iPhone 5 Call Quality Home Measurements

Frequently asked questions

Why did you make the video and website?

Upon upgrading my iPhone 4 to the iPhone 5, I encountered an important flaw in the call quality of my iPhone 5. The recipient of the call seems to be able to hear me OK, but on my side of the connection, the incoming voice drops in and out. Since this occurs with every single phone call it is practically impossible to have a normal conversation. This issue could not be resolved by either Apple Support, nor my provider (T-Mobile) nor the Amsterdam Apple Store.
I made the video to warn my friends not to upgrade to the iPhone 5 until this problem has been solved.

Isn't poor reception the real problem? Is this a new 'antenna gate'?

No. I know for a fact that on both sides of the connection the reception was excellent. I also tested with two independent providers within in The Netherlands. T-Mobile and Telfort.

Will an upgrade to the newest iOS 6.0.1 fix the problem?

Unfortunately not. I really hoped it would, but the iOS update did not solve the problem.

On what network connection did you test?

I tested on all available networks: 3G, GPRS and on Facetime over WiFi. The sound quality is always poor. In The Netherlands we do not have LTE coverage yet. The fact that the problem is also present with Facetime over WiFi shows that this problem is independent of the network, it should be a world wide problem.

What do you think is causing the iPhone 5 voice quality problem?

I think the iPhone 5 has a noise reduction system that cuts off low volume audio signals. This system should cut off background noise and leave only the spoken words. Instead, it also cuts off softer spoken words which makes a normal converstion practically impossible. Only if the person on the other end of the connection talks loud and straight into the microphone, the spoken words are above the threshold of the noise reduction system. The effect of the iPhone 5 noise reduction system is shown in my video, and illustrated in the measurements section.
I have a background in audio engineering, and this effect strongly resembles that of a device called 'noise gate' that is often used by recording studio's to suppress noise in old recordings. By adjusting the threshold of the noise gate to a to high level, not only is the noise removed, but low volume sounds and words are filtered away as well. A side effect of the noise gate in the iPhone 5 is that if the person on the other side of the connection does not talk for a few seconds, it sounds like the connection is lost because there is only total silence. It would be much better to hear at least a little bit of normal background noise in between those pauses in the conversation just to be sure the connection is still there.
The problem is always present, whether you are on regular speaker, on hands free or on headset (Apple EarPods). Also, if you lower the volume on the iPhone, the 'noise gate' effect becomes even stronger. This forces you to listen at the highest volume level, which can be very uncomfortable. Again, the iPhone 4 does not have this problem at all.

Do other iPhone 5 owners also complain about this?

Yes, by searching Google, I found a lot of complaints on news websites and on the official Apple Support forum.

What do you hope to accomplish with your video?

I hope Apple will fix the problem so I don't have to downgrade to my iPhone 4. I love the speed, the camera and the larger display of the iPhone 5, but not being able to make normal conversations is unacceptable.

Can you tell a bit about yourself?

I live in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. I love Apple products and have always admired Steve Jobs. I made the switch from Blackberry to the iPhone when the iPhone 4 was released. Apart from the keybord, I did not miss my Blackberry at all and was very happy with my iPhone 4. After upgrading to the iPhone 5 I encountered the important flaw in the call quality. I begged Apple Support, my provider and the Amsterdam Apple Store to really look into the problem but they just swapped my iPhone for a new one instead. By now I have had already three different copies of the iPhone 5, they all show the same problem.
With my background in audio engeneering, I recognized the sound quality problem as a 'noise gate' effect and decided to test and compare my iPhone 5 with the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S.

How did you make the video?

I placed a high quality cordless phone (DECT-type) in front of a loudspeaker in my livingroom. With this phone I called my iPhone and played back a cd track from an interview through the loudspeaker. I used this setup to be able to repeat the test with the same voice, the same volume and the same (landline-connected) phone, to completely rule out variations in the source. The iPhone was placed in a different room, connected to the audio input of my laptop. I used Adobe Soundbooth software to record the signal coming from the headphone jack of the iPhone. The iPhone 5 was filmed with the video camera of my iPhone 4 and vice versa. I edited the video using Adobe Premiere Pro (I'm not a 'pro' editor myself, as you may have noticed...). The video was not shot realtime (I only have 2 hands) but the audio tracks where recorded directly from the headphone jacks of the iPhone 4 and 5, no cheating.
Should you repeat the test yourself, please make sure to lower the volume of the loudspeaker you use as the audio source down to a level at which the iPhone 5 noise reduction system is activated.
Should I come across more video's that show the same problem, I will post them on this website.

When was your iPhone 5 produced and how can I check the production date of my iPhone?

My iPhone 5: Production year: 2012, Production week: 42 (October) , Generation: 7, Model Number: MD299, Capacity: 32GB, Factory: C3 (China).
On www.chipmunk.nl/klantenservice/applemodel.html you can enter your iPhone 5 serial number to view all the info about your phone.

How can I reach you?

I opened a Twitter acccount to tweet whilst looking for a way to solve the iPhone 5 call quality problem: www.twitter.com/icallquality
Please post the build date of your iPhone 5 so we can find out if the problem has something to do with this.

Can we use your images and video to show them on our website, magazine, TV show?

Of course. A link to www.iPhone5CallQuality.com would be much appreciated.

(last update: November 29, 2012, Amsterdam, The Netherlands)

iPhone 5 call quality