Accelerometer, gyroscope… all the sensors your mobile phone has and what they are used for

When we talk about the specifications of a mobile, we tend to focus more on the components of great relevance in its performance such as the processor, the RAM, the ROM storage space or the type of cameras they have. However, we neglect many sensors that have been common to all for years. Or almost all of them.

And it is that there are some elements that attract less attention, but that are essential to use the mobile as we use it. In this article, we go over the most common ones to find and, beyond their name, tell you what features they have on the smartphone.


Movable Orientation Lock

Don’t let the name fool you, this sensor won’t make your mobile goes faster. Reduced in size and thanks to the three axes that normally compose it, it is a small motion sensor able to know the orientation of the phone at any time.

In fact, it is the famous sensor which allows that the mobile rotates the content of the screen when you put it horizontally. Of course, when Orientation Lock is enabled by software, this sensor is disabled until the option is enabled again.


Although it is not a sensor present in all Android phones, it is not at all strange to find models that implement it. Its function, like that of a traditional barometer, is to measure atmospheric pressure. On this basis, he is able to know the altitude at which we are and thus serve as an aid in GPS navigation and other applications. It may even be useful to test the waterproofness of the mobile.

This application promises to check the waterproofness of a mobile, without getting it wet


Game cars

It is a sensor closely related to the accelerometer, since serves as an aid for detecting the orientation of the mobile. For technical purposes, this measures non-gravitational acceleration. This allows it to be a key sensor in actions that require turning the screen slightly, such as car video games in which the steering wheel is controlled by turning our mobile. Although there are many other very interesting uses of the gyroscope.


We can tell you little or nothing about this sensor that you don’t know functionally. It is already an element fully integrated into mobile hardware and with a multitude of applications with which to take advantage of its usefulness. These are capable of continuously receiving signals from GPS satellites in order to know your exact location or as close as possible (it always depends on the signal reception in the area).


It is a useful sensor for GPS applications, as is obvious, but also to perform certain automations related to location, power share our position in real time or enjoy games like Pokémon GO.


Although it is true that the Smart watches are more likely to perform health and sports measurements, some mobiles also incorporate pedometers capable of offering data on the steps we took or number of stairs we climbed. However, it must be said that some manufacturers no longer use them in favor of measurements made with other sensors and that, although they are less precise, they make it possible to integrate other components within the terminal block.



Also known as a Hall sensor, it is an element used to act as an electronic compass on mobile. It works by means of an electronic sensor capable of measuring and quantifying the magnetic forces, thus defining the poles.


Probably one of the most important elements of our time and that is that the NFC features are numerous and very useful. It is a chip that allows you to create short-range wireless communication that, among other things, allows contactless payments and even helps transfer some data between devices.

biometric sensors

In these times, it would be totally strange for us to find a mobile that does not have a biometric sensor that does not faster recognition when unlocked or that it serves to avoid putting passwords in applications and websites.


The most common are fingerprint sensors, whether located on a physical button or under the screen. In this way we can find capacitive, optical readers and those that work by ultrasound.

Also cataloged as biometric sensors are the face and/or iris detectors. It is true that most manufacturers do not offer specific sensors for this and rely entirely on software recognition thanks to the front camera. However, there are models that incorporate infrared and 3D detection sensors capable of recognizing a face in depth.

color spectrum sensor

Closely related to the ambient light sensor which we will discuss in a later section, this is a sensor that is not always included in mobile phones, but in those where it is, it acts as camera white balance controller.

And it is that it serves to capture the color and tones of the environment and to measure the luminosity, determining what the light source is and whether it is natural or not. Therefore, it is a very good supplement for photographysince it gives better image quality and prevents them from being burned.

Infrared sensor


Although it seems a bit old to us when two mobiles could exchange files by infrared, the truth is that these sensors are still present in many mobiles for other actions. Most focus on control accessories remotely. For example, turning a smartphone into a remote control for the TV.

ambient light sensor

This is an essential element for actions such as automatically change screen brightness. And it is that it is able to detect the light that is in a room (or outside) and depending on it send instructions to the software to increase or decrease the brightness of the panel.

Proximity sensor

Movable ear

Actually composed of an infrared LED which emits rays imperceptible to the human eye, it emits the light beam permanently and when it crosses a very close element, it acts by turning off the screen. so you can have it the screen dims when we are in communication with the mobile by ear or when we listen to a voice message in applications like WhatsApp or Telegram.

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