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iPhone's Call Waiting Feature Explained

written by: luis84•edited by: Simon Hill•updated: 10/30/2010

Hate it or love it, the iPhone comes with call waiting enabled. Take a look at this guide to learn how to enable and disable this feature and details on a few potential solutions to call waiting tone issues.

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    How it Works

    Call waiting on iPhone works similarly to call waiting on most other phones. You may have heard many users complaining about the calliPhone  waiting tone on iPhone, this is quite common. While the call waiting tone on the iPhone has been the cause of many problems, just as many users have experienced little to no issue with the call waiting feature.

    If you are on a call and another call comes into the iPhone, you will hear a beeping sound in the ear piece. This tone indicates that another call is waiting, and if you choose to accept it, the current call will be placed on hold. This feature allows iPhone users to hold long conversations without worrying about missing another important call.

    The feature is enabled by default on the iPhone and most major network carriers support the call waiting feature, including AT&T in the USA. The call waiting feature is a great feature when it works properly, unfortunately because of the reported issues with the call waiting tone on iPhone, many users fear having the call waiting feature enabled.

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    Known Issues

    The most common issue with the call waiting on the iPhone is that the other person on the line can hear the tone. This may not seem like a big deal, however, it can be a huge issue and potentially even a privacy concern.

    The iPhone is marketed as a phone designed for both business use and personal use. If you were on a conference call, you would not likely want everyone to hear the call waiting tone. This can also be an issue when on important calls or even on a call with a friend. When users can hear the call waiting tone, they are aware of you placing them on hold for another call, which can cause some angry arguments with friends, family and of course, your spouse.

    The call waiting tone on iPhone is a subtle beeping noise. When the iPhone call waiting feature is not functioning properly, the other person on the phone hears a muffled or slight beep. Ideally only you should be able to hear that tone and not the other party.

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    Call Waiting Customization

    There is not much customization available to the call waiting feature on the iPhone. Many users ask if there is a way to change the call waiting tone on iPhone, and unfortunately there is not. The extent of customization or modification to the call waiting feature on the iPhone consists of disabling call waiting.

    If you are curious about how to disable the call waiting beep sound on iPhone, follow these instructions:

    1. Open settings. From the home screen of your iPhone, tap the settings icon.
    2. Choose phone. Tap on the section in settings which is labeled "Phone".
    3. Disable call waiting. Use the slide bar to disable (or enable) call waiting.

    Once call waiting is disabled, you will no longer hear the call waiting tone on iPhone. You will not be notified of additional calls in any matter, the other call will be sent straight to voicemail.

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    Possible Solutions

    There are many different possible solutions to the call waiting tone issue on the iPhone. There is no official fix, however, many of these solutions below have resolved the problem for users. The newer iPhone models are not known to have this issue, it is most common on the iPhone 2G and some 3G's on older firmware.

    • Upgrade to the latest firmware (at least iOS4 if possible for your hardware).
    • Change the SIM Card (a new one can be obtained from AT&T).
    • Request a replacement phone from Apple (by calling or visiting an Apple Store).

    Be sure to check out our Guide to iPhone Call Forwarding as well. You may also be interested in Tips for Troubleshooting iPhone With Visual Voicemail.

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