iPhone Thinks Headphones Are Plugged In: Troubleshooting Guide

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iPhone Thinks Headphones Are Plugged In

Do you keep hearing audio through your iPhone’s speakers even when your headphones are plugged in? Or does your iPhone refuse to play any sounds because it thinks headphones are connected when they’re not?

This frustrating “iPhone thinks headphones are plugged in” issue can prevent you from hearing ringtones, alarm sounds, and enjoying music or videos. Fortunately, with the right troubleshooting steps, you can fix it.

Follow these tips to get your iPhone’s audio routing working properly again.

Why Does My iPhone Think Headphones Are Plugged In?

Before you start troubleshooting, it helps to understand what causes this. Here are the most common reasons an iPhone might mistakenly think headphones are connected:

Disconnecting Your Headphones Too Fast

Software Glitches

A software bug or glitch is the most common cause of iPhone headphone detection issues. An iOS update error can make the iPhone OS wrongly report the headphone status.

Dust/Debris in Headphone Jack

Dust, lint, and other particles can get lodged in the iPhone’s headphone jack over time. This physical debris tricks the sensors into thinking a headphone plug is inserted.

Water Damage

If liquid (like rain or a spilled drink) gets into the headphone port, it can activate the jack’s sensors and make the iPhone think headphones are plugged in.

Loose Headphone Jack

In some cases, a loose headphone jack makes poor connections to headphone plugs. This faulty connection confuses the iPhone.

Hardware Damage

Rarely, a hardware problem like a damaged headphone jack sensor or logic board issue causes the iPhone to incorrectly detect headphones.

12 Fixes for iPhone Thinks Headphones Are Plugged In

Before proceeding, back up your iPhone to iCloud or iTunes in case any troubleshooting goes wrong. Then try these fixes:

1. Check Your Headphones

First, try a different set of headphones. If they work properly, the issue is with your original headphones, not your iPhone.

2. Restart Your iPhone

A simple restart fixes many iOS glitches. Press and hold the side/power button to power down. Then turn your iPhone back on and test.

3. Try a Different Audio App

Does audio play correctly in some apps but not others? The problem app may have a bug. Try playing music in the Music app, Podcasts app, and various other media apps to test.

4. Toggle Airplane Mode

Flip the Airplane Mode switch on, wait 10 seconds, then turn it off. This resets connections and often resolves glitches.

5. Remove Case and Screen Protector

Some cases or covers can block the headphone jack and cause issues. Try removing them as a test.

6. Clean Your Headphone Jack

Carefully clean any dust, lint, or debris from the iPhone headphone port with a toothpick, brush, or compressed air.

Clean Headphone port to fix iPhone Thinks Headphones Are Plugged In

7. Plug Headphones In and Out

Connecting your headphones and unplugging them a few times can clear any false connections or software glitches.

By the way, click here to figure out how to connect the microphone to iPhone.

8. Update iOS Software

Make sure your iPhone is updated to the latest iOS version. New updates fix bugs that can cause headphone detection issues.

9. Reset iPhone Settings

Resetting your device back to factory default settings might fix errant settings causing problems. (This won’t erase data).

10. Restore Your iPhone

For serious issues, do a full restore to factory settings. This erases the iPhone and reinstalls iOS from scratch.

11. Contact Apple Support

Apple technicians can run diagnostics tests and suggest other solutions if needed. Make an appointment at an Apple store.

12. Seek Repairs

For hardware damage like water corrosion or a faulty headphone jack, professional repair may be needed. Apple or a reputable third-party repair shop can handle this.

How to Clean a Dusty or Damaged iPhone Headphone Jack

If you suspect dust or debris is in your iPhone’s headphone port, cleaning it out can prevent false headphone detection. Here’s how to safely clean your headphone jack:

  • Use a flashlight to look for any obstructions inside the port. Lint, dust, sand, or other particles might be stuck in it.
  • Blow out the port with compressed air to dislodge anything loose. Don’t blow with your mouth.
  • Gently brush inside the port using a clean toothbrush or other soft-bristle brush.
  • You can also use a wooden toothpick to carefully pick out any stubborn debris.
  • Dampen a cotton swab with rubbing alcohol to wipe away grime. Let it fully dry before using.
  • Avoid bending anything inside the port to prevent damage to the delicate pins inside.

Only insert thin, soft, non-conductive tools to clean your iPhone’s headphone jack safely. Never use sharp metal tools.

Backing Up Your iPhone Before Troubleshooting

It’s always wise to back up your iPhone before trying any intensive troubleshooting steps. That way, you can restore your data if anything goes wrong.

You have two options to back up your iPhone:

  • iCloud backup: Enable iCloud Backup in your iPhone Settings app, then connect to WiFi and plug into power. It will automatically back up to your iCloud account.
  • iTunes backup: Connect your iPhone to a computer with iTunes. In iTunes, select your iPhone, then click Back Up Now. This saves a backup file to your computer.

What is Tenorshare iCareFone?

This part of iCareFone is the best way to extract data from an iOS device. It offers a lot of management over your data, it’s very flexible, and it’s the best way to make sure your iPhone’s data is backed up properly.

Tenorshare iCareFone
  • Back up data directly to your computer.
  • Preview your iPhone’s data before you have it backed up.
  • Download backups from your iCloud account and extract data from them.
  • Capable of extracting a variety of different data types.
  • Compatible with the most recent iOS versions and iPhone models.

The flexibility that this program offers alone is fantastic. When extracting data, this is undoubtedly the best program that there is.

Backups save your contacts, photos, videos, apps, settings, and other irreplaceable data. Having a recent backup lets you restore your iPhone trouble-free.

When to Take Your iPhone to the Apple Store

If you’ve tried all the troubleshooting tips and your iPhone still thinks headphones are plugged in, it’s time to take it to an Apple store or authorized service provider.

Technicians can run diagnostics tests, clean the port properly, check for hardware damage, or repair/replace headphone jack components as needed.

Visit Apple Support online to schedule a Genius Bar appointment at your local Apple store. Be sure to back up your iPhone before your appointment.

Hardware repair or replacement may be needed for issues like water damage or a faulty headphone jack. This will carry a fee if your iPhone warranty has expired.

Key Takeaways and Recommendations

To quickly recap, here are some key tips on fixing an iPhone that thinks headphones are plugged in when they aren’t:

  • First, back up your iPhone to keep your data safe when troubleshooting.
  • Try simpler fixes like toggling Airplane Mode, cleaning the port, restarting your iPhone, or using different headphones.
  • For software glitches, updating iOS, resetting settings, or restoring the iPhone often helps.
  • Hardware issues may require professional repair or replacement from an Apple store or authorized service provider.
  • If dust/debris is the issue, carefully use compressed air, a toothbrush, or toothpick to clean the headphone jack. Never insert anything metal or sharp.
  • Schedule a Genius Bar appointment at an Apple store for diagnostics or repair if needed. Bring a backed up iPhone.
  • Avoid forcing anything into the headphone port, getting moisture into it, or damaging the internal pins. This can cause further issues.

FAQs About iPhone Headphone Issues

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about fixing iPhone headphone and audio routing problems:

Why does my iPhone still think headphones are plugged in even when they aren’t?

This is typically caused by dust or debris tricking the sensors, liquid damage, a loose jack, or a software glitch. Try cleaning the port, restoring the iPhone, or getting professional repair help.

How can I get my iPhone to play sound through the speakers again?

First clean the headphone jack, try a different set of headphones, restart your iPhone, and toggle Airplane Mode on/off. If still unresolved, reset all settings or restore the iPhone.

What should I do if my iPhone thinks headphones are plugged in but I can’t see anything stuck in the headphone port?

Even tiny particles you can’t see could be stuck inside the port. Carefully clean with compressed air, a toothbrush, or toothpick. Never insert anything metal or sharp, or you could damage the pins.

Why does my iPhone say headphones are plugged in when I unplug them?

This is likely a software glitch or false connection. Try plugging headphones in and out a few times firmly, or restart your iPhone. Update iOS if needed.

My iPhone thinks headphones are plugged in, but the audio plays from both headphones and the speakers. How do I fix this?

Go to Settings > Accessibility > Audio/Visual and turn off “Headphone Accommodations“. Also try toggling Bluetooth off and on. If still occurring, restore your iPhone.

Can I use rubbing alcohol to clean my iPhone headphone jack?

Yes, you can dampen a cotton swab with a small amount of rubbing alcohol to gently clean the headphone port. Just be sure the inside is completely dry before using again.

In Conclusion

With the right tools and troubleshooting techniques, you can resolve annoying “iPhone thinks headphones are plugged in” problems. Check your headphones, clean the port properly, restart your iPhone, restore software, or get professional repairs as needed.

Use this guide anytime your iPhone’s headphone detection seems off to get music, calls, and audio routing working smoothly again! Let us know if you have any other questions.


Skilled software testing specialist with expertise in comparisons and research, passionate about blogging, reviews, and creating video tutorials.

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