Quick Fix iPhone Stuck in “Headphones” Mode & Speakers Not Working

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Ever had your iPhone get stuck in Headphone mode? The symptoms are fairly obvious; you go to change the volume level and the little volume indicator says “ringer (headphones)” like shown below, and no audio our sound works through the normal speaker output.

Some people interpret this as their iPhone speakers suddenly not working or that something is broken, but that is actually pretty rare, and you can usually fix the issue really quickly with nothing but a q-tip and a set of headphones or earbuds (yes, you read that right, you will use a pair of headphones to get the iPhone out of Headphone mode). I ran into this today and here’s how I fixed it in about a minute:

  • Remove any case or enclosure the iPhone may be in
  • Use compressed air (or your mouth) to blow directly into the headphone jack, this may help to dislodge dust or pocket lint stuck in the port
  • Get a Q-Tip or toothpick and swab around inside the port to dislodge any remaining particles

iphone-headphone-jack

  • Connect the set of headphones, make sure there is a complete connection and be sure that audio transmits through them, then firmly pull out the headphones – audio should work as usual
  • Connect & disconnect the headphones a few more times if nothing happens the first time

The iPhone should be good to go now. Toggling the volume up/down buttons should just show “Ringer” as it’s supposed to like the screenshot shows below, and audio will play out of the iPhone speakers as usual.

iphone-speaker-working-againWhy does this happen? It could be a number of things, perhaps it’s just a weird software quirk where the iPhone doesn’t recognize that headphones have been disconnected from the jack – that seems to be exacerbated by some protective cases that cause obstruction to the audio jack, thus why you should remove the case before trying any of this. It could even be something physical stuck in there like a piece of lint, thus the usage of blowing air in there and swabbing around with the q-tip. Thankfully, it’s easy to fix in the vast majority of encounters, though there are some cases where Headphone mode gets stuck on after an iPhone has had water contact (which is probably why earlier iPhone models has water sensors in the headphone jack) but if an iPhone is properly handled after water contact you can usually save it from damage or any quirks like that.

Having helped a reader resolve this problem a few weeks back, and then running into it myself, I figured it was worth a write up. So if you find your iPhone speakers suddenly aren’t working and the “(headphones)” message is stuck on despite nothing attached to the phone, try the steps outlined above before calling Apple Support, it will probably work for you too.

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