iPhone Sound (Ringers, Alerts, Notifications) Randomly Turns Off

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Kelly Heffner Wilkerson

Categories: iPhone | View Comments

A few months ago, my dad told me about a strange issue he was having with his iPhone 5c: Randomly, his iPhone sounds and vibrations would stop working. He would see phone calls and text message notifications come in without ANY sound or vibration. Other sounds, like keyboard clicks, would cut out too.

We've been chasing this issue through multiple trips to the Genius Bar (who continuously claim it's a hardware problem — it's not a hardware problem) and phone calls with Apple. Even with a full factory reset, the problem eventually came back.

We finally narrowed the problem down to a glitch between his iPhone and his GM car. The best way I can describe it is that after using his iPhone with his car Bluetooth, his iPhone occasionally thinks it's connected to his car, even when the car is far far away (and off). My guess is that the Bluetooth connection doesn't end properly, causing the iPhone to think it's connected through this "phantom" remnant of a connection.

There's some good news though: GM does know that there is a compatibility problem with some of their radios and iPhones, and Apple knows and acknowledges that the problem exists, so hopefully this problem will be fixed eventually. In the meantime, if you notice your ring/notification sounds have stopped, turning off your Bluetooth should bring them back. (If you need to be proactive, you could turn off your Bluetooth as you get out of the car.)

Here's the short way to turn on/off your Bluetooth on the iPhone:

How to turn off bluetooth from iPhone Control Center

This isn't a satisfying answer, but at least we can confirm that you're not crazy, and this really is a bug.

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  • Carol Nelson June 6, 2017

    I have blue tooth enabled hearing aids and my text tones don't work when I have blue tooth enabled.

    • Kelly HW

      Kelly HW June 6, 2017

      Hi Carol - I'm sure that is irritating!

      Can you turn on your bluetooth, and then:

      * Go into the Settings app -> Sounds.

      * Turn off the switch "Change with Buttons" for a moment if it's on.

      * Slide the slider all of the way down, and then back up to somewhere comfortable? Are you able to hear the tone playing through your hearing aid now?

      * (Turn back on the switch "Change with Buttons" if it was on before.)

      * Select "Text Tone" a few more space down, and tap your text tone choice again -- see if you can hear the text tone now?

      * If not, reboot the iPhone, and see if it works now.

      Let us know how it goes!

  • Craig Inzana

    Craig Inzana August 8, 2016

    I'm using an iPhone 5s and tried this as well as the other article about this problem. I have never had this phone connected to a Bluetooth device but I tried this anyway and still no luck.

    Really fruatrating not knowing why I can't here notifications (I keep missing texts bc no sound). Apple says it's hardware issue but other audio works fine.