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Apple iPhone SE owners bemoan audio bug

Introduced with the latest update to iOS, the glitch distorts the quality of phone calls made via Bluetooth, according to some owners.

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The iPhone SE is suffering from a Bluetooth phone call glitch, some owners say.

Sarah Tew/CNET

iPhone users have apparently been hit by yet another bug.

Released on March 31 as the latest update to Apple's mobile operating system, iOS 9.3.1 was designed to fix a glitch that caused the Safari browser, Mail and other apps to freeze or crash when you tap on a link. But after the update rolled out, users of the brand-new iPhone SE started griping about the poor quality of phone calls made through wireless Bluetooth connections.

Several iPhone SE owners chiming in on Apple's Support Communities and the MacRumors forum say the audio of a phone call via Bluetooth is distorted or scratchy, to the point that they can't understand the other person. Some of those affected have cited Bluetooth connections with their cars as being especially problematic.

"I have a new iPhone SE and have so far paired it to a 2014 BMW 328i and a 2011 Kia Optima and a 2015 Kia Santa Fe," one person posted to the MacRumors forums. "In all cases, I have this exact same issue -- terrible quality Bluetooth call reception. Sounds very scratchy and distorted as well."

Updates of products such as Apple's mobile software go through rigid rounds of internal testing, but they can still carry bugs that pop up once the final release is downloaded by millions of people. Such glitches not only frustrate users but also call into question a company's ability to fully check each new update. Apple has run into a series of problems with iOS 9.3, which has required several updates to correct key issues.

The bug seems to affect only phone calls -- not music or other audio over Bluetooth. At least a couple of iPhone SE owners said that doing a factory reset on their phone had no effect. The problem doesn't appear to be carrier-specific as both Verizon and AT&T customers have reported it. It seems to affect the iPhone SE alone.

On the plus side, someone posting on Apple's Support Communities said Apple reps were able to reproduce the issue and forwarded the information to Apple engineers.

Apple has released a beta version of iOS 9.3.2 to developers for testing, so this issue may be resolved in time for the next update. Apple did not immediately respond to CNET's request for comment.

(Via Forbes)