iPhone Calls Sound Weird? Try Turning Off Phone Noise Cancelation in iOS

May 15, 2014 - 34 Comments

Phone Noise Cancelation on the iPhone

A feature called “Phone Noise Cancellation” is available on iPhone which aims to reduce background ambient noise when on a phone call, but for some users it can sound strange and make their phone calls sound weird, or worse. This may be due to the ambient audio stream created by the feature. Apple describes the option as follows, “Noise cancelation reduces ambient noise on phone calls when you are holding the receiver to your ear.” In other words, because the feature only works the iPhone is held up to your head, you won’t notice it all if you tend to make iPhone calls through Bluetooth in a car, headset, speakerphone, or earbuds.

If you think your iPhone calls sound off but you can’t quite pinpoint why, or you feel a little weird when holding the phone to your head while on a call, try turning off the ambient noise reduction feature and see if that helps.

How to Disable Ambient Phone Noise Cancelation on iPhone

  1. Open the “Settings” app and head to “General” and then to “Accessibility”
  2. Scroll down to the “HEARING” section and toggle the switch next to “Phone Noise Cancellation” to the OFF position

iPhone Phone Noise Cancelation feature in iOS

It’s impossible to say whether or not you’ll benefit (let alone notice) from keeping the noise reduction feature on or off, so you really should just try it out yourself by making a few phone calls with the feature turned on, and again with the feature turned off. For best results, make the same phone call to something like an automated message so everything sounds the same during the tests.

For what it’s worth, many users can’t tell the difference at all, but some with particularly sensitive hearing may instantly notice a difference in perception of calls and of call quality. There are even some mixed reports that the ambient noise reduction feature can cause discomfort, a weird pressure, or even nausea with certain individuals while on phone calls using the phones receiver up to their ear, so it’s certainly worth considering. Perhaps this even deserves a spot along with some other general iOS 7 usability tips, even though it’s not a visual difference, so thanks to CultOfMac for the tip.

This feature has been around quite a while and is supported by just about every modern iPhone, though technically it requires iPhone be running version 7 of iOS system software or later, and it remains available in all modern iOS versions too.

If you’ve ever questioned the call quality or your sanity when making a phone call since updating an iPhone to the newest versions of iOS, try this out and see if it makes a difference.

Let us know in the comments if you think this feature turned off or on provides a meaningful change, one way or the other.


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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in iPhone, Tips & Tricks


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  1. Dargon says:

    What a disgrace for Apple! Can you make a decent phone that will do its basic functions – to hear and be heard, in line with the device price? If the phone does not work properly, you may forget hundreds of additional fancy functions, as nothing will replace human conversation. My friends using other brands are making jokes on my account because of changing sound quality. I do remember old good brands from the 2000s – they could be heard well, even if you were on scuba diving. Fix the sound quality – this is a task for the entire Apple, not to work on doubled or tripled camera – who cares for the camera that will never replace classic large size lenses. BTW, turning off the Bluetooth and noise cancellation fixes the problem just a bit.

    • Richard says:

      Well said! Build them in the USA whilst you’re at it( UK user incidentally, who is just sampling iPhone for the first time)
      What a pain in the butt!

  2. Tracy Willis says:

    Got my new IPhone 11 yesterday and no one can hear me when I call, it breaks up and sounds like a robot. Was going to return the phone which is a pain after adding all my apps etc to the new phone. I googled the issue and found your post, IT WORKED!!! Calls are now crystal clear! Thank you so much for saving me the headache of returning my phone!

  3. Nimmi says:

    Hi folks
    Have been suffering with the damn background noise with poor quality calls until for 10 months until I came across your site: Turning the damned thing off “ the noise cancellation “ has been divine to my ears.
    Many thanks.

  4. Patrick says:


    I just read the article and comments, and I wanted to know if anyone has noticed a decrease in volume on their in-ear speaker on iPhone 7 Plus? I’m asking because I stumbled upon the “Phone Noise Cancellation” option while going through settings trying to figure out why when on a call, it feels like the volume is only half-way, when in fact the volume is turned all the way up.

    BUT when I’m connected to a bluetooth device or headphones, the sound quality is perfect. Oh, I forgot to mention that there has been no water damage or external. I make sure to buy high quality tempered glass screen protectors and cases. And after almost a year and a half, there isn’t a scratch.

    I’ve made an insurance claim for my phone, and luckily my phone is still under warranty, so if there is an actual problem with my in-ear speaker I won’t pay a deductible……

    ANYWAY, lol sorry for such a comment/question. But PLEASE if anyone has any advice or is having the same problem, do tell. I want to see if that “phone noise cancellation”being turned off or kept on will help in any way. Thank you so much… :)

  5. Kathleen says:

    Thank you so much – problem solved and no more complaints from my friends when I call them!

  6. Athul says:

    Im getting radiation like sounds from my calling speaker on my iphone 5 please help me

  7. Dr kanthi says:

    I have got so much relief after stopping the noise cancelation feature…

    • Patrick says:

      Hi, i see that turning this option off has helped and i’m wondering if turning it off will help increase the volume on the in-ear speaker, even when the volume is already turn all the way up. I have to press the phone so hard to my ear to actually hear the other person. this applies to both quiet and loud areas. It sounds as if the volume is on halfway. do you think you could give any tips? I’ve already filed a claim, and I do have phone insurance. There is no water damage or external. I’ve had my iPhone 7 Plus for roughly a year and half. Thank you so much.

  8. Rita says:

    Oh my goodness what a relief, I have very sensitive ears and the high pitch in the phone made my head hurt. I turned off the noice reduction feature and what a relief. I thought I was loosing my mind or my head was going to explode. It does allow you to hear clearer in crowed place but it was to high pitch for my sensitive ears. Thanks so much!!!!

  9. Dhanesh V K says:


    I am using iphone 6s silver 64gb. I was very proud to say i am a phone holder of 58000rs. But now i am facing a jarring sound(stereo sound) when i am making a call..pls reply

  10. Audioguy says:

    Just having a reflective surface (big phone) close to your ear in noisy places will make all ambient noises sound louder & more annoying. Just try this without even calling. Nothing to do with noise cancelling.

  11. Russ says:

    People would tell me that I sounded garbled when talking to them on my phone and when I would switch to speaker or put in earphones. Then they could hear me just fine. Turning off noise cancelling solved my problem.

  12. Brian says:

    Thanks for this tip! I was going to schedule a visit to the Apple Store to see if they could either fix or identify this annoying item…every cellular call sounded like it was being routed through a internet wi-fi phone…a very echoey, hallow, distorted sound that cleared up the moment I turned this feature off…..THANKS!

  13. Rahul says:

    Yes. Me also facing the same situation. I bought a 6s 64 gb just 2 weeks back. I have the same issue while in noisy areas where huge trafic sounds crowds and all. I feel very incomfortable like feels pressure in my ear and i can hear the noises surrounding me in my own year.. Its irritating. So i went to apple service centre and even they coudnt find it out and the replaced me with other phone. Now also having the same issue with me..

  14. Glenda says:

    Thank you so much. I thought I was either going crazy, or my phone was broken and sending some sort of radiation into my brain. The hum and vibration hurt my head and made me dizzy. I followed the steps listed here and it’s back to normal. THANK YOU SO MUCH!

  15. AMO says:

    For the longest time I would feel this strange pressure when talking on the phone in a crowded place, it often made me feel dizzy. It almost felt like I was taking with my head in a bucket. I would pull the phone away and it would go away. I’m so happy to have found this article, now I don’t feel like I’m going crazy! This feature is now turned OFF.

  16. SRM says:

    Even after turning off the noise cancellation I have this feeling of discomfort or weird pressure when using 5s under noisy circumstances (on streets, heavy traffic etc.), near a working microwave oven, a desktop pc..

  17. Iphone User says:

    *** IT WORKED FOR ME ***
    My Iphone 6 had this wierd sound during a phone call . I just turned off the iPhone Noise Cancelation and the problem solved. Thank you

  18. Rajat says:

    I had very annoying cracking sound from earpiece as soon as I turned noise cancellation off, it resolved my problem. This solution helped me a lot. Earlier I thought it was a hardware issue but it was software issue. I am happy that solution worked. 👍🏻

  19. Amy says:

    I get the weird ear thing when using the feature, so I have the feature disabled. I can only describe USING the feature as bothersome to my hearing. Yes, it IS about how you hear. With the feature on, sound is like glass shattering. It makes me wince and I have to hold the phone away from my ears. I’m prone to vertigo and motion sickness, and am very sensitive to pitch, so turning off the feature decreases the amount of sound pressure hitting my ears, which is actually more comfortable for me.

  20. Nickie says:

    I was ready to return my phone and upgrade until I found out about this. That pulsing sound/vibration was so annoying. As soon as I turned it off, the pulsing was gone.

  21. Omer says:

    Thanks big time !
    there was some kind of a buzz/rattle noise in the in-ear speaker while making a call and it was driving me crazy and when I turned this off the sound disappeared ..

  22. Joy says:

    This is exactly what I was experiencing with my new iPhone 6 plus! I didn’t know how to describe it, but it felt like it was messing with my equilibrium when I was on a call. Made me nauseous. So glad I found your info! Turning this off has helped tremendously!

    • Neil says:

      You are so right bout this , it made me feel nauseous . I could make out the difference almost instantly walkin from a crowded room in to a silent zone, well our ears do signal our body in many ways

  23. Howard says:

    Don’t turn this off – Do a hard reset. This has happened to me, along with a number of other minor software glitches and a hard reset is what fixes them in my experience.

  24. guy1967 says:

    iPhone 5 and 5S have active noise cancellating earpiece feature, but not iPhone 5C

  25. BiggyJohnson says:

    For those of us who don’t drink our lives away in crowded bars, turning this off vastly improves the overall Apple experience for myself and my wife Leafsley.

  26. Will says:

    I do not see this option under hearing.

  27. Eric says:

    Do not turn this off. It’s an incredible feature. It’s not about hearing. It’s about talking. You can be in a crowded bar and speak normally and the person you’re talking to you can hear you perfectly. Turn it off and you’ll be yelling for them to hear and they’ll hear all the ambient noise. Wow. Talk about not understanding your iPhone.

    • Martijn says:

      Indeed, I’m pretty sure this feature cancels out background noise around you with the help of the extra microphone on the back of the iPhone. In order to differentiate your voice from the noise, your mouth needs to be close to the microphone at the bottom. That’s why this feature only works while your ear is on the speaker. This feature doesn’t change the incoming signal in any way, so no surprise it’s described as being a subtle change. It’s as subtle as placebo can take you.

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