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My Droid Bionic has an option on the Display Settings page "In-Pocket detection: locks your device automatically when inserted in pocket"

How does the phone sense that it's in your pocket? I'm speculating maybe a combination of proximity and light sensors?

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I think you've answered the question :P –  Matthew Read Nov 4 '11 at 15:50
@MatthewRead - thanks; was hoping to find a source of some sort. A google search finds a lot of speculation (including one that states the phone must also be in portrait mode and vertical) and a lot of complaints that it's not reliable. –  TomG Nov 5 '11 at 0:28

3 Answers 3

There is an infrared/red-light sensor near your camera that detects whether the phone is in a pocket or bag. Online consensus is that depending on your phone manufacturer, there are varying degrees of success to how well it works.

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I only can speculate about the answer how the Droid Bionic actually implements this "in-pocket detection". Most Androids that have a light sensor, (which sometimes acts also simple proximity sensor) use this as sign that you either doing a call without a headset or that you have put your device into the pocket.

It is also imaginable that Android uses the information from the 3-axis accelerometer and/or the 3-axis gyroscope to detect in-pocket situations. But I don't think that this is actually done, because these sensors use quite a amount of power when in use.

For an example datasheet of an Android Light/Proxmity Sensor, see the SFH 7743 from the Motorola Droid. It detects IR-light around 900nm. It seems that some Androids have separated light and proximity sensors, while others abuse the light-sensor as simple proximity sensor (e.g. Samsung Galaxy S).

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