What are the smartphone sensors and what are they for

Proximity and brightness sensor, Gyroscope and Accelerometer: these are some of the main sensors integrated on smartphones. Here are what functions they perform

It is now a fact that the smartphone, for the vast majority of people, has become an irreplaceable object. It is used not only for calling, texting or surfing the web, but also for counting the number of calories burned or kilometers traveled.

We use these small mobile devices to know the road to take or to know the weather forecast. All in real time. Smartphones, especially the latest generation, have also replaced digital cameras. But how is it possible that they are able to perform many functions, some even automatically? Let's think, for example, of when we turn off the screen as soon as we put the phone back in our pocket. At the heart of it all are some intelligent elements called sensors. There are several of them. Some of them are never missing on any smartphone, while others are on board only on certain devices.


You know when, once you rotate the smartphone, the image adapts to the position of the screen? Well, it's thanks to the accelerometer. This is a sensor, which over the years has become increasingly accurate, which serves to measure precisely the acceleration of the device. It works mostly in tandem with the gyroscope.


Along with the accelerometer, it is one of the main sensors of smartphones and is used by mobile devices to detect any movement. Let's take an example and consider a video game. Thanks to the gyroscope, it's enough to tilt the smartphone to change perspective or move an object within the game.


This is another very important sensor as it measures the intensity and direction of a magnetic field. Basically, if you can download and use compass applications, it's because the magnetometer is present on your mobile device.

Proximity Sensor

To make you understand the functionality of the proximity sensor, just think about when the display of your smartphone, during a call, turns off. How is this possible? The sensor uses a mechanism (reflected waves) that allows the device to turn off the screen if an object, such as your face or ear, gets too close. The proximity sensor is very useful as it prevents the smartphone from performing functions that the user does not want it to.

Brightness Sensor

This sensor is used by the smartphone to automatically adapt the brightness of the display to the ambient light and thus optimize the screen display. In other words, if there is too much light, the sensor increases the brightness, while if the environment is dark, the sensor decreases the brightness of the screen.


Most of the hardware components of the smartphone produce heat, especially the processor.

In certain situations - high outdoor temperatures, excessive use - the heat can reach dangerous levels for the phone. Therefore, it is necessary to constantly monitor the temperature to prevent the device from overheating and damage. The thermometer is a sensor that serves precisely to measure the degrees reached by the device.


The GPS is that sensor, as you surely know, that allows you to use navigation applications, such as Google Maps. And not only that. GPS is also employed by other apps that need to "geolocate" users. In recent years, the sensor has become very precise, so much so that it detects the almost exact location of the smartphone.

Fingerprint reader

Initially landed only on high-end devices, lately the fingerprint reader is integrated on almost all smartphones. This is a very important sensor on the security front because it allows users to unlock the device using their fingerprint. Compared to a common password, which can also be detected, the fingerprint reader provides a higher degree of protection. Moreover, with the arrival of electronic payment systems, such as Apple Pay, it can also be used to securely complete purchases.