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Fix-It Guide: My iPhone Sounds Only Work Through Heaphones!

written by: Austin•edited by: Simon Hill•updated: 6/26/2011

An iPhone that only makes noise through headphones, whether they're plugged in or not, is remarkably frustrating. Here are a few easy fixes that should have your phone back to normal in no time.

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    Help! How Did I Manage To Do This?

    Screen shot 2011-06-24 at 11.14.31 PM 

    As it turns out, iPhones aren't quite as perfect as everyone first thought they were. One of the most common problems I'm noticing with them is that people often jam their headphones into the jack a little too hard, and then force the device into something called "headphone mode". What this means is that sound will only play (whether the phone is ringing or you're playing music) through the headphones, which is great... assuming you actually have headphones plugged in. If you happen to be a little forceful in your insertion, however, you can cause your phone to "stick" in this mode even after you pull out, which is big trouble if you plan on using that phone speaker any time soon.

    So what can you do? Is it fixable without sending it in for repair? Well, lucky for you, it is indeed.

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    Fix #0: The Pre-Fix

    Before you try anything, you'll want to make sure of one thing -- did you remove your headphones while your iPhone was NOT locked and in full use? If you didn't, plug your headphones back in, unlock your phone, go to the main screen, and THEN unplug your headphones. Often times this is your problem.

    The reason it does this is simply because a lot of the iPhone models and versions have a little bug where having it in locked mode really means it's locked. It won't register touch, it won't let anyone in without a password, AND it won't register you unplugging your headphones. Because of this little buglet, you need to be a little more careful with such things. So if you just whipped your headphones out without thinking, you could be in for a little surprise! And by surprise I mean "annoying feature of the iPhone", but hey, who's counting?

    Now, if you've tried this with no luck, read on to answer the question: "How do I get my iPhone off of headphone mode?"

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    Fix #1: Different Is Good

    Screen shot 2011-06-24 at 11.14.25 PM Sometimes the most unconventional fix is the one that works, and in the case of an iPhone being stuck in headphones mode it's absolutely true. This is going to sound a little weird, but I swear that it works for most people -- take your iPhone headphones (or find another pair, but using the ones that initially broke the iPhone should work fine) and insert them and then remove them from the iPhone fairly quickly. Now check to see if this helped your issue. If not, and this is where it gets weird, repeat this process seven or eight times. Just insert and remove, insert and remove.

    Occasionally, not stopping to check in between each round helps, so try just inserting/removing it ten times in a row, sort of quickly, and then see what happens. Like I said, I know it feels weird, but it has by far the highest success rate of any method that I'll be going over here.

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    Fix #2: The Ol' Standby

    Just like any hardware device, the iPhone has a fix for pretty much anything that can be completed in one easy step. It is, of course, restoring your iPhone back to its original factory settings, and this seems pretty scary for a first time user, but it's really not that big of a deal. Here's how:

    - Plug your iPhone into your computer and make sure you have the latest version of iTunes running.

    - After it's plugged in, open up iTunes and highlight your iPhone on the sidebar.

    - Choose the "Summary" tab on the right hand side.

    - Choose the "Restore" option.

    - At this point it will ask you some questions, such as whether or not you want to back up your phone in case something goes wrong. This generally isn't necessary, but you can't go wrong with going safe. After all, it's better safe than sorry!

    - Now it will confirm whether or not you want to restore it. Know that this WILL erase all music and data on your iPhone.

    - If you're okay with this, click "Restore"

    - After the restore is complete, you'll be able to get back all of your contacts and whatnot via a handy function built into iTunes.

    - Proceed to check and see if it's still stuck in headphones mode.

    - If it is fixed, you can add all of your music back and everything is good!

    Now, it's worth noting that while this fixes most other iPhone issues, for some reason the whole "can't hear without headphones" thing has a slightly less impressive success rate. Thankfully, the first fix makes up for this.