Can’t Hear Phone Calls Unless on Speaker? (Find Out Why!)

Smartphones bring a whole never level of convenience to your life. That is until you end up in the boat I was in not long ago, and you can only take calls if you put them on speaker phone. 

I have to admit, the issue was very frustrating, especially when I had to take a call in public. Luckily, with a bit of research, I found a trick that fixed the problem, and my speaker has worked great since. 

If you can’t hear phone calls unless your phone is on speaker, you must determine if the issue is a software glitch or damage to your phone’s hardware. If you have a glitch with your software, it can be easily fixed by removing the bug causing the glitch. If your hardware is damaged, repair the piece or replace the device. 

If your earpiece has damage, you’ll likely need to pay for a repair. But before you do, let’s look at fixes with cost or time without your phone. 

Understanding the root cause: Software or Hardware? 

With issues like this, it’s crucial to determine the root cause before trying to fix the problem. If not, you’re likely to waste time and money trying to fix something that’s not broken. 

Software issues are generally simple to fix yourself by adjusting a few settings or updating the software on your phone. Common signs that your speaker issue is related to your software include:

  • The issue is inconsistent. If it doesn’t happen all the time, it’s more likely just a glitch. 
  • Your phone indicates that you have headphones connected when you don’t. 
  • Your phone says it is connected to a speaker when it’s not. 
  • Turning off the noise cancellation feature makes your speaker work properly. 

This list is just to give you an idea, so don’t panic if you don’t see any of these indicators.

If there is a problem with your phone’s hardware, such as water damage or something small clogging the speaker, the issue may be more challenging to pinpoint and fix. 

Seriously damaged or faulty hardware will require you to buy new parts for the device. If you can’t replace the piece yourself, you’ll also have to find someone to repair it for you. 

How to Fix Can’t Hear Calls Unless Switched to Speakerphone

1. Restart Your Phone 

If your issue is a minor glitch with your phone’s software, it’s likely that simply restarting your phone will fix your speaker. The reboot will clear your phone’s RAM and any glitches that may be there. 

To do this, simply power your phone off, wait 30 seconds, then turn it back on. 

2. Use the Airplane Mode 

If you’ve ever struggled to get a signal on your phone, you’ve probably tried turning on Airplane Mode and turning it back off a few seconds later. This trick will also clear glitches that could be affecting the speaker on your device if it is a minor connectivity glitch. 

To find airplane mode on an Android device:

  1. Open settings. 
  2. Select Network and Connectivity. 
  3. Select Airplane mode. 

If you need to find Airplane mode on your iPhone, it will be located at the top of the list as soon as you open the Settings on your device. 

Once you’ve located the setting, toggle it on and wait about 10 seconds before toggling it back off. 

3. Increase your call volume 

It goes without saying, but if your call volume is not up, you will not be able to hear anything through your speaker. The easiest way to do this is to use the volume up/down buttons on the side of your phone. 

However, using the buttons doesn’t always adjust the call volume properly, especially if the option for changing specific volumes with the buttons is disabled in your settings. If it doesn’t help when you adjust it with the buttons, you’ll need to go into your settings and adjust the call volume. 

To adjust the call volume on an iPhone:

  1. Go to settings.
  2. Select Sound and Haptics. (Older software versions will only say Sounds.)
  3. Find the toggle bar on this page.
  4. Move the toggle all the way to the right. 
  5. Make a test call to test the sound.

To adjust the call volume on an Android device:

  1. Press one of the volume buttons on your device. 
  2. Tap the three small dots to the right of your screen. 
  3. Find the toggle bar labeled Call Volume. 
  4. Slide the toggle button all the way to the right. 
  5. Make a test call to test the sound. 

These steps will be slightly different on older models

 4. Check Your Earpiece 

One of the most common hardware-related reasons you may have to put your phone on speaker to hear is that your earpiece is clogged with dirt, pocket lint, etc. You can remove the dirt with tweezers, a Q tip, or tape. Once the foreign objects are removed, you can test your speaker to see if you can hear anything. 

You can also download apps from Google Play and the Apple App Store that will test the earpiece and other functions to ensure that they work as they should. If one of these apps detects an issue, your earpiece may have physical damage. 

5. Clean the Headphone Jack 

If you have something clogging your headphone jack, it could cause your earpiece not to work during a phone call. This is because your phone is picking up the dust, lint, or another foreign object that’s lodged into your headphone port as headphones being connected. 

You can usually tell if this is happening by pressing one of the volume buttons on the side of your phone. When the volume meter appears, if it says headphones even though none are connected, you’ll need to clean your headphone jack. 

You have several options for cleaning the jack which include:

  • Compressed air for cleaning technology
  • A Qtip (if it will easily fit into the jack without force)
  • Putting a thin piece of cloth tape on the end of a needle. 

Once you have thoroughly cleaned the headphone jack, restart your phone. Allow your phone to fully reboot then check to see if it is still indicating that headphones are connected. 

6. Clean the Mic Holes 

If something is blocking the mic holes, it will not allow your earpiece to work. 

If your speaker or mic has recently been exposed to moisture or is frequently exposed to dirt and dust, you should clean the mic holes and all other speakers thoroughly to ensure this is not causing your issue. The best method of cleaning them will depend on whether the substance is water or dirt. 

Removing Water

If you have recently gotten water in your speaker, you can use the options below to clear the water:

  • If the speaker’s encounter with water was recent, leaving the phone in a Ziploc bag or another airtight container with Silica Gel Packets is likely to prevent any lasting damage from the moisture. These packets contain small gel beads that are designed to absorb moisture. It’s best to leave the phone in the container with these packets for at least 48 hours. 
  • You can try a smartphone app for cleaning the water from your earpiece. These apps work by sending high-frequency sounds through your speakers in an effort to clear the water. This isn’t the most reliable method, but it has worked for some people. 

Unfortunately, if the water has sat in your speaker for a while, it’s likely had time to cause permanent damage that will require the parts damaged to be replaced. 

Removing Dust

Removing dust or dirt build-up from your speakers is generally a much simpler fix than removing water. 

To remove dust, you can try the following:

  • Using Condensed AIr.  Condensed air comes in a can and blasts air at a fast pace to safely blow the dirt and dust out. It is made for cleaning technology, so it will not harm your device if used properly. 
  • Using a paintbrush or toothbrush to gently brush the dirt out of the space. 
  • Using tape or cleaning gel to pull it out. 

Whichever method you use, it’s important that you be as gentle as possible to avoid causing more damage to your device. 

Update Your Phone 

If the software on your phone is not up to date, the old software version could have a glitch that is causing the problem. To fix the glitch, you’ll have to update your phone to the newest software version for your OS. 

To update an Android phone:

  1. Go to your phone’s settings.
  2. Tap About Phone.
  3. Tap Check for Updates
  4. Tap the Update button if it appears. If it doesn’t, your software is up to date. 
  5. Once the update downloads, tap Install. 
  6. Allow the installation to complete. 

Once the update has finished, your phone will automatically reboot. 

To update an iPhone:

  1. Open the settings on your phone.
  2. Tap General.
  3. Tap Software Update (if your software is older, you may have to select About, then Software Update.)
  4. Tap Check for Updates. 
  5. If the option appears, tap Install. If it doesn’t, your software is up to date. 

Once the installation has finished, your phone will restart on its own.

If you need to install an update, it’s best to have your phone connected to the charger and Wifi while the update is installed. 

8. Replace your Phone Case or Screen Protector 

If you stopped having the ability to hear through your earpiece soon after getting a new case or screen protector for your phone, it could be the culprit. 

If a screen protector is not placed exactly right, it can block important areas such as your speaker or mic. Additionally, some cases and screen protectors have flawed designs that will cause them to cover and seal around the earpiece or mic on your device and block the audio waves. 

If this is the case, you will need to remove the case or screen protector in order for your earpiece to work. Some have been able to successfully reposition their screen protector, however, it may have accessive air bubbles or have issues staying in place afterward. 

If the case or screen protector used is a generic brand, it is likely the reason for the sizing is off. It’s best to avoid these when possible. 

9. Reset network settings 

A poor or glitchy network connection can cause more problems than most people realize. 

A glitch in the network settings could easily prevent your audio from performing the way that it should. 

To fix this issue, you will need to reset your Network Settings. This will not cause issues with your connection or remove any of your data from your device. It will only ensure that your network settings are bug-free and the automatic mode is enabled. 

To reset your network settings on an Android device:

  1. Open the settings.
  2. Tap System.
  3. Tap Advanced. 
  4. Tap Reset Options.
  5. Select Reset Network Settings. 

Your phone should automatically reboot. 

To reset your network settings on an iPhone:

  1. Go to your settings.
  2. Tap General.
  3. Tap Transfer or Reset.
  4. Tap Reset.
  5. Select Reset Network Settings. 

Resetting the network setting will restore everything pertaining to your network connectivity to its default settings and wipe out any bugs or glitches in the process. 

10. There is a Bug

Issues with your earpiece that are not hardware issues are usually linked to a bug in the software that is installed on your device. 

A simple bug or glitch in your software is usually a simple fix. In most cases, bugs can be cleared by restarting your device. It’s best to leave it powered off for at least 30 seconds when restarting to remove bugs. 

If restarting your device doesn’t fix it, your next step is to check your software. If you don’t have the most recent software version, you’ll need to install it to clear the bug. 

For more difficult bugs, you may have to reset your device to fix them. 

Forgetting to disconnect your phone from Bluetooth devices such as headphones and speakers is easily done. If your device has been left connected to one of these devices, you’re audio will be sent to the device rather than the earpiece on your phone. 

Turning off the headphone mode on your device will likely solve your problem if it is linked to a forgotten device. The easiest way to accomplish this is to turn your Bluetooth off. 

If you don’t want to turn your Bluetooth off, or your phone is stuck in Headphone Mode, you can try the following:

  • Make sure the headphones that your phone is showing are powered off. 
  • Turn your Bluetooth off, then back on. 
  • If your headphones are still showing up as connected, pair your phone with a different pair of headphones or a speaker. After you pair it with the new device, disconnect it and reboot your phone. 

Another quick fix is to turn off the Noise Reduction feature in your settings. This feature has been widely known to prevent the ability to hear through your earpiece. 

This option can usually be found under your Accessibility Settings. Once you locate the setting, turn it off, reboot your phone, then make a test call. 

12. Try a Third-Party App to Solve the Problem 

There are many third-party apps that may be able to resolve the issue with your phone’s speaker. However, you will have to leave the app installed for it to continue working. 

These apps work by enhancing your audio and will sometimes bypass the glitch that causes your earpiece to be mute

If your device runs on Android OS, SoundAbout is an option that has worked for many others having this issue. A popular choice among iPhone users with this problem is the AmpMe app. 

13. Factory Reset 

If you are still experiencing issues, the last step is to factory reset your device. 

To factory reset an iPhone: 

  1. Go to settings. 
  2. Tap General. 
  3. Tap Transfer or Reset Phone.
  4. Tap Erase All Content and Settings. 

To factory reset an Android phone: 

  1. Open your phone’s Settings. 
  2. Tap Backup and Reset
  3. Tap Factory Reset
  4. Tap Erase Everything. 

Consult a Professional 

If resetting your device to its original state did not resolve the issue, consider reaching out to a professional for help. You can contact the manufacturer of your device, or even your cellphone service provider. 

If you have or think you may have, insurance on the device through the provider, contacting them would be the most effective. This way, if the issue is with the hardware, you will be able to use the insurance plan for repairs or replacement. 

Another option is to find a local business that specializes in repairing defective smartphones. There, you would be able to speak with someone about the issue in person, which will make it simpler to determine the issue. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

Why can’t I hear the other person on the phone?

If you are unable to hear the other person when on a phone call, the most likely cause is your network coverage. If your network connection is poor, it will cause these issues. 

If your connection is normal and you still experience the issue, you’ll need to check the following things: 

  • Ensure that your phone app has been given all of the needed permissions by going into the app settings on your phone. 
  • Check the mic holes and speaker ports on your device to ensure that nothing is clogging them. 
  • Reboot the device.
  • Factory reset the device.

Where is the microphone settings on Android?

To get to the microphone settings on your Android phone:

  1. Tap Settings
  2. Tap Privacy 
  3. Tap App Permissions.
  4. Tap Microphone.

From here, you will be able to control which apps have permission to use the microphone. 

Conclusion 

Figuring out the cause and solution to not being able to hear on your phone unless you put it on speakerphone can be an intricate and frustrating task. However, once you’ve narrowed the cause down to the hardware or software, finding the right solution will be a breeze. 

Software issues are generally fixed with reboots, updates, and bypassing glitches. Hardware issues, however, require a little more effort and possibly help from a professional. 

Regardless of the steps taken to get there, hopefully, by now you have either fixed your speaker issue or found inspiration for fixing it.