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Apple iPhone SE Users Report Bluetooth Audio Quality Issues

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Complaints are piling up over iPhone SE devices that provide poor audio quality during Bluetooth phone calls, especially when the handsets are paired with autos or wireless headsets.

The issue touches on GPS voice navigation for a number of users, but Bluetooth music streaming seems to remain unaffected.

A high number of users expressed their grievance in the Apple Support Communities, complaining that the 4-inch phones feature distortions, static noise or inaudible voice calls when used with Bluetooth. Most phone owners pointed out that other smartphone models from the company featured flawless audio quality.

"When it came to phone calls, the sound was constantly cutting in and out and sounded 'scratchy' and distorted," says a user, who can otherwise listen to music or play YouTube videos through Bluetooth seamlessly.

The commenter ended up returning the iPhone SE to Verizon, as the Bluetooth calls reception was making the phone near-impossible to use. Moreover, he notes that both Android phones and his previous iPhone 6S behaved flawlessly during Bluetooth calls.

The issue can be found on all iPhone SE models that operate under iOS 9.3 or iOS 9.3.1, affecting all models and carriers. Reports pelleted from countries such as the United States, Canada, Australia, Germany, the United Kingdom and Sweden.

Apple launched a beta version of iOS 9.3.2, but the update does not fix the issue.

There is no correlation between the car type or model and the issue. The specific problem was reported in many auto brands, such as Volkswagen, Toyota, Subaru, Nissan, Mercedes-Benz, Kia, Jeep, Infiniti, Hyundai, GMC, Ford, Dodge, Chrysler, Chevrolet, BMW, Audi and the list may go on.

At the time of writing, it is unclear if the problem originates in the software or the hardware components. Users tried multiple workarounds for the issue, including toggling cellular data, un-pairing and re-pairing Bluetooth, resetting the settings of the network, changing SIM cards and even restoring the iPhone SE to factory setting.

In October 2014, the same glitch affected iPhone users, leaving them unable to pair their handsets and audio car systems via Bluetooth after updating to iOS 8. Owners of iPhone 6 or 6 Plus experienced similar problems.

However, Apple fixed the issue by rolling out iOS 8.1.

A number of users mentioned that the company's customer support took a special interest in their problem and asked for log files to better diagnose the issue. This means that Apple experts are working on fixing the Bluetooth bug, but a specific timeline is foggy.

Another user recounts his experience with the Apple Support Communities, showing that the company is very engaged in the issue.

"They have had me do extensive testing of various conditions. ... Further, there is an internal "Issue" board and tracking system for Apple support and this BT issue is on the top of the list," the user says.

The support team from Apple assured him that resources are in place to resolve the problem for good.

Late last month, the iOS 9.3 was also reported to carry a number of glitches and issues, mostly regarding accessing media files.

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