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How dust gets inside your Nokia Lumia 920's front facing camera

The Windows Phone Central Forums are a place of immense knowledge, resources and camaraderie. There is no better place on the web to hang out if you’re a fan or user of any Windows Phone device. Here is some proof of the kind of content you’ll find inside – this is some Sherlock Holmes level work regarding dust, the front-facing camera, and the proximity sensor on the Nokia Lumia 920.

Forum user Eric Ewing (eeewing) was having some issues with dust working its way into the device and right onto the front-facing camera. Here’s his story and what he found while trying to fix the situation.

His first Lumia 920 was replaced because of the dust in the camera, which could easily be chalked up to problems with being an early production right? Not quite, as his replacement unit started having the same issue.

Communication with Nokia to fix the second handset was fruitless. He started with the support team on Twitter which wanted him to follow the normal repair process – the one that leaves you phoneless for about two weeks, which isn’t satisfactory in the least. Mostly because other members in the forums have reported all they do is take a can of air and blow the dust out for you. He then reached out to Matt Rothschild who passed him to the Nokia Care Team, where Eric learned that the issue was not covered under warranty. He then reached out to Stephen Elop (some members have had success in the past) and did not get a response there.

Frustrated with the situation, Eric decided to be proactive and attempt to fix the issue himself. This is what he found.

At the top of the phone, there is a seam about 1/2mm tall that runs the width of the device. It is located where the glass and polycarbonate housing meet. It’s all sealed except for one part, where the camera sits. The images below illustrate what Eric found.

Lumia 920 Dust Gap

In this image he illustrates where there is a cutout to hold a rubber gasket. However, the adhesive holding the rubber gasket is only sealed on the sides and bottom – not the top. That creates a slight gap where dirt, dust, and other debris could potentially enter the front-facing camera, something that a lot of members in our forums report. I myself have dust in my Lumia 920 from //BUILD and have had issues with my proximity sensor since December. It's maddening to try and make a phone call and not have access to any of the options on screen.  The image below shows the gap above the front-facing camera a lot better.

Lumia 920 Dust Gap in the dark

That all being said, even though they are right next to each other - there is no way for dust to enter the proximity sensor. I couldn’t really believe it either. But Eric found that the proximity sensor and front-facing camera are separated by a wall and sealed up tight, no way for dust from the camera area to work its way to the proximity sensor. So what’s causing proximity sensor problems for users? Your guess is as good as ours at this point.

Understandably, Eric is disappointed that the warranty doesn’t cover dust in the front-facing camera since it appears to be a manufacturing error that is causing dust or dirt to enter in the first place.

Update: After publishing this to the front page of Windows Phone Central, Eric was contacted by Mr. Elop. The email stated that his team will look into the situation. Eric will update all of us if anything noteworthy takes place. Until then. 

Does anyone else have dust under their front-facing camera on their Lumia 920? Any other theories as to what causes issues with the proximity sensor? Still think its dust related? Sound off below.

Via: Windows Phone Central Forums

And thanks Eric for your contribution to the Forums!

  • I'm having the same problem...
  • well - who doesnt? Shame Mr Stephen Elop will not contact all of us :) 
  • Not I. I've had a bumper case on my 920 most of the time I've had it though.
  • You'll probably find that if you push down the top right of the screen, where the ff-camera is, the proximity sensor will stop acting up but you have to do it every time you want to access the in-call menus. This is due to the sensor being loose from the screen or something similar, hopefully Nokia will be able to fix this issue with a firmware update rather than having to replace the phone.
  • I really enjoy my Lumia 920 and the only issue that bugs me is the proximity sensor issue while on the phone. Makes for a disappointing experience, very dissapointing. I started off in December on the Lumia 920 and the issue appeared in January. I have been learly to pump air in the phone and the issue has progressivly gotten worse. I just tried pressing down on the top of the phone on the top right of the screen and the keypad apears. vThylacine.. Thank you for the suggestion. I don't want to replace the phone and also hope this issue will be fixed with a firmwsare update.. I wish Nokia would admit the issue and keep us posted on the fix.
  • Thank you very much vThylacine.  There had been dust accumulating in the FFC since buying my 920 when it first came out 18 months ago (cleaned it a couple of months ago), but just started having problems with my proximity sensor for the first time last week (trouble getting a screen to hang up calls, glance screen not activating, etc).  I had thought it was related to dust again, or possibly from the WP 8.1 Developer Preview, but following your adivce, gently squeezing the upper right of the screen (right on the "NOKIA"), the proximity sensor started working again (don't know how long it will last, but at least I have a temporary fix now).  Obviously, the device is well out of warranty, and there doesn't appear to be a wealth of Lumia qualified repair techs in my area, so if the fix truly ends up being temporary only, I may have to let my 920 go (to my son, to replace his 4 yr old WP 7 device). Your posting seems to be alone in its ability to pinpoint the problem with my proximity sensor.
  • My 1st 920 that I broke my own fault (along with 2ribs slipping on ice and getting hit with a case of beverages) did not have the issue, the 2nd which is a refurbished one does, actually showed up on my door with dust in it, but I have yet to bother with anything other than a quick hit of compressed air which solves it each time I notice it has accumulated
  • I'm more worried about you! Are you okay after breaking those 2 ribs?
  • Lol yeah I'm fine, wife and I were getting home from the grocery store and I told her be careful the ice is really slippery, had a case of beer in each hand and like a cartoon I slipped, landed on one case breaking open a couple with my thigh (and left a bruise the exact shape of the top of the can pull tab and all lol) and the other hand I launched the case into the air straight up, I remember landing in so much pain, and having the sensation of the cold wetness, and of coarse hearing her laughing, opening my eyes seeing the case falling from the sky hitting me square in the chest, and my phone was in my shirt pocket.. All the wind I thought I owned ppppppppwwwewww! Lol next thing I heard was the phones screen cracking like spidered tempered glass lol I laid there for a bit, got up and used the phone to call at&t, 1st time the extra insurance ever was needed for a Nokia for me lol
  • I reported this here 3 weeks after the launch and requested to have it added to the list of known issues. Even posted pictures of the gap. Canned air worked for me and continues to work for me. Even created a video. Elop didn't contact me.
  • My guess is that everybody does, its only a question of time since purchase :/
    I'll probably remove my screen, seal that hole and do something about those way-too-bright-for-watching-videos LED's behind the buttons. After that, the phone will feel less like a prototype.
  • This is merely a programming edit I don't know how they did not think of this Who wants buttons that are bright as hell next to a screen that you are focusing most likely in the dark. I say programming because the lights behind the touch buttons (digitizers?) change based on ambient lighting and if the same is applied to turning them off completely when a video is playing, then that is a simple solution via software rather than hardware. I realize your post is a year old. I too have problems with the front facing camera and the noise cancellation problem.
  • Hi, here: is the huge number of comments about this problem. I'm from Poland I had the problem with dust and dark screen - after blowing all is OK (since two weeks)
  • Hi, I'm from Poland, I had the same problem with dust and black screen during calling. Here you can read some interesting advices:
  • Yep, actually replaced my 920 through ATT because of dust under front camera. Though it was quite a hassle, so your results may vary.
  • I also replaced my white one through ATT, the only hassle I had was convincing them to give me a black one which worked :)
  • Ha, I have this problem as well, but was considering swapping my black one for a white one. Why did you want to switch from white to black, if I may ask?
  • The gloss kept slipping out of my hands and since I volunteer at a horse stable it didn't exactly work out, plus I love the way the black looks :)
  • <p>mine 920 too get hot vry fast nd frnt camera got dusted too...... help?? can i get replacement from nokia care centre?</p>
  • Like they say, once u go black, u won't go back.
  • Ell o ell
  • You really find the gloss more slippery than the matte finish? I have experienced very much the opposite. It's a big part of the reason I'm thinking about switching from black to white.
  • Yea wearing gloves makes a huge difference and like I said I work at a horse stable so we wear gloves a lot
  • Knock on wood: haven't had any dust yet. I bought my 920 on 12/26.
  • +1 No dust. Bought on Day 1.
  • My girlfriend and I bought ours a few weeks after release. I've had mine replaced recently and I have a bunch of dust in mine. Hers has yet to be replaced and she has no dust in it. It doesn't seem to affect the camera quality, though, and I barely use it. I just don't like seeing all the dust in there, it just looks bad.
  • No dust in mine at all neither. I also dont have any cases on it 
  • Wow even a dustproof Otterbox case can't fix that...
  • I had the same problem and replace my last l920.
  • Same issue. At first it was just the FF camera, but the proximity sensor stopped working on phone calls and went crazy with dimming. Bought some compressed air and it fixed the proximity sensor issue, but the dust stays in the FF camera. I also have the issue where the bottom right corner of the gorilla glass sticks out about 1 mm higher than everywhere else.
  • Get your phone replaced.
  • Had the same issue, blow compressed air into the ear piece, it will fix it. It really does work.
  • I figured that's where the dust is getting in. I'll try the compressed air in a can. No wonder my phone keeps going in and out of dim.
  • Don't blow compressed air in there... There's nowhere for the dust to go, just carefully vacum the gap above the sensor and ffcamera. Worked for me, got the sensor working after it been frustrating me for weeks now. :) I'd recommend you don't vacum the earpiece, just feels a bit risky...
  • Immediately after finished reading your comment. I stupidly, unconsciously taking risk blowing my mounth (wet) air around the ffcamera and proximity sensor problem ceased. But still see a dust in the ffcamera
    But for others, please DON'T TRY THIS ON YOUR PHONE unless you really know what are you doing.
  • I checked my phone after reading this comment...
    Yes! My bottom right glass is also sticking out by 1 mm (it goes in if I press though..). And yes my FF camera got a lot of dust under it! Related??
  • That's so funny. After reading your comment, my 8x bottom right glass is also raised a bit. But won't go in when I pushed.
  • Mines is good
  • Got dust inside and sent to nokias repair station without a long term solution in success. My sensor is no more working after a pair of month....! Frustrated too.
  • Tried computer duster and partly worked, then I dismantled the phone and built a new shield out of a different material
  • Mine comes and goes
  • Had this problem with my first and second 920's :/
  • I also had my original 920 replaced due to dust behind the front facing camera. The proximity sensor was also starting to not work correctly. Oddly, my replacement also collects dust behind the front facing camera but the proximity sensor is still working fine going on 2 months now.
  • Same here. Sent mine to Nokia as it was driving me crazy to end calls. The replacement has a little dust but not prox sensor problems
  • I sent mine in to Nokia Care in Singapore and they fixed it... no dust a month later. The Care Centre here claims that they can fix it and reinforce the seal... Not sure how but so far it's working for me...
  • Yeah I apparently have some dust pockets.. My proximity sensor is bad to.. I fixed it once by blowing some air in the ear hole. But now I can't fix it again. This is my second one that has had this issue. The first time I thought it was software related so I reformatted but that bricked my phone and I was with out for two weeks.. I ended up just buying one to tide me over and returned it when I got my replacement back.. Cost me 35 bucks but oh well... Now this ones doing the same thing. Absolutely love the phone but I don't know how much longer I can deal with not being able to tap a button when the machine asks for it.
  • I'm having the same issue with my white lumia. I use a compressed air can to clean the area. Maybe over time as dust accumulates more and more and starts to show up in your pictures Nokia will do something about it.  
  • I have dust under the original 900, and my replacement!! So tacky...
  • I hope the verizon variant doesn't have that issue
  • I've always thought it was a static build up from the wireless charging that attracts the dust to the top of the phone.
  • The wireless charging coil actually sits in the back of the phone, dead-center, right behind the battery. I only found that out, of course, when I opened the phone up, but I don't think it's attracting dust. :-)
  • Mine has dust. Currently on my third replacement. So far all the returns they've sent me are defective. Ridiculous!
  • Refurbs*
  • Same problem here with both the ff camera and the proximity sensor is just terrible too. I love the phone but if I can't use it as a phone then what is the point...
  • i took my lumia 920 back within at&t's return period.   i bought it at launch, and took it back after a week.    multiple problems. dust under the lens.  battery very hot, while using.  very poor battery life.   used it with a macbook pro.  i payed extra for internet connection sharing, and that didd't work for more than 30 seconds, then you would have to restart the phone's software... the phone reset itself about 4 times on top of several app crashes.  the software stopped syncing with my mac.  any time i plugged the phone in it would crash the sync application, (syncing with the app was the only option for using it with a mac pro).  this phone was so terrible i had to take it back.   there was little to no support.  couldn't call nokia, couldn't call microsoft. And at&t thought i had a defective phone.  i took it back to the store and got an iphone 5.   
    want to know how many issues i have had with my iphone since i had it?  ZERO...   i have had the iphone 5 for like 3 months. 
  • Wow.. Smh. Gtfo of this website bro!
  • +1
  • Good day isheep. Glad you enjoy your sissy phone. ;)
  • These types of posts crack me up. A simple google or bing search will reveal many issues with the iPhone 5 that a good number of users are running into: light leaks, easily scratches, SIM card not reading, poor WiFI radio (sometimes works, sometimes doesn't), poor battery life for a good number of users, and how can we foget Maps. There isn't a phone made that one can't go to a forum and find tons of issues for. There are tons of 920 users who have no issues with their phones, just like there are tons who have no issues with their iPhones. This is the reality of building products in China and using users as beta testers.
  • iSheep.
  • I'm on #2 with dust. Going to wait until it gets worse and then warranty it with AT&T. Got dust within first two hours in pocket. WTF!!!?
  • My launch day 920 got dust under its camera and proximity sensor within a month. I've seen replaced it buy my Note 2 has been my primary phone since, using the 920 for only about 10 days in the path 3 months, so it hasn't developed dust yet.
    I set up a survey a few months ago regarding this issue. Many people are reporting dust under their screen but proximity sensors that work fine, but everyone with a malfunctioning proximity sensor has dust under their FFC. The two have to be related. Complete Survey View results  
  • I've often wondered if the blast of air to clear the camera window pushes on the proximity sensor tape connector (encouraging it to pop off).
  • I had the same issue on a phone I purchased on day one at AT&T for my Lumia 920. Took about 3 months before I noticed the build up of dust behind the front facing camera, and then about a month after that the proximity sensor started having issues. I went to AT&T where they proceeded to tell me I got my phone wet and it was moisture behind the glass and I had to push really hard, reference the forums and basically plead my case. I think this is an area Nokia should take notice and get in front of. This could end up being a PR nightmare long term if they don't address and resolve the issues for customers. I have to say the phone quality is top notch, better than any previous phone and day by day the OS and apps keep improving. Look forward to year two and the future it holds. I also have had a TPU style case on mine and the it looked like new when I got it exchanged.
  • I had it with my 1st yellow 920, then got a replacement (reconditioned) from ATT. Haven't had the dust problem, yet.
  • Aww man I've had both these problems. I was told to reset the entire phone by ATT
  • LOL!
  • I have dust on the ffc and I've had problems with the proximity sensor. However, I believe the problems with the proximity sensor are software related more than hardware. For when I switched off the authomatic brightness adjustment the problem went away and hasn't returned since. So my guess is bad sensor calibration on Nokia's behalf, something that wasn't noticed on time to be in Portico. I'm therefore hoping Nokia fixes this in the upcoming GDR2. I recall the first Lumias also had sensor proximity problems in the beggining (my Lumia 800 had), something that an update resolved. But the dust is frustrating. However, I seldom use the ffc. So it's the least of my problems.
  • I do not think so. Everyone with proximity sensor issues has dust under their FFC. My proximity sensor didn't start malfunctioning until I got dust under my FFC. They have to be linked.
    920 Dust Survey
    Complete Survey
    View results  
  • Apparently everyone has dust on their ffc. However, as it says above in the article, there's no way the dust can pass to the sensor. Therefore the only logical explanation is a calibration one.
    As I said, I no longer have any problems ever since I turned the automatic brightness adjustment off. Yet I still have the dust on the camera. If the problem was with dust in the sensor, turning brightness off wouldn't change a thing since it would be a physical element that was causing the problem.
  • Well, whenever I get a blank screen preventing me from hanging up at the end of a call, compressed air along the top of the glass has cleared away the problem. There was supposed to be no way to break the glass on a Lumia 920 also.
  • Yup, having the same issue with my Lumia 920. Both dust in the camera and Proximity sensor issues.
  • i have dust under the camera. reserved on first day, yellow 920. what i think is some type of liquid cement could fix it.
  • I have one little speck of dust on my ffc after two weeks of usage.
  • Yep. Got dust bits in the front camera. The sensor is fine and working well though. I don't use the front camera much, but seeing dust in there and in the ear piece is annoying, so I use a vacuum cleaner lol.
  • My first 920 had the proximity sensor problem and tons of dust under the front facing camera.. Replacement has been good on both fronts thankfully..
  • One of my coworkers is on his third iPhone 5 due to manufacturing defects. The first time was a bad display, I forget what the second problem was. Point is, even apple has production issues. Antenna anyone?
  • And this is relevant, how?
  • I have dust under mine, and canned air doesn't seem to help anymore. I don't really use the FFC much, but it bothers me that Nokia won't cover this issue under warranty. It also will affect my phone's resale value down the line and I'm displeased about that.
  • No dust nor problems with proximity sensor for me and have had my phone since launch in November. 
  • Clearly a Manufacturing?design defect. Nokia should make a replacement gasket and just fix them. Where's that Commitment to Customers that they showed with the 900 ?
  • People use the ff camera? I've never used it once. Wouldn't know if I have dust.
  • Unfortunately the same issue affects the proximity sensor, which everyone who makes calls uses.
  • I also have dust in my Lumia 920 front facing camera, and I'm also worry about, dust could damage my phone :-(, is there any solution?
  • God.... I'd love to replace my 920. I have the dust issue, plus the unresponsive freeze requiring a soft-reset issue. Unfortunalty ATT customer care is such a pain in the &@&%$%#$& to deal with. Bunch of incompetent fools they are.
  • I too have dust in the front camera.  My phone is also from //Build
  • I get dust in my ffc but it doesn't affect the proximity sensor, still annoying though. Every few days I use can air and it gets rid of most of the dust. do you think it will get worse over time? that would suck.
  • I have dust in my FFC but my proximity sensor works fine. Not sure what could be causing problems there.
  • I already replaced one phone.. Even this new one also accumulated with dust particles :'(:(
  • I've had dust in my Lumia 920 front camera for as long as I can remember, certainly within a week of owning it. Since I don't use the front camera often it doesn't matter a lot but it looks awful and is frustrating.
  • I have replaced two phones because of the dust in the FFC through ATT's Device Service Center.
  • I love to say it, my Samsung ATIV S is flawless and battery lasts a day and half with heavy use including all the bells and whistles on. The only thing the 920 has up it is the main camera. I feel for you folks, I feel worse that I've never met another windows phone user in real life.
  • Go hang out at the local Microsoft store, haha! That what I sometimes do..
  • Its sad but true :( I'll go tomorrow,
  • I have an 820 and not many have that about that I know. My 820 while it has been faulty, it doesn't have the prox sensor or ffc dust issues. Yay for different handsets.
  • Wow, that's some Sherlock Holmes s**t there boo boo.
  • Mine had dust, I was able to blow it away though the earpiece.
  • I also have the dust problem. Did the Nokia send in. They cleaned it. Dust is coming back. VERY disappointed in Nokia for not standing behind this kind of manufacturing defect. I mean, how can dozens of their employees tote a 920 around and not notice this???
  • Don't you know: There is no such thing as dust in Finland. They are dust-proof, like the Sports Almanac in Back To The Future 2. Duh! :P
  • Dust in mine but not my wife's or my mom's. Maybe its a sliding in the pocket thing. There's are never in their pockets.
  • Wow. For the first time yet I'm glad to have my HTC 8X instead of a 920, lol
  • I had the 8x first and if it wasn't for the inferior night time shots and sound recordings at concerts etc I would still have it as I think the 8x takes sharper pictures in daylight
  • As for the proxy sensor. Anyone else notice the matte finish around the camera and proxy window? And also the bottom left corner below the back arrow. It looks like maybe its the anti friction coating. And they didn't want it to interfere with the image quality or the proxy sensor maybe. Maybe there is some internal reflection that catches the sensor. Is there a wall between the 2 parts of the proxy sensor? That may be the problem.
  • My 920 has dust in the front camera, getting worse.
    The proximity sensor errors can be caused by a screen protector if the protector actually covers it. This is due to the curved screen generally creating a very small gap along the edges and messes with the sensor. Gets worse if dust builds up in the screen protector gap. I had to cut away the sensor portion of mine and I no longer have an issue.
  • +1 dust here too
  • Yeah I had mine replaced because the prox sensor was shot. Also had a ton of dust under the front camera. 
  • Don't have any dust issues, but somehow there is an eye lash under my glass above the screen. It is in the side of the screen and is only really noticeable in bright sunlight and only barely sticks out over the actual screen.
  • When the 900 came out.. It did have proximity problems but after minor update my 900 is perfect,even though I was really tempted to get the 920 I felt like my 900 is SOLID!!!
    KEEP TWITTING @NOKIAUS they always respond
  • My son Replaced his Red one through ATT... Big time dust issues...sent one out right away.. Sucks they sent a black one to replace it :(
  • Poor eric :(
    I had the problem with my Lumia 900 and suffer like eric....mobil less for more than 10 days.
    Nokia should offer premium services for their premium customers like Lumia 920 and 820 buyers.
  • Sending my 3rd 920 to Nokia this week. They better not send me the sane phone back.
  • Still rocking my launch day 920 with only the rare problem. No complaints here.
  • Yup. I have had two and both quickly built up quite the collection of dust behind the glass of the front facing camera. I never use it but it sure is annoying. When it starts to fill up the proximity sensor and cause problems, I'm gonna be pissed.
  • So far I have this issue, but nothing seems to be wrong with my sensor.
  • I'm having same problem here but after cutting screen protector above proximity sensor my 920 working perfectly.
  • Yup, did the same and it worked. But still the dust under the FF is very annoying.
  • Sorry for the silly but what is the purpose of proximity sensor ?
    I put my 920 in a case with magnetic clip nearby the FF Camera and ear Phone plug. Will that affect the sensor ?
  • I think the main use of it is that the phone screen turn off when the phone is near your ear so you don't press buttons by mistake when you touch your ear with the phone.
  • Had proximity sensor issues and dust on ffc, sent my 920 to Nokia for repair, got the phone back and the sensor went again a week later, sent it back again and Nokia replaced the phone, so far so good
  • Yes but I use air hoses at work wen I do the I'll feel all edges blow out air and the glass raises during but wen its all done the phones not damaged and still the toughest out
  • Dust on two units over here. It does look tacky.
  • I have exacly the same problem...
  • Could it be related to ATT Lumia 920? I own a international one with non of those issues.
  • Same problems in Finland..
  • Made in China. My Lumia 920 is also all but reliable. Most of the stuff that is made in China has some major flaws, no matter what brand. Only way to get quality is to not buy stuff that is made in China.
  • I've had three Lumia 820's. Two were made in china, after both suffered the same constant rebooting etc and a couple of emails to Mr Elop, I've managed to get my third one as a Made in Finland handset. No issues at all.
  • How is that possible.. We don't make phones in Finland anymore :D Or that's what we are told
  • My 820 heavily dusted, has same issue. But, I can't repair or replace, becuase I'm imported from foreign country this one...
  • HA! FINNALY KNOWN (ups caps lock accidentally turned on) so. My 920 has a small dust in front facing.... But i dont want replace my phone D:
    This is My Favorite phone. Dont want to replaced with same version. How to remove dat dust in my 920? Please nokia, give little service by adding selaed tape in front facing.
    *sorry bad english*
  • Same problem. Terrible design flaw for such a beautiful phone. Hopefully when they decide to fix the error first gen 920 owners can get an upgrade.
  • Exactly the same issue, heavy dust build up on camera and proximity sensor never works, make a call and screen instantly goes black which has lead to some very embarrassing voicemail messages indeed :/ I don't have the means to get it replaced as I cannot be without the phone as it is currently my only source of internet.
  • I have dust in my front camera as well but it doesn't seem to be an issue with the proximity sensor or even picture quality. Only a cosmetic issue to me but im the only one that would ever notice it anyways.