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We asked, you told us: Phantom vibrations are still surprisingly common

More than four in five respondents claim to have experienced this curious phenomenon.

Published onMay 26, 2021

OnePlus Nord notification shadw holding the phone

Have you ever reached into your pocket for your smartphone because you felt a vibration only to find it’s fast asleep with no calls, messages, or pending notifications? Congrats, you’ve experienced a phantom vibration. It’s a curious phenomenon believed to be more of a habit or momentary hallucination than a health issue. Nevertheless, it can be unpleasant.

That said, we wanted to know from you if you’ve ever experienced phantom vibrations. Here’s how you polled.

Have you had phantom vibrations when your phone was in your pocket?


More than 1,800 readers took part in our poll, and the results showcase just how widespread phantom vibrations are among our readers. More than four in five respondents admit to experiencing phantom vibrations at least once before. Just 19.9% of readers have not experienced the phenomenon.

Interestingly, in another poll we ran earlier this month, only 14.8% of respondents use the silent profile on their devices. Nearly 80% of the polled readers use either the sound profile or vibrate profile.

Although phantom vibrations have been apparent well before the dawn of the smartphone, some sources attribute the phenomenon to our growing attachment to technology. It’s not a new thing, though. Pager users experienced something similar. When people still used phones as their name suggests, “ringxiety” was the equivalent, too.

Nevertheless, readers give their theories for the phenomenon and how they beat phantom vibrations below.

Here’s what you told us

  • CrossbredLemon: I’m pretty sure these are just standard muscle spasms that happen all over the body. It’s just when we now associate the feeling with our phones vibrating instead of not even acknowledging it happening.
  • Varusal: Wasn’t it because of muscle memory. So you feel a vibration always on the side you have your phone because the brain thinks it is normal for your muscles to vibrate once in a while.
  • jevrock: It also happens with my watch lol.
  • Montisaquadeis: No and likely because I don’t keep my phone on vibrate so my body hasn’t interfered that there is random vibrations going on in my pocket and I tend to keep my phone in chest pocket in my jackets anyways or a back against my back if I am not wearing a jacket so yeah no hip pockets for me personally.
  • Evie: Yeah. Even though my phone is on silent 99% of the time.
  • Wongwatt: I turn all system vibration off and use a flip case so nothing for me.
  • Marshall: If it isn’t a spasm from inconsistent circulation, it’s a misinterpreted screen touch. If you have a pocket mode for disabling gestures or touches, use that.

That’s it for this poll! Thanks for your votes and comments. If you have any additional anecdotes about phantom vibrations or thoughts on the poll results, be sure to drop them down below.