One of the permanent features on an iPhone turns off the screen (display and the touch receptors) when during a phone call you press the screen against your ears and cheek. The screen would almost instantaneously turn itself completely "on" when the phone would move away from the cheek and ears.

This at least was the case before iPhone 5. On my iPhone 5, the screen sometimes does not turn off or turn back on. I can confirm that iOS6 has nothing to do with this --my old iPhone 3GS on iOS6 does not face this problem.

Following the recommendations of this post, I went to the Apple Store but they just replaced my iPhone 5 when I demo'd the problem to them. The new iPhone 5 unfortunately has the same problem --even with factory settings.

Does anyone know of a way to solve this problem or am I just unlucky to get two defective iPhone 5s in a row and should try my luck again?

P.S.:- I am not using any cases, covers, screen coats or any other accessories.

  • I've not experienced this with mine, the proximity sensor works as all my other phones have done.
    – Lunatik
    Nov 29, 2012 at 15:06

4 Answers 4


Just disable Auto Brightness and turn off raise to speak on Siri. and reboot your device. That should get you by until apple can include the fix in an update.


  • Will this fix the problem of the screen not coming on right away after the call has ended or the user has taken the phone away from their ear? Feb 14, 2013 at 22:14
  • I am marking this as the answer. After 4 replacements from Apple, I finally came back to this post and decided to unmark the previous answer as "Accepted" and found this answer. Have tried this setting for about a month now and can confirm that this solved my problem. Can't believe I made Apple change 4 devices --but may be they should fix that bug before it costs them more. By the way, I should mention that "Turning off raise to speak Siri" was not required in my case.
    – user24976
    May 5, 2013 at 11:37

Sadly - you might need to take it back. The proximity sensor is a small part and if it doesn't sense that your head/ear/face has moved away from the receiver slot - the screen will not light up again.

You can save yourself a trip by backing it up (yet again) and restoring it in iTunes - but it seems you have already ruled that out.

One thing I have seen in practice is that some people's ears have openings large enough for the proximity sensor to sense the space when the phone is pressed next to their ear as actually being away from an object.

Again, it's often best to lie the phone flat on the table and call some sort of automated help system and use a pencil eraser or your finger to test how and where your particular sensor is sensitive. Once you've spent a handful of minutes discovering how narrow the beam is and exactly how many mm the range is to engage and disengage the sensor, can you take it in for service and know the unit you have is working according to specifications.

  • 1
    Got it replaced again. This one works.
    – user24976
    Dec 1, 2012 at 13:17
  • Stopped working after a few weeks.
    – user24976
    May 6, 2013 at 13:06
  • Big bummer. I've added some details that may help you to narrow down how to test your sensors. It seemed odd that software settings would affect the sensor (@andy's answer), but I've been doing this long enough to know more bizarre things have been true.
    – bmike
    May 6, 2013 at 13:26

It was the proximity sensor and/or light sensor next to the front camera that has the problem we suspect


In my case neither auto brightness nor raise to speak had nothing to do with the issue. I just tried turning them off and the problem was still there.

What I finally did was to turn off the video function of an app that I downloaded from Cydia (vWallpaper2) and which may have had a conflict with the proximity sensor. Result: iPhone 5 is back to normal, sensor is working again!

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