Why is my external microphone not working on my phone?

Check Physical Connections

The first step is to check that the microphone is fully plugged into the phone’s 3.5mm headset jack. Sometimes the microphone plug may not be inserted all the way, resulting in a loose connection. Make sure the plug is firmly inserted into the jack so that the metal tip of the connector is touching the end of the jack port inside the phone.

It’s also a good idea to try a different external microphone and cable if possible, to determine if the issue is with the specific microphone or cable you are using. Use a microphone and cable that is known to be working properly with other devices, in order to isolate the issue.

Inspect the phone’s headphone jack for any debris, damage or obstructions that could be preventing proper contact. Carefully use a toothpick to remove any lint or dust present in the jack. Check if the jack feels loose or damaged in any way. If so, this damage could prevent the microphone plug from connecting properly.

As one troubleshooting source suggests, “Loose ports are often the reason your headphones don’t work properly. Check if the port moves around when you wiggle your headphone jack. If that’s the case, it’s likely that the port is broken.” (Source)

Enable External Mic in Settings

To allow your external microphone to work properly, you may need to enable it in your device’s settings:

On Android devices, go to Sound settings and enable the ‘Use external mic’ option. This will allow apps to use an external microphone when one is connected.

On iPhones, you need to allow each app permission to access the external microphone. Go to Settings > Privacy > Microphone and check that the apps you want to use your external mic with have microphone access enabled.

Granting microphone permissions in your device’s settings is required for apps to be able to detect and utilize your connected external microphone. Check that this is enabled for your camera, video recording, voice memo and other audio apps.

Microphone Compatibility

One of the most common reasons an external microphone may not be working with a smartphone is simply incompatibility. Microphones designed specifically for smartphone use will often advertise this compatibility, but it’s always best to verify by checking the technical specifications.

The manufacturer’s product page and manual should indicate if the microphone is designed to work with various smartphone brands and models. There are microphone features optimized for iOS, Android, specific phone brands, headphone jack sizes, and more. Using a microphone meant for other purposes like DSLR cameras or voice recording may not provide the right connectors or audio settings to work properly when plugged into a phone.

If you are unsure about compatibility, look up the microphone on the manufacturer’s website and contact their customer support to ask if that specific model will work with your smartphone. They will be able to definitively confirm or deny compatibility.

See: How To Connect An External Microphone To A Smartphone

Microphone Power

Some external microphones require plugin power from the phone in order to function properly. The phone may need to provide a low voltage to power the microphone circuitry and components. If your Android phone does not provide plugin power over the headphone jack or USB-C port, then the external microphone will not receive enough power to operate.

If your phone does not supply plugin power, you will need to use a self-powered external microphone that contains its own battery or power source. For example, the Rode VideoMicro is a compact shotgun mic that runs off a single AAA battery so it does not need plugin power. Other options like the Shure MV88+ or the Boya BY-MM1 shootgun microphone have built-in rechargeable batteries so they can self-power.

Refer to your Android phone’s specifications to check if it provides plugin power for microphones. If not, look for an external microphone that is self-powered or contains its own battery. This will ensure the mic gets the necessary power to capture audio properly when connected to your phone.

App Permissions

In order to use the external microphone, you will need to give permission to the recording app to access the microphone. On Android, go to Settings > Apps > [Recording App] > Permissions and enable Microphone access. On iPhone, go to Settings > [Recording App] and enable Microphone access under Permissions.

Some apps like Voice Memos have a separate setting to enable external microphone access specifically. Go into the app’s settings to look for an option to enable external or Bluetooth microphone access. For example, in Voice Memos settings on iPhone there is a toggle for “Bluetooth Microphones”.

Here are some useful references on enabling microphone access for apps:

Use your camera & microphone – Android

Allow access to microphone and camera on iOS devices

Update Software

Outdated operating system software can sometimes prevent external microphones from functioning properly on a smartphone. Software updates often include bug fixes, compatibility improvements, and support for new devices like microphones. It’s important to check for and install any available system updates on both your phone and microphone to ensure maximum compatibility.

Start by checking for a system software update on your smartphone. On an iPhone, go to Settings > General > Software Update to see if any iOS updates are available. On an Android phone, go to Settings > System > System Update. Install any pending updates and then restart your phone.

Next, check for app updates in your phone’s app store. Updates to recording and audio apps like Voice Memos or GarageBand may improve external microphone support. Make sure these apps are updated to their latest versions.

Finally, check the manufacturer’s website for your specific external microphone model. Many companies release firmware updates for their microphones to maintain compatibility with new phones and operating systems. Follow any instructions to update your microphone’s firmware to the newest available version.

After updating your device software, microphone firmware, and audio apps, try connecting your external mic again. Upgrading key system software can often resolve microphone compatibility issues caused by outdated operating systems and apps.


https://discussions.apple.com/thread/255290740 [1]

https://forum.videohelp.com/threads/396172-external-microphone-to-android-connection-problem [2]

Restart Devices

Power cycling both your phone and external microphone can help refresh connections and fix microphone issues. Often a simple reboot is all that’s needed. As Microsoft suggests, “Restart your PC and your audio device to refresh the audio driver, restore default settings, and flush out existing connections.”1 Rebooting your phone essentially performs a similar reset of the operating system and audio drivers.

To reboot your phone, hold down the power button for about 30 seconds until the phone powers off. Wait a few seconds, then turn the phone back on. Once the phone has fully restarted, reconnect your external microphone. This will allow the phone to re-establish the microphone connection. If the mic still doesn’t work, also power cycle the microphone by unplugging it from the phone and removing the batteries if it’s wireless. Then reconnect the mic and test it again.

Rebooting and reconnecting devices flushes out bad connections and often resolves microphone difficulties. If issues persist after a fresh restart, further troubleshooting may be needed to pinpoint the cause.

Try Different Apps

A good troubleshooting step is to test the external microphone in different recording or voice call apps. Some apps may have compatibility issues or bugs that prevent them from working properly with certain external mics. Trying the microphone in multiple apps can help narrow down if the issue is specific to one particular app or more widespread.

For example, test recording voice memos or making voice calls using both the built-in recording app and third party apps like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Skype etc. If the external microphone works in some apps but not others, then the problem lies with the app settings or coding, not the microphone itself. However, if the mic fails to work in all apps tested, then there is likely an underlying issue with the phone’s configuration, connection port, or software.

Testing different apps that use the microphone can quickly determine if the problem only occurs in one app or is present across all microphone access. This provides helpful diagnostic information to further troubleshoot the root cause of why the external microphone is not functioning as expected on the phone. Check developer forums and user reviews for any known microphone incompatibility problems with certain apps as well.

Clean Headphone Jack

Buildup of debris in the headphone jack can prevent the external microphone from making proper contact and connecting. Over time, dust, lint, and other particles can accumulate in the port.

Carefully clean out the headphone jack using short bursts of compressed air. An electronics duster spray or air can is an easy way to remove debris. Make sure not to use liquids, which could further damage the port.

Here is a helpful guide on properly cleaning headphone ports: How to Clean a Headphone Jack.

If the microphone still does not work after cleaning, there may be deeper damage preventing connectivity. Try using a different headphone jack adaptor or port if possible.

Damaged Port or Mic

If you have tried several microphones and headphones without success, the issue may be a faulty port or microphone that requires hardware repair or replacement. A damaged audio jack or microphone can prevent devices from properly recognizing external mics.

Some signs of a faulty port or mic include:

  • Loose headphone jack causing intermittent sound
  • Cracked or bent pins inside the port
  • No sound recognition even after adjusting volume and settings
  • Distorted or muffled sound from external mics

To confirm the issue, inspect the headphone jack for any debris, corrosion, or physical damage. Carefully clean the port with compressed air. Also examine the microphone for cracks or other external signs of damage.

If the hardware damage persists, you may need to replace the port or microphone. For smartphone repairs, visit the device manufacturer’s support site for troubleshooting tips or warranty service.

Replacing a damaged audio jack or mic requires soldering skills and electronics expertise. Alternatively, seek professional repair services for a headset, phone, or other device with a faulty microphone jack.

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