So, your trusty Android smartphone is acting up a bit and only works on speakerphone. There are quite a number of possibilities for what may have gone wrong with the phone and this article is going to lay them out for you. First off, I have to be honest, if your Android only works in speakerphone, chances are your earpiece speaker has gone bust. Sure, there can be a software issue where the device is unable to access the earpiece properly. But chances are, your smartphone is physically ill.
I have done extensive research on why a smartphone’s earpiece suddenly stops working, not because of this article but because my Galaxy S3 had the same problem. Although the audio was coming through, it was so low that I was unable to hear it at all. So in my experience, when an Android only works on speakerphone and refuses to give you a good calling experience on the earpiece, there is a big chance that the problem is hardware related. So, let’s dive into the possible solutions and how you can at least try before sending your friend to customer support.
There are 2 basic reasons why your phone can work alright on speakerphone and but fails to work regularly.
- Either you cannot hear the other person. This is because the earpiece is damaged.
- Or they are unable to hear you. This is because the dedicated noise canceling mic is damaged. Rarely happens on older phones that only had one microphone.
1. Clean the Earpiece
This is the most common solution I found by talking to my local hardware technician. 80% of the time it’s the little pieces of washed tissue paper clogged into the earpiece. If you wash your clothes without emptying the pockets there is a chance that you’ve also washed a bunch of tissue papers. The tiny paper has the tendency to accumulate into the ports as well as the earpiece over time. So, if you’re confident that you won’t break the earpiece grill, take a 10 or a small tweezer and pick out the pieces that are clogging the earpiece port. If your earpiece has a metallic grill on front, you’ll have to take it to a professional for a thorough cleaning.
2. Clean the Mic Hole
Many smartphones come with multiple mics these days to enable clear communication whether you are using the standard orientation or the speakerphone. For example, the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge comes with 2 microphones. One is a regular one and the other is the noise canceling one. Usually the standard microphone hole is present underneath the smartphone near the charging ports. By using a flashlight, check to see if it is in any way blocked or not. I do not recommend this but if you have a thin needle, you can try to wrangle any kind of residue you see, out of the hole yourself. After the mic hole is clean, make sure to blow on it to scatter away the residue of dust, and don’t blow too hard though.
3. Headphone Jack is blocked
If the headphone jack is so dirty that the smartphone thinks you have plugged the headphone, then it’s time to clean it out. Usual moisture, grime and dirt can accommodate over time into the headphone jack of your smartphone. If it does happen, your smartphone will think that you plugged in the headphones and will try to route all the sounds through the nonexistent headphone. So, pick up that flashlight again and see if there is any debris in the headphone jack, clean it out if necessary with a small needle but be careful not to go poking around too deep.
4. Check the Screen Protector
Sometimes an ill placed screen protector obscures the earpiece and creates a seal. This means that any sound coming out of your earpiece will be muffled and sometimes downright muted. So, take a good look at the screen protector and see if it’s placed perfectly on the screen. If it’s not, then you’ll have to get a protector that is made for your smartphone and get someone else to apply it.
5. Cover Woes
Lastly, if you’re using a nonstandard case or cover for your smartphone, there is a chance that it is blocking the mic at the bottom of the phone. A lot of generic cases and covers tend to do that, so I highly recommend getting a cover that is tailor-made for your smartphone. I know this is very far-fetched and wouldn’t probably happen but the shop owner I interviewed for this article specifically told me to avoid cheap knockoff covers and cases.
I do not recommend this and I do not even consider it as a full-on solution, but sometimes a factory reset can solve many problems. I’m not claiming that a factory reset will magically repair your smartphone to make it work properly but it is worth a thought though. Lastly, if all else has failed, you can only send your smartphone back to the manufacturer, carrier or customer support to get it replaced. If it’s not under warranty, you’ll have to take it to a repair shop yourself and get it checked out by a professional.