Reports surfaced about an issue with the new Apple smartphone which has come to be known as iPhone 7 hissgate.

As with many problems, this one has been given a -gate suffix which serves to underline the gravity of the situation. In this instance the iPhone 7 has been found to make an audible hissing noise, with various users reporting that they have experienced the issue with the new Apple smartphone.

iPhone 7 Hissgate
Image Credit: Apple Inc.

iPhone 7 hissgate makes waves online

The iPhone 7 has only just come out but as with many new technology products it appears that there are some teething problems. One user, called Stephen Hackett, has recorded a video in which he says that the hissing is so loud that it “can be heard while the phone is sitting on a table.” In a blog post, Hackett later explains that Apple has offered to replace his handset.

In another video, the people at Unbox Therapy placed a microphone against the back of an iPhone 7 Plus, and then against an iPhone 7 and an iPhone 6s for comparison. The iPhone 7 Plus seems to have the loudest hiss, and could take home the prize as the biggest culprit in iPhone 7 hissgate.

Hackett and a couple of other people have reported that the hissing is loudest behind the Apple logo on the phone’s back case. A teardown has shown that the A10 SoC sits roughly behind the logo, and Hackett says that the hissing gets louder when the phone is working hard. In addition other people have said that they noticed the hissing for the first time when they were restoring the phone, which would make the SoC work hard.

What could be causing the noise?

Of course there have been other issues with the iPhone in the past, including bendgate. Again it is hard to tell whether iPhone 7 hissgate affects lots of handsets, or whether the problem is being exaggerated by a few tech heads on the internet. There are huge numbers of people who have come out and said that their iPhone 7 doesn’t hiss, but of course they don’t receive even half as much attention as those which do.

The noise probably comes from a coil noise, which many of us have heard before. However it is generally more common in desktop or laptop computers rather than a smartphone.

Coil noise, also known as coil whine, happens when electrical components reach a resonant frequency that causes physical vibrations in the circuitry. In general heavier currents cause stronger resonance and a louder acoustic noise.

Commentators still investigating iPhone 7 hissgate

Almost every electric circuit can suffer from coil noise, and most are damped in some way to prevent it from happening. However this dampening can deteriorate over time, leading to more noticeable coil noise.

Coil noise could be the cause of iPhone 7 hissgate, but it could also be RF interference interacting with the audio system as well. This could occur of the DAC is badly shielded. However if the sound does come from behind the Apple logo, rather than the headphone jack speaker, it’s unlikely to be an issue with the audio system.

Since the first reports surfaced this weekend, various other people have said that they can hear similar hissing noises from older iPhones. The noise has also apparently been noticed in some Samsung devices as well.

Other hardware issues arise with new smartphone

If you are now worried about whether your shiny new handset is affected by iPhone 7 hissgate, rest assured it’s probably not a problem. However if you notice a noise that is so loud it’s intrusive, you could always contact Apple in the hope of getting a replacement.

Alongside iPhone 7 hissgate there have been other issues with the new smartphone. One involves the new solid-state home button, which has been found to be useless without skin contact.

Testers tried to use the phone inside a sports armband, or while using touchscreen gloves. They found that the home button was unresponsive in both cases.

There are a number of workarounds that can be used, such as using another piece of skin like the elbow to unlock the phone. However the functionality of the new Apple smartphone takes a hit when using gloves or a case.

However the issues with the iPhone 7 pale in comparison to those suffered by an arch rival. The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 was billed as an iPhone killer, but the device is subject to a global recall due to an issue with its battery.  Several people have reported that the phone overheats, while one man has sued for compensation after suffering burns when his Galaxy Note 7 exploded.