Bluetooth issues with iOS 4?

Though the iPhone's antenna problems has taken center stage, many other iPhone users have written in to complain about the Bluetooth problems they've encountered with not only the iPhone 4, but with iOS 4 in previous generations of the iPhone as well.

Nicole Lee Former Editor
Nicole Lee is a senior associate editor for CNET, covering cell phones, Bluetooth headsets, and all things mobile. She's also a fan of comic books, video games, and of course, shiny gadgets.
Nicole Lee
3 min read

Since our report of possible stereo Bluetooth issues on the iPhone 4 a few weeks ago, several CNET readers have written in reporting that the problem extends beyond just the iPhone 4, and beyond just stereo Bluetooth. Indeed, many of our readers wrote that they've experienced odd Bluetooth glitches with their iPhone 3GS and iPhone 3G loaded with the latest iOS 4 firmware, glitches that did not exist with iPhone OS 3.0. These glitches range from poor audio quality to intermittent connectivity to the headset.

Does iOS 4 affect Bluetooth connectivity on the iPhone? CNET

Though we have yet to replicate many of these problems with our own iPhones at CNET, the number of e-mail and comments we've received about this is enough to make us sit up and notice. Here we list a few of them, just to give you an idea of the problems people are experiencing:

Reader Josh writes: "I am having a different issue with a Plantronics Voyager Pro Bluetooth headset. It worked perfectly with my 3GS but now that it is connected to my iPhone 4, I am having difficulty. Although it connected fine and I have no problem hearing callers, all callers tell me that my voice is so poor that they can't understand a word that I am saying. Most describe it as a very bad connection, far away, as if in a tunnel."

Reader Douglas writes: "My issue is that my Plantronics discovery 975 is not working with my iPhone 4. If I put the phone in my pocket, wear it on my belt, or take just one step away the headset disconnects."

Reader Rob writes: "I can pair the iPhone 4 with my Jawbone Bluetooth no problem but it loses connectivity every few minutes / disconnects from the phone Bluetooth. I went and bought a brand new identical Bluetooth headset (another Jawbone) and have the same problem (disconnects every couple of minutes). I have reset my iPhone 4 and this does not help. I have restored my iPhone 4 to factory settings through iTunes and this also does not help. These same headsets worked fine on my older 3GS iPhone. My second issue is that the very few minutes at a time that the Bluetooth actually does work ... when on a call the person on the other end of the line constantly hears muffled sound and annoying echo of themselves."

Reader Larry writes: "Since upgrading to iOS 4 (on a 3GS and iPhone 4), people have noted that I sound 'muffled' or that they cannot hear me at all while using my Plantronics Voyager Pro Bluetooth headset."

Reader Biren writes: "I am based in London, U.K., and have just received my iPhone 4 a couple of days ago, but have found that talking via the Motorola Bluetooth headset, the other party are complaining that I sound like as if I am very far away or have got a pillow in front of the headset."

Biren also helpfully pointed us to an Apple discussion forum that mentions this same muffled audio quality issue. As of this writing, the forum thread is up to nine pages long. Also, from the comments in our original post about the iPhone Bluetooth issues, many people are having problems with syncing their iPhones to their cars via Bluetooth.

It doesn't appear that the iOS 4.0.1 update has fixed this issue, but word is that iOS 4.1 might. However, we wouldn't hold our breath for a complete fix. It seems that iOS 4.1 will only upgrade the existing Bluetooth protocol on the iPhone to support full AVRCP (audio-video remote control profile), where you will now be able to skip tracks via Bluetooth (previously you could only control the volume and play/pause). We're still waiting to hear if Apple will deal with the other Bluetooth issues mentioned above.