Apple Finally Acknowledges Microphone Issues on iPhone 7 & iPhone 7 Plus

May 11, 2018

The iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus first debuted back in 2016, but the recent iOS 11.3 update has left some users scrambling for a new phone to use after microphone and audio issues have surfaced. Here's a quick rundown of the symptoms that people with this problem are having with their devices.

What Happened?

iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus users who recently updated to iOS 11.3 have discovered an audio issue that completely removes the ability to hear anyone and causes some problems with applications that need access to the microphone.

One person with this issue who posted in the iOS subreddit said their phone restarted in the middle of the night and now apps cannot access their microphone, and the device does not show up as an option to other Bluetooth devices. Additionally, the volume control options in the Control Center of the phone appear to be completely frozen for this iPhone 7 Plus owner.

The user confirmed that a soft and hard reset, removing the SIM, and disabling various settings on the phone have not fixed the issue. A cursory glance around Twitter and Reddit confirmed that this issue is pretty widespread, with many iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus users reporting problems with the microphone and audio. Others affected by the same problem report being unable to make phone calls because the person they are calling cannot hear them, both through traditional phone calls and through FaceTime video chats.

Does Apple Know?

These ongoing issues with the iOS 11.3 update have appeared sporadically online, but a new internal memo discovered by MacRumors that was distributed to Apple Authorized Service Providers proves the company is aware that people are experiencing the issue, even if they have not made a public comment.

According to details in the memo, Apple says that customers may experience a greyed-out speaker button and the issue could prevent customers from being heard while making phone calls or using FaceTime to video chat. The memo also suggests that service providers who encounter a phone with this issue should ask customers to disconnect any Bluetooth headsets or other audio accessories to see if that fixes the problem.

If removing Bluetooth accessories does not fix the problem, the memo suggests the repair technician should run audio diagnostics on the affected device to determine the issue. Devices that are affected by this issue will display "device could not detect dock" or "accessory not supported" in the diagnostics panel, which indicates the phone will need to receive repairs.

Warranty Status

Since the iPhone 7 and its larger cousin the iPhone 7 Plus was released more than two years ago, that means those who purchased the device at launch but didn't buy an extended AppleCare warranty for the phone are now outside of their free repair period. Thankfully, the internal memo that discusses this problem says that Apple authorizes its repair centers to make a special exception for devices with this issue and to repair them free of charge.

The details of how widespread this problem remains to be seen since Apple has not acknowledged the issue publicly and reports of problems are limited to social media sites like Twitter, Reddit, and Facebook. A cursory glance at these sites using search terms like "iPhone 7 audio issue" and "iPhone 7 microphone not working" return reports from multiple different people experiencing the same issue.

What's not clear is why those updating to iOS 11.3 are experiencing this issue in the first place. There are no reports of newer devices being affected, so it could be that something in the update is causing a hardware defect that is specific to this generation of iPhones.

If you are an unlucky iPhone 7 owner who is experiencing this problem, you can schedule an appointment with your nearest Apple Authorized Service Provider or a Genius Bar at the Apple Store by contacting Apple directly and letting them know you are experiencing this issue on your device.

What Now?

Since Apple has not acknowledged this issue publicly, you may encounter some resistance from Apple employees who are out of the loop or who were told not to comment on specific topics. However, MacRumors has stated they have verified the authenticity of this internal document and believe Apple is working internally to help anyone who encounters this issue.

This sort of issue is not the first time an iOS 11 update has caused problems for older generation iPhone users, either. Earlier this year when iOS 11 itself released, some iPhone users reported the update caused their device to enter a constant state of rebooting. The recommended fix for that issue was to update affected devices to iOS 11.2.

However, it seems unlikely that a software update will be able to fix this issue for those who are already affected since the diagnostics report mentioned in this internal menu seem to indicate that this is a hardware issue that will need to be repaired by an authorized person.

2 Devices we're talking about