In recent years the smartphone industry has emerged to ineffable heights which have completely disrupted the entire mobile phone market. Hundreds of new smartphone companies have stated their mark with thousands of features available at our disposal.

Some of the features which we use in our daily lives include: Using our cameras to click pictures or to record a video, enabling the location to receive featured content, as well as auto-detect addresses in certain apps, using a microphone to send voice messages and many more.

But what do these tasks use in order to provide efficient functionalities which are just one click away? These are the sensors that enable our smart devices to perform a number of processes in order to ease our experience.

What are the different types of sensors on our mobile phones?

What are their uses?

We would now understand the different sensors installed in a mobile phone and the use of each such sensor for our personalized use.

1. Accelerometer

An accelerometer is basically a device that is used to measure the acceleration forces around us, that may be static or in case of our mobile phones, dynamic that are used to sense the vibrations or movement.

The basic use of such a sensor in our mobile phone is to indicate the user the direction in which he/she is holding the mobile phone. In other words, such a sensor is used to determine the orientation of the phone.

One of the most common uses of an accelerometer is during the auto-rotation mode. It is with the help of the accelerometer that this sensor can detect the orientation and comply with the movement of the phone.

However, one of the most useful actions this sensor can provide is waking of the screen as soon as you lift the device towards yourself. This feature was added in android phones in the 7.1 updates and also a feature in the iOS 10.

2. Proximity Sensor

A proximity sensor is another common sensor which we make use of in our day to day lives. How?

Have you ever wondered how does our screen turns off while we are on a phone call? Or how does our phone display never wakes when our phones are in our pockets. Yes, it is with the help of this proximity sensor that detects an obstacle in its range-which is in such case a pretty small range- and then as soon as the obstacle comes close enough to a certain preset limiting distance, the sensor is triggered and the phone screen becomes unresponsive.

However, there are some great unique uses of the proximity sensor. Many third-party applications enable a function that allows you to control your media with the help of hand gestures. Some users also use the sensor to wake the phone screen as soon as you take it out of your pocket thereby saving time and ease of use.

3. Magnetometer

Unlike the accelerometer and the proximity sensor, people often tend to forget that a magnetometer sensor actually exists on our phone, that is because of the use of such a sensor which is not used as frequently as the other two. However, some of the common applications of a magnetometer are in the case of Google maps, in order to navigate and in case of the mobile compass.

This sensor aids the phone to detect the magnetic field near it, detect changes in the field, and are even able to quantify the intensity of the magnetic field near the device.

One outstanding use of the magnetometer is in virtual reality. In the case of Google cardboard that acts as a virtual reality device uses flicking a magnet at the side of the box for clicking items or buttons in virtual reality. In this case, the magnetometer of the mobile device detects a change in the magnetic field and triggers the app to provide a function accordingly.

4. Gyroscope

The gyroscope adds another dimension or you can refer to as an added functionality to the accelerometer, in a way that it can detect the rotation of the phone or twisting the phone.

All the mobile games we are able to play using motion sensor is only due to the presence of gyroscope in or mobile phones.

One of its most exciting uses is in the feature that allows us to watch 360-degree videos on our devices. These sensors also help us in clicking panorama images.

5. Camera

Camera, though never referred to in our daily lives, as a sensor however is one of the most fundamental and most useful sensors embedded in our mobile device. This sensor’s basic function is to detect light and to use that to capture a picture. However, such a sensor can also be used in many ways.

In some cases, cameras use third party applications to detect motion in front of the screen and now with the help of technologies like Google lens, we can also integrate Augmented reality to translate on road signs and symbols in any language or open the product details by just clicking its picture or asking google lens to do it.

6. Light Sensor

This sensor is next to the proximity sensor in our mobile devices and it is mainly used to adjust the brightness of our mobile phone screen.

One of the most unique yet a daily use is in the case of adaptive brightness in our phones, wherein this light sensor senses the surrounding light intensity and automatically increases or decreases the backlight of our mobile phone.

7. Temperature Sensor

The temperature sensor is used in our mobile phones to capture the surrounding temperature in some cases our rooms and perform certain applications.

Temperature sensors are being heavily used in IoT applications in modern-day in case of fitbit watches, smart devices, and many more.

8. Barometer

The barometer is a sensor that helps to detect the amount of air pressure being applied on the phone which in turn aids our mobile device to detect the altitude at which it is placed.

The barometer is also used extensively in IoT wearables which helps us to track our altitude during our runs.

9. Fingerprint Scanner

The fingerprint scanner is yet another sensor which is easily available in many smartphones today. These sensors are mainly built to improve the security of your device that copies your fingerprint and saves it, matching it once you apply your finger again.

It is used in many sensitive and secure transactions, unlocking the device, signing into accounts through your device. It works faster than adding a password.

10. Radiation Sensor

The radiation sensor is basically used in some phone, not all phones are equipped with such a sensor. These sensors allow the phone to detect the intensity of harmful radiation around us which can prove to be quite beneficial.


These were 10 of the most important sensors which are available and most useful in our day to day lives rendering our needs as well as providing a multitude of functionalities just a click away.

Aditya Sarin

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