IPhone 4S Faces Another Glitch as Competition Heats Up

IPhone 4S Faces Another Glitch as Competition Heats Up

An iPhone 4S glitch is muting outgoing calls, in another line of bugs plaguing the device as it enters heavy competition against Android phones.

Users first reported, in a 30-page thread on Apple’s support forum, a problem hearing outgoing calls through the iPhone’s earpiece. The MacRumors site then reported users couldn’t hear ringback or the voice of the party on the other end, even though the 4S display shows the outgoing call is progressing.

The problem is affecting iPhones on all three major carriers selling the device.

The lack of audio on some outgoing calls is not the first issue to affect the 4S. In the month since its release, 4S users complained of a yellow tinge to some screens, outages of voice-activated assistant Siri and poor battery life in iPhones running the iOS 5 software update.

If problems persist and multiply, Apple may be forced to stand by and watch customers defect to other, better-reviewed devices as holiday sales heat up and new high-end devices hit the market.

Apple is locked in a fast-moving race against Android phones, making this latest bug particularly ill-timed. Handset makers HTC and Samsung passed Apple in smartphone shipments last quarter, putting more pressure on Apple’s 4S to gain back ground against high-end Android phones, such as the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, coming to market this month.

Originally, the audio issue was thought to stem from incompatibility with Bluetooth headsets, but even people who have never used Bluetooth report the lack of sound on outgoing calls. Based on user posts, the problem may be related to a driver issue between the iOS software and 4S hardware. It does not appear to affect incoming calls or other iPhone features using the earpiece, such as Siri.

Much like the battery-life problem, the bug may be fixed with a software update Apple is expected to release in a few weeks.

So far, 4S glitches haven’t hurt sales. The smartphone has broken sales records for carriers AT&T and Sprint, and is sold out at Best Buy stores. Consumers must wait anywhere from 11 days to a month for the device from both Apple stores and carrier retail locations.

Users say the outgoing call audio fixes itself when they toggle the speakerphone off and on, activate Siri or unplug and plug back in headphones. Users who paid top money for a new iPhone, however, likely don’t want to jiggle hardware to get it to work properly. With shiny, new Android devices beckoning consumers, Apple is likely looking to remedy the majority of 4S problems with its upcoming software update before consumers change their mind about the company’s new phone.

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