We have a call/messaging app that can use three different ways to get sound to the user:

  • Bluetooth
  • Speaker
  • Ear...speaker...thing...?

What does one call the speaker for the ear in a mobile phone, in contrast to the [loud]speaker and a Bluetooth device?

(I'm a native English speaker myself, but I'm having trouble coming up with a good term.)

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – tchrist
    Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 0:13

4 Answers 4


Whatever piece of hardware you use to hear to sound it is some form of speaker. The one you use by holding it to your ear is the internal speaker because it is built in. This website {which tells you how to fix a mobile phone} implies that at least some mobiles have a separate speaker for hands free.

The one the OP is talking about is the internal speaker, as opposed to the earphones, Bluetooth speaker or, as mentioned above, the hands-free speaker.


It has several possible names. Some are earpiece or earphone or earbuds, depending.

Earpiece is a holdover from (in electronic terms) ancient times of land lines where you had a phone that was attached by a wire in the wall. The handset had an earpiece for your ear, and a mouthpiece for you to speak into.

Earphone is similarly a holdover from that era. The microphone and the earphone were the parts of the handset.

Ear buds would be the devices attached through a plug or over Blue Tooth, that sit right in your ear.

If you have a more substantial head set with "ear muff" type speakers, that's called a headphone, or headphones.


If you shop for parts for an iPhone on Amazon, it is called...

ear speaker

enter image description here

Most popular cell-phones have one ear speaker, and another for SpeakerPhone, ringer/buzzer, and music. The SpeakerPhone is often referred to as a "loud speaker" when requesting parts.

enter image description here

Just about any brand replacement calls them by those terms. However, at one place on Amazon, it also calls the ear thingie an...

ear speaker earphone

Moving forward...

With the removal of the 1/8" earphone jack on the 7, Apple was able to put TWO speakers for stereo playback. The latest Apple X all have 2 speakers located at the "bottom" of the phone in addition to the ear speaker at the "top".

I think that part of the confusion on which is the "correct" term depends on whether you are a consumer, a tech-savvy user, a technician, or an engineer.

That said, a "speaker" is an electro-acoustic transducer that converts electrical impulse into sound; it works the opposite of a microphone, which converts sound into impulses. Originally they were called "loudspeakers" to differentiate them from a speaker giving a speech. Now we just say speaker. Most people get confused because they think a speaker is the thing they hook up to their car or home audio system.


It is a receiver:

d : a device for converting signals (such as electromagnetic waves) into audio or visual form: such as
(1) : a device in a telephone for converting electric impulses or varying current into sound

(source: Merriam Webster)

It might feel a bit counter-intuitive to have an output device named after a verb associated with input. Here is an example from Apple's developer documentation.

  • Sure, there is a receiver in a cellphone to receive the signals but what makes it audible to the user?
    – Lambie
    Commented Feb 7, 2019 at 16:55
  • 1
    The receiver is the part of the device including everything except the transmitter. It includes the antenna, the tuner, the amplifier, and the speaker that produces the sound. The only parts of a cell phone that it does not include are the microphone, the amplifier for the microphone, and some of the electronics to produce the radio frequency signal that is put out the antenna.
    – puppetsock
    Commented Feb 7, 2019 at 17:21
  • Isn't the receiver, if anywhere, at the mouth, not the ear?
    – Mitch
    Commented Feb 9, 2019 at 23:29
  • @Mitch I understand that the mouthpiece receives your voice, but it is a matter of perspective. The mouthpiece is known as a transmitter, since it transmits your voice to the recipient of your call. The earpiece is called a receiver, since it receives the incoming call. I think that should explained in the answer, alongside a technical illustration from Popular Mechanics Magazine should be added. This book is also of interest.
    – Tonepoet
    Commented Feb 15, 2019 at 11:31
  • @Tonepoet Yes, that seems corroborated by a number of technical diagram labels. As I noticed Glorfindel mentioned already, it is very counterintuitive.
    – Mitch
    Commented Feb 15, 2019 at 14:35

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