How to Avoid Hearing Loss from Your iPhone

Safe volume limit and other listening tips

It’s ironic that the thing that drives people to get an iPhone or an iPod—a love of music—could prevent their ability to enjoy it. Listening to too much music on an iPhone, or listening too loud, can lead to hearing loss. IPhone hearing loss is a serious risk for many users (and users of non-Apple devices, too). A growing body of research shows that how people listen to iPhones can cause lasting hearing damage.

These tips for avoiding hearing loss are relevant for all iPhone and iPod models, running all versions of the iOS.

iPhone Hearing Loss Is a Real Problem

The iPhone and iPod produce a maximum of 100 to 115 decibels (software limits European iPods to 100 dB; U.S. models have been measured higher). That's the equivalent of attending a rock concert.

Some studies have found that people in their 20s have hearing loss more typical of people aged 50 years and older. That's because of their repeated exposure to music at this high volume. 

This isn’t an iPhone-specific problem, either. Walkman users had the same issue in the 1980s.

How to Avoid iPhone Hearing Loss

Hearing loss is an issue to take seriously. So, here are some tips for how to use an iPhone and protect your hearing at the same time.

  1. Don't Listen So Loud

    Most researchers agree that it's safe to regularly listen to an iPod or iPhone at about 70 percent of its maximum volume. It's probably better to listen at a lower volume, though.

    Listening at anything louder than 70% over an extended period of time is risky. If you want to listen to your iPhone or iPod at full volume, don't do it for longer than five minutes.

  2. Use Volume Control

    In response to consumer concerns, Apple offers a volume limit setting for some iOS devices. On the iPhone, go to Settings > Music > Volume Limit to adjust the maximum volume.

    You can also limit the volume of individual songs, but that's less efficient, especially if there are thousands of songs in your library.

    Music, Volume Limit buttons in iOS Settings
  3. Limit Your Listening

    Volume isn't the only thing that can contribute to hearing loss. The length of time you listen matters, too.

    If you listen to music at a higher volume, listen for a shorter time. You should also give your ears a chance to rest between listening sessions to minimize damage.

  4. Use the 60/60 Rule

    Since the combination of volume and length of listening can cause hearing loss, researchers recommend applying the 60/60 rule.

    That means listening to an iPhone for 60 minutes at 60 percent of its maximum volume, and then taking a break. Ears that get a rest have time to recover and are less likely to be permanently damaged.

  5. Don’t Use Earbuds

    Earbuds are more likely to cause hearing damage than headphones that sit over the ear. They can also be up to 9 dB louder than over-the-ear headphones. This isn't a big deal when going from 40 to 50 dB, but more serious when going from 70 to 80.

    Despite their inclusion with every iPod and iPhone, researchers caution against using earbuds, regardless of who manufactured them.

  6. Use Noise-Dampening or Cancelling Headphones

    The noise around you may cause you to change how you listen to an iPod or iPhone. If there’s a lot of noise nearby, it’s likely that you'll turn up the iPhone volume, thus increasing the chances of hearing loss. Noise cancelling headphones, like AirPods Pro, reduce background noise and can give you a better listening experience at a lower volume.

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