Apple’s long silence on call mute issue raising ire of iPhone owners

Apple’s iPhone 4S wasn’t without its share of launch troubles, including complaints of poor battery life. But while Apple was quick to address said issues in an update (and then promised to do so again in another), there’s a very annoying bug that’s become a source of considerable frustration for users.

The issue in question is when the iPhone 4S (and according to some reports, the iPhone 4, too) mutes all audio on the caller’s end when placing an outgoing voice call. The person on the other end of the line can hear everything just fine, but on the caller’s end, there’s no ringing sound and no audio from a recipient speaking.

It’s been a problem since the iPhone 4S came out, with most users reporting that it only affects a call every so often, with the majority of calls being placed without problem. In an era where data services are eclipsing voice services on mobile devices, the problem has perhaps understandably taken a backseat to more pressing complaints of battery life issues.

The problem is clearly not isolated, however. A single Apple Support Communities discussion about the bug is now at 109 pages and counting, and the topic comes up in other threads regularly. I’ve encountered it myself (although only once, though I seldom actually make outgoing calls on my iPhone, and most of those are made through a headset, which some have suggested is a workaround for the problem) and until I did a full restore, my girlfriend’s iPhone 4 eventually got so bad that there was never audio on any outgoing calls she made. Some iPhone 4S users are saying a hardware replacement is the only way they could eventually fix the problem.

Apple’s iOS 5.1 release is currently in testing with developers. It presumably will attempt to address remaining battery issue problems, but early reports claim it may not even accomplish that. So far, there’s no direct indication that 5.1 will address the Audiogate (as it’s being called in Apple’s support forums) issue described above, however. I’ve reached out to Apple for comment regarding the issue, but have yet to hear a response.

So far, no fix appears to be a consistent, lasting solution to the outgoing call bug, particularly on the iPhone 4S (a full restore seems to have fixed it on the iPhone 4 for a number of users). Is anyone encountering this problem, and if so, how are you dealing with it?