The answer is yes. Metal detectors detect cell phones because they use metal in their internal circuitry and/or electromagnetic waves that can disrupt the detector.
Some airports, concerts, and other large venues have been using metal detectors for years, but these days they are often seen in places where you may not expect to see them.
Now, many schools have them too – even elementary schools! Metal detectors can be either walk-through or stationary with a large bowl shape coil on top of an electronic box that emits two types of waves at all angles: one type is low frequency and another is high frequency.
Low-frequency waves are greater than 18 inches from the floor and higher frequencies are detected closer to the ground. The low-frequency waves are used to detect larger metallic items like weapons, scissors, keys, knives, or even large belt buckles.
The high-frequency waves, which can only be detected a few inches from the ground, are used to detect smaller metallic items like cell phones and clothespins. Once an item has been detected by either of the two waves on the metal detector a metal blip will show on the monitor.
This blip is not necessarily an indication that there is anything wrong and usually it indicates that you simply have something metallic attached to you or in your pocket. On some metal detectors, there is also a visual light indicator above each lane.
Do metal detectors detect cell phones?
Cell phones make up a significant amount of metal detection and can even cause the detector to malfunction. Cell phones are now a necessity these days so if you plan to carry one, it is best to learn the metal detector rules and how the device reacts with cell phones.
There are some general guidelines that help determine whether or not you will set off a metal detector: -Cell phones have metallic contacts that can cause interference with the electromagnetic field.
This can cause malfunctioning or misdetection of metallic items in your pocket or purse. -The high frequencies used by most cell phone detectors can also be used to detect guns, scissors and other blades so if you carry anything sharp, keep it in your pocket.
- Cell phones may set off metal detectors if they are close to the ground. The frequency of the detector is activated by the proximity of cell phones to the ground so if you are in a hallway or stairwell, you might set off the detector.
- The metal detector coil may not be sensitive enough to detect very small metallic objects like loose change, coins, and keys, so keep these items in your pockets.
- If a metal detector is not used for regular searches, it can be difficult to determine whether or not you have an item on your person when it is in your pocket.
Can cell phone detectors detect phones that are off?
No. Some metal detectors are able to detect phones that are not in use by sending out a high-frequency pulse, but this is rare.
Is cell phone detection an effective security measure?
There have been numerous cases where metal detectors have not detected cell phones and the public has been shocked to learn that there are cell phone users who travel with their phones in their pocket or carry them around their neck.
Once there has been a report that a particular person had used his or her phone at the airport, then there have been other reports at other airports stating that someone had used their phone at the same airport.
How to get a cell phone through a metal detector
- Be prepared with a bag of candy, gum, or other snack and unwrap it when you put your cell phone away. If the alarm goes off, tell the security guard you have a candy wrapper is in your pocket and they will usually scan once more to see that it is really just candy. This works if you are not on any type of watch list that requires extra scrutiny. This tactic has been suggested by many people who travel frequently through airports, but never put their phones in their pockets.
- If you don’t want to eat a piece of candy every time you set off the metal detector at the airport, try putting your cell phone in an empty plastic baggie instead. The first time you set off the alarm, tell the security guard that you have a plastic baggie in your pocket and let them be aware of what it contains. The baggie should be opaque with no metal parts, if possible. This should only be used by people who travel frequently and may have a cell phone in their pocket on occasion but they want to avoid setting off the alarm every time they go through security.
- The last thing to try is to place your cell phone in a little container or bag that only holds a few items. Place the phone and other items in the container and put it inside of your pocket. This tactic works with those who fly regularly, but still do not want to put their cell phone in their pocket – it is just too risky. If using this device, take a picture of the back of your device at airport security checkpoints so they can give you permission to use it.
How can I sneak my iPhone through a metal detector?
One way is to place your phone into an empty candy wrapper. The metal detector will register the wrapper as candy and not the phone so you can travel through without setting off the detector.
Another way is to keep your phone in a locked pouch case with no metal or other sensors attached to it. You can also buy a “Faraday cage” that works as an electromagnetic shield for cell phones.
Julie comes from a long line of metal detectors. Her family has been in the hobby for over 45 years and has recovered large amounts of civil war artifacts as well as a fair number of bottle caps. Lately she has been focusing on metal detecting in the Rocky Mountains.