SOLVED: GALAXY S4 DEAD EAR SPEAKER IS HARDWARE ISSUE
I'm the proud owner of a Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone via AT&T. I bought the phone on my upgrade in mid May of 2013. About two months in, I noticed that the ear speaker quit working all of the sudden.
During a phone call, I was talking to a friend, but was not hearing anything back. At first, I blamed it on his phone. He kept calling me back after I would tell him to check his phone, but I realized it was on my end after receiving a different call with no sound.
My first thought was that the phone must have been tricked into thinking that the headphones were still connected. I was using the original Samsung earplug headphones with the speaker, and a very nice pair of Sony over-the-ear speakers for listening to music.
But when removing the headphones, I was still getting the notification on the screen that the headphones were in fact unplugged from the device. That eliminated my theory that something was stck in the headphone jack making the device think it was still plugged in, thus turning off the ear speaker.
I did a lot of research online and didn't find much. I only found one instance of a user with the same problem. He was told to try a hard reset to hopefully fix the issue, but that did not work.
I contacted AT&T and Samsung and reported the problem, and was told by both that they had not heard of such an issue from any other users. That pretty much told me that this must have been a random device failure.
I had not ever dropped the phone, and had used it gently over the past two months. I was afraid that the hard reset wouldn't solve the problem, which it didn't. If you experience this problem, it's definitely a hardware failure issue and not something that can be solved by resetting the operating system.
Sadly, I was going to have to order a warranty replacement and have another Galaxy S4 shipped to me. I dreaded the amount of time it would take to complete the process and receive my replacement phone, but I called in on a Monday to at least get it started early in the week.
To my surprise, I got a notification that the replacement device order was processed by the afternoon, and had actually shipped out. The new Galaxy S4 replacement phone was shipped via FedEx and sitting on my doorstep sometime during the day on Wednesday.
I was very pleased with the rapid turnaround time, and was back in business. The customer service given by AT&T and Samsung were both top notch. The AT&T representatives "felt my pain" and were very sympathetic, and that always helps!
Hats off to AT&T and Samsung for making the most out of this situation and taking care of the problem!