First of all, I apologize if this has been discussed elsewhere, but I have searched and found nothing, which is why I am starting a new thread.

I have a stock Samsung Mesmerize from U.S. Cellular that I've had for about 11 months or so. It is running I500.04 hardware, and 2.2.1 Firmware. I downloaded a new application about a week ago, but everything has been running fine.

Yesterday, I was on a call using the external speakerphone. Mid-way through the conversation, there was silence, and I could hear nothing through the speaker. I hung up, and tried the call again. Still nothing from the speaker.

However, if I go OFF of the external speaker, I can have a conversation.

Since then, I am unable to hear ANYTHING via the external speaker (i.e., alarms, notifications, ringtones, music, etc.). It is as if my phone is in SILENT mode, however, it is not. I have made sure to check volume levels, restarted the phone, done a battery pull, tried changing the ringtones, tried viewing videos with sound, etc. Basically, I have tried every single trouble-shooting thing that I know of, and still no results.

It sucks, because now I can't hear anything when someone calls or texts, or when I have an e-mail message. I also can't hear my alarm going off in the morning. I can make a call and talk as long as I don't have the "speaker phone" enabled.

Any ideas on what might be causing the issue? Fixes? Do you think if I upgrade the OS it might fix it, or is it most likely a hardware issue?

Any comments/suggestions would be welcome at this point, as I don't really want to spend hours in a U.S. Cellular store while the salesperson fiddles with my phone and can't fix it.