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iPhone 5 bad call voice quality

273753 Views 925 Replies Latest reply: Mar 25, 2014 12:14 PM by Hgmichaels RSS Branched to a new discussion.
  • jfaughnan Calculating status...
    Currently Being Moderated
    Dec 11, 2012 2:02 PM (in response to R_odec)

    Some interaction between the iPhone 5's HD voice capability and how some carriers are implementing 3G on some towers that also provide LTE...

     

    So a fix might happen with a change to iOS software, or a change to carrier software.

  • stoutie Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
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    Dec 11, 2012 2:29 PM (in response to jfaughnan)

    I'm on my 3rd iphone 5 in Chicago. We'll see if this one works. Genius told me there is no widespread issue that he's aware of but he could hear the issue on a test call and that was enough. Also doesn't know if it's hardware or not but he said the software on the phone looked good just like it had on my first phone. Glad they're so cool about switching out the phone. Keeping my fingers crossed. It's not the end of the world so I'm fine with trying out this new phone. Always been an Apple fan. Always will be. In the big scheme of things we're lucky to have these things.

  • ssspluto Calculating status...
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    Dec 11, 2012 2:38 PM (in response to jfaughnan)

    Since iPhone 5 has 3 microphones and if you use the earphone and you stick the iPhone in your pocket, then how in the world the noise cancellation will work? 

     

    I'm betting they did not test this scenario well enough and may leave one of the microphone on even there is an earphone plugged in!

     

    In my case, I found the voice call problem is more pronounced with the earphone.  And of course, when you are playing any MP3, the sound comes out fine (all the microphones are off totally).

     

    This reasoning gives me hope that this is just a software problem, and no need for a hardware fix.

  • jfaughnan Level 3 Level 3 (780 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Dec 11, 2012 6:43 PM (in response to jfaughnan)

    FWIW I also submitted  a report to AT&T and I tried resetting my network settings. I don't think LTE settings make any difference for my voice use (I use a earset)

  • ssspluto Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
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    Dec 12, 2012 6:19 AM (in response to jfaughnan)

    After researching this issue for 3 days, I concluded that it all comes down to the "new" NOISE CANCELLATION system being implemented on the iPhone 5.  The bad voice call quality, the dizziness, the muffled sound, the fading in and out, back ground noise, the useless earphone, etc are all caused by the same problem.


    There are several major differences between iPhone 4 and 5 regarding noise cancelling:


    1. iPhone 5 has 3 microphones. One or all may be used for noise cancelling.  The iPhone 4 has only two microphones.  Complexity breeds problems.


    2. iPhone 5 has a  back-side microphone that may be used for noise cancelling that may be not best located. What if this microphone is blocked or partially blocked or affected by wind noise?


    3. the new noise cancellation hardware & software was done by Apple, previously done by Audience, which did works for Google Nexus and Samsumg GS.  New hardware & software are likely leading to more bugs.


    4. The new earphone that has its own "noise cancelling" may not be thoroughly tested with the iPhone 5. We are not even sure if the microphones on the iPhone are turned off while earphone is plugged in.


    5. It seems iPhone 5's noise cancellation system did not make use of promixity sensor to sense whether the person is close the phone or not and adjust its "noise cancelling" accordingly.


    In my previous life, I used to work as a telecom engineer and testing all the phone's functions is a huge task that I can see that with Apple's secrecy, it will make it very hard for them to test out everything with their new noise cancelling system and on a brand new phone. You have to plot out every scenario that the user MAY use the phone and accomodate them. Had Apple stuck with Audience system and just add the third microphone's function, it may turn out better.


      Most users are not bothered by this issue because many of them are using the phone in a "correct" way that works out fine with the noise cancelling system on iPhone 5 - close to the face, no speaker phone, no earphone and not moving around too much.  Many users are not sensitive to the "vertigo" effect due to "noise cancelling" sound waves and they see no problem.  Many users do not talk long enough to feel the problem - they mainly use it as a mini computer.


    I'm sure Apple will fix it in the next iOS release, but I can see it may introduce more bugs - you simply can't test for everything.


  • sk1sk1 Calculating status...
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    Dec 12, 2012 6:48 AM (in response to ssspluto)

    ssspluto, thanks for the information about noice cancelling.  I can reproduce the problem I wrote about (see my earlier post to distinguish from other issues mentioned in this thread) with a test scenario I've developed, and that works in a very quiet office environment, with the phone resting on a desk, using Apple-provided iPhone 5 earphones.  Hardly an exotic situation.  Although the flaw may be in the noice cancelling system, I don't think it can be attributed to user error or an exotic use scenario.

     

    Here's my guess - there's a threshold for the distant party signal, and below that threshold they apply strong attenuation.  See the graphs referenced in my prior post.  That threshold is too high, so it attenuates desired signal.  I also believe they may be measuring the threshold post-volume adjustment.  To filter noise coming in from the distant party, any such threshold should be applied pre-volume adjustment, and should be well below the level of any intelligible speech or meaningful ambient sound.  You can test this for yourself by reproducing my test scenario, then raise the volume one click at a time.  If you raise the volume to the level where the loud passages are painfully loud, you may also notice that the threshold for attenuation seems to move up, so less of the signal is dropped into the attenuation.

     

    I'm with you on trusting Apple will be able to fix it.  For me, I couldn't wait.  I need to make phone calls and hear every word.  I returned my iPhone 5 for now, and reverted to iPhone 4.  I don't want to waste the world's or Apple's resources swapping phones when that doesn't seem to help.  I do plan to buy an iPhone 5 again immediately upon verifying they've solved it.

  • ssspluto Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Dec 12, 2012 8:19 AM (in response to sk1sk1)

    You can’t use any earphone with the iPhone 5.  It simply does not work.  Many headphone companies are discovering this.  Apple’s iPhone 5 noise cancelling software is totally broken and they know it.  The location of the microphone on the back was not well suited for noise cancelling process.

     

    I suspect they are turning on all microphones for noise cancelling purpose even if you plug in an earphone.  This is nuts.  If you put your iPhone in a pocket, you’d hear all kind of junk noise.  It’s insanse that they release a phone without making sure that it works, first and foremost, as a phone!

     

    I even suspect that using the speaker phone will not work well in many instances, especially in a noisy environment.

     

    If Apple discovers that the location of the back-side microphone or the one in the earpiece are not really well suited for their noise cancelling software, then that means a massive iPhone 5 recall? It’s hard to believe that!

  • jfaughnan Level 3 Level 3 (780 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Dec 12, 2012 8:26 PM (in response to ssspluto)

    Yes, this is my impression too.

     

    Since the effect is much more severe in my very quiet home setting, I'm going to turn on a fan or other background noise source to see if that helps. I'm also going to experiment with removing the case, and lying the phone flat so the noise cancelling microphone on the back side of the phone is flat against a sound absorbent surface. Then I'll turn it over.

     

    http://tech.kateva.org/2012/12/voice-call-audio-clipping-and-dropouts.html

  • jfaughnan Level 3 Level 3 (780 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Dec 12, 2012 8:27 PM (in response to ssspluto)

    I suspect they'd turn off noise cancellation then when one is using an earset or at all times. No recall.

  • Angry Bird Calculating status...
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    Dec 13, 2012 4:02 PM (in response to joos8123)

    I have the same issue. I  very disappointed. I went to the apple store in providence place mall, I had an appointment with genius for 11am, I got there at 10:45. I checked in and waited.  I saw two guys walk in the store. They walked up to the person taking names, and the apple employee told the guys to "stay there"- so arrogant!!! Anyways... Few minutes pass, a new couple comes in and checks in, I assumed they had an appointment. In any event, a different employee told the couple to "sit right there" where there was only one seat. It is unbelievable how I notice such arrogance and aweful customer service in there.

     

    At 11:15 I checked with the guy, they missed my appointment somehow.  So they said I'd be next which I was.

     

    My issue: I have this wind sound on my phone, the technician did a test call and he said he didn't hear anything and he said that I'd have to come back when it's hapoening, I was like its happening now, but the technician didn't offer me anything, reason is, there is no solution, I think all the iPhone 5s are doing this.

     

    I'm very disappointed , I've always had iPhones since the beginning, this one is not a good phone. They cheapened the phone do much, the 4s was a good one.

     

    I went to AT&T and they worked with me, I'm in my second iPhone 5 and its still doing the wind sound. I'm very upset I have this phone! If there is something apple can do for me I'd appreciate

     

    Thank you , Dave

  • Charles Park Seward Calculating status...
    Currently Being Moderated
    Dec 13, 2012 4:19 PM (in response to Angry Bird)

    Rest assured that all the iPhone 5s don't act like yours. I have two and travel every week and the phone works fine all over the country. Better than my old iPhone 4.

     

    Can you describe the "wind sound"? Is it constant?

     

    I have been following this thread since the start and read different complaints. I love the ones where the user left the shipping plastic on the phone and wondered why the callers sound muffled!

     

    It is a difficult problem to troubleshoot different phones in different environments connected to different cell towers with different providers in different countries with different installed software.

     

    Does the problem happen when you first get the phone BEFORE any apps are loaded?

     

    The technician heard the problem and didn't do anything at at&t? I'm not sure I understand.

  • Angry Bird Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
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    Dec 13, 2012 4:38 PM (in response to Charles Park Seward)

    Thanks for your response. Here are the specifics: I'm on AT&T . First iPhone 5 I received three weeks after release. The first morning commuting to work I heard this wind like sound that is not constant. It comes and goes while on a call. There are times when the sound doesn't happen at all. You hear this windy static, that usually starts up quietly and builds and then it's gone, it comes and goes every two or three minutes I'd say. It's very disturbing, sometimes I can't hear the person I'm talking to.

     

    I do travel through many towers aprox 1.5 hour commute, but I've heard it when in the mall and when stationary.

     

    My service situation details- my first iPhone five I brought in a couple weeks after getting it. Mid October I'd say, and the providence technician performed some tests cleared out the ear speaker with the air spray, but the phone was very clean. He offered the test call where I left the store with the apple phone leaving him with mine. He was saying my phone didn't have any strange sound so I went in and took my phone outside the store and I could hear it! I was happy I heard it I thought for sure they would work with me. I went back in the store and have him my phone, he said he heard it but it wasn't something that warranted a new phone. I left after asking him , but he took notes on my account and told me to document when it happens and if it persists to come back in and they would look at it. I went back to the ATt store talked to the manager there, and they returned the phone for me, I got the new iPhone three weeks later. Since day 1 , on phone #2 it's still doing it!

     

    What should I do? If yours is good maybe I should try for #3?

     

     

    I am amazed you haven't heard this sound.  Thanks for your response , I appreciate it

  • stoutie Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Dec 13, 2012 8:58 PM (in response to Angry Bird)

    I have been to the Genius bar 40 times or more ever since they opened one. I have NEVER seen anyone act arrogant. Ever. Apple people are not arrogant. They're amazing. I'm frustrated too, but some of the people on this thread need to get a clue. Watch the news. Ever hear of Syria? The recession? Your little iPhone problems are not the end of the world. If you think Apple *****, fine. Leave. Go get another phone. If you think Apple employees are arrogant, please go get a Droid and whine about that POS. Get some perspective. We're lucky to have products like this, even if they aren't always perfect. Constructive comments are great, but the moaners and whiners should just go find another company to hate. Good God. It ain't cancer.

  • kcn81 Calculating status...
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    Dec 14, 2012 2:46 AM (in response to stoutie)

    @stoutie   

    Partially right but for me a too dry way to look at it. If ppl dont complain and just let themselves get kicked by the companies nothing would ever change.

     

    Most ppl here probably just want a central/official answer from Apple. Something like "Yes guys, we know you are disappointed, we are aware of the problem and we ARE working on it." Is that too much to expect?

  • Doug Metz Calculating status...
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    Dec 14, 2012 8:09 AM (in response to joos8123)

    Count me in with the poor quality / dropped call crowd.  Love what the phone can do, but mostly need it to act like a good phone first.

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