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Static bug plaguing iPhone 4S users could be hardware issue

It has been a month and a half since Apple released its record-setting iPhone 4S and users are still plagued by a series of bugs that has made the device unusable for some. BGR was one of the first sites to report on a troubling glitch that causes audio to cut out during voice calls when using a headset, and many users continue to experience very poor battery life despite the recent iOS 5.0.1 update Apple released to address the issue. Another bug that has not been widely reported in recent weeks involves static sounds that are heard during voice calls, and the issue may be more serious than initially believed. Read on for more.

Thousands of iPhone 4S owners have taken to Apple’s support forum and other forums around the web to complain of a troublesome bug that rears its head during voice calls. According to users, the iPhone emits an annoying “static digital crackling” sound during voice calls.

“[My] wife and I upgraded to new 4s phones. When we talk to each other we both hear the static,” iPhone 4S user Robert Cantrell wrote in a thread on Apple’s support forum with nearly 600 replies. “I tried calling her with my company blackberry and she sounded good as I did to her. We are on Verizon by the way. She called me back later on my sons Motorola phone and she sounded ok but she said I had static in my voice again.” Hundreds of posts from other users detail similar experiences across various carriers in the U.S., Canada and elsewhere.

“It doesn’t prevent me from having a conversation, but it does get annoying on a long phone call,” one user said on Apple’s support forum. Others are not so forgiving, however, and a number of users say they have returned their iPhones after several exchanges failed to resolve the issue.

While initial speculation suggested software might be to blame, recent posts in at least one thread on Apple’s forum suggest the matter could be more serious. Some users have speculated that the sound is actually caused by a hardware issue related to the embedded 3G radio in the iPhone 4S.

“It’s definitely a hardware problem,” a user wrote on Apple’s support board after performing a series of tests. “If I use the Siri with 3G network, the noise is absolutely happened. But [if] airplane mode is ON and Wifi is also ON, there is no noise. That means a 3G module inside the iPhone 4S makes a noise. I don’t know the technical issue exactly, but the first reason is by using a 3G module.”

“With every app that requires 3G connection (have not testet [sic] WI-FI yet) the static sound appears when you hold listen on the backside (around the apple logo),” another user wrote. “This seams [sic] like the sound appears when it is connected and loads data.”

Apple has not publicly addressed the matter and BGR has been unable to reproduce the bug during tests performed with two iPhone 4S units.

Zach Epstein

Zach Epstein has worked in and around ICT for more than 15 years, first in marketing and business development with two private telcos, then as a writer and editor covering business news, consumer electronics and telecommunications. Zach’s work has been quoted by countless top news publications in the US and around the world. He was also recently named one of the world's top-10 “power mobile influencers” by Forbes, as well as one of Inc. Magazine's top-30 Internet of Things experts.

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