Your older iPhone may have an accessibility feature the iPhone 13 doesn't

iPhone 13 Pro
An iPhone 13 Pro (Image credit: TechRadar)

We’re used to new models of phones adding helpful features, but it’s less common to find them removed, yet that seems to be exactly what’s happened with the iPhone 13 range.

The feature in question is Noise Cancellation – a toggle which you could enable on the iPhone 12 and earlier to reduce ambient noise on phone calls when holding the receiver to your ear.

With the iPhone 13 range, that toggle is missing, and while many assumed this was a bug, it’s now been more or less confirmed that it’s in fact by design.

A reader of 9to5Mac got in touch with the site to say they’d been told by Apple Support on Twitter that “Phone Noise Cancellation is not available on iPhone 13 models, which is why you do not see this option in Settings.”

When the reader asked Apple Support to clarify if this meant that the iPhone 13 range doesn’t support Noise Cancellation, they were told “That is correct. It is not supported.”

A screenshot of this conversation was also supplied, so it’s likely genuine, though until Apple makes an official announcement to this effect there’s still an outside chance that the support agent got it wrong. We've contacted Apple, and we'll include any comment here when we hear back.

Still, it doesn’t look good for Noise Cancellation on the iPhone 13, which is odd and unfortunate, as it’s a feature that could help anyone, and prove near essential to users who are hard of hearing.

iPhone 12

The iPhone 12 has Noise Cancellation, so why doesn't the iPhone 13? (Image credit: Future)

Opinion: Apple should bring Noise Cancellation back, or at least explain why it hasn’t done

Making life harder for people with accessibility needs isn’t a good look for any company, so this is a very strange situation, and one that at a minimum I think Apple should provide clarity on.

Is Noise Cancellation really gone? There’s a chance the support agent is wrong and it will return in a software update, or perhaps it’s now enabled as standard and can’t be disabled (which also might not be ideal but could be preferable to not having it as an option).

If it really is gone, then when? The obvious reason is that perhaps it wasn’t being used much, but again, those who were using it might have really needed it, and with the toggle buried in the accessibility menu, it’s possible that others would have used it had they known it was there.

So clarity on the matter would be good, but if it really is gone then Apple reconsidering would be even better.

James Rogerson

James is a freelance phones, tablets and wearables writer and sub-editor at TechRadar. He has a love for everything ‘smart’, from watches to lights, and can often be found arguing with AI assistants or drowning in the latest apps. James also contributes to, and and has written for T3, Digital Camera World, Clarity Media and others, with work on the web, in print and on TV.