Why do iPhone notifications vibrate in your ear when you're on a call?

Have you ever been on a call on your iPhone when an SMS or email or push notification came in only to experience a terrible vibration right in your ear? iPhone has a setting to enable and disable vibrate both for silent mode (ringer switch off) and in general so you can set it up to ring, ring and vibrate, or just vibrate. What you can't seem to do is set it up not to vibrate when you're already on a call.

What's curious is that not everyone seems to complain about this, and some people seem to only notice it after a firmware update. Forum member iErick as well as others have all been experiencing this issue ever since they made the upgrade to iOS 4.2.1.

Every since updating to iOS 4.2.1, when I am on a call and have the phone held up to my ear...the phone vibrates for SMS notifications and such.This occurs if the phone is on the silent setting and when the phone is set to ring and vibrate.

I recently Updated to iOS 4.2.1 on my iPhone 4 and while on a call I received 6 emails and every single time it not only made the tone but it vibrated right into my ear. It is quite annoying and my phone wasn't even on vibrate. It is set for vibrate and ring.

Some members have never seen this issue until now and other have said they have seen this issue with other iOS firmwares. CrackBerry Kevin has been complaining about it since iOS 2 or 3.

Is this is a bug? Is this the way Apple thinks vibration mode should work? Why can't they use the same motion and proximity sensor that turns off the screen when you're on a call to turn off the vibration? If you've experienced the vibration in the ear let us know your thoughts in the comments.

iPhone Forums and let others know your experiences.

  • I smell a jailbreak tweak coming to fix this. After all, isn't that the only way you can make iOS work the way it's supposed to?
  • This has happened to me since I got my 3GS back in February. The worst is when I am on the phone with my fiancé and I can hear hers vibrate while we are talking.
  • My phone only makes a sound when the switch is on but it vibrates regardless of the switch position. The other issue is that it goes to speakerphone when I move it away from my face during a call. That is VERY annoying. I have read that it might be because of my screen protector (I have an Invisible Shield from ZAGG).
  • I've not particularly noticed a vibrate but It has always amazed me that when on a call and a text message comes through the entire tone plays out. Not only is this deafening, its also stupid. usually with the caller asking what was that? Every other phone I've owned has always muted the notification to a simple beep played out through the earpiece. notifying me that I have a message without deafening me and alerting the caller as well.
    its little things like this that highlights Apples weak spots in the phone market. Nokia or Sony Ericsson wouldn't have this problem, its the basic phone functions they've got down pat.
  • My phone has always behaved in this way, and while some people complain that it's annoying to hear my phone making noise, I don't mind it at all, in fact, I often find it quite useful. I'll pull the phone away for a quick glance at a Push Notification and it allows me to multitask with very little interruption. I consider this a feature, not a bug. Making it an option might be nice though, just to make everyone happy.
  • "It is quite annoying and my phone wasn’t even on vibrate. It is set for vibrate and ring."
    This is a pretty dumb statement. Vibrate + Ring still vibrates, of course. Otherwise it would just say "Ring". The phone is just doing what you told it too.
    However, the point about using the proximity sensor to disable vibrate does have merit, I suppose. I've never experienced this issue, but it would seem easy enough to turn off the vibrate if you don't want it to vibrate.
  • @Maniacfive
    I remember the Palm Pre used to do that early on, but a WebOS update fixed the issue. It amazes me that Apple can be so focused on quality and user experience, but it's notification system is still the worst in the smartphone business.
  • I've always noticed this, even as far back as my iPhone 3G (and now, my iPhone 4). I've always found it annoying. When I'm on speakerphone with work (as in, I'm on their speakerphone), they ask if I have a duck in the background; yep, they can hear the vibration.
  • I've always had this occur. I don't get many emails or text messages, but it's annoying the few times it does happens and I'm on a call. I usually have my phone set to make a tone for emails and texts, so if I'm on a call, the person on the other end can usually hear it too. I think it's meant to be this way, but I hope Apple implements an option to turn it off while on a call.
  • I never noticed this with my iPhone 4 until the 4.2.1 update. Regardless, it's really not that big of a deal to me.
  • the iPhone 4 is my first iPhone and it has never dont this until 4.2.1
    Funny thing is I always had my Blackberry set to notify me during a call for messages and it was one generic beep in my ear for everything(weather is was on vibrate or not). I loved that the iphone played the actual tone of what the alert is. Now that it vibrates also, I hate it.
    I am surprised not too many people have complained about this.
    Thanks for featuring my post in your article! Maybe more people will notice now and more people will find this to be an issue.
  • The entire iPhone notification system needs to be redone.
    Custom sound alerts, ringtones, notifications, status bar icons, slide down list of notifications.
    It's years behind Android in this area.
  • Once that terrible notifications system is fixed iOS will be near perfect. Gah I hate notifications When I'm on the phone or playing a game.... Please apple fix this!!
  • This happened to me when I updated to 4.2.1. Very odd. Scares the crap out of me every time.
  • I don't know but it pisses me off.
  • you people never gonna be happy, Jesus Christ. always crying like a little babies, for small things like this, just deal with it, nothing is perfect in this life. we are all humans and we all make mistakes. please
  • You say issue, I say feature. I prefer it over a tone
  • I don't think ive noticed it before until upgrading to 4.2.1 on iPhone 4. It's a little annoying (with ascension as the text tone) but I'll get used to it. I agree that an option to turn that aspect of it off would be nice.
  • My Palm Pre Plus does this. If I am on a call I get a tone in my ear to let me know that I have a text message.
  • On the ol'3G and the new fancy 4 same thing: Every TXT / Email / Alert right in the ear on a call. Can be a pain if you get multiple messages at once. The tones can block out the caller. And, I think the other person can hear it too since it is an audible alert. I have heard the faint sounds when talking to other iPhone users. The sensor should take care of this. I have my phone in an Otterbox and the sensor only works half of the time. Maybe that is why the problem happens some time only. I notice if I change the way I hold the phone, the screen will turn on and off and back on again. ONE more thing that does not work like it should.
  • Really, iPhone is like freaking magic! People were flipping just to see pictures move in it, so what if it vibrates in your ear, you whining nerds? Go on and do something better!
  • And I wondered if I was the only one who noticed that.
    Been waiting for some kind of fix (read: jailbreak app) since I bought my 3GS.
    Majorly annoying problem. Sheesh.
  • Just had it happen 5 min ago (iPhone 4 on 4.1 jb) and also did it on my 3GS the whole year I had it. Sucks because if u ignore the text you can't hang up without dismissing the txt and if I make an immediate call sometimes forget that I got a bunch of texts
  • I've had my iphone4 for close to month now and it has been behaving this way all time. I hate it when it does that.
  • This has been happening since iOS 2. I currently use an iPhone (1st gen) on 3.1.2 and it does it all the time. Since there is no fix (for now), I just use the headset and sms during a call.
  • Mine has always done this, I don't mind. I just wished they changed the callwaiting tone. Others can hear it which bothers me.
  • I've always noticed this and haven't minded.
    What I DO mind is when I'm playing a video and SMS or push notifications display, pausing the video and causing problems. If I'm at a networking event and showing someone my EPK or sample of my work and a text comes in, I have to worry whether the text has sensitive information in it that I've just displayed to the crowd. I'd like notifications to be suppressed during video playback (or at least an option to do so, as was discussed for the current issue at hand).
  • "It is quite annoying and my phone wasn’t even on vibrate. It is set for vibrate and ring."
    Vibrate and ring means exactly that. It will vibrate and ring at the same time.
  • @ HungWell - "I smell a jailbreak tweak coming to fix this. After all, isn’t that the only way you can make iOS work the way it’s supposed to?"
    Yeah. Right. Respring. Respring, respring. Respring? Respring! Re-re-respring.
  • I've always had this problem, and it gets quite annoying... "Hello?" "Hey it's Jen, do you wanna...*DONG!... * " "I'm sorry could you repeat that?"
  • Phone calla who does that any more
  • it's really bad when your alarm goes off in your ear while on a call!
  • seriously, how has this not been addressed yet.
  • This is the most annoying this ever i faced with iPhone.
  • This has been incredibly frustrating.
    I feel like this is a huge design flaw. I'm all about Apple, but even I can only take so much...
  • just got ios 5 and it still does this. i don't enjoy being startled when i'm on a call.....and the other party can often hear the motor buzz too! so annoying!!!!!
  • I just bought the iPhone 4s. Coming from a blackberry this is the only thing that frustrates me with this phone. I'm on a call and all of a sudden I get a text and it goes off in my ear. Anyone yet figure out how to fix this. I have searched all over the web and found nothing.
  • If you figure it out please let also let me know
  • I did the same.. Can't believe Apple even released it with this fault!! If I had know I wouldn't have bought it.
  • This is insane. Was on my very first iphone call today (coming from Blackberry for last 3 years), and the text sound and vibrations while on a call was ridiculous. How can people put up with that?? If you're a power texter and you talk on the phone a lot, the feature is ridiculous.
  • I too switched from BlackBerry and this is one of my major peeves. BlackBerry owns notifications Apple, this is rediculous please fix it and update your whole notification system while your at it. Grab a BlackBerry and study the sound profiles as a benchmark.
  • I too switched from BlackBerry and this is one of my major peeves. BlackBerry owns notifications Apple, this is rediculous please fix it and update your whole notification system while your at it. Grab a BlackBerry and study the sound profiles as a benchmark.
  • Very annoying. It must be a bug because no one would intentionally design this in.
    I keep my phone on vibrate, but I remember having it on regular ring mode and being on a call when a txt came in. The ring in my ear was also very loud. Just as bad as the vibration.
  • No one knows how to fix this?? Its bad enough the NEW iPhone 4s is on a 3g network but this is pathetic. Never buying an apple product again, very disappointed especially since I've contacted corporate ad they have done nothing but apologize. R.I.P. Steve but the company is nothing without you, they can't even fix a tiny glitch!
  • You're so damn right, its really annoying. I've been trying to find the solution for this problem, but couldn't find it anywhere, i'm using iphone 4 with ios 5.01, and still the problem exits. It's not just annoying, but unhealthy too i should say. The sudden loud ring and vibration while on contact with the ear is a pain. If anyone already found a solution to this, please let me know.
  • Yes I hate this about iPhone. I came from a blackberry and soooooooo prefer the iPhone but this and the fact that the alarm snooze setting is only 9 mins and can't be changed are the only things so far that annoy me about the iPhone.
    They need to sort it out coz it really hurts your ears!!!!!
  • I disable vibration on silent mode and whenever im on a call i just turn silent mode on
  • I love Apple and have worked for an Apple reseller in the past. I love their products. But... this is a glitch and I hope they do something about it. It buzzes in my ear and scares the crap out of me. I have a lot of calendar and other notifications and I like it to vibrate and ring. I don't want to have to turn the phone to silent mode every time I'm on a call. Apple is a smart company and I sure hope they add a menu option to figure this out.
  • I installed activator and the silent vibrate toggle from cydia then set activator to turn on/off the vibrate toggle after clicking the home button 3 times so when I'm in a call I just click home 3 times but remember to click 3 times after call to turn vibrate back on
  • Just got my 4s with version 5.0.1 this week, and dang if this isn't annoying as heck. Coming from Blackberry, this notification shortcoming blows. Now I know why all my friends keep their iphone on silent. While it's handy to have a workaround, Kay, it's ridiculous to have to do so, especially if the call comes in while my password-protected phone is locked.
  • Omg I'm sooo glad u all find it as irritating as me! Also come from blackberry and find it so strange and annoying that with all the technology available the iPhone 4s does such a stupid thing and deafens me each time a notification comes through! As for some of the comments saying we are moaning etc maybe u don't get many messages bcos it IS a big deal!
  • I hate that I can be on a professional business call and the person on the other end can hear my personalized ringtones going off when I get a text!! This is not only annoying but with as much as I paid for this phone the basic phone functions should be a no brainer!! A short simple beep could let me know I have a msg so I can check it while talking. I don't want it blowing out my ears, and I certainly don't want the person i'm talking to hearing it!!
  • Omg I'm really irritated by this I feel like throwing my phone... I hate iOS 5.01 it's making me go mad by vibrating in my ear..
  • I absolutely hate this feature. It is like an explosion in my ear every time it vibrates. Also I think some people are being really critical of those of us who dislike this. Seemingly at random
  • I just got an iPhone 5 and thought for sure I could find a setting to correct this. I am not only shocked to find out it can't be fixed, but more shocked to learn this thread started over 3 years ago. Seriously Apple has not assigned this any priority? It is really annoying and I've had my phone for 1 day. I submitted a request directly to Apple, but this is perplexing.
  • Had the same problem with my iphone5. Turns out people could only hear it on the other end when I was using the speakerphone.