Essential confirms app call volume level issue brought by Android 9 Pie

Soon after Android’s newest OS version 9 Pie started hitting Essential Phones (the only smartphone other than Google’s Pixel series to receive it), we spotted reports from PH-1 users saying they are unable to adjust the call volume for third party applications, as it is stuck at maximum.

Users confirmed this audio adjustment issue with multiple apps like WhatsApp, Google Hangouts, WeChat etc, both for voice and video calls. Hence it ruled out the possibility of the problem being application specific.

Take a look at how some of those affected explained the issue (1,2,3):

Since the upgrade to Android P whenever I make a video call the volume is maxed out. Unable to reduce the volume or even mute. So making video calls are no longer possible which is quite frustrating.

Super excited to finally get my hands on the latest version of Android on my Essential Phone. However, I just had a WhatsApp call with one of my contacts and I realized that the call volume is extremely loud. I instinctively tried to lower the call volume but it seems like there’s no effect no matter if I lower or raise the volume.

This seems to be the case with all calling apps outside of ‘phone’ . Would think it is a P bug

Can confirm this issue is not app specific but it’s an issue with how Essential’s version of Android 9 handles volume for communication apps. I can now confirm issue exists on Google Hangouts & WhatsApp.

Wow, my Wechat volume is so loud it hurts my ears! This needs to be fixed as i cannot video conference with anyone in China right now. The volume is just too loud.


In fact, one of the complainants mentioned the problem existed before Android P’s public release i.e. on beta build as well.

Have the same issue with WhatsApp and Hangouts. Had this issue before when I was trying the pre-release versions of Android P. I reverted back to Oreo since I use WhatsApp voice calls a lot. I thought with the actual release that bug would have been ironed out but it is still there. The volume is stuck on the highest setting. The UI responds to volume controls but the volume can’t be lowered. It is super annoying if you are using a headset while you are on the call. The maximum sound setting hurts your ears.

Anyway, what’s relieving is that at least regular calls are not affected.

Apart from other users, one of our teammates was also encountering the same behaviour. So we thought of approaching the company.

Yes, Essential is aware

We reached out to Essential for an official word on the matter, and to see if they are even aware of the audio glitch being reported by PH-1 users after installing Android 9 Pie. Here’s the query that we posted:


And we received confirmation form the company saying they are not only aware of the audio problem but also working on fixing the same.

You are correct – the audio issue with being unable to change volume in third party apps has been identified as a known issue. Our engineering team is actively working on a fix for this, and hope to get it out to our users as soon as possible.


We have asked Essential if there is any ETA for the fix to arrive, but haven’t heard back from them yet. Rest assured, we’ll update the story as and when we get information about any further development. So keep a tab on this space.

Note: We have also compiled a (continuously updated) list of issues/problems/bugs reported with (or triggered by) Android 9 Pie ever since it got live. Take a look to catch hold of all Pie-related issues.

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Dr. Aparajita Sharma

A budding entrepreneur by profession, and a psychologist by education. As a founding member of PiunikaWeb, I am nurturing this firstborn with my sharp-eyed expertise and even journalistic writing when needed.