The quiet riot: iPhone volume complaints continue to pour in

The quiet riot: iPhone volume complaints continue to pour in

Ben Wilson
3 min read

Weeks after we initially reported the issue:

complaints about the iPhone's volume continue to pour in. Users by the dozen report that any or all of the following iPhone auditory components:

  • earpiece
  • speakerphone
  • ringer
  • alert sounds (including voicemail and text messages)
are well below the standard, in terms of volume, established by other mobile handsets. To make matters worse, when the volume on the earpiece is set to a maximum level, severe echoing can ensue. As previously reported, there are a few lukewarm solutions:
  • iPhone Update 1.0.1 may have provided a volume boost to some users.
  • Performing a restore process can sometimes result in at least a temporary boost in volume. To perform a restore, Connect your iPhone to your Mac or PC and, in iTunes, click the Restore button under the Summary tab. Restoring the phone will erase contacts, calendars, photos and other data on the phone, but will restore automatically backed-up information including text messages, notes, call history, contact favorites, sound settings, widget settings, etc.
  • You can use the included stereo headset or a Bluetooth headset, which will usually result in higher volume for phone calls, but does nothing to address the problem at its core.

It appears that this is a problem afflicting specific iPhones rather than one endemic to every unit (though some readers have received replacement models that exhibit similarly low volume).

It's also highly unlikely that this is simply a matter of personal taste or individual hearing deficiency. We've received far too many reports from readers who directly compare their iPhones against other handsets, finding the former to be unacceptably quiet.

Here's a smattering of the reader testimony we've received:

  • "(Dear Apple): What about addressing the real problems â?? such as the ringer being way too low, the speakerphone being practically unusable due to pathetically low volume, -- just to name two obvious ones that everyone who has an iPhone complains about?"
  • "This is a big problem - how can a fix be expedited?"
  • "The iPhone sounds way too low for text messages and voice mail alerts."

Apple's Discussion baords continue to be flooded with similar complaints. This thread harbors laments such as:

  • "I have the volume cranked on the phone and I still can't hear anyone on the other line."
  • "So i got the iPhone yesterday....couldn't hear anything and took it back to the store. The genius was really surprised at how low the sound was coming through the phone even though the volume was all the way up. They gave me a brand new one, and guess what, same problem."
  • "Speakerphone volume on my phone is definitely too low. I had a razr before and am used to being able to sit phone in lap or on console while talking hands-free. I've replaced my first iPhone, but new phone is the same."

So far Apple's statements on the subject have been almost insolently facile. Knowledge Base document #305689 states: "Sound from receiver is muffled or too low: Make sure the receiver is over your ear. Move it around until it is in a spot that produces the clearest sound."

At this point, short of returning your too-quiet iPhone to Apple (assuming it's accepted), the only options are to hope for a firmware update that boosts sound output on a broad scale -- not altogether unlikely, since Apple has modified the volume of Macs with software/firmware updates -- or use one of the aforementioned workarounds.

Feedback? info@iphoneatlas.com.