Distorted Audio On Phone Calls Over Bluetooth (IPHONE SE)

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by HickDead, Apr 2, 2016.

  1. HickDead macrumors 6502a

    HickDead

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2011
    #1
    "kpeex" posted this in the SE ORDER THREAD but I'm having the exact same issue with my SE and I wanted to make a new thread about this problem.

    I actually had to return my SE back to Verizon because my Bluetooth calls reception quality was terrible. Playing music or YouTube videos through the Bluetooth was excellent but when it came to phone calls, the sound was constantly cutting in and out and sounded "scratchy" and distorted.

    Never had this issue with my previous 6S or my work-issued Android phone. Tried my SE in a different vehicle and got the same results. I've unpaired and repaired and I even restored my SE and set up up as a new device but nothing has worked.

    I'm hoping that my SE was a "lemon" and this is not a known issue for this model. When I receive the new replacement, I'm going to hold off updating to 9.3.1 and see if it might be a software related issue.

    Are any of you guys experiencing Bluetooth call reception issues with your SE?
     
  2. sawah macrumors 6502a

    sawah

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2010
    #2
    I used mi e twice in the car yesterday over Bluetooth. No issues here.
     
  3. HickDead thread starter macrumors 6502a

    HickDead

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    Dec 2, 2011
    #3
    Did you update to 9.3.1 or stick with the 9.3 firmware on the SE out of the box?
     
  4. kpeex macrumors member

    kpeex

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2013
    Location:
    VBVA
    #4
    Hi, thanks for starting this thread.

    I am going to have to return/swap my SE out. I did the upgrade to 9.3.1 through iTunes on a Mac before I did anything else, so I don't have any 9.3 v. 9.3.1 experience.

    It's ironic, I swapped my Ford MySynch vehicle out while I was waiting for the Apple Store email to pick the phone up. So, I had not tried the SE over Bluetooth in the car until just now. Phone audio is as bad using Synch as using my various Bluetooth headsets.

    Bluetooth audio playing music isn't great, but Bluetooth isn't the best anyway if you can use USB. I was able to swap Lightning/USB input and Bluetooth audio in and out several times. Bluetooth audio has nowhere near the distortion that I experience using the phone audio. Somehow, this seems like a good sign that it may be in something other than hardware.

    Just to be clear, the phone audio output through the built-in is not great, but nothing like the 'over modulated blown speaker' type sound I get over Bluetooth at any volume setting.

    Similar Apple Support thread:
    https://discussions.apple.com/thread/7517300
     
  5. sawah macrumors 6502a

    sawah

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    Sep 13, 2010
    #5
    I am on 9.3.1
     
  6. lordofthereef macrumors G4

    lordofthereef

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    Nov 29, 2011
    Location:
    Boston, MA
    #6
    Did you try repairing? This exact issue happened on my 6s plus today in our '15 Toyota Rav 4. I was ordering chinese and it sounded crappier than anything I could remember. Reboot did nothing. Repair fixed it.
     
  7. HickDead thread starter macrumors 6502a

    HickDead

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    Dec 2, 2011
    #7
    Repair of what - the Bluetooth in the vehicle??? Not sure how you repair that since it wireless
     
  8. kpeex macrumors member

    kpeex

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2013
    Location:
    VBVA
    #8
    In case reef was meaning, RESTORE: Yeah, tried that three times now. Including one set up as a completely new 9.3.1 iPhone without anything on it. No change.

    Apple Support (telephone) couldn't figure it out and made me a Genius Bar appointment with an eye for a device swap on Monday.
     
  9. rsbacon macrumors member

    rsbacon

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2015
    #9
    Re-pair, as in un-pair and pair again. A little hyphen goes a long way sometimes :p
     
  10. lordofthereef macrumors G4

    lordofthereef

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    Boston, MA
    #10
    Go to the option where you select a Bluetooth device for the vehicle to "forget". Then repair it. I'm not using the word as the synonym for "fix". I'm using it as going into pairing mode in Bluetooth settings. Sorry if that was confusing.
    --- Post Merged, Apr 2, 2016 ---
    This guy got it lol. I do nearly all posting from my phone and I've stopped trying to fight autocorrect haha. Usually it's not as much to my detriment.
     
  11. HickDead thread starter macrumors 6502a

    HickDead

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2011
    #11
    Lol, sorry man. I should have figured it out. Yes I've done that multiple times already to no avail. I'm just hoping I got a bad SE and the one I have coming this week won't have the same issues.

    I hope I'm wrong but it's now starting to make sense why the SE is so cheap. It looks like Apple half-assed it - probably using cheaper parts/hardware than the 5S.
     
  12. daniel1948 macrumors 6502

    daniel1948

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2015
    Location:
    Spokane, WA
    #12
    I believe I was the first one to post about this on the SE order thread, so I'll jump in and say thanks to HickDead for creating a new thread. I just thought there was an incompatibility with my several-years-old Motorola over-the-ear Bluetooth headset, because on my new Bluetooth earbuds music comes through beautifully.

    But based on the above comments, I tried the earbuds with a phone call, and it is distorted. I bought the phone from Verizon and had it shipped to me, so I fear I would have to ship it back to get it replaced. I've made an appointment for Apple to phone me later this morning. If it is defective and cannot be exchanged without mailing it in first and waiting weeks for a new one (given the long waiting times now) I might just return it for a full refund and go back to my flip phone rather than putting myself through the stress of the waiting game again. I'm not sure how I feel about repairs being made on a phone that's still within the 14-day return period.

    I'll post again after my phone call with Apple. Maybe they'll know what's up.
     
  13. dcpmark macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2009
    #13
    Hopefully you'll be able to hear them over the distortion. ;)

    Apple has been known for bad Bluetooth stacks for a while now. My iPhone 6 sounded like it was underwater much of the time when paired with my 2014 Acadia Denali, and the SE is no different. The Android phones I've tested sounded fine.

    The real problem is Bluetooth itself, being a protocol rather than a standard like wifi. If Bluetooth were standardized you would have far more cross-compatibility between devices.
     
  14. daniel1948 macrumors 6502

    daniel1948

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2015
    Location:
    Spokane, WA
    #14
    I won't be using the headset when they call me back :)

    I always thought Bluetooth was a little wonky. I have a nice small portable Bluetooth speaker (Bose) that I can have with me in whatever room I'm in, that I use for music and podcasts. It works fine in general, but always cuts out the first half-second or so when the audio starts, and occasionally there's the tiniest break in the audio. Not really a big issue, but clearly not as solid as I'd have thought.

    If the problem is just compatibility I won't mind getting a new earpiece for phone calls. But the fact that the Bluetooth provides spectacular sound when playing music, and only distorts when using the phone, makes me suspect the phone. Anyway, I'll see what Apple says, and if they say it's the earpiece, I'll visit the Verizon store and try out some different ones.

    But why would music be so good and phone be so bad???
     
  15. daniel1948 macrumors 6502

    daniel1948

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    Oct 20, 2015
    Location:
    Spokane, WA
    #15
    I spoke with Apple support and the problem is still unresolved, but they're going to call me again. They had me reset my network settings, do a forced re-start, I don't remember what else, ending with updating from iOS 9.3 to iOS 9.3.1. Since that last was going to take a while, and I had some errands to run and then lunch to make, we scheduled another call. But the woman I spoke with was unaware that others are having the same problem, so if you are, you should definitely call and at least let them know. Nothing they had me do fixed the problem. I'll post again after my next call with them. This could be a deal-breaker for me if it is not resolved, since I'd rather go back to my flip phone if it's the only way to use the earpiece for calls, as it's tiring to have to hold the phone to my ear.
     
  16. daniel1948 macrumors 6502

    daniel1948

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2015
    Location:
    Spokane, WA
    #16
    Problem solved:

    Apple couldn't help me. Suggested I talk to Verizon about exchanging the phone since it was apparently defective. Called Verizon, and they had no suggestions either, but told me I could go to my local Verizon store and exchange it if there were any in stock, or order it otherwise. Went to the Verizon store where...

    The guy asked if he could try my phone with his Bluetooth headset. With his headset it worked fine. We traded phones so that I could hear that indeed, with his headset it worked. It turns out that:

    The new phone, on the 4G network does <insert technobabble here> and my old Bluetooth earpiece uses old Bluetooth technology which is not compatible. The flip phone was on 3G, where the <insert technobabble here> does not happen, so it worked fine. My new stereo Bluetooth earbuds also use the older Bluetooth technology because they are cheaper. For music that's not an issue, so they produce spectacular music, but they cannot handle the <technobabble> when on the phone.

    So I bought a new Bluetooth earpiece and the sound is fine.

    Conclusion: If you are on a 4G network, using a Bluetooth headset with the older technology, it will be distorted. If you are on 3G or your headset/earpiece is the new technology, you will be fine.
     
  17. DonP macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 19, 2005
    Location:
    Socal
    #17
    I don't understand why the BT link would be effected by what cell network is used, 3G or 4G. I don't doubt what you are observing, just trying to understand. It would be interesting to try a BT recorder app on the iPhone with SIM disabled, record from both old and new BT earbuds, and compare audio quality. I don't have my SE yet so I can't help out.
     
  18. HickDead thread starter macrumors 6502a

    HickDead

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2011
    #18
    Makes no sense. How come my 6 and 6S worked fine in my vehicle's Bluetooth (2015 car by the way) and the newer SE is crapping out. Heck my work phone is a Galaxy S4 and it works perfect in my car. The Verizon techs are all clueless.

    Apple needs to resolve this ASAP because if my replacement SE has the same issue then I'm done with the iPhone for the time being.
     
  19. daniel1948 macrumors 6502

    daniel1948

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    Oct 20, 2015
    Location:
    Spokane, WA
    #19
    The explanation was beyond my understanding, but what he said is that the 4G network adds a level of quality and/or power or something. If the phone is using 3G this will not be an issue. It baffles me also. I do not understand why music and phone calls would be treated differently by the Bluetooth transmitter in the phone. But what I observe is that on my new Bluetooth earbuds, music comes through beautifully and phone calls are distorted. But with the "Advance[d] Calling Compatible" Bluetooth earpiece that I bought from the Verizon store, everything is perfect, and voice quality is way better than it ever was with the old earpiece on the old flip phone. (BTW, the earbuds that don't work for phone calls are 1/3 the price of just about all similar-looking ones, which should have been a hint.)

    Apparently this is "progress," folks. A new system that delivers greatly improved performance, but is not backward compatible with old Bluetooth devices. You need a Bluetooth headset that is "Advanced Calling Compatible" to talk on the iPhone SE if you are on a 4G network. Or maybe it's just Verizon's 4G network. I don't know. And it will greatly surprise me if it's any different with the newest phones from other makers.

    The new system really is an improvement in quality. But it requires a headset/earbuds that is/are compatible. Visit your carrier's local store and ask to try out the newer style Bluetooth headset with your phone, and I'll bet you'll find out that it works fine, and the problem is just that your present headset is not compatible.

    I paid $60 plus tax for the new earpiece that works great for phone calls.
     
  20. skierrob macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2016
    #20
    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. In all cases, I have this exact same issue - terrible quality bluetooth call reception. Sounds very scratchy and distorted as well.

    If I pair an iPhone 6S to each of these vehicles, I do NOT experience these issues.

    When I use the iPhone SE to make phone calls outside of Bluetooth, I have no issues.

    This bluetooth issue does NOT impact Bluetooth music streaming. Only phone calls.

    Apple, so far, is blaming the vehicle manufacturers despite there being multiple vehicle models and brands involved.

    BMW and Kia state this must be an Apple problem.

    Apple Genius bar is absolutely no help -- they state they can't report "software issues" to Apple and are only able to replace bad iPhones.

    I'm at a complete loss as to how to get this to Apple's attention so they can fix the issue.

    For now, I don't know what to do. All I know is that Bluetooth audio is very important to me in California since it is illegal to use your phone except in a hands free manner.

    Anyone know how we can get this information to someone at Apple that can actually do something about it?

    Robert

     
  21. dcpmark macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2009
    #21
    My iP6 was horrible when paired with my 2014 Acadia Denali....it sounded at times like I was underwater. My SE is no different. The interesting thing is that I can recreate the worst sound in certain locations 100% of the time....parts of one city is always decent sounding, and one area of another city always sounds like it's underwater. Is reception/signal strength part of the problem? No clue.
     
  22. daniel1948 macrumors 6502

    daniel1948

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    Oct 20, 2015
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    Spokane, WA
    #22
    According to the Verizon store, your Bluetooth headset, or the Bluetooth in your car, must be "Advanced Calling Capable." I do not know if this is hardware or software, and I do not know if it is a Verizon proprietary thing or across Bluetooth. One possibility is that the Bluetooth in those cars is not "Advanced Calling Capable."

    A possible reason why the sound is good in some locations and not others is that this is an issue ONLY on 4G. If you move into an area that's 3G there will be no problem.

    I do not know if this affects other carriers or only Verizon. I do not know if there's anything Apple could have done differently, or if the iPhone SE is incompatible with Bluetooth devices that are not Advanced Calling Capable. I do not know if the issue is in the phone or the SIM card.

    With headsets, the solution is simple, if not cheap: Get another headset. With cars, not so much.

    Is anybody having this issue with carriers other than Verizon? If not, then the problem is Verizon, especially if nobody using an iPhone on another carrier has this problem.

    As for bringing this to Apple's attention, it's just necessary for enough people to complain: Apple provides free customer support by phone for the first 30 (?) days you own your device. So call and ask them about this. Also call your carrier. If Verizon is the only one with the problem, it could be at their end and they should be made aware of it, again by lots of people calling them. People have 14 days, IIRC, to return their phone. If you do, be sure to tell them the reason. If enough people do, they'll get the message, though if the issue is with the carrier or the SIM card, then the carrier will have to fix it.

    FWIW, with a compatible Bluetooth headset, the sound quality is a lot better than my old Bluetooth earpiece on my old phone.
     
  23. Mainiac macrumors member

    Mainiac

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    Mar 21, 2016
    Location:
    Maine
    #23
    No problems when paired to my 2013 Toyota RAV4.
     
  24. DonP macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 19, 2005
    Location:
    Socal
    #24
    When I Google "Verizon advanced calling" I get lots of hits relating to "This allows you to make calls over your data network, providing HD voice quality and allowing for video calls without any third party apps.

    So it seems that Advanced Calling is just voice over data. I still don't understand how Bluetooth can get involved in that.
     
  25. skierrob macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2016
    #25
    I'm not sure we have the same issue then. I have AT&T, and the problem persists on LTE or 3G calls.

    Robert

     

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