Can you hear me now? Not good.
October 23, 2011 4:49 AM   Subscribe

Strange problem with iPhone while on calls; I sometimes can't be heard by the other party. Not sure if hardware or software.

I own an AT&T iPhone 4. Actually, I ordered a 4s but am out of town and can't activate it until I get back. When I do, I hope to hand the 4 down to my daughter if I can get it to work consistently.

The problem is intermittent, and happens when I'm on a call. It can stop and start during a call. When it is acting up, I can hear the other party but they can't hear me at all. This happens when using the phone's internal mic or the earbuds. I've been told that sometimes when the problem starts happening the other party will hear a short burst of static. Sometimes I can be on a two-hour call without the problem coming up, and other times it starts five minutes into the call. No other apps have this issue; I've been calling people back using Skype when the phone starts cutting out.

I have a developer account, and originally thought the problem came up when I installed the iOS5 GM seed (I had all the betas leading up to it). Since then my wife has told me she's heard the static bursts on the line well before the GM seed came out (but after I installed earlier betas).

I wiped the phone and installed the iOS5 GA version, with my data restored from iCloud. No dice.

I brought it to a third-party vendor (UBreakIFix), who could find nothing wrong with the phone. They wiped it, reinstalled iOS5 with NO data restored, tested it for all of two calls and 20 seconds, and pronounced it good. The problem came back up on the very first call I tried after getting the device back, which still had not been restored with my data.

I brought the phone to the Apple store. They ran diags on it and couldn't find a smoking gun. The phone is out of warranty and they offered to replace it for $150.00. They said there was no reason to bother with further diagnosis, as the $150 offer would be the best one they could make whether or not they found the cause of the problem.

I've seen some complaints about this issue in the forums, but they don't seem to be getting any resolution and the issue doesn't seem very widespread.

Hive mind, does anyone have a solution? Would reflashing the baseband possibly fix the issue, and if so how can I go about this?

Thanks for any help you can provide.
posted by tkolstee to Technology (12 answers total)
You are sure that it isn't just AT&T's signal being suck-tastic as usual? I have had this happen (3GS), but I just blame AT&T. I tend to blame AT&T for anything and everything that I can though, so maybe it is something on your actual phone.
posted by rockindata at 5:15 AM on October 23, 2011

Is it possible your cheek is brushing the screen and hitting the mute button? This has happened to me before. Some people here suggest that a bad proximity sensor might be to blame. Have you checked to see whether the phone is on mute after you lose the other person?
posted by painquale at 5:20 AM on October 23, 2011 [3 favorites]

I was going to ask the same thing as painquale; that happens to me sometimes.
posted by Nattie at 5:23 AM on October 23, 2011

rockindata: As much as I'd love to be able to blame the provider, that doesn't seem likely. I live in Orlando, and have had the problem occur at home as well as in NYC and Boston. My wife has the same model and uses it in the same house, but hasn't had the issue.

painquale: Definitely not the mute button; I've checked that when the problem happens and it's never lit. I've had the proximity sensor fail before, but this appears to be a different issue. Also, it happens when I'm on headphones and the phone is nowhere near my cheek.
posted by tkolstee at 5:25 AM on October 23, 2011

I had the exact same problem with my iPhone4. I took it to the Apple store and they replaced it (mine was under warranty, though -- sorry). Something about how something inside the headphone jack had gotten joggled out of place. They seemed pretty familiar with the problem and replacing it seems to be the standard response.
posted by missjenny at 7:02 AM on October 23, 2011

Yep. Got it swapped for a new phone.
posted by amanda at 7:30 AM on October 23, 2011

This happens to me too, and the pattern seems to be that it happens when I have the ringer on. When the switch is on silent (vibrate), calls are fine. I haven't extensively tested, but it's an interesting pattern.
posted by dreamyshade at 7:56 AM on October 23, 2011

Thanks for all the answers so far. It's been difficult being out of touch like this while I'm out of town. Not to mention difficult to have my 4s arrive while I was unexpectedly called away :(.

missjenny: Was this the problem where the phone thinks headphones are plugged in when they aren't? It's usually easy to spot; the volume adjustment popup says "headphones" when none are plugged in. If that's the problem you had, I've seen references to it but I'm not in the same boar.

amanda: was yours in warranty when it was swapped?

dreamyshade: Interesting. So when the ringer was on, would the problem still come and go? Ever try toggling it when the problem starts and if so did it work okay after that? Maybe I'll try that next time I'm on a call and have the problem.

For some reason it's worked 98% of the time over the last couple days. The week or so prior to that it worked 30-60% of the time.

I'll be home on Tuesday evening, and will switch over to my new 4s. I'll have to come up with a good way to test this phone after I'm not using it as my primary, so if they release a new firmware I can verify if it fixes the problem and I have a fully working phone to pass down, sell, or repurpose.
posted by tkolstee at 2:52 PM on October 23, 2011

I don't know if the problem would come and go if you toggled the switch a bit — whenever it happens to me, I just switch to speakerphone and use the phone that way. :)
posted by dreamyshade at 11:16 PM on October 23, 2011

It happened to me today and I tried toggling the silent/ringer switch. Voila, the other party was able to hear me! I don't consider it fixed, but at least this seems to be a workaround.
posted by tkolstee at 9:03 PM on October 24, 2011

I've switched over to my 4S now, and have installed the tethered JB on my old iPhone 4. Anyone know of any JB diagnostic tools that might help me out here?
posted by tkolstee at 9:16 AM on October 27, 2011

Hmm, I work on Cydia but I don't know of any third-party diagnostic tools for this type of thing. I guess you could look at the syslog and see if it prints anything interesting, but I think this is a hardware issue, and the software probably doesn't know much about what's going wrong...
posted by dreamyshade at 1:21 PM on October 27, 2011

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