How to Fix the iPhone Can’t Hear Caller Unless on Speaker Issue [Fixed]

Usually, the issue is at your end, and you are more likely to deal with software or hardware issues. An outdated iOS and poor-quality cases often cause the issue. To deal with it, you may need to adjust the sound level, reset and update the IOS, or apply other methods depending on the cause.

No worries; we will describe the most likely reasons and several methods to deal with the issue. Keep reading to find out more!

Why iPhone Can’t Hear the Caller Unless on Speaker?

As mentioned, there can be many reasons why you can’t hear the caller. Some of them are easy to handle, while others require expert assistance. Let’s explore them in detail so that we can apply appropriate fixing method –

Poor Quality Cases

An ill-fitting phone case can block the speaker holes both at the receiver end and the output end. When that happens, the call’s audio may sound distorted or weak.

A very easy way to check whether the case is an issue or not is to make a call after removing the cover. If you hear everything crisp and clear, that indicates poor quality of the cover.

Thus, you need to buy a case that is specially designed for the iPhone model you own. Here are some best quality covers to choose from: 

iPhone Holding Position 

The volume can occasionally be decreased by your finger if you hold the iPhone too tightly. Additionally, a phone that is held too tightly can cover the microphone or the ear speaker, obstructing sound transmission.

You may also have trouble hearing if you rest the ear speaker against your head rather than your ear. Therefore, try to hold the phone so that the top speaker rests against the ear canal.

Hardware Issues 

Even if you handle your phone with the utmost care, drops are unavoidable. This type of incident leaves dents inside the battery or close to the speaker. As a result, you might have trouble hearing the caller without a speaker.

Also, dirt and dust can easily pile up in the ear speaker holes if you don’t clean them once in a while. Sometimes, when wet and small objects enter, a sound issue develops that necessitates using speaker mode on your phone.

Thus, it’s better if you clean the ports with a toothpick and soft bristle brush once a week to prevent inconvenience. You can follow the tutorial for better results:

Outdated OS

Never use an outdated iOS for an extended period of time. Because using an outdated iOS means you are missing out on security and performance features that fix almost half of the iPhone’s bugs.

Note that old iOS is more vulnerable to viruses and bugs. And these can spread to all the applications, including the phone’s calling and sound source systems. 

Also, outdated iOS can’t fight the glitches and bugs that come from other malicious apps. Therefore, when the latest update is available, you must take the update.

How to Fix iPhone Can’t Hear Caller Unless on Speaker Issue?

Once you know the reasons, fixing them is not very challenging. However, since there can be several reasons and the fixing strategy for one model may not be the same as another, you need to learn several methods to fix the issue.

Until it is a hardware or software-related issue, it isn’t always necessary to take the phone to a repair shop. All you need to do is learn the fixing strategy. You can follow the fixing strategy given below.

Restart the iPhone and Adjust the Volume

Sometimes, a quick reboot can fix general glitches that might block the caller’s sound. This is because restarting clears the fragmented data and loads the system data afresh. To do so, follow the given steps:  

  • Step 1: Bring the Slider

For iPhone X, 11, 12, and later models, long-press the volume or side key. And for older versions, hold the side button or top key at the upper right corner of the phone. This will bring a slider onto the screen, just like in the following picture:

Bring the Slider
  • Step 2: Reboot

Either drag the slider right or left as the popup instructs and wait for the phone to turn off. It may take nearly 30 seconds. Then, to turn on the device, long–press the side key until you feel a vibration and see the Apple logo.

vibration and see the Apple logo.
  • Step 3: Adjust the Sound Level

Tap the side button to bring up the volume slider and increase the volume level. Or you can adjust the audible level in the Sound section of the settings so that you can hear the caller clearly.

Set the Sound Output Correctly

If you often use your iPhone with other Bluetooth devices, it’s a must to check whether the audio output destination is in phone mode or not. You can hear the caller only on the speaker because of the wrong sound destination mode. Here is how to correct that:

  • From the top of the screen, bring down the Control Access or Center of iPhone X, XS, and the latest models. 
  • If you have older versions or iPhone 6, 7, or 8, swipe up from the bottom of the screen to access the Control Center.
bottom of the screen to access the Control Center
  • Find the Music box logo by swiping left or right, and long–press it followed by the circle icon at the top right corner of the screen.
  • Select iPhone as the medium of audio source output. This way, you can resolve the call sound issue. 

Disable or Enable Different Modes

Enabling or disabling some modes, especially Wi-Fi calling, Bluetooth, and noise cancellation, often minimizes sound quality issues. If you live in an area with poor signal and network reception, you must try the fix. Here is the process to follow –

  • Go to the Settings menu from the application drawer and tap the Phone section.
  • Expand the Wi-Fi Calling and turn on the Wi-Fi Calling on this Phone toggle switch.
turn on the Wi-Fi Calling
  • Navigate to the Settings app and open the Bluetooth info page. If the Bluetooth is off, turn it on.
  • If the Bluetooth is on, disable it and wait for a few seconds before enabling it.
  • Go back to the main Settings screen and scroll down to find and open the General section.
  • Tap the Accessibility option and disable the noise cancellation. It will improve the sound quality even without enabling the speaker.

Reset Network Settings

If there is a glitch or crash in the network settings, it might affect the phone call’s sound and quality. So, reset the networks afresh as described below:

  • Take note of Wi-Fi passwords, and cellular preferences before changing the network options. Because resetting will erase the passwords.
  • Access the Settings menu from the control center or app drawer and open the General.
  • Then, tap Reset and Reset Network Settings. You will need to confirm the action from the popups. Upon rebooting the phone will have new network settings.

Update the iOS

As I said earlier, using the latest version of iOS solves many bug issues, including the caller sound. Because developers launch new updates only to minimize these glitches. So here is what you need to do for the update:

  • Scroll down the Settings menu and go to the General section.
  • Tap “Software Update,” and this page will show you whether you need an update or not. If you see the Download and Install button available, select it.
Software Update
  • Follow the instructions on the screen. Afterward, wait for the update to finish and for the phone to restart.
  • Hopefully, now you can hear the other person on the call loud and clear.

Factory Reset

For hardware-related issues, any of the fixes listed above may not work. So, if nothing works, you can try a factory reset of your phone by following the steps below:

  • First, take a backup of all the important documents and photos to Google drive or another device. Because once you reset, it’ll remove all data from the system.
  • Then, go to the General section from the Settings menu, followed by Transfer or Reset iPhone option.
Erase All Content Settings
  • Choose “Erase All Content Settings” and follow the instructions that pop up.

Once the reset is finished, the phone will restart. Hopefully, the issue will be fixed, and you can hear the caller without any issues.

Frequently Asked Questions

The caller sound issue can be different from user to user. So, you might have other queries to get better insights into the problem. To clear your doubts, follow these most searched questions’ answers:

Should you dry the iPhone speaker holes by placing the phone in rice to fix the caller sound?

No, experts don’t advise placing your iPhone on rice to dry its hardware. because smaller rice grains can get into the holes and mess up the mechanism. There is no scientific evidence that supports the idea that rice absorbs moisture.

Can third–party apps muffle the sound during calls?

A malicious and outdated third-party app can lead to poor sound during calls. You won’t be able to hear the other person on a call made through the app. If you don’t fix or remove the app, it can affect any call and audio output.

Can calling on LTE data only fix the sound performance during calls?

Some users have claimed that calling on LTE data-only mode fixes the problem they’re facing with sound quality and volume. So, you may change the cellular data setting to LTE and see if that works. It might work if the issue is caused by cellular networks.

How to find faulty third-party apps that cause the sound issue?

Using the iPhone in ‘Safe Mode’ can help you find out whether any third–party app is causing the caller sound to drop. It blocks those apps, so try making calls in this mode. If you can hear correctly in safe mode, the apps are faulty.


Finally, you get the point. Since its inception, many old and new iOS users have been facing the “iPhone can’t hear callers unless on speaker” issue. Sometimes, unless the issue is hardware related, it can be solved easily.

For instance, you will never be able to hear the caller through the phone’s speaker while the headphone mode is activated, which is very easy to fix.

On the other hand, the causes can be due to faulty hardware or software. In such a case, you may need to take the phone to the Apple Support Center, because a wrong step can put the phone in brick mode. Anyway hopefully, your iPhone is working properly again.

Suhel Rana

Hi! This is Shuhel and I've been working as an iPhone technician for over 10 years. At Techiaid, I write content on a vast range of topics on iPhone software and hardware issues. iPhone issues are nothing to be trifled with. So, you'll definitely need to consult someone who knows the ins and outs of different iPhone models.

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