Three reasons why your phone stinks at phone calls


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If you want to scream because your phone sounds like a phone, you’re not alone.

The voice quality you get on the phone networks on your $1,000 iPhone is worse than when a landline was the only phone you had.

“There is a whole generation of mobile users who have never heard high-quality voice,” said Sue Rudd, who conducts research on mobile networks for Strategy Analytics.

You might be thinking: Who cares about talking on the phone?! In 2022?!?!?! You use your phone for everything but calling.

Yeah, well, the phone is losing power. But many of you still want or need to call.

And I would like to insist that the humble telephone is one of the most democratic forms of communication. You can on your favorite Android phone make a phone call for a business in Warsaw or call a friend with a budget smartphone in Melbourne, and it will work (probably). You don’t need to use the same technology or choose the same app.

The constant wear and tear of smart phones, scratchy, or even just the sound of a smartphone is a reminder that as we travel through the artificial intelligence, or metaverse, we cannot ignore old and boring technologies, such as the telephone, that you use on a regular basis. day.

Let’s talk about three reasons why cell phones sound bad, why you should take care of them and what you can do about it.

Telecommunication technology is complex.

You’re used to the look of cell phones. But the experts I’ve talked to are focusing on what you’re missing and saying you’re better off. They say mobile phones work like miracles.

Tristan Huntington, vice president of product for mobile service TextNow, told me that audio applications including TextNow, WhatsApp and Zoom have a lot of control over the steps to send your voice to your father. It was the same in the landline age, when each telephone line had a dedicated circuit.

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But in telephone calls, bits of your voice are sent from one technical intermediary to another, converted from one computer code to another, and even a set of sounds in the other person’s ear. Some computers used to send phone calls cut off parts of your voice’s frequency range and squeeze the sounds through a narrow tube. Anything that’s mushy and smooth will make your voice sound hoarse or dirty.

In addition, we are often moving and telecommuting to work with many old and new technologies. Of course, there are many opportunities for things to go wrong with a phone call.

“It’s 100 years of things that have to be connected to each other,” Huntington said.

Smartphone companies charge less for microphones and speakers.

Your smartphone holds many small electronic components and fills an area the size of a Hershey bar. It’s not a recipe for perfect sound quality.

Experts in the mobile network also told me that smartphone companies are trying to cut the quality of microphones and speakers – the things you want to hear and listen to.

I’m not saying we should bring back the old flip phone, but those are designed to fit in both your ears and eye sockets.

“Traditional sensors were designed to provide high-quality speech,” says John Beerends, an audio researcher with TNO, a scientific research organization in the Netherlands. “No cell phone.”

You’ve moved past cell phones, and companies are less likely to care.

In the old days, phone companies would boast that you could “hear a pin drop” when you used their service. Not long ago, smartphone reviews were used to evaluate the quality of the voice on new devices in addition to the efficiency of taking photos. Not yet.

When you started with fewer mobile phones, companies focused on improving the global management of their phones and their video calling networks and Instagram scrolling. Call quality has been pushed down the priority list, resulting in poor call quality and thus making you feel less confident about your phone’s phone performance.

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Some of these technical limitations of voice calls are beyond your control. But you can try some things to fix or improve the audio quality.

This is a simple idea, but I don’t like it.

Yes, new applications such as WhatsApp, FaceTime, Signal and Zoom have technological advantages that make their audio better than a phone call. Companies also spend money to make you sound (and look) good.

The downside is that relying on chat apps forces you to use the same app as your cell phone partner, and that app is probably owned by some big tech company. You may not contact the hiring manager for a new FaceTime job. The telephone is old and not perfect, but it is everywhere.

Mobile WiFi is your friend. (But not always.)

If you make phone calls at home or somewhere else with a reliable Wi-Fi connection, you’re better off making calls over WiFi rather than over phone lines. Calls made over the internet are standard, depending on your smartphone model and phone provider. Search your phone settings for “Wireless WiFi” or something similar, and enable the option if it isn’t already.

But in some crowded places like coffee shops, concert venues or airports, many people connected to the same WiFi network can work. In those cases you will need to turn off Wi-Fi calling and call routing on your 4G or 5G mobile network.

And as silly as this advice may sound, if your phone is ringing badly, try hanging up and redialing the number.

Try using headphones or taking the phone out of his pocket.

If you are connected to WiFi or you can see all the bars on your phone signal and the immediately Cell phones are always bad, and the culprit is the phone in your hand.

Ken Hyers, director of hardware technology for Strategy Analytics, said headphones should be used when making or receiving calls. Even lower quality ear buds have built-in microphones and software to pick up your voice over the phone.

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If you have a shielded cell phone, try removing it to see if your phone calls sound better. Well, if you’re that person who uses the phone while holding the phone an inch from your lips, that’s not the way it should be used.

Hyers said that if all else fails, a more expensive phone will provide better phone quality. “A thousand dollar phone will probably do better than a $200 phone,” he said.

Will 5G make things better – maybe?

Telecom operators are excited about a new technology for 5G mobile networks called VoNR, or Voice over New Radio. (Telephone network terms are not valid.) One of its promised benefits was a significant increase in audio quality over older cellular technologies.

But for voice improvements to kick in, device manufacturers, cell phone providers and all operators involved in the voice call room need to use and use that technology. It didn’t really happen in the 4G phone era and it probably won’t happen in 5G – at least not anytime soon.

➦ “Hearing the phone ringing is a distraction to my soul.” Meet people who really hate talking on the phone.

➦ Miss Manners decides if you need to write before you call someone.

➦ You’re not the only one who accidentally turns on your iPhone’s flashlight.

If you’re in the United States and traveling outside the country, the easiest way for most people – but not the cheapest – is to buy the available international dates. from AT&T and Verizon, if you get a monthly bill from one of them. supplier.

These passes, which cost $5 or $10 per day you’re out of the country, require you to use your smartphone most of the time at home and still use your phone number.

My colleague Chris Velazco has other ways to keep your phone safe while traveling abroad.

Be proud of your small victory! Tell us about an app, gadget or technology that made your day better. We may feature your advice in a future issue of The Technology Partner.


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