Tip o' The Week: Outsmart Your Sensor

Iphonetoolbox

The iPhone is sensor-ific. It can sense if it's turned sideways, held up close to your face, and whether or not you are in a dark room or out in the sunlight. This week's Tip o' the Week is a simple way to exploit one of the sensors on your iPhone to save you some steps and power at the same time. Curious? Read on for the Tip!

There are three sensors in your iPhone with three distinct functions, all of which provide a better user experience. The accelerometer detects the orientation of your iPhone - rotate your iPhone sideways and the screen is in landscape mode. The accelerometer is particularly useful when browsing on Safari, scanning Cover-Flow in iPod, and while flipping through your Photos.

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Hidden behind the dark glass above the earpiece of your iPhone are the other two sensors, the proximity sensor and the ambient light sensor. The proximity sensor deactivates the touch sensitivity and illumination of the iPhone's screen when the phone is placed against your head, but only during a call. The ambient light sensor detects lighting conditions when your iPhone is unlocked, dimming the screen in dark places and brightening the screen in sunlight to make the display easier to see.

This week's Tip focuses on taking advantage of the ambient light sensor. You can manipulate the brightness of your screen while waking up your iPhone (unlocking it) by covering the sensor above the earpiece with your thumb. The ambient light sensor checks the lighting conditions just once per wake-up, between the time you wake up your iPhone and slide to unlock. If you cover up the sensor, your iPhone will think it's dark and your display will be dimmer than normal. Just cover up the sensor area while unlocking your iPhone and the screen will dim.

Tricking the ambient light sensor provides two advantages: 1) Saving power - a dimmer screen = less juice; and 2) Saving taps - no need to tap 'settings', 'brightness', and adjust the brightness slider; use this shortcut instead! This Tip is ineffective if your display brightness is set to the maximum (as far as I've been able to test).

Try outsmarting your smart sensors today and save some steps and battery juice. Stay smart and drop by here next week for another Tip!

Disclaimer: Tip o' the Week makes no guarantee, express or implied, that any tip found herein will be new or particularly useful to the reader (and we certainly don't promise an extra 5 days of talk time and 2 months standby time by using this Tip).

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Reader comments

Tip o' The Week: Outsmart Your Sensor

5 Comments

Hi, I did excatly what you said but I think you are wrong because it is true that when I cover the sensor above the earpiece it turns on a little dimmer than normal, but after some seconds it puts brighter so I thinks the sensor checks the ambient light not only when unlocking but every some seconds.
Thanks anyways,
Diego

My iPhone 4 iOS 5.0.1 only brightens when the sensor is uncovered but if I want to dim I need to lock and unlock the phone otherwise it wont darken backlight.

My iPhone 4 iOS 5.0.1 only brightens when the sensor is uncovered but if I want to dim I need to lock and unlock the phone otherwise it wont darken backlight.

Thanks, Diego Yabo! Although I have had some varied results depending on the lighting, it's a good idea to keep your thumb over the sensor area if you want to keep your screen dimmed without the chance of sudden brightening.