone 4 Accidentally Hangs Up or Mutes During Calls When Held to Ear (Proximity Sensor Issue): Fixes

A number of users have experienced an issue in which the iPhone 4 unexpectedly mutes a call, hangs up or engages FaceTime when the device is held up to the ear. This problem occurs due to apparent under-sensitivity of the iPhone 4’s proximity sensor, which turns off the screen (and touch capabilities) when the phone is held to the ear. In other words, the proximity sensor does not properly engage, and the user’s cheek or ear accidentally touches the mute button or other functions.

In other cases, it appears that the proximity sensor is not engaging at all, leaving the screen on and touchable while the iPhone 4 is held to the ear.

Potential fixes

Reset all settings. Although this will not help with an under-sensitive proximity sensor, it may help when the proximity sensor does not engage at all. It appears that the reset may restore a disengaged sensor. Navigate to Settings > General > Reset > Reset All Settings. Note that this will erase stored messages, passwords and other information.

Restore, but not from backup. It appears that bad holdover data from iPhone backups can cause this problem in some cases. Restoring as a new phone will delete contacts and other data, but may resolve this issue. To do so, connect your iPhone or iPod touch to your computer, click “Restore” in iTunes, then choose “setup as new phone.”

Remove case. Some users have reported that removing cases (especially those that were designed for previous iPhones but fit on the new iPhone 4) can mitigate this issue.

Launch another app. Albeit kludgy, you can open another app after you’ve made a phone call to obviate this issue. Right after making or receiving a phone call, press the home button then launch an innocuous app (such as the calculator app) that won’t invoke any unwanted functions if accidentally tapped.

Feedback? info@appletoolbox.com.


  1. says

    We were promised that 4.1 would fix this issue. i have 4 iphones in my family and they all have proximity issues. so your assertion that some phone have this problem is erroneous.
    is there a proper fix?

  2. says

    I have (13) phones in my business. Just upgraded to (3) of the i phone 4’s. Two people upgraded to the new software. Now have (5) screwed up phones. Did not have a problem with the old iphone putting it up next to my ear making call. Now I mute, put on speaker, and make additional calls at random. Great improvement APPLE !!

  3. says

    UGH! Every single time I put my iphone to my ear, it either mutes the call, hangs up or makes another random call. The only way I can talk is via speaker phone, which isn’t always an option. My husband (with his Blackberry) snickers at me each time I drop a call. Next time, I’ll buy a Blackberry and just use my ipod for music and such. Thanks for nothing, Apple.

  4. says

    I can hear callers at all times. If I receive a call they
    can hear me. If I make a call they can’t hear me although I can
    always hear them. I’ve played with the mute button in a call. No
    good. I’ve switched on the speaker in a call, also no good. It was
    OK until this week! Didn’t have a problem with my old Windows

  5. says

    I have the same problem with me making calls and they can
    not hear me mute is not on and turning it on and off does not help
    speaker does not work either. The only thing that works is powering
    down and waiting 10 minutes. Then I have a few call minutes before
    it happens again. Does anyone have a fix for this?

  6. says

    two iphone 4 same problem every day, mute, mail, whatever I love my phone but my old 3gs was better. I looking for a fix every day , I think yhd only solution is wait for the iphone 5

  7. D says

    U guys having a prob where others can’t hear you, have you checked to see if it’s possible that the phone thinks you have a headset plugged in? My old 3G had those same problems and it was the detent that let’s the phone know when a headset is jacked in. The detent sticks…apples warranty solution, cram the headphone plug in and out rapidly a bunch of times til it unsticks.

  8. Jim neidlinger says

    Took my phone to the Mac store and they knew of the problem. They took my old phone and gave me a new one on the spot. Did the restore and the new one is working great. My wife has the same phone and never had the problem. Guy at the store said it was a software problem that some phones can’t seen to get rid of. I suggest anyone with this problem make trip to the apple store and hope they treat you right. By the way I had no insurance or service plan. They are aware that this is a defect and seem to do the right thing.

  9. BF says

    Get over it, iPone will never catch up to android as far as ease of use or features go.BUT IT WILL ALWAYS GIVE A GOOD EXPERIENCE FREE OF THE VERIZON SICKENING EXPERIENCE OF ADVERTISEMENTS DESTROYING EVERY EFFORT TO COMPLETE THE SIMPLEST OF TASKS. verizon and android have ruined the android, Steve jobs arrogance is crippling the iphone.I’ll stiuck with Jobs rather than teh greed of verizon and google..Good luck America, one day you’ll learn and REFUSE TO BUY CRAP WARE, especially when it’s not removable !!

  10. glamorous says

    Since the day I got my iPhone I have had the Otter Box on it. I too, have been frustrated with the experience of dialing others, mute, or hanging up during my phone conversation, not to mention not being able to place my phone on my shoulder when I get tired of holding it. After reading this article I decided to remove my case to see if it really could be that. Sure enough some how the Otter Box is blocking the sensor so it can work properly. Disappointed in the cost I paid for the case, but glad to know it was not my phone.

  11. Dennis Wood says

    Not really a fix but press the home button as soon as it starts ringing, it will take you to the home screen and the call will run in the background

  12. says

    I don’t know what the problem is, but I’m sick of it . Already I have lost my all data. My iphone 4 is accidentally hangs-up. Pl help me.

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