Headphones Not Working with Your Smartphone? Three Tips to Find a Fix

You’ve toggled Bluetooth off and on already. You’ve power cycled your headphones and checked to make sure they’re not already paired with two active devices. You’re definitely sure that your iPhone and headphones are within three feet of one another. But for some reason, your favorite wireless headphones just won’t work with your iPhone.

Don’t give up hope just yet. The solution to your problem may be a lot easier than you expect.  Try these three easy fixes, in this order, and chances are you’ll be back to wirelessly streaming audio bliss in no time.

Headphones not working


    While it’s easy to think of Bluetooth as a simple invisible wire between your iPhone and headphones, in truth it’s a complicated mix of antennas and chips and software all working together to establish that wireless connection. Sometimes, bugs happen. But newer versions of iOS typically have fewer bugs, so updating to the latest version may solve all of your problems, especially if you’re still running iOS 11 or earlier versions. If, on the other hand, updating to the latest system software is what caused your connectivity issues to begin with, give it a few days and wait for the latest hotfix. Or continue on Tip 2.


    If updating your phone didn’t do the trick, try going into Settings>Bluetooth and turning off the Bluetooth switch, then power down your iPhone. Once you power it back up, go back into Settings > Bluetooth and flip that toggle switch back to the right. Put your headphones into pairing mode (check your manual if you’ve forgotten how to do this, but with Phiaton earphones like the BT 120 NC, you usually hold down the Play button for at least two-and-a-half seconds, whereas with over-ear headphones like the BT 390, you’ll need to hold the Call button for the same amount of time), and you’ll probably be back in business. If not, though…


    No, no, no. We don’t mean give up on fixing your Bluetooth connectivity issues altogether. But if you’ve tried all of the above and you still can’t get your iPhone and headphones to play well together, you might need to start from scratch. And that means forcing your phone to forget it was ever connected to your headphones in the first place.To do this, navigate to Settings>Bluetooth again, find your headphones in the list of My Devices, click on the lowercase “i” with the circle around it, and from the next page tap “Forget This Device.” Then put your headphones into pairing mode again, re-pair them, and see if that solves your problems.If not, it may be time for some serious hypnosis. This is a last resort of sorts, but if all of the above has failed, you may need to Reset Network Settings on your iPhone. To do this, go to Settings>General and scroll down to the Reset tab very nearly at the bottom of the screen, just above Shut Down. Tap Reset, then select Reset Network Settings. It should be right in the middle of your screen, in its own block, between Erase All Content and Settings (don’t press that!) and Reset Keyboard Dictionary (only do that if you’ve been seriously pranked).

    Resetting your network settings does mean that your phone will also forget all of your Wi-Fi passwords and every Bluetooth device you’ve ever paired with your iPhone, so that’s a bit of an inconvenience. But if it gets you back to wireless listening bliss, it’s worth the few minutes of extra hassle.

    If for some reason you have an iPhone stuck in headphone mode, Apple recommends taking your device to an Apple Retail Store or Apple Authorized Service Provider for inspection. If your iPhone thinks headphones are in, but they’re not, you’ll notice that after you unplug your headphones and adjust volume on your iOS device, you still see a Headphones volume indicator. 

    By Dennis Burger

    November 7, 2018

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