Did Apple Deliberately Remove Noise Cancellation from the iPhone 13?

Phone app on iPhone 13 Credit: Dimitri Karastelev / Unsplash
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Earlier this month, we noted some strange reports of problems with iPhone 13 call audio, and now it looks like one of these problems may actually be a deliberate change on Apple’s part.

Last month, a user on Reddit noticed that the iPhone 13 didn’t seem to support Noise Cancellation for phone calls the same way as prior iPhone models.

Not only did the user report that noise cancellation wasn’t working, but also noted that the setting to disable it, located under Settings > Accessibility > Audio/Visual on older iPhone models, was nowhere to be found on the iPhone 13.

The iPhone 13 doesn’t do it. No noise cancellation at all. As some people have pointed out, the hardware is there, just not functioning. If you’re on the street or in a loud bus, the person you’re calling won’t understand a thing. throwawayowl999 on Reddit

While the original Redditor posted that noise cancellation wasn’t working for him, others seemed to think there was no problem. However, this is also something that’s hard to determine as it’s a feature for outgoing calls, so it’s up to the person on the other end to decide whether the background noise is really a problem or not.

Unfortunately, while many assumed this was just an oversight in iOS 15 for the iPhone 13 lineup, it now looks like Apple may have deliberately nixed this very useful feature in the iPhone 13 lineup.

Did Apple Block Noise Cancellation?

A reader at 9to5Mac shared a conversation that he had with Apple Support, where he was told quite explicitly that noise cancellation is “not available” on iPhone 13 models.

We have an update on this. Phone Noise Cancellation is not available on iPhone 13 models, which is why you do not see this option in Settings.Apple Support

Somewhat dumbfounded, the user, Steve, asked for more specific clarification, to which the Apple Support rep responded, “That is correct. It is not available,” and suggested that he could visit Apple’s standard feedback page if he wanted to comment further on its removal.

After working with Apple and a senior advisor for months saying to wait for an update to fix the issue, I got an update regarding the issue, and apparently, it won’t be fixed and noise cancelation is intentionally disabled for those devices for unspecified reasons.

Assuming that Apple Support isn’t merely confused (it wouldn’t be the first time), this would be a very strange change for the company to make.

Noise cancellation for phone calls has been around since the iPhone 4 was released in 2010, and in fact, it’s always been on by default. The setting under Accessibility is just so that users can turn it off if they’re having a problem with it.

This latest report also contradicts comments by the original poster and other Redditors who contacted Apple Support that the company’s engineers are aware of the issue and working on a fix.

Apple support confirmed that engineers are working on it. Though, they couldn’t tell yet whether it’s a software or a hardware issue. In any case, there should be a solution in the coming weeks.throwawayowl999 on Reddit

To be fair, however, these reports predate this more recent conversation with Apple Support, so it’s possible that engineers have now concluded that it won’t be fixed.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that it was a deliberate decision on Apple’s part to remove noise cancellation specifically; there may have been some other hardware change in the iPhone 13 that prevented it from being included.

Still, the removal of the option under the Accessibility settings on the iPhone 13 suggests that somebody knew that the iPhone 13 wasn’t going to be able to support noise cancellation for phone calls in the first place.

We’re certainly hoping that this isn’t the last word on this issue, since it still seems like a very odd thing for Apple to remove from the latest iPhone models, and as those affected by it have pointed out, it actually makes the experience of calling somebody from an iPhone 13 considerably worse than it was on prior models.

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