This could be why some iPhone 7 units make a hissing noise

This could be why some iPhone 7 units make a hissing noise

Boy, this won't be a true iPhone launch without a glitch or two making headlines. And this is one you might have heard – literally. Several days ago, podcaster Stephen Hackett wrote about a peculiar issue affecting his iPhone 7 Plus. His phone was producing a faint, yet audible hissing noise, especially when burdened with heavy load. Since then, his 13-second video demonstrating the flaw has gathered over a million views. Meanwhile, a number of iPhone 7 owners have also complained that their handsets were plagued by the same bug, thus causing the #hissgate hashtag to spawn.

Here's the video that started it all:


Apple has yet to provide an official statement on the matter, hence we can't be 100% sure what's causing the hiss to occur. However, intuition tells me that the roots of the problem lie in the phone's hardware – not in the Apple A10 Fusion chip, mind you, but in the additional components that make it work.

What makes the iPhone tick, anyway? 


An iPhone 7 Plus circuit board

An iPhone 7 Plus circuit board

Here's a look inside of the iPhone 7 Plus. The image, courtesy of the teardown masters at iFixit, exposes the phone's key internals, laid neatly on a single circuit board. 

The bigger outlined components are what we colloquially call chips. These are complex elements with a very specific purpose. For example, marked in red is the A10 Fusion, which acts as the "brain" of the iPhone and handles all computations. Meanwhile, the chip next to it is a modem giving the phone cellular connectivity. Smaller chips seen at the bottom are used to amplify various signals. 

Chips, however, can't work on their own. They are aided by external elements – more specifically, the tiny brown and black rectangular components seen on the iPhone board. While I can't point a finger at the culprit, it is possible that one or several of these is the source of the unwanted hissing noise.

How can a simple electronic element produce noise?


There's this electronic component called a capacitor, and the back side of the iPhone motherboard, pictured below, contains dozens of them. Caps, as they're also called, come in many shapes and sizes. Most of them do not make sounds, as their design makes that highly unlikely, if not impossible.

The back of the iPhone 7 Plus main board. Chips are outlined in color. Many of the tiny components around them are capacitors, thus potential culprits

The back of the iPhone 7 Plus main board. Chips are outlined in color. Many of the tiny components around them are capacitors, thus potential culprits


However, there's one particular type of caps that's prone to vibrating – class 2 ceramic capacitors. That happens when electricity is flowing back and forth through it at a certain rate. If the flow of electricity is intense enough, the vibrations could be sufficiently loud for a human ear to detect them, which is probably why the affected iPhones are noisiest when performing heavy tasks. 

What to do if your iPhone 7 is noisy?


I must reiterate that I'm not entirely sure if a low-quality capacitor is behind #hissgate. The above theory is based on evidence and symptoms shared online by iPhone 7 users, as well as on my knowledge of how electronics work. For the record, the iPhone 7 unit we reviewed does not seem to hiss, even under load, so I have no faulty unit to examine.

If I am right, however, that would be bad news for owners of a noisy iPhone 7. Since that's a hardware issue, a software update is very unlikely to fix it. Sure, a thicker case will dampen most of the noise, but it will still be picked up by the iPhone's internal microphones, thus affecting phone calls, as well as sound and video recordings.

Thankfully, Apple is willing to exchange misbehaving iPhone 7s, as reported by Hackett. If you think yours is too noisy, if you can hear random beeps and hissing when playing games or watching video, and if all that annoys you, try bringing it to your nearest Apple Store. Then let us know down in the comments how it goes.

Related phones

iPhone 7
  • Display 4.7" 750 x 1334 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP / 7 MP front
  • Processor Apple A10 Fusion, Quad-core, 2340 MHz
  • Storage 256 GB
  • Battery 1960 mAh(14h 3G talk time)
iPhone 7 Plus
  • Display 5.5" 1080 x 1920 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP / 7 MP front
  • Processor Apple A10 Fusion, Quad-core, 2340 MHz
  • Storage 256 GB
  • Battery 2900 mAh(21h 3G talk time)

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37 Comments

1. uchihakurtz

Posts: 424; Member since: Nov 12, 2012

I thought it was the ghost of the 3.5 mm headphone jack trying to get Apple to bring it back next time.

30. Punchy506

Posts: 129; Member since: Jan 10, 2016

Does apple count selling a faulty device and replacing it with a new one as two units sold? It is definitely two units manufactured.

2. sarcastic_nerd unregistered

The issue is called coil whine and is pretty common among PC hardware when a manufacturer uses poor quality capacitors, especially GPUs. Here's a video explaining it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T7HsXHqtxrI

4. Nick_T

Posts: 183; Member since: May 27, 2011

That's possible, although I don't think that an SMD inductor would vibrate that much. Dave from the EEVblog had a video showing a whining SMD cap not long ago.

35. jagwap

Posts: 4; Member since: Aug 17, 2016

These capacitors can make a noise, but coils are more likely. There would have to be some nasty modulated currents to cause it. It sounds like a switch mode power supply is borderline unstable under some conditions. Often that happens at low loading, as it pulse skips.

18. sgtdisturbed47

Posts: 951; Member since: Feb 02, 2012

Coil whine refers specifically to noise generated by electromagnetic coils, not capacitors. A switching regulator can also get noisy under load, if the regulator is overworked. If the regulator is stressed to the point of making noise, it's not going to last long.

19. sarcastic_nerd unregistered

These kind of things is why I didn't take electronics as my major.

3. truthwins unregistered

Hissgate# lol im happy that I bought one plus 3 , its the beast

11. Ezio2710

Posts: 548; Member since: Aug 22, 2015

Congrats. You have saved 300$

31. iushnt

Posts: 3019; Member since: Feb 06, 2013

I gifted OP3 to my girl and she is super happy with it. Her previous phone was a 5S.

5. Fona13A unregistered

Snake was pretty fun.

6. Lyngdoh

Posts: 319; Member since: Sep 06, 2012

We all know that Apple is a snake

38. legoog

Posts: 1; Member since: Sep 25, 2016

One snake should be able to recognised another.

7. truthwins unregistered

Apple official statement -"You are hearing it wrong "

28. chronoflash

Posts: 1; Member since: Sep 23, 2016

Definitely NOT. I went to my local Apple Store with a "hissing" iPhone 7 Plus. They heard the noise by putting the back of the case next to their ear, which they immediately identified as something going wrong with the phone. I will have my phone replaced by next week. I keep my fingers crossed so I will not have to face the same issue. For now, I am using my "hissing" phone, although nothing is really audible or disturbing in my everyday use of the device, except for a slight feeling of needles in my hands when I hold it. I hope that there will soon be a statement by Apple about the issue. I apologize for my English which may sound a bit "rough", but I'm a Frenchman. Best regards.

8. Martineverest

Posts: 521; Member since: Oct 27, 2015

after spending such amount on a phone,tim still decided to threaten me with snake bite.....i wont take this.....lawyerrrrrrrrrr

9. Hallyu

Posts: 790; Member since: Jul 21, 2015

No respond from Apple yet? Cook be like: " Apple sells the best product, you just hear it wrong. But if you insist, we"ll give you free bumper"

10. flavius22

Posts: 218; Member since: Aug 23, 2015

Its the jack crying

12. Ezio2710

Posts: 548; Member since: Aug 22, 2015

This might be apple's new feature 'Mosquito Repellent' :-p

13. drflint4u

Posts: 12; Member since: Mar 01, 2015

It might be Steve sending his congratulatory greetings on your new iphones from the other side .. Y'all hearing it wrongly... Apple will fix it

14. fyah_king unregistered

"You're using it wrong."

15. darkkjedii

Posts: 30488; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

No regrets in my decision to skip the iPhone 7. These are small issues, but coupled with getting nothing I'd hoped for, made it an easy call.

16. iDing-Dong unregistered

Good call Dark. I am in the same boat. My iPhone 6 & 6 Plus works fine for now. Hope the sounds doesn't get any louder as the phone gets older. Mean while I am still waiting to get my Note 7. Let's hope it doesn't explodes lol.

17. darkkjedii

Posts: 30488; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

That's what I'm waiting for, soon as I get back home, unpack, and call AT&T. IOS 10 works great on my 6S Plus, so I'm covered iPhone wise.

20. Ultimodrew

Posts: 59; Member since: Aug 14, 2015

Well I hope my 7 plus doesn't turn out to be faulty. I would hate to have to wait almost a month to get the phone, just to have to take it to T-Mobile and potentially wait another month for a replacement. Not a great start into my venture into IOS. Glad I have my Android device to keep me from going mad.

21. Satyendrp

Posts: 2; Member since: Sep 23, 2016

I want your help that pls guide me in buying iPhone 7 because I really want to buy this mobile.But reading about problems in this phone like hissing problem , headphone problems and network issues problem. I am very confused that I should buy this iPhone or not because this would be my first iPhone . So pls sir guide me that I buy this phone or not because if indian batch also carry these problem then it will be very disappointing for me. Waiting for your reply Thank you

23. tedkord

Posts: 16975; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

If you want it, buy it. If there's a problem, return or exchange it.

25. Rocket

Posts: 600; Member since: Feb 24, 2014

just get the s7 edge or op3.

33. tezzz

Posts: 23; Member since: Jun 02, 2014

My wife's iphone 7 does not have these problems, but you could consider a 6S, it is only incrementally worse in all aspects (except headphone jack), but you can pick one up much cheaper... Otherwise, I would suggest OP3 or HTC 10, dont by a Galaxy I'm not after my recent experience

22. RoboticEngi

Posts: 1249; Member since: Dec 03, 2014

Where are all the isheep trolls talking about bad QA at samsung..........first there's the hiss, then there is poor sound. What is next?

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