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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?

31 Responses to “Apple’s long silence on call mute issue raising ire of iPhone owners”

  1. hi,

    I am facing the following problem.

    If I listen to music fro the iPod app and then want to make outgoing calls the iphone switches from headphone to loudspeaker and microphone is muted, so that the call recipient doesn’t hear me, while I can hear them.
    It is very annoying , because of volume of the iphone, especially if you are in an office environment.
    The only thing that helps so far is switching the iphone off completely, wait a few minutes and then switch it on again.
    The problem might have to do with unplugging the headset, but so far I have not identified a consistent behavior.

  2. I bought 2 identical phones the day after Thanksgiving… my wife’s phone does not have the problem and mine does. The workaround is to hit speaker immediately after dialing. Then you can turn the speaker off if you don’t want it. I do this for all calls now… it’s just become habit. Before doing that, at least 30% had no audio and I had to keep calling back until I got audio.

  3. just to add weight to the number i just picked up a new iPhone 4s and have the same problem with outgoing calls. I am somewhat disappointed at this time with the product and need it to be reliable as i am often on call for a major health provider and need to be able to communicate. have an appointment with apple to discuss and hopefully resolve the problem tjf

  4. Shawn Honnick

    I thought it was only me/my phone (iPhone 4, not S). It’s really annoying and intermittent, but hasn’t happened often enough for me to try to talk to AT&T about it (I had assumed it was their network, not the phone). I never thought of switching on and off speaker mode—thanks for that tip, Cory. BTW, this was happening for me with iOS 4. I finally updated to 5.01 yesterday and have NOT experienced the issue today on iOS 5.01

    • This might be a fix to the issue everyone is having as I read a few posts here. If you have a protection film on your iPhone remove it & the problem solved for good:)

  5. Same Problem here with an ATT 4S bought in the US on o2 network in Germany.
    First I thought it to be an o2 problem.
    Apple phone support is no help, they claim to never heard about that problem and won’t replace the phone ( even though its on Apple Care)

  6. I encounter the same symptoms on my iPhone 3G: during a call, the phone will suddenly “decide” that the headphones are plugged in and mute the speaker, even though no headphones are plugged in. Various resets, plugging in and removing headsets, etc seem to help recovery.

  7. We have two 4 and two 4S. No audio problems at all. One of the 4S had a yellowish screen but it was replaced without questions. Great customer service from Apple and the carrier. Very happy with these phones.

  8. There are two other problems that effect at least some 4Ses, mine included:
    echo (especially when having the headphones on) and static. All the symptoms (including the audio issue discussed in the article) are intermittent, and can generally be fixed by switching to speaker mode (which is obviously a non-solution when in a public place).
    None of these problems exist when using Facetime, Skype or any other A/V over IP technology (Wifi or 3G).

    The echo/static issues also have huge threads in Apple’s support forums.

    Apple really does need to address this

  9. More issues with the oh-so perfect Iphone. When are you apple-heads going to get it into your thick sculls that the iphone is a flawed device… flawed by the very same design that Apple prides itself on.

  10. I have been using a iPhone 4s since release date…And had never had a problem like is being discribed here good battery life iOS 5.0.1 works great never noticed a call problem or any other problem for that matter. I have the 64gb model.

  11. I have a different problem on my iPhone 4. When i make calls from iphone 4, the recipient is unable to hear me. I have not tried the speaker no/off fix yet. This also happened to my old iPhone 4 that I returned back to the Apple store for mute issues. The problem happens much less now that I have IOS 5.

  12. Spiderman's Nose Hairs

    Had the same problem with a 4S, it was getting so bad I didn’t want to make outgoing calls. Took it to an Apple store and they replaced it – the new one works fine.

  13. kaffenated

    I’ve owned the 3, 3G, and the wife owned a 4 – we both have a 4S and it is the worst Apple product I have ever owned for more reasons that this article. It has been a huge disappointment.

  14. I experienced this issue and there’s a very simple solution. Apple will replace the phone. Call them or go to an Apple store. I haven’t experienced this issue since.

  15. Carlos Tavares

    I live in Portugal and own an iPhone 4S. Same issue here with outgoing and incoming voice calls. It’s very annoying not to mention that this phone is very expensive.
    Battery goes quickly…Apple needs to fix this issue quickly before some folks go to Android!!

  16. Christopher Cioffi

    I’Ve had this problem for months, one day it got so bad that nothing worked not even the speaker trick. Apple suggested that I swap out my SIM card for a new one and that got the phone working better, however, it still happens daily. My next steps are to get the phone replaced.

  17. I’ve had this problem on my iPhone 4S and it started with the second voice call I ever made, not long after leaving the Apple Store with my new phone. It’s intermittent and it’s annoying. The only workaround I’ve found is to quickly switch on and then off Speaker mode. That solves it for that call. If iOS 5.1 doesn’t fix it, I’ll be swapping out my hardware.