Some iPhone 4 Cases May Not Work for iPhone 4S After Light Sensor Move

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iphone4salsThere have been a few slight changes in the iPhone 4S's external design, as compared to the original iPhone 4. The most noticeable is that the antennas have moved around the edge of the stainless steel band. But more importantly, at least for iPhone owners who put a case on their phone, is that the ambient light sensor or ALS has moved to the left several millimeters, according to CNET.

But that was before someone noticed that Apple had made a small but somewhat crucial design change: it moved the ambient-light sensor a few millimeters to the left. That created a problem for many rugged cases that covered more of the front of the iPhone: instead of peeking out through a hole cut into the case, the sensor was now hidden behind the case.

With no light penetrating, the sensor thinks the phone is in a darkened room and automatically dims the screen to look less blinding and save battery life. In the settings menu, you can manually set the screen brightness, but when in "auto-brightness" mode, the ambient-light sensor adjusts the brightness on the fly according to the ambient lighting conditions.

Case companies are adjusting their cases to suit the changes. Case manufacturer Otterbox told us that the main differences between the old and new cases "will be a larger cutout around the camera and proximity sensor, as well as a few minor adjustments to ensure the cases fit all versions of the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S."

The CDMA iPhone 4 moved the mute switch slightly lower to make room for the upper left antenna. Some cases from the GSM iPhone 4 don't allow access to the moved mute switch. The iPhone 4S has the mute switch in the same location as the CDMA iPhone 4 and thus some early iPhone 4 cases prevent easy access to the mute switch as well.

Users having difficulties with screen brightness or dark pictures from the rear camera are encouraged to contact their case manufacturers for remedies.

Image courtesy iFixit

Top Rated Comments

DoofenshmirtzEI Avatar
119 months ago
So much for that guy in the iPhone forum who was screaming that Otterbox was running a scam claiming that 4 cases wouldn't work with a 4S.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
haruhiko Avatar
119 months ago

Lol I was so confused by "mute switch"... I have never heard anyone call the switch anything before, so I just assumed it was called "manner mode switch"


Are you a Japanese? I know they call silent mode "manner mode" (mah-na moh-do)
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ZipZap Avatar
119 months ago
Many of my 4 cases dont fit the 4S as the mute button is lower.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
genkihito Avatar
119 months ago
I haven't seen anybody talk about this, but the 4S edges are not as sharp as the 4. This makes the device more comfortable in your hand.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
VenusianSky Avatar
119 months ago
I was wondering if they did anything about the proximity sensor, or ALS, in the new iPhone. I was one having an issue with my iPhone 4 when I got it. The screen was coming on while I was talking. An update came out and made it much, much better, but it still turns on once in a while. I guess they found a better position for it.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
applesith Avatar
119 months ago

At least now we know how to tell them all apart. :D


That and the CDMA antenna seems with SIM card slot.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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