iPhone SE Users Report Bluetooth Audio Problems
The iPhone SE is apparently prone to Bluetooth connectivity issues that pop up during wireless audio usage, but not during music playback. Several readers of our German website have reported severe issues with making calls from their hands-free Bluetooth setup in their car. Either the call quality is impacted severely, with tinny or scratchy and distorted sound, or the connection drops out altogether. Furthermore, making calls is sometimes impossible altogether. Thus we can confirm international consistency of the issue, in accordance with what MacRumors have noted in their article on the matter. The problem occurs independently of the installed iOS version, albeit the iPhone SE is only found within a narrow range from iOS 9.3 to 9.3.1 and of course the new iOS 9.3.2 beta.
iPhone SE hands-free bluetooth issues
Interestingly enough, music playback does not to be affected via bluetooth on the iPhone SE, merely calls are causing trouble. As the iPhone SE hardware is highly similar to what Apple has put into the iPhone 6s, it is unlikely that this is due to a hardware defect. We suspect a software bug that will be resolved in a future update. Resetting the network settings does not appear to solve the issue for any of the affected users of the iPhone SE. The problem could be replicated by pairing the iPhone SE to a number of different car stereos.
The Apple Support Community forum lists a steadily growing thread with the issue. One of the support representatives has commented on the problem, citing a todo list for the product development department. Apparently the issue is very high in terms of priority and known to Apple. We suspect that it might have something to do with Bluetooth profiles for calling, as they differ from the high quality audio output profiles. Mac OS X also has its fair share of Bluetooth headset issues, perhaps a similar issue has cropped up in the development pipeline and went unnoticed until the launch of the device. What is definitely strange is that iPhone 6s owners have rarely if ever complained about similar problems in the near past.