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iPhone microphone not working? Here's how you can try to fix it

Be delicate whenever you clean an iPhone's mics.
By
January 3, 2024

Needless to say, an iPhone isn’t much of a phone if its main microphone stops working. You can turn to earbuds or headphones as a temporary fallback, but you’ll inevitably have to fix your iPhone’s built-in mic if you want it to be practical again. Below we’ll explain both why iPhone microphones may stop working, and what you can do to fix a mic in some circumstances.

Why is the microphone not working on my iPhone?

Lightning Port Apple iPhone
Robert Triggs / Android Authority

Yes, it could be that your microphone is damaged, but there are a variety of more mundane explanations that won’t automatically involve taking your iPhone to an Apple Store or third-party repair shop.

These include things like blocked microphone grilles, glitches with specific apps, or a connected Bluetooth accessory “stealing” mic input. Other causes could include missing app permissions, or iOS itself having a critical bug. We’ll explain all of these scenarios in the next section.

How to fix an iPhone microphone that’s not working

Our first suggestion is that you run through these troubleshooting steps in order unless a particular one jumps out at you — we’ve organized them in a diagnostic way, saving the more complicated and/or time-consuming options for later on. It’s always best to rule out easy fixes before resorting to drastic ones.

  • Make sure your case isn’t interfering. While most cases are designed to avoid this, some can momentarily shift in a way that blocks mic input. If this keeps happening, it’s probably time to buy a new iPhone case.
  • Clean out your microphone grille(s). Debris can gradually accumulate in an iPhone’s grilles and ports, especially if a device spends most of its time in a lint-filled pocket. Note that modern iPhones actually have three mic grilles — the main one on the bottom, another next to the rear camera(s), and a third that doubles as your earpiece speaker. Try gently blowing on any affected mic, and if need be, using a toothbrush, toothpick, paperclip, or SIM tool to dig out stubborn material. Don’t use compressed air though, and whatever you do, be careful not to puncture a grille. If you can find some, painter’s tape might help, since it can lift debris without leaving residue.
  • Check if any Bluetooth audio accessories are connected. Head over to Settings > Bluetooth and see if any mic-equipped earbuds, headphones, or speakers are actively connected. If they are, your iPhone may be listening to them for input instead of its built-in mic. Power down those accessories, or temporarily disconnect them in the Bluetooth menu by tapping the i (info) button next to them and choosing Disconnect.
  • Give all the apps you use microphone permissions. Apple offers granular control over app permissions, and it’s possible you accidentally blocked mic access for one or more of the apps you use. Navigate to Settings > Privacy and Security > Microphone and flip the toggles for any apps that may need to use your mic.
  • Try relaunching impacted apps. If the problem seems app-specific, there might be a temporary process-related glitch that can be resolved by force-quitting an app and opening it again.
  • Check the App Store for updates. If relaunching apps hasn’t done anything, there could be more ingrained bugs at work. Has it been a while since you last checked for app updates? If so, it’s time to visit the App Store. While you’re at it, you might want to turn on automatic app updates by going to Settings > App Store and flipping on the App Updates switch under Automatic Downloads. You can disable automatic downloads over 4G/5G cellular if you’re worried about a carrier’s restrictive data caps.
  • Restart your iPhone. There could (conceivably) be a temporary glitch at the operating system level. There’s no way to gauge this directly, but if there is such an issue, it should be solved by powering down your iPhone and restarting.
  • Check for iOS updates. While this scenario is extremely unlikely, there’s a non-zero chance that a bug with iOS is hampering mic functions. Update your iPhone by going to Settings > General > Software Update. Assuming there is a new iOS version available, make sure your device is backed up, well-charged, and connected to Wi-Fi before installing. Set aside at least 15 to 30 minutes. It can take a while for iOS updates to download, and when installation gets underway, your iPhone will be temporarily unusable. You might want to to enable Automatic Updates if you haven’t already, since this will install new releases whenever your iPhone is locked, charging, and connected to Wi-Fi — usually meaning overnight.
  • Contact Apple Support. If you’ve tried everything else on this list without success, it’s finally time to talk to Apple Support. While they probably won’t be able to offer any new advice via chat, they can help schedule an appointment at an Apple Store or authorized repair center. The repair may even be free if it’s covered under AppleCare or AppleCare Plus.