I have the answer, I’m pretty sure. And no, it’s not entirely Apple’s fault. The place to lay blame, it would seem, is the Bluetooth specification and Apple’s implementation of it.
Let’s roll back a bit and let me show you how I resolved this particular issue with my iPhone and AirPods. Firstly, I’d done all the things that would reasonably fix the problem, unpairing, pairing , etc. Nothing worked. As soon as I tried to either make a call or receive one, the sound would just no be there. The phone indicated and insisted that the sound was being pumped to the AirPods, in vain, as it turned out.
Solving it is actually quite simple, but will require you to make a choice about the quantity and type of devices you have paired with the phone. I’ve hinted at the root cause… how many items do you have paired? If you go past a certain number, I believe 7 in total, things go wonky for Bluetooth. My AirPods were the last thing to get connected and hence were in a losing battle with all the other stuff. It was never going to work like that.
I’d had 4 devices from Chipolo paired, plus the AirPods, my car, my wife’s car, some crappy BT headphones I’d bought in the US, nearly two years ago, for 20$ to test the wireless lifestyle and finally some JBL phones I’d used for sport. Removing the Chipolo devices cleared up my problem instantly. I could have removed one or two of the tabs, to be fair, instead of being unilaterally decisive. I can always reconnect them if needed. Nobody got hurt.
So, TLDR; Check the Bluetooth devices you have paired on your phone and get that number under 7 (under 6 is safer) and try again. If it doesn’t work, two things; remove another Bluetooth pairing and/or unpair and re-pair the AirPods.
Apple could probably do a better job of communicating this limitation. It would be helpful.
Photo by Jaz King on Unsplash