Apple Music's Spatial Audio Feature Doesn't Work With Built-In Speakers of iPhone XR, iPad, or iPad mini [Updated]

Apple today clarified details on which of its devices support Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos through the built-in speakers, and it turns out that some older iPhones and iPads previously thought to work with spatial audio do not, in fact, offer the feature.

iPhone Hi Fi Apple Music Feature
In an updated support document, Apple says that the built-in speakers of the iPhone XS or later (minus the iPhone SE), the 11 and 12.9-inch iPad Pro models, and the fourth-generation iPad Air support spatial audio.

Prior to today's update, this support document said that spatial audio was also compatible with the ‌iPhone‌ XR, the iPad mini 5, the ‌iPad Air‌ 3, and the 6th to 8th-generation iPads.

Before today's update:

The built-in speakers on an iPhone XR or later (except iPhone SE), iPad Pro 12.9-inch (3rd generation or later), iPad Pro 11-inch, iPad (6th generation or later), iPad Air (3rd generation or later), or iPad mini (5th generation)

After today's update:

The built-in speakers on an iPhone XS or later (except iPhone SE), iPad Pro 12.9-inch (3rd generation or later), iPad Pro 11-inch, or iPad Air (4th generation)

Apple has not yet updated the footnote on its Apple Music page with the latest information on supported devices, and this is not the first time that Apple has offered confusing information on which devices work with spatial audio.

An earlier version of the Apple Music page at one point said that spatial audio worked with the ‌iPhone‌ 7 or later, but that was updated to say ‌iPhone‌ XR in June. Apple will likely soon update the footnote again to reflect the new data, which indicates spatial audio is limited to newer iPhones and iPads.

Those who have older iPhones and iPads can still access spatial audio with several headphone options including AirPods, AirPods Pro, AirPods Max, Beats X, Beats Solo3 Wireless, Beats Studio3, Powerbeats3 Wireless, Beats Flex, Powerbeats Pro, Beats Solo Pro, or Beats Studio Buds.

On Macs, all of the above listed headphone options work as well as the built-in speakers on MacBook Pro (2018 model or later), MacBook Air (2018 model or later), or iMac (2021 model).

Update: Some ‌iPhone‌ XR owners have been able to get the Spatial Audio feature working on their devices in automatic mode, with the iPhones playing Spatial Audio as expected, so it appears the Spatial Audio feature may work with the ‌iPhone‌ XR, XS, and later. The ‌iPad mini‌ 5, ‌iPad Air‌ 3, and 6th to 8th-generation iPads do not support Spatial Audio.

Top Rated Comments

alexjholland Avatar
12 months ago
Anyone who plays music from their phone speakers should be publicly flogged.
Score: 46 Votes (Like | Disagree)
HeavenDynamic Avatar
12 months ago
How can you enjoy music with an iPhone's built-in speakers?
Score: 29 Votes (Like | Disagree)
nvmls Avatar
12 months ago
I output my dj set through iPhone 12 Pro's speakers, the crowd loves it and I love my consumers.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
dannyyankou Avatar
12 months ago
The iPhone XR has the same speaker system as the XS, so this is very suspicious
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Mr. Heckles Avatar
12 months ago

Anyone who plays music from their phone speakers should be publicly flogged anyway.
I do when I hang close for laundry. I’m not buying a speaker for 10 minutes in the basement doing this.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Apple Knowledge Navigator Avatar
12 months ago
Imagine being an Apple rep and having to understand this stuff…
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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