iPhone 7’s second grille at the bottom is for the mic, not a second speaker

By , Sep 15, 2016


One of the smaller but no less important features included in both new iPhone 7 models is an entirely new and “immersive” stereo speaker system that Apples claims provides twice the sound. Risking to be chastised in comments for bringing this up, I do feel we need to clear up the confusion and reiterate that a second speaker grille at the bottom of the phone does not actually house a speaker and is there purely for cosmetic reasons.

The graphics below was screenshoted from Apple’s official iPhone 7 webpage.

UPDATE: As confirmed by iFixit’s teardown analysis of the iPhone 7 Plus, the new speaker grille at the bottom houses a second mic, while the two times louder earpiece at the top of the device is used alongside the bottom speaker to form stereo sound.

According to iFixit, “in place of the headphone jack, we find a component that seems to channel sound from outside the phone into the microphone… or from the Taptic Engine out.”

As you can clearly see for yourself, the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus still have a pair of microphones to the left and right of the Lightning connector at the bottom, just like the iPhone 6s series and older iPhones.

But the iPhone 7, in removing the headphone jack, has created space for a second grille with one of the microphones in it. The real second speaker that’s used to create stereo sound is located in the earpiece at the top of the iPhone 7.


If you think putting another grille without no actual speaker in it is kind of dumb, then you don’t know Apple. I perfectly understand why they’ve done this: symmetry

Daring Fireball’s John Gruber, who has reviewed both new iPhones, acknowledged as much, saying this about the new stereo speaker setup:

The new speakers are great. Up until now, there was only one speaker on any iPhone, on the bottom right. The iPhones 7 now have a second speaker—the earpiece for phone calls now doubles as a proper audio speaker.

There are holes machined on the bottom, where the whatchamacallit jack used to go, that most people will think are another bottom-side speaker, but they’re just there for visual symmetry.

Gruber goes on to note that the new speakers are much louder even though they’re “on different axes” and it becomes especially evident when using an iPhone 7 in speakerphone mode. In addition to delivering two times the volume of the iPhone 6s, Apple claims the iPhone 7’s stereo system also provides “increased dynamic range.”

And because the new phones use speakers at the top and bottom of the handset, you will best experience stereo sound in landscape orientation.

There’s just one point to be made before I sign off: because it uses the earpiece instead of a second edge-mounted speaker to form stereo sound, the iPhone 7 won’t deliver as consistent stereo channel separation as your headphones.

In other words, in order to pick out discrete stereo channels your head should not be at a distance greater than about four feet from the device itself, according to audio engineers who spoke with AppleInsider. And the last tip: if stereo sound is important to you, maybe you should consider an iPhone 7 Plus due to its slightly wider distance between the speakers than the iPhone 7.

Your thoughts on the iPhone 7’s second grille?

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  • Connor

    I think the second grill makes it look nice and symmetrical. It probably would have looked weird without anything on the other side.

    • Patrick Kormann

      may be. But I don’t look at the bottom of the phone so often 😉

      • Javier Lopez

        I look at it on the daily. When I plug in in my phone to charge or plugging in an aux cord. However, even if I didn’t look at the bottom of the phone very often like you do, I think it would bother me knowing that the bottom of the phone isn’t symmetrical.

      • Patrick Kormann

        Hum, yes I barely look when I plug it in, most of the time I do it blindly. But when I look now, the iPhone is asymmetrical (till my 7 arrives…) – and I couldn’t care less. There are other things I’d change. Mostly in the software.

      • Javier Lopez

        Yeah, come to think about it, the current iPhone, and all previous phones have been asymmetrical.

      • The 2g, 3g, 3GS, 4, and 4S had symmetric bottoms

      • Javier Lopez

        I totally forgot that the older iPhones had the headphone port on the top. Derp. I also remember when plugging headphones into the 1st gen iphone were kinda a pain. Not all 3.55mm headphone plugs worked due to the recessed headphone jack.

      • igorsky

        Sort of illustrates how obsessive Ive is regarding design, do you think?

      • Diego Milano

        You don’t need to be obsessive to notice that. 🙂

  • malhal

    There’s always been a second grill for the microphone, up until the iPhone 6/6s when it changed to a single hole. I guess Gruber forgot what his 5s looked like. I also find it strange that Schiller said removing the headphone jack helped with waterproofing then they went and drilled 5 more holes in it. With regard to removing the headphone jack there are holes all over Cook’s story to the media too, they should have agreed on the same story and stuck with it. Hard though when both are lying, the real reason they removed it is for DRM and so Apple can control the audio quality of headphones.

    • Patrick Kormann

      How’s that? How’s the ‘dongle’ easier to control than a built in plug? And who would copy music that way anyway?

    • :D

      I don’t think holes would make the phone any less waterproof since water can probably go in and out of them without having to come into contact with any electrical components

  • askep3

    Smh if stereo sound is important to use use headphones

  • Joshua The-Legend Wiebe

    First time seeing the phrase “whatchamacallit” in any article.

  • Usama

    They should have used that grill to make a really really high quality mic for calls (i.e whatsapp, messenger, phone) instead of just “looks”. Even if one of the holes on the grill was a mic, i’d be chill, but its just useless holes, literally. I’d still take it over no holes, but damn missed opportunity for higher quality calls.

    • Fanboy 

      You’re wrong to assume that there isn’t any technology packed behind that grille. I doubt there’s just air there lol I’m sure it’s packed with other hardware they needed.

      • Usama

        You’re right. Maybe.

      • Julio M.

        You’re both wrong. You’re assuming there is something there.

    • Well it still does have two mins at the bottom for that very reason, one on either side of the lightning port.

      • Paladin

        I hate to tell you this, but you’re all wrong. Those “mics” on both sides of the lightening jack are just star screws…not mics. That means the mic HAS to be in the new grill. Also, didn’t you read the article where it said there was a mic in the grill? But it also erroneously said there were two mics by the lightening port. Use a magnifying glass and stop guessing.

      • You sound like an idiot. Do yourself a favor and google iPhone 6S charging port flex. Examine the part slightly. Youll see a golden microphone part on both sides of the lightning port..

      • Paladin

        We are talking about the iphone 7 in this article, dumb dumb. I know this is way above your head, but Try to keep up. I’d hate to have you working on my phone. PS, I just looked at the 6s Plus also. Star screws.. not microphones. The mic is next to the earphone port. You need new glasses. I really did tell you to use a magnifying glass. It’s the only way most people can tell the difference.

      • Paladin
      • Paladin

        No mics here, just star screws, iphone 6s Plus, same as my 7 Plus

      • Paladin

        The two screws hold in the lightening port. They are not microphones. That picture is not an iphone 6s plus. The 6 does not have a GRILL on the bottom left side like you show in the picture. Who are you trying to kid?

      • That is your precious 7 Plus, kid, you’re wrong its okay to admit it. We are not talking about the iPhone 6 remember, we’re talking about the 7 and 7 Plus I’ve shown you both 6S and 7 Plus with dual mics now please go away. You could’ve easily saved us both the trouble and read ifixits teardowns in which they mention both 6S and 7 and both plus models all having dual microphones on their charging port parts.

      • Paladin

        And I just proved you wrong in the next picture. The guys were saying that the two “dots” next to the lightening charging port were microphones. I pointed they are screws, not microphones. All you did was prove that I was right. The microphone is in the grill, just like it said in the article. Those two “dots” next to the lightening port are, and have probably always been, SCREWS. You and I were both right. We were talking cross channel. You meant the microphones, and I was pointing out that the screws are not microphones like some guys said.

      • You are wrong because you assumed they only had one mic end of discussion.

      • Paladin
      • No you are calling them screws. The microphones are behind the speaker grills. When I say on both sides of the port I didn’t mean directly beside them. Of course a screw cannot be a mic.

      • Paladin

        And that’s where we crossed channels. It sounded like you meant the two indentations next to the lightening port. Some people think those are microphones. I was pointing out they weren’t because I thought that was what you were referring to. The microphones you were referring to are no longer visible as a separate mic “hole” (like on the 6s Plus), so nobody could see what you were talking about. But your picture shows where they are. Thanks for the picture

      • “so nobody could see what you were talking about” It was just you… I told you to save yourself and google it.

  • George


  • rockdude094

    I don’t get what is the point of having stereo sound on the phones speaker system to begin with.. It wouldn’t make a difference anyways

    • Bill

      Because more speakers = more better! That’s just math, man!

      /sarcasm lol

    • dquilon

      In my Xperia I use it when I want to watch a movie but don’t feel like plugging a pair of headphones… (if I need to be alert of my kid, wife, etc).

      Also when playing a game such as Modern Combat 5, having stereo sound helps discerning where is the shooting coming from… again, when I don’t feel like putting headphones on

  • Jayy

    I was wondering about that, that’s dumb. At first I thought it was the second speaker, then when I found out the second speaker was in the ear peice I’m like okay it must be a much improved mic. So they really did it where one hole is the mic and he rest are just holes to make it look symmetrical?

    • NanamiAsuri

      It could be reasons that don’t mention. I don’t know why my mind went here but the holes are right by the Taptic Engine. Maybe it’s so we can ‘hear’ the vibrations? IDK man lol

  • Jamessmooth

    Great article as usual Christian. Id love to see a site do a yearly roundup of the predictions of analysts. Who got it right and who got it wrong.

  • zoLa siWisa

    iPhone 5s always been there.

  • JJ Parker

    Innovation? PLEASE. All they did was swap out features. Other phones
    are water proof, have better battery life, and continue to feature the
    headphone jack. Apple instead removes a headphone jack in order to
    provide you with better battery life and water resistance. How do you
    call this INNOVATION? At best, it’s standing pat.

    • Jose Rivera

      You do realize that Motoral just recently also removed the headphone jack from their device right? Yet everyone hates on apple for doing so when Motorola was the first one to actually do this…

  • Mr_Coldharbour

    And here we thought that 2nd grille was for a 2nd loudspeaker. So much for “we removed the headphone jack to give you a 2nd loudspeaker.”

    • To be fair… Apple never said that.

  • Bacillus

    Which fad would put a piece of plastic – whether it is ultramere, hyperelastic or hyperbole nanoplankton – behind a closed fake grill to just conduct sound ?
    Too hard to believe…

  • Paladin

    Those “mics” on both sides of the lightening jack are just star screws…not mics. That means the mic HAS to be in the new grill. the article said there was a mic in the grill, But it also erroneously said there were two mics by the lightening port. Use a magnifying glass and stop guessing.