Nokia Lumia 920 Proximity Sensor Problem

[Update March 22, 2013]

I finally have my phone replaced under warranty. As promised, I’m posting old / new comparison photos:

Here’s the gap measurements on the newly arrived phone. I’m not sure if this change will make a difference in dust entrance. I will continue to report. See the photo from the older phone right after this below to compare. Strangely gap between glass & plastic appears to be wider on the new phone, but the gap between yellow casing and the black plastic part is much less.


Below is the photo I took today on the old phone from the same angle. You can tell it’s the old one by looking at the dust accumulated on the front-facing camera.


[Original post below]

Like some other early 920 adopters, I have hit the proximity sensor problem. I’m referring to the issue where proximity sensor area takes dust and the phone refuses to bring the screen on while in a call, preventing to touch even the End Call button. Very annoying and show-stopper class problem. People, including me, have temporarily fixed the issue by blowing compressed air into the front facing camera area – but it comes back as more dust gets in over just a few more days…

Anyway.. The reason for this post is to actually show you bunch of microscope pictures to show why it happens and whether your 920 could also be susceptible to the problem – if you know where to look, maybe you can tell without a microscope. So before I replaced my phone, I took some pictures. Here we go:

First one is a close-up front-facing-camera that shows how dust have gone inside. I know it’s inside because as you can see around the camera, it’s quite clean, unscratched blackness after a good wipe. Keep reading…


Next up is the first look at the “rift”… Below, to help you with frame of reference, I left one lint on the upper right and kept the front facing camera on the lower left. What you will later see in greater detail here is that the section where yellow ends and black begins, there is a rift going deep, perhaps a millimeter or more. I will do my best to capture this. Keep reading..


Below, is a clarification on something. When you look with naked eye, you might think that the rift is only in the area where the yellow case shape is different (i.e. see the corner in the middle of the picture where the left-side of the rift appears wider?).. Well.. Turns out the rift goes on the entire upper section of the phone. The wider area is about 10-12mm in length and is probably contributing to the dust accumulation problem – but rift is open from the left edge of the phone to the right. Keep reading…


This next picture is more telling. Microscopes have very limited depth of field, so where you focus makes big difference. I attempted to focus to the floor of the rift where there are pile of dusts. Camera is slightly angled, looking from near-center of the phone towards upper area of the phone to catch the wall of the rift going deep. Shadowed yellow casing wall going deep to the floor is visible below. Once you see this you understand it’s no surprise dust is getting there. The top touchable surface of the phone is out of focus because I am focusing on the deeper floor of the rift.


Here, a bit closer look at the floor of the dusty rift…


So that’s it. Unfortunately this problem is impacting my phone and I’ll be returning it for a replacement one.

Now.. To compare other edges, I have below a photo of the bottom edge of the phone where there is absolutely no rift. Black edging sits on top of yellow case. This is how upper side should have been.


While I had the phone under microscope, here’s a bonus picture of rear-facing camera that remained pretty clean so far. Dust is not getting inside. Those few small dots you see are on the outer surface, as are the tiny scratches.


That’s it. When I get my replacement phone I’ll take more shots to see if the new phone is different. Stay tuned.

4 replies »

  1. Very interesting. I just received my 920 from the Microsoft Store 2 days ago. Is this something that only affects early versions of the phone and/or phones with different cases? I have the black matte case which appears not to have that seam at the outer edge.

    • I have seen no evidence of hardware variance over several months thus far. If you take some really close-up shots, maybe we can compare. The gap/ridge isn’t really visible to a naked eye (well, to my eyes at least 🙂 ).

      Also FWIW, Settings/About/More: shows HW revision as What does yours show?

      • My eyes are not too good, either. The gap must be very small. My hardware rev is also I was going to use an Armorsuit screen protector along with a Nokia CC-1043 case. Would this have any effect, + or -?

      • Not sure if the dust really enters from that gap or from the earpiece. Whatever covers either will certainly help with preventing dust from entering. I personally started to use a vinyl cut stripe at the top covering the gap (from decalgirl.com); so far no dust on the FFC.

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