All Sensors Explained in Detail: Smartphones

Whenever you look for a smarthpone you can see many sensors listed under the specifications of the smartphone. Reading the specs you are confused about what are these sensors used for and does it matter if my smartphone does not have them all.


The accelerometer is a sensor used in all the modern day smartphones; no matter how cheap it is. If you have a smartphone then your phone definitely contains the Accelerometer sensor because the Accelerometer sensor facilitates the Auto Rotate feature in your smartphone. The sensor calculates the linear acceleration of the smartphone and changes the orientation of the display when you tilt the display.

Accelerometers also give information regarding the ‘steps’ count on your Health App.

Some of the popular mobile features which are based on Accelerometer are:-

Turn-to-mute:- This feature allows silencing a call, muting an Alarm or pausing the music player just by turning the smartphone face down.

Rise-to-wake:- The display is automatically turned on when you pick the smartphone.


Gyrometer often referred to as Gyro is a additional dimension to the Accelerometer. You might have probably played Asphalt or any other racing games in which the direction of the car/bike changes when you tilt the mobile. This is possible because of the Gyrometer Sensor. Unlike the Accelerometer, the Gyro calculates the Angular rotational velocity.


The proximity sensor works by detecting when an obstacle is near the smartphone. The main function of the Proximity sensor is to turn off the display when you receive a call. Once you receive a call, the Proximity sensor sends some signals. When you pick the phone and place it near your ears the signals are reflected back and return into the Proximity sensor which initiates the sensor to turn off the display. Doing so saves battery life and also prevents accidental touches.


The Magnetometer provides your smartphone an orientation with respect to the Earth’s magnetic field. i.e. it provides information to the user about his orientation through the digital compass application that does all the jobs that a simple magnetic compass does.


The Barometer is a device which determines the atmospheric pressure and as the atmospheric pressure varies with altitude it also determines the altitude of an object. The same does a Barometer sensor and measures the altitude which assists the GPS chip to get a faster lock by providing information.

The Barometer also provides information on ‘floors climbed’ through the Health App.


Biometrics enhances the security level of your device by using Human related metrics to unlock the smartphone. Fingerprint sensor, Face Unlock, IRIS unlock are all variations of Biometric sensors. Biometrics can also be used to collect a person’s Heart rate on the Health App in the device.

Ambient Light

The sensor detects the amount of light in the surroundings and accordingly changes the brightness of the screen automatically to give the best viewing experience to the user. This happens if the screen brightness is set to Auto-adjust.

These were some of the sensors that are used in most of the smartphones that are available in the market today. However, there are also some sensors and its related features that can only be seen in some specific smartphones.

The Google Pixel 4 and Pixel  XL have a unique sensor named SOLI sensor which detects motion of nearby objects; alarms get quieter when you place your hands above the smartphone. This is possible because the phone detects the obstacle and senses that the alarm is about to be stopped so it quiets them. Another application of this sensor is that the display turns on when you lift the smartphone. The SOLI sensor works in combination with the Accelerometer sensor and does this job.


  1. […] include Fingerprint (under display, optical), Face unlock, accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass, ambient light sensor. The in-display finger print sensor […]

  2. […] Sensors on the Galaxy M51 include Fingerprint (side-mounted), accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass, ambient light. […]

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