How to Get Rid of the Headphone Icon on a Cell Phone

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Occasionally, unplugging your headphones from your phone won't do anything: instead of routing audio through the phone's internal speakers as usual, the phone will behave as though it still has headphones plugged in, and you'll be left with a semi-functioning phone and a headphone icon on the phone notification bar that refuses to leave. This can be frustrating, because a phone stuck in headphone mode can be incredibly annoying to troubleshoot if you aren't sure what's going on. Thankfully though, there are a variety of methods available to solve the problem, hopefully without needing to leave your home.

Phone Stuck in Headphone Mode?

If the headphone symbol on a phone won't go away after unplugging headphones from the device, it's likely that the phone has become stuck in headphone mode. Though this can be puzzling, especially on newer phone models that have removed 3.5mm headphone jacks, there is an explanation for what's happening: when a phone gets stuck in headphone mode, the device's hardware has failed to recognize the signal sent by the headphone jack – essentially, it misses the call to switch back to speaker mode and continues under the impression that you have headphones plugged in. Usually, solving this problem is simple, and can be done in less than five minutes.

Basic Headphone Mode Troubleshooting

If your phone is stuck in headphone mode, the easiest solution is often to plug the headphones back into the device, then remove them slowly. In most cases, where the phone simply missed a signal, this will cause the jack to send a new signal and will solve the problem. You can also accomplish the same end by connecting and disconnecting your phone to Bluetooth speakers or headphones. If the problem persists, however, it is advised to turn off your phone and power it back on. In most models of Android and iOS phone, this will reset the hardware state and send the phone back into speaker mode.

Advanced Headphone Mode Issues

If problems with headphone mode are not cleared by resetting the device, there may be a hardware issue. If your phone has a headphone jack, examine it with a flashlight: if there is dust or other debris inside, remove it – either with a can of compressed air or by carefully using a thin object like a q-tip to remove the blockage. You may then attempt to plug in and unplug headphones again. If this still doesn't work, you may need to approach the problem from the software side. On an iPhone, this can be done by opening the Settings app, then navigating to "General", followed by "Accessibility" then "Interaction." Scroll down to find the "Call Audio Routing" options, then set the device to "Automatic" if the setting is different. If the device is set to automatic already, set it to "Speaker" and try making a call. If audio comes through the speaker, change the setting back to "Automatic." On Android devices, apps such as SoundAbout can be used to manually switch from headphone to speaker mode.