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5 Sensors in Your Smartphone and What They Do

Have you ever wondered exactly what is in your smartphone? There is far more to it than meets the eye, and the following article will explore just five of the sensors inside your smartphone, as well as their functions.  

Ambient light sensor

Similar to the human eyeball, which can alter the amount of light entering it, the ambient light sensor does the same thing for your phone. This sensor can detect the surrounding lighting and as a result, can alter screen brightness appropriately. 

Screen brightness has a direct impact on your battery life and so making use of the light sensor to adjust your screen’s brightness can help to protect the health of your phone battery. 

Some phones are now even able to detect lighting and adjust screen brightness automatically to your surroundings, for example, dimming the screen brightness when you are in a dark room. It is also this sensor that helps to know whether your phone is in your pocket, avoiding accidental touch, and helping you to avoid those pesky pocket dials. 


Potentially the most widely recognized sensor in a smartphone is the global positioning system, also known as GPS. This is most commonly used to figure out your location which assists with providing you with accurate directions. 

Not only can GPS help you with navigating your way around, but it can also come in very handy if your phone gets misplaced or stolen. 

Proximity sensor

One of the lesser-known components of a smartphone is the proximity sensor. This sensor is situated close to the phone’s earpiece and is able to detect when a phone is close to your ear, prompting the display to turn off. This then prevents you from accidentally interfering with the call with your ear. 

The proximity sensor works by combining an infrared LED and a light detector. There are several different types of proximity sensors, the most common of which projects a beam of infrared light, undetectable to the human eye, and then measures the beam’s reflection to nearby surfaces.  


The accelerometer sensor does as is implied by its name, measures the acceleration and deceleration of a smartphone. When a phone is held and swung while a user is walking, this sensor can track this acceleration, as well as a change in direction, and can then determine your step count.

This sensor can also be used for personalized commands, such as skipping a song by shaking the phone. Whilst this sensor is very useful, it does have low accuracy. However, this isn’t too problematic given that it is mainly used for step counting and determining the direction your phone is facing. 

Biometric sensor 

Gone are the days of having to manually enter a password to access a smartphone. It is now much more common for smartphones to come with a fingerprint sensor or facial recognition, both of which are possible due to biometric sensors.

These sensors have allowed smartphones to become increasingly secure and have the added benefit of increased convenience.


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