Listening to Voice Mail in iOS

iOS & iPadOS

I have an iPhone XR running iOS 14.6 and am very frustrated trying to listen to Voice Mail messages. I'm hoping someone has some useful suggestions.

The biggest problem is that when I activate a voice mail mesasge it begins to play, but so quietly that I can't hear the mesage. I try and flick around for the "Speaker" button but can barely hear the feedback from VoiceOver.

Once I get the message to shut up so that I can hear what Voiceover is saying, I don't even see a "Speaker" button in the dialog.

There is a "Play Destination" button, but activating this does nothing.

Why is this so difficult? Why can't the messages app work like answering a phone call, i.e., if I take the phone away from my ear it automatically switches to speaker mode?

The other alternative would be to have a clearly labeled and easy to find "Speaker" button that can be activated *BEFORE* the message starts playback.

Also, when I take the phone away from my ear with a mesage playing I expect Voiceover to be heard at normal volume, not the quiet volume that is used when playing back the voice message.

Anyway, maybe I'm doing something wrong or missing something here, but if anyone else has some suggestion as to how to get this to work a bit better that would be great.




Submitted by Ann Marie B on Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Hello. When playing a voicemail and using VO make sure all volume is turned up on phone. Sound, Siri, VO. To disable the phone from automatically reverting to speaker when you remove it from your ear; go to settings, accessibility, Voiceover, audio, select speaker in call and turn that off.

Submitted by peter on Wednesday, June 2, 2021

In reply to by Ann Marie B

Thanks for your suggestion, but I am looking for exactly the opposite. I would like the voice mail to play on speaker. Despite having the phone volume up and VO volume up, the playing voice mail is much too quiet when not coming out of the speaker. I am unable to easily find a speaker button to turn on the speaker before the voice mail starts playing.


Submitted by Curtis Chong on Wednesday, June 2, 2021

First, let me say right off that I agree that the voice mail interface does require a lot of improvement. However, since the needed improvement is not likely to occur any time soon, here (for whatever it is worth) is the procedure I use when processing voice mail on my iPhone 12 mini.

First, I go into the voice mail tab of the Phone app. Then, I double tap on the message I want to play. If this is the first time I am hearing the message, the message starts to play right off, and (of course) it is being played through the same speaker that is used when I am on an actual phone call.

Next, I flick right once to Pause Voice Mail, and double tap that. Now, I flick right to the Playback destination button and double tap that button twice. Then, I flick left to play and double tap that.

If you don’t close the Phone app after doing this, future voice mails will play through the main speaker. But if the app is closed through the app switcher (which I do every time), you are going to have to do the above procedure again, at least for the first voice mail you listen to.


Curtis Chong

Submitted by peter on Wednesday, June 2, 2021


Thanks for those very helpful suggestions. I will give that a shot.

Yes, this has been a problem with listening to voice mail on the iPhone for a long time. I wish that Apple would some day address this. Seems like the easiest solution would be to have it work like ordinary phone calls, i.e., have the output go to the speaker if held away from one's head.

Oh well. Maybe someone at Apple will see this post and take some action. I actually submitted this as an issue to Apple accessibility some time ago but apparently nothing hapend.

Anyway, thanks again.


Submitted by Troy on Friday, June 4, 2021

One thing that apple needs to fix, and this is voice messages in general rather they are audio texts or voicemail is voiceover babbling over an audio message or voicemail. The 2 finger double tap doesn't always work either.

Submitted by Ann Marie B on Friday, June 4, 2021

When you ask Siri to play a voicemail a place via the speaker button. That’s
the way that I do it when I’m alone..

Submitted by Curtis Chong on Friday, June 4, 2021

I must opine here that one thing that you cannot do with Siri and voice mail is actually to delete a message that you don't want to save. This interface is still very much a work in progress, from the nonvisual access perspective.