Once in a while, I have accidentally called some number without intending to. This is apparently a common phenomenon that is often referred to as ‘butt dialing’, whereby a smartphone placed in the hip pocket can, as a result of pressure exerted on its touch-sensitive face, end up dialing some number, usually from among one’s contacts or someone you just talked to.
I’ve done it, you’ve done it, and now the president’s lawyer is guilty of it too — I’m talking, of course, about butt-dialing. Butt-dialing, or “pocket-dialing” as it’s called in politer circles, is the result of a perfect storm of bad smartphone habits that starts with forgetting to lock your device. Next you toss your unlocked phone into a pants pocket (often a rear one). Then, as you move around with your unlocked phone shifting in your pocket, taps and bumps combine with static electricity and a bit of moisture to fool your phone’s touchscreen into thinking it’s being pressed, pinched or zoomed. From there, it’s really just a crapshoot in terms of which app your phone opens or who it decides to call. In Rudy Giuliani’s case, the former mayor’s phone dialed a reporter Giuliani had recently spoken with. The call went to voicemail, capturing part of a chat between Giuliani and an associate.
It has happened to me although I do keep my phone in my side pocket, not the one on the hip. I had not given much thought to this, putting it down to the actions of prankster gremlins that live inside my phone but recently I accidentally dialed a friend who lives in Australia and because of the time difference, it was in the middle of the night for him. That spurred me to look into how to prevent this and learned that it is my fault and that these undesired calls can be prevented.
The key is to lock your phone before you put it in your pocket. The first thing to do is to make sure that you need a passcode to unlock your phone. The next is to disable the ‘Tap to wake’ option for those phones without a home screen button. The third is to reduce the time taken for the phone to lock when not in use. When I checked, the time take to lock the phone was one minute. I reduced that to the minimum of 30 seconds.
This article and the one linked to at thee top give you step-by-step instructions on how to do all those things.
Even with all those things in place, it is important to check to make sure the phone is locked before you put it in your pocket. It is easy to forget to do this and slip it in your pocket right after you use it, before 30 seconds have kicked in. By clicking on the button on the right hand side of the phone, you can make sure it is locked.
But the author adds:
For years, my dad has regularly pocket dialed me and my siblings. I thought this annoyance would die after smartphones took over, but the man’s pocket is talented, and still manages to leave me wordless voicemails every few weeks.
The above tips should eliminate, or drastically decrease, the number of accidental calls you make. But if you have a particularly talented butt that still manages to dial your friends without your knowledge, it may be time to look into other solutions. Maybe you need to remove the Phone and Contacts apps from your main home screen, hiding them five screens deep so they aren’t as easily accessible. Maybe you need to disable Siri and Google Assistant–related features (like the Pixel’s “Squeeze” gesture) to avoid assistant-generated calls. Android even has a number of apps that attempt to lock the phone when it detects it’s in your pocket, though your mileage may vary depending on the phone you have. With any luck, you’ll be able to stop the madness, and give your friends some peace and quiet.
I haven’t accidentally called anyone since I took those steps.