A number of users have experienced an issue in which the iPhone 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 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 is held to the ear.
Use the following troubleshooting steps to solve this issue.
Remove the case
The case the most common cause of this problem. Some users have reported that removing cases (especially those that were designed for previous iPhones) can mitigate this issue.
Clean the phone
Be sure that no gunk or lint is blocking the proximity sensor. You’ll want to clean your iPhone thoroughly to keep it operating optimally.
Update the Software
Ensure that your iPhone has the latest version of the iOS software. You can check this by tapping Settings > General > Software Update.
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.”
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.
I hope these tips have helped you solve the problem where your iPhone hangs up or mutes your calls. Please share your experience with this problem in the comments section below.
Obsessed with tech since the early arrival of A/UX on Apple, Sudz (SK) is responsible for the editorial direction of AppleToolBox. He is based out of Los Angeles, CA.
Sudz specializes in covering all things macOS, having reviewed dozens of OS X and macOS developments over the years.
In a former life, Sudz worked helping Fortune 100 companies with their technology and business transformation aspirations.