I recently purchased an Otterbox Defender case for my shiny new Galaxy Note 2 from AT&T. I like it a lot - it's durable, sturdy, and the holster doesn't break off all the time like those annoying $6 cases you can get from that site that begins with "Am" and ends with "azon." But .. there's always a but.
It turns out, a lot of people experience this problem, not only with Otterbox cases, and not only with the Note 2. I read reports of the same behavior with the Galaxy S3, iPhone 5, Galaxy S2, Motorola Droid whatever, HTC phones .. the list goes on and on and on and on. Sidebar: That last bit is better if you sing it like a grunge rock song.
So, what to do about this? Well, Otterbox says it's the fault of the phone and not their case, citing numerous users of the same product that don't experience the issue. All the carriers are either silent, or say that, since the issue shows up when you add the case, it must be the case's fault. Neither is going to do anything about it except point fingers at the other and leave their customers hung out to dry. Thanks. Jerks.
Not satisfied with the corporate buck-passing, I decided to take things into my own hands. I'm an engineer, after all, I should be able to solve this problem. And indeed I have. In fact, this solution highlights the fact that I am a messed up combination of engineer, redneck, and former wanna-be musician.
1. Some disposable foam ear-plugs. The kind you squash and stick directly into your ear. You can usually find them at your local shooting range, usually for free if you spend some time on the range (which I highly recommend).
2. A good, SHARP pocket knife. No, seriously - if it's not sharp enough to shave your arm hairs with minimal pressure, then sharpen it until it is - then sharpen it some more. If you don't have a pocket knife, a good sharp scalpel, art or surgical, will do.
Next, use your sharp pointy thing to cut a very small opening into the very center of each slice. This opening needs only to be 1 to 1.5mm in diameter, and it can be square or whatever shape you end up with. You just have to make sure you actually physically remove some of the material - simply poking a hole isn't enough. The material has to be able to fully expand and retain the opening. UPDATE: I've found that a hand-held hole punch is perfect for this part of the task. It leaves a nice big hole making it much easier to align with the mic, too.
|Hole poked and Applied to Phone|
note the mic pinhole is visible
|Back in the hard shell. See the mic?|
Pay no attention to the
weirdo behind the phone
|Everything back on. See the mic?|
Yeah, me neither. I had to re-do it.
Finally, you're done. Make a test call, preferably to someone who's complained frequently of the echo problem. If they don't hear the echo, you're done. If they do .. well .. please post here and let me know, and feel free to try something different. Remember - it's more likely to work if you swear at it.
|Just for Fun - the finished product*|
*feel the swagger