iPhone 4: Finding the Hidden Hold Button

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Apple has included an easy to find on-screen Hold button on every iPhone shipped. That changed with the iPhone 4 because the Hold button was replaced with the FaceTime button. The Hold feature is still there, although finding it takes a bit of sleuthing.

To place a call on hold on an iPhone 4, tap and hold the Mute button. Tapping the Mute button a second time returns you to the call.

The iPhone 4 Mute button is also the Hold button

While using the Mute button to hold a call isn’t exactly intuitive, at least the feature is still available. Hopefully Apple will figure out a way to let iPhone 4 owners use the hold feature in a way that’s a little more user friendly.

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You can’t have both a mute AND a hold button in one. It does ONE or the OTHER.


Yes, you can - you tap it once and it mutes, but if you hold that tap a little longer it places the call on hold


Ah, ok, my mistake.


Retarded. I’m sorry…you reinvent the phone to include an infinitely malleable interface and then you treat software buttons like hardware buttons?????

R E -E F F I N G - T A R D E D

Brandon Martinez

Does the icon at least change into “Hold” when you do it? If not, that would at least be a bit better.


Would’ve made more sense to get rid of the ‘Add Call’ button and put that function under the ‘Hold Button’, if you ask me.


I think they should make the FaceTime button not appear unless you’re in a call where it can be used (which so far I’ve never been, since my friends and family don’t have iPhone 4’s, just 1 friend and 1 cousin with older iPhones). 

I use the add call and contact buttons occasionally, but I think those two features could be linked, since add call should bring up a list of contacts, and you could just read off the info instead of pressing one to call the person.  That would be the easiest way to combine, but you should only need to when the Face Time button can even be used.

Wes Campaigne

Conceptually, “hold” is an extension of “mute”, so the tap-and-hold option makes sense here. Tap to silence your mic, and hold to also silence the speaker.

The discoverability of this option is unfortunately low, but the two functions are so similar that they don’t really warrant distinct buttons, and the more important of the two aspects is muting the mic (providing privacy to the user), so having that as the obvious option is a natural choice.

There’s corner cases, but in the main mode of use… if you’re muting the microphone, it’s probably to talking to someone next to you—silencing the speaker isn’t as necessary, since you can just hold the phone away from your ear. (And if it’s not a conference call, the person on the other end probably won’t be talking, anyway.)

I think people are just more accustomed to saying and thinking “put you on hold” than “put you on mute”, but in practice the difference between the two rarely makes much difference.


They really should combine facetime/add call button instead. Or at least add ‘press to hold’ under the ‘mute’ button.

In the end, they wanted to promote ‘facetime’ as a major feature so that’s why it gets it’s own button. Marketing over function… not a good idea.

Wes Campaigne

While hiding the FaceTime button unless it’s usable would make sense, I think there’s some technical issues preventing that.

Specifically, I’m pretty sure that the way that FaceTime hand-off from a voice call is implemented, there’s no way to know if the party at the other end is FaceTime-capable without actually making the request. The voice call doesn’t actually carry any hidden data about the capability of the other side—FaceTime just uses either the number you dialed or the caller ID to send the invite/request through some Apple server. This is key to allowing FaceTime to work without requiring any additional support from the phone carrier, but it also means there’s a certain blindness to whether it will work when you hit the FaceTime button.

Theoretically, the phone could query the Apple server at the start of the voice call, but I doubt Apple wants to have to deal with responding to such a request for EACH AND EVERY phone call made or received by an iPhone 4. Such check-in-advance behaviour would be even more problematic if and when other non-Apple devices add FaceTime support.


Sleuthing? Like reading the tips in the email that Apple sent to every iPhone 4 purchaser?


All good tips. Wonder why nobody at Apple ever thought of them.


This may be a bit too simple, but those look like big buttons with a fair amount of space around them. I’d think Apple would have room for two or three more, depending if they added a row or a column, without making things too cramped.


Why not put the FaceTime icon next to the persons face??


toddgarvin, exactly what I thought… plenty of room, and it’s contextually right. Maybe even have the photo show up only when the other person’s FaceTime is active. I don’t know many people who have actual photos in their Address Book anyway… most use clip art.

In any event, a better solution is clearly possible than a hidden function… that just isn’t good interface design.


As for facetime button only if available…
While the other end of the call may be complicated to determine, it should be simple enough to identify whether the iPhone4 is wifi connected, and if not, then disable face time.  However, from a marketing standpoint, it seems unlikely that they would remove the button when unavailable.

I can’t say that I’ve ever had a need to put someone on hold instead of mute.

Those tips Apple sends are frequently hidden features.


Oh goodness! Thank you so much for this- I’ve needed this for two years! God bless you! smile

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