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Thursday
Aug222013

iPhone 4S Volume Adjusts Up & Down On Its Own

My iPhone 4S recently developed a problem with its volume control buttons. Magically, all by itself, the iPhone's volume setting would change. My fingers wouldn't be anywhere near the volume buttons but the volume would suddenly adjust, as if some ghost was pushing the buttons. It affected both the ringer volume and the music volume. I'd be walking along with earbuds on and the volume would suddenly drop to zero.  WTF?!

A little research on the web revealed that it's a somewhat common problem. There are numerous related topics over in Apple's forums. What I learned is that it's a mechanical wear issue inside the volume button assembly. The backside of the volume buttons press against a flex pad that has traces for the volume control circuit. The volume buttons are kept separated from the flex pad by a spring. Over time, the edges of the spring wear through an insulative coating on the flex pad, thus intermittently closing the circuit and causing the volume level to change. It can affect either volume button, or both.

To fix the problem, Apple's engineers designed a little shim that slips in-between the flex pad and the spring, restoring the layer of insulation.

Diagram showing placement of shim within volume control assembly (click image to enlarge)

Quick and Inexpensive Repair!

I made an appointment with a Genius at my local Apple Store. The Genius was easily able to replicate the problem (the ringer volume started adjusting on its own while I was turning off the passcode for the phone). I was a little disappointed when I was told my iPhone was too far out of warranty for the repair to be done for free. But my disappointment evaporated when the Genius told me the total cost of the repair (placement of the shim) would be $6.00 (including sales tax)! The repair was completed in 20 minutes and the volume button demon has been exorcised from my iPhone 4S, hopefully for good!

The repair was very inexpensive (click image to enlarge)

By the way, somewhere along Apple's iPhone 4S production cycle, the shim apparently became a standard part of the volume control assembly. Later model iPhones shouldn't be as prone to developing the problem.

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Reader Comments (7)

Mark,

Can you tell me at what apple store you had this done?

I have the same issue with my phone (4s) and after reading your post, I made an appointment at my local Apple store (Bayshore, WI) and they didn't recognize this solution.. I showed them your blog but the genius guy said Apple wouldn't do that and he had never heard of a shim replacement. He also didn't have any solution to the volume problem.

So I'm still back at where I started. I'm thinking maybe I can call your store and figure out a way to get it fixed there.

Thank you!

October 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJavier

Javier,

Apple's part number for the shim is right there on the copy of the invoice I posted. 923-0072. The shim replacement is mentioned in multiple spots around the web, including on Apple's support forums. Just do a Google search for "iPhone 4 volume shim 923-0072" and you'll find lots of hits, including the actual Apple repair technician's guide for doing the replacement.

You might want to try a different Apple store.

October 12, 2013 | Registered CommenterMark

Thank you Mark! I will take it to a better Apple store.

October 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJavier

Thank you for sharing.

January 5, 2014 | Unregistered Commentersbo

Wow, thanks for posting such a detail resolution to your ordeal! My 4S is now experiencing this issue and since I listen to music all day on my headphones, this issue has nearly blasted my ears when the volume increases by itself. I will contact my local Apple store and use your post as guidance, thanks once again!
-Alex

February 5, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAlex

Alex,

I'm pleased you found it helpful! Thank you for the kind words!

February 6, 2014 | Registered CommenterMark

Having this issue as well for awhile now. Thanks for being so meticulous, very helpful info.

March 18, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAndrea

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