Help, I'm having a problem with notifications on my iPhone

iOS and iPadOS

Hi all,

I have a new iPhone 7 128 gb sim unlocked, a few months old.
While testing the beta for iOS 10.1, I have realized that Voiceover does not read incoming notifications when my phone is locked, even though I have the “always read notifications” setting on.
Back then I thought it was just an iOS beta bug, since this has happened before that the beta introduces a bug that makes vo stop reading notifications when locked, but after it has kept happening throughout the betas and even staid with the 10.1 final, and even 10.1.1, and I heard from other people that they don't have problem with that, I decided to first try to reset the settings back to default, which made vo speak notifications when locked again, but as soon as I set the settings back to how I like them, the problem came back, so I decided to fresh wipe and restore to the fresh 10.1.1. Then, even after I set my settings back to how I like them, the notifications were spoken most of the times, sometimes not.
And now that I have updated to iOS 10.2 public beta, the notifications are barely ever read when locked.
Have any of you had this happen to you and do you have an idea what could be causing this to occur?
I have particularly noticed that if I lock my phone with the blutooth keyboard the chances of it reading the notifications are much better for some reason. If I use the power button to lock my phone it will not read any notifications.
Is there a setting that interferes with the vo reading notifications when locked? Maybe an app that does?
I'd appreciate any help.
I know it isn't too much of a problem, but I'd still like that setting to work how it should and it just bugs me that my phone doesn't behave like the phones of other people.

Kind regards,



Submitted by DPinWI on Friday, November 11, 2016

I am having the same issue. I can work around it if my phone is on a table or desk. If it's face up, I hear notifications read when it's locked. If it's face down, I only hear the notification alert. If it's in my pocket, however, I also only hear the alert tone.

I'm getting used to it, but it's not how I want it to work.

Submitted by Siobhan on Friday, November 11, 2016

Hi all. Call me crazy, I actually like the alert tone and nothing else. generally, the apps I use have a speciffic sound, so I know, ok that's my old home state news, or that's this app. Although now with gmail's latest update they did away with the nice chime, for the generic tritone which I've never been a fan of. Maybe I changed the setting to not speak notifications on the lock screen? Because i'm not one for the thing blabbering on and people give you the "What the heck was that"{ look. Is this worth writing to both feedback and accessibility teams? Only because it's sort of a covering your butt situation. Those wo want it to always read notifications it doesn't, want to tell them, and then you have the accesibility people maybe not realizing this. Also is this just to do with the 7 and 7+? As i said mine does not read the alerts, I have a six S plus, and i'm ok with that. Now you're gonna make me go see what i set it too. ;) Sorry I can't be more help.

Submitted by Dawn 👩🏻‍🦯 on Friday, November 11, 2016

I'd check your settings for each of your apps individually $ set it to show notifications on lock icreen. If all ebse fails, go to the notifications settings & there should be a toggle that says `show notificationi on lock screen` & put it on yes.

I don't heally use notifications, unless it's a sound. The app that I started using notifications for is Messenger. What I did is set up my messenger app to show me notifications on the notifications center. And I started doing that because I use Messenger to text with people, (mainly my Dad) & I was missing his messages! It wasn't good because he'd say,`Hey didn't you iee my message?` & I'd have a `what,the-heck-are-you-talking-about-Dad look & would say, `No ideawhaj you're talking about.`

My point is, once I played around in the settings, I found where & how to tailor my notifications, so that now, I mis _ZERO messages no majter if it's Dad or anyone else! So I'd tinker around in your settings. It may be a pain in your you-know-where, but if the apps can be set up like that, it's worth it. I just have the sound turned on but maybe you could turn on the badges & banners & have them show up on the bock screen too that may be something to play with too.

Hope this helps $ good luck.

Submitted by DJX on Friday, November 11, 2016

As far as I know, this isn't a bug. If you have something covering the screen (the top sensor), when a notification comes in, the screen doesn't turn on or VO speak. If your phone is sitting facing up, or somewhere where it's not being blocked, notifications should speak and the screen should light up as it normally would. I believe this is new to the iPhone 7, as my 6 didn't exhibit this behavior; not sure about the 6s. This feature makes sense though, since if your phone is in your pocket or tucked away somewhere, there's no point in the screen turning on to display a notification when there is no way for it to be seen/read since the phone is covered. Make sense? That's why I believe this is normal behavior (perhaps one of the many improvements to save on battery life) and not a bug, but I could be wrong of course :)

Submitted by Holger Fiallo on Friday, November 11, 2016

According to apple accessibility they never heard any complain about this. I also have issues with notification. I am only able to hear them when I am using YouTube. When my phone is close, no. I only know I get message because I have a tone for it. This is a bug. All who are having issue send email to My setting are find. This is why I think is a bug. Hope iOS 10.2 are looking into this.

Submitted by NS studios on Saturday, November 12, 2016

Thank you all for weighing in on the matter; it certainly makes me feel a lot better that it isn't just me.
The detection of something covering the screen thing might be one of the reasons why I don't get the notifications spoken, because my phone is inside a case that covers its screen (of course).
I usually have my phone resting on the not so flat surface such as a desk, so it might be detecting that it is maybe in a pocket or something.
I have checked my notification settings and everything's set to display on lock screen and most of the things are set to banners and badges.
I'm also not sure if it is meant to be this way, but I also can't get siri to respond to hey siri when my phone is locked. on the locked screen yes, but not when locked.
My first idea when I got the no notifications thing again was to contact the, who have told me that I should call a number because my case might need more troubleshooting than they can offer via E-mail.
So, I called the number, and I explained stuff to the guy, he said that he can't talk about the public betas because those aren't handled by him, but by the developer support or something, but when asked if he has ever heard of something alike happening on the last final version of iOS, he said that he hasn't heard of anything similar.

Submitted by Siobhan on Saturday, November 12, 2016

Hi. You might want to change it to an alert. That way it can't just hey answer this, gone!! That happens with a banner or badge, it's at the very top of the screen so it's on long enough usually for voice over to detect it. I'd go with alerts, as they can tel you to interact, before antyhing else happens. If you use windows, think of it as ok, versus cancel, buttons. Hpe that helps

Submitted by DJX on Saturday, November 12, 2016

If you have a case, it shouldn't matter, because the case should have all sensors open if it's designed for the iPhone 7. If your case is, then do this:

1. place your phone flat on its back, with nothing around the phone or anything above it that could cover any area of the screen.

2. Have somebody text you (preferably with the default message app/iMessage, to eliminate third party variables for now). At this point, you should hear the alert sound and VO should say 1 notification or new notification, or even read the entire thing. Does it work? If so, proceed to next step, if not, check suggestions at the end of my post.

3. Now place something over the phone, such as a piece of paper, a cloth, a light plastic object, anything that will cover the entire screen. Alternatively, flip the phone so that it's laying on its front side and the screen is completely covered.

4. Have somebody text you again, the notification sound should play, but VO shouldn't say anything at all. If this is what happens, then your phone is behaving as normal.

At least this is how my 7 behaves, and it is consistent, and this is also how my friend's 7 behaves, without VO because she doesn't use it, but her screen won't light up when the phone is covered, but it will if it's laying in the open. This is why I think it's normal behavior, since it happens regardless of VO being on or off.

This all assumes your phone is locked. If you want notifications to remain on the screen even when the phone is unlocked, then as someone else mentioned you'll need to switch from banners to alerts. But I have most of mine set as banners, and the behavior is as I've described, whether it's an alert or a banner, when the phone is locked it won't do anything if the phone is also covered. I've determined the sensor is on the top by the front camera, because when the screen is mostly uncovered, but that top area is covered by something, notifications are silenced. I discovered this when I have my phone on my keyboard shelf in my studio, because the control surface shelf covers the small top area of the phone. My VO is set to not read out notifications, so it just says 1 notification or 2 notifications etc. but it still let's me know every time the phone rings when something is up, even does when the phone is on silent. As long as the phone is not covered, VO will speak.

One last thing, if my assumption here is correct, if you have a screen protector on the phone, and the protector wasn't designed for the 7, or you or someone else placed the screen protector on incorrectly or slightly off, where it might be blocking said sensor, this would cause the silencing of the notifications in a locked state as well. So check the case, check any screen protectors, and finally try my troubleshooting steps above sans case and screen protector to see if it makes a difference.


Submitted by Toonhead on Saturday, November 12, 2016

My phone usually lies facing up on my desk with nothing covering it and i'm not having any problems receiving notifications. Now, when I first got my iPhone 7 back on its release day I restored from an iCloud backup, and noticed that none of my notifications were working so I had to end up deleting and re-installing the apps that weren't receiving notifications like Dice world, Roger, etc. When they prompted me for notifications, I double-tapped on enable and everything's been fine since then. it is true that something could be covering one of the censors, or you could just have had the same issue I did. So maybe try re-installing the apps you're having trouble with, and make sure that your phone isn't covered up in any way at all. Mine is in a case that only covers the back and the corners, and so far, my notifications are coming in just fine. I even have one of those tempered glass screen protectors and everything's good here.

Submitted by NS studios on Saturday, November 12, 2016

Thank you all for helping; after trying things around I have found out that if I open the case and remove the part of it which covers the display, vo reads notifications perfectly.
My case is the Mercury case for iPhone 7 (at least it clames it is), so it seems as if they did a poor job of making it when it messes with the sensor.
It's one of those cases that look like a wallet/notebook – leather covering the back, left side, and front, and the rubber enclosure inside it in which the phone goes. That was recommended to me as a good case in case I happen to accidentally drop the phone, etc. Had the same for 5s, it's cool because it doesn't mess with the sound of the speaker or the mic, but it apparently messes with the sensor.
Do you guys know where the sensor is at? Maybe I can adjust it a little better or something?
Well, now we know it's at least not the phone :)

Submitted by DJX on Saturday, November 12, 2016

Cool, so this proves my theory lol. The sensor from what I can tell is up by the speaker somewhere.


Submitted by Justin on Saturday, November 12, 2016

a others have said, this isn't a bug, it's a feature. If you have the phone face down, you'll get the notification sound and nothing more! This is because of the proximity sensor at the top of your iPhone that monitors light/if the phone is up to your ear for the earpiece function. Make sure the phone is face up on a desk, not in pocket or face down.


So as we have figured out it is my case that is blocking the sensor, so I hope I'm not going off-topic by asking which case would you guys recommend?
I would need something that doesn't mess with the sensor, doesn't change the sound of the speaker and mic, provides some security with the falls or impacts in case I happen to drop my phone (never happened so far), and possibly something cheap, probably under 20 bucks or so.
I have seen Zizo Bolt Heavy Duty Case, and Caseology Wavelength Series Burgundy as two of the options under $20, but I am wondering if you guys have a case that you'd personally recommend. I really like my case because it's easy to put your phone into it, and it's not heavy, it also has holes for like money/credit cards, but I don't think I like it blocking the sensor so much.
I'm sorry if I'm going off-topic, but technically we haven't solved the problem, because if I use the case my phone still does not read the notifications when locked, so we only know the reason why but haven't solved it yet; if that makes sense.
Thank you all once more for helping me figure out the source of the problem, and I'd appreciate if you could help me pick a proper case.

Submitted by Toonhead on Saturday, November 12, 2016

The case I have for the iPhone 7 is the Spigen® [Liquid Crystal] Ultra-Thin [Crystal Clear] Premium Semi-transparent. Like I say it covers the back and the corners only so keep that in mind. It's built with the iPhone 7 in mind so none of the censors are covered. Look it up on a site like Amazon, it's about $10 or so.

Submitted by peter on Saturday, November 12, 2016

I have an iPhone 6 and actually like the fact that Notifications will speak with VO even when the phone is in my pocket. This way I can hear if something important comes through without constantly taking the phone out of my pocket.

If I don't want to hear VO speaking when the phone is in my pocket, I simply perform a three finger double tap to mute speech.

Perhaps there should be an option in the VO settings to choose whether or not VO speaks when the screen is covered.


Submitted by JTran2013 on Saturday, November 12, 2016

Under the Voice Over settings there is an option to always speak notifications. I have this feature turned off and when I have a notification come in on my lock screen VO will say one notification etc. Each of my apps have their own settings for notifications. The notifications work well for me!

Submitted by DJX on Saturday, November 12, 2016

I think the behavior is not VO specific, as the screen won't even turn on when the sensor detects that it's covered. I haven't found a setting for it either, but it seems that it is a phone wide behavior for it to do this, VO is just following along with what the phone is doing. My friend's phone has no adaptive tech enabled and does the same thing, except you know it because the screen turns on when uncovered and doesn't when it's covered/blocked.
As I stated in my previous post, it might be part of the optimizations they made to save/improve battery, though that's just my opinion.

Submitted by Holger Fiallo on Saturday, November 12, 2016

In reply to by DJX

It does not work, I have my phone facing up.

Submitted by Holger Fiallo on Saturday, November 12, 2016

I am using otterbox for iPhone 7.

Submitted by Siobhan on Saturday, November 12, 2016

Hi. Have you looked at an otter box case? They had that grippy tacky rubber that I couldn't stand. Now though it's a little bulkier them your phone, the back and sides are covered, plus a screen protector. I understand you want a case on the cheaper side, I'm not picking on you, but you also get what you paid for. I'd ask a person at a sore, show them your case, see if an otterbox case is right for you. Yes, it's a little more expensive, I think I had one at thirty bucks. You can probably find a reseller on amazon if you're reallly trying to save money. Or ask the big fatso for Xmas if you celebrate, just pcik you case out, boom send a letter to Snata. ;)

Submitted by DJX on Sunday, November 13, 2016

I actually have an otterbox for my phone and like it, the sensors are fine on it. I wasn't really a big fan of those at first, but you get use to it, and it does a great job at protecting the phone. It has a hard plastic shell that the phone goes into, and a rubberish overlay that covers the sides and back. The Apple logo has a transparent plastic so it's visible, and the rear camera/flashlight are the only things exposed. The front is also completely cover, with a film over the touch/home button for the fingerprint to get through. The front also serves as a screen protector, and the film doesn't interfear with the touch of the phone like some screen protectors do. The Top area is also covered, but camera and sensors are exposed, and a small dividing boarder at the top right under the speaker let's you easily and quickly find the status bar without too much fumbling ;) Mine was around 50, but as someone else pointed out, you get what you pay for. The case also comes with a detachable belt clip that is very secure, so you can use the phone out of the pocket if you'd like, for listening to music/audio for example. Also, the lightning jack and mute switch are covered with a small rubber contraption that can be easily opened for even further protection. The mic and speakers are open though allowing unaltered sound to get through both in and out. The case does make the phone a littler bigger, because the corners have shock absorbing design; it's not that bad though IMO.

Hope this description helps!


Submitted by DJX on Sunday, November 13, 2016

@Holger, what didn't work, the notifications? What steps did you try? Was the proximity sensor and the area around it free from obticals even up to a few inches?

Submitted by Holger Fiallo on Monday, November 14, 2016

Yes. Sometimes it works sometimes does not. Specially message, According to apple no=one has complain about voiceover reading notification.

Submitted by DJX on Monday, November 14, 2016

Do you mean the reading of the actual notification E.G. the content of the notification, or that VO won't announce anything at all when you get one.

Have you tried the troubleshooting steps I listed above? With and without a case on the phone?