How cell phone vibration works and how to activate it even in silent mode

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Have you ever wondered what happens inside your smartphone when it vibrates when you receive a call or message? The functioning of the vibration is due to an electric motor which, by exploiting some physical properties, generates oscillations which in fact cause the vibrations that we all know very well. In this article we will take a closer look how vibration works and how to activate it on the phone.

How phone vibration works

The mechanism that makes the cell phone vibrate it is a conceptually simple system. Typically this consists of a electric motoroften of type A.D (Direct Current), or direct current, which is powered by drums of the device and which, based on its operating system, must generate a oscillatory movement or, to use “pop” language, a vibration. The electric motor in question can be of different types:

  • ERM engine (Eccentric Rotating Mass) or cylinder: This system basically consists of a piece of rotating mass, installed on an engine. The electric coil of the motor, receiving energy from the magnetic field, rotates the mass which, thanks to centrifugal force, allows the entire unit to move at a very high speed, which causes the cell phone to vibrate. This type of motor has some disadvantages, primarily the generation of very “harsh” vibrations, which cannot be adjusted and customized surgically by the user, and which for this reason has been abandoned by practically all modern smartphone manufacturers .
ERM engine. Credit: kellydzt

  • LRA engine (Linear Resonant Actuators) or coin engine: this system essentially consists of a moving coil, a moving magnetic mass and a spring. When the current in the coil undergoes a change, the magnetic field is modified and the magnetic mass automatically moves up and down in the direction of the Z axis or the X axis (depending on the type of motor used on the smartphone). Compared to the ERM motor, the current variations allow not only the duration of the vibrations, but also their intensity and frequency. Another advantage of the coin engine is its better energy efficiency: just think that it consumes practically half the energy compared to an ERM engine.
LRA engine. Credit: kellydzt

  • Taptic Engine: it is a technology developed by Apple which, conceptually, imitates the behavior of console game controllers by vibrating when certain conditions occur, for example when the user types on the keyboard, scrolls through a selection menu and interacts with the software interface . Using a small metal mass connected to a linear motor, the components in the Taptic Engine are able to move very quickly back and forth, generating a vibration that can be felt by the user by touch. This feeling, called haptic feedbackis the result of the work of many small motors (defined as actuators) which, vibrating at different frequencies and intensities, create very different tactile sensations.

Taptic Engine |  Geopop
Taptic Engine movement seen on X-ray. Credit: Gifer

How to activate vibration (even in silent mode) from your smartphone settings

All smartphones on the market allow you to activate the vibration and customize it quite simply.

If you use Android

The procedure to follow above Android may vary slightly based on the version of the operating system in use and depending on the various software customizations of the manufacturer who created the device.

Generally speaking, if you have an Android device, you should be able to activate vibration by pressing one of the two volume keys, touching the little bell and then tapping on the symbol of vibrating device.

If desired, you can also customize the vibration by going to Settings > Sounds and vibration and acting on the available settings, for example on the vibration intensity, which can usually be set to Light, Medium or Strong. Depending on the smartphone manufacturer and the operating system version, the option can be activated in the settings Vibrates in silent mode which makes the phone vibrate even when the ringtone is not active (i.e. the smartphone is in silent mode).

If you use iPhone

On iPhone You can activate vibration by setting your device to Silent (which can be done by moving the appropriate physical switch on the left side of the phone or by pressing the Action button (after possibly configuring it from the section Settings > Action Key). If the vibration does not work, you need to make sure that it has not been deactivated by going to Settings > Accessibility > Touch and possibly moving up Hon the voice switch Vibration.

As regards customizing haptic feedback on the iPhone, however, you need to go to Settings > Sounds & Haptics > Haptic Feedback and select one of the available options (for example Always play or Play in Silent mode, which is used to make the phone vibrate when it is silent and the ringtone is not active). From the screen Sounds and haptic feedback it is also possible to customize the various options available, such as those relating to haptic feedback regarding the keyboards, the lock sound, etc., using the appropriate menus and switches present in the menu.

iPhone Vibration |  Geopop