What to do if headphones are not working on your Apple iPhone

When you find out that headphones are not working on your iPhone, it doesn’t always denote that you’re dealing with a damaged hardware. In fact, many people who have encountered similar issues in which their iPhone headphones aren’t working found out that the underlying cause of the problem is on the software. Thus, it is imperative to rule out software-related factors that might have messed up with the phone’s headphones system before rushing to a service center. Mapped below are some applicable troubleshooting methods and potential solutions for you to try on. Read on to learn how to fix dysfunctional headphones on your iPhone.

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First solution: Soft reset or restart your iPhone.

Performing a soft reset or reboot may be everything that’s need to solve the problem especially if random system glitches affecting the phone’s audio functions are to blame. Doing so likewise clears and refreshes the phone’s memory for better and more optimized system performance. There are different ways to soft reset or restart an iPhone and the steps may vary depending on the device model.

Follow these steps to soft reset/reboot an iPhone X, XS, XS Max, or XR, simply follow these steps:

  1. Press and hold the Side button and either Volume button until the Power off slider appears.
  2. Drag the slider to power off your iPhone completely.
  3. Then after 30 seconds, press the Side button again to turn your iPhone back on.

To soft reset/reboot an iPhone 8, 8 Plus, or earlier versions, refer to these steps instead:

  1. Press and hold the Top or Side button until the Power off slider appears.
  2. Drag the slider to power off the phone completely.
  3. After about 30 seconds, press and hold the Top or Side button again to turn the phone back on.

Once the phone is finished rebooting, retry playing sounds through the headphones and see if the problem is fixed. If the headphones are still not working, then you can proceed and try other options to rule out other software-related factors.

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Second solution: Check and manage volume settings on your iPhone.

Another obvious reason as to why the headphones aren’t working on your iPhone is that the volume might have been turned all the way down. Should this be the main cause of the problem, then adjusting or augmenting the volume level is all that’s needed to fix it.

  • To do this, press the Volume Up key on the side of your phone to increase the volume level.

As you do this, you should see a small pop-up screen on the middle of the display. This screen indicates your iPhone’s volume level.

To confirm that your headphone jack has recognized or detected the headphones that are plugged in, see if the pop-up screen says Headphones at the top of it. If it says Mute, then that denotes that the audio won’t play through the headphones and so you have to unmute it.

If you don’t see the pop-up screen when pressing the Volume key, then you need to check and see if the option to change the volume level with the physical buttons is enabled on your device. Just follow these steps to get to this menu:

  • Tap Settings from your Home screen.
  • Select Sounds & Haptics.
  • Then, toggle the switch next to Change with Buttons to enable the feature.

Doing so allows you to adjust the ringer and alerts volume through the Volume buttons. After making all these changes, reboot your iPhone and see if the headphones are already working.

Third solution: Disable Bluetooth feature of your iPhone.

It is also possible that your iPhone is playing sound to some Bluetooth devices in range. This is more likely the case if Bluetooth is turned on and that your iPhone is currently paired with or connected to a Bluetooth-enabled device. To eliminate this from the probable causes, disable or turn of Bluetooth on your iPhone and then see if that brings a positive result. There are different ways to disable your iPhone’s Bluetooth function. You can access the Bluetooth control from the Control Center or go to your iPhone settings.

  1. To turn off Bluetooth through settings menu, go to Settings-> Bluetooth menu and then tap the switch next to Bluetooth to turn the feature OFF.
  2. To turn off Bluetooth via Control Center, launch the Control Center and then toggle the Bluetooth icon to turn the feature off.

The Bluetooth icon appears gray if it’s disabled. Otherwise, it appears blue. A Bluetooth icon will also be displayed on the status bar of your iPhone if the feature is turned on or enabled. In that case, you need to toggle the switch to turn Bluetooth off so as to stop your iPhone from connecting to or pairing with a Bluetooth-enabled device nearby.

Fourth solution: Update your iPhone software to the latest version.

Apple typically rolls out periodic updates not only to bring in new features but more importantly, to address widespread problems affecting various iOS devices. Thus, installing the latest iOS update available for your iPhone could potentially resolve the issue if software bugs and system errors are the ones causing the headphones to malfunction. If your iPhone has stable Internet access, sufficient memory space and battery life, then you can take a quick visit on its settings menu to see if a new OTA update is available.

  • To check for an iOS update, go to your iPhone Settings-> General-> Software Update menu.

You should see an update notification if a new iOS version is available. Be sure to read the update information so you’ll have an overview of what’s new from that software version. Also don’t forget to back up all important data from your iPhone before updating for safekeeping. Once you’re all set, follow the onscreen commands to start downloading and installing the update file on your device.

After the update is completely installed, reboot your iPhone to apply the recent system changes and to refresh the apps. Then launch a sound-enabled app to test and see if your iPhone’s headphones are already working as intended.

Fifth solution: Reset all settings on your iPhone.

Settings that aren’t configured properly may also be trigger occurrence of similar issues. This is usually the case if the headphones were perfectly working until a new update or an app or iOS is implemented. Some updates are programmed to override current settings on the device, hence it’s possible for conflicts to emerge if some of your customized settings don’t blend with the recent overrides. To rule this out, resetting all settings on your iPhone is recommended. This reset does not affect saved data on the internal memory but will erase your recent customizations and restore the original values and options. Should you wish to continue, then here’s how it’s done:

  1. Go to the Home screen to get started.
  2. Then tap on Settings.
  3. Scroll down to and select General.
  4. Tap on Reset.
  5. Choose the option to Reset all settings. This will erase all your recent customizations and device settings configuration.
  6. If prompted, enter your device passcode to continue.
  7. Then confirm that you want to reset all settings on your iPhone.

The reset process will then instigate. Once it’s finished, your device restarts automatically and then loads up the default values and options. This means the need for you to re-enable individual features that you want to use again on your phone.

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Last resort: Erase your iPhone and restore its factory default settings.

As your last resort, you can carry out a full system reset to erase complex system errors that might have corrupted the headphones system and other relevant functions on your device. Unlike the previous reset, a full system reset or factory reset wipes everything from your iPhone including saved files, downloaded apps, and personal information. That said, creating backups is recommended beforehand. You may opt to back up your iPhone data to iCloud or iTunes as you prefer. Once the backup is secured, you can proceed and follow these steps to factory reset your iPhone through settings menu:

  1. From your Home screen, tap Settings.
  2. Select General.
  3. Scroll down to and tap on Reset.
  4. Select the option to Erase all content and settings.
  5. Enter your device passcode when asked to proceed.
  6. And finally, tap the option to confirm that you want to erase your iPhone and restore its factory default settings.

After the reset, your device reboots itself and then loads up its factory settings. To use your device again, you will need to set it up like the first time you have it. Just follow the start-up wizard to set up settings and configure your iPhone as new.

You can also use iTunes to erase your device and restore from a previous iOS backup. This is often recommended if the problem instigated among other iOS bugs. To get started, you will need to secure a Mac or Windows computer that has the latest iTunes software installed. Then connect your iPhone to the computer via USB cable/Lightning cable, wait for iTunes to detect it and start restoring using iTunes commands.

Still couldn’t get your iPhone headphones to work?

Consider taking your iPhone to the nearest Apple service center in your place, if the headphones are still not working after exhausting all possible solutions. There is a higher chance that your iPhone has obtained hardware damage and thus the headphone jack needs physical repair. If your device is still covered by AppleCare warranty, then you better contact your carrier first so that they can advise you on what to do next.

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