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What are the Different Types of Mobile Ringtones?

By S. Gonzales
Updated May 16, 2024
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Mobile ringtones are sounds that cell phones use to alert the user of an incoming call, text message or other alert. They can come pre-installed on a cell phone or they can be uploaded onto a cell phone by its owner. Mobile ringtones can be monophonic, polyphonic, truetone or sing tone in nature. They also can be created by a cell phone owner using the appropriate software.

Monophonic ringtones are said to be some of the earliest types of ringtones offered to cell phone users. They are simple ringtones that repeat musical notes. Only one note at a time can be sounded, hence, the monophonic distinction. Since these tones are sequential and can be played in different frequencies, the ringtones are likely to be compatible with many cell phones.

Polyphonic mobile ringtones are ringtones that can sound many different notes at once. They are capable of producing more melodious ringtones than the monophonic type. Because of the increased possibility of harmony, polyphonic ringtones can sound more like songs than single-note ringtones. Many newer cell phones are equipped to offer polyphonic ringtones.

Truetone ringtones are actual audio recordings. The most common form of truetone ringtones are segments of original songs that have been isolated and saved into MP3 or AAC formats, though they also can be sounds from real life that have been saved in formats compatible with cell phones. Truetone ringtones also can be referred to as "realtone", "mastertone", "superphonic ringtone" and "audio recording" ringtones. Advanced cell phones usually can accommodate truetone ringtones.

Sing tone ringtones also can be used on cell phone. Sing tones differ from the aforementioned tones in that they can incorporate the cell phone user's actual voice into the tone. Usually, this is achieved when a user decides to record his or her voice over a backing track, much like karaoke. Users are expected to sing along the backing track, thus explaining the ringtone's name.

Cell phone users should be aware that they also have the option to create their own mobile ringtones. Users can do this by using software that helps isolate parts of sound files or create an original composition. The resulting ringtone files can then be uploaded to users' cell phones through Universal Serial Bus (USB), Bluetooth, text messages or e-mail and used as mobile ringtones. Some Websites also provide ringtone-making services so that users can create mobile ringtones without having to download software.

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Discussion Comments

By micheller23 — On Jun 05, 2011

@Penzance356- I completely agree! I wish cellphones just sounded like a regular old phone ring. Alas, my archaic wish will never be. It is fun to be able to pick something personal to oneself as a tone, but there are so many items we already get to "personalize," why annoy the rest of the world with our favorite pop song?

By yumdelish — On Jun 05, 2011

I love the sing tone concept. My friend did that and they tidied up his voice a bit so he sounds really good. It's definitely a good way to get a couple of totally original ringtones for your mobile. Just don't go thinking you could be the next big singing star!

By Acracadabra — On Jun 05, 2011

@Penzance356 - I can understand how some mobile phone ringtones annoy you. Personally though I like being able to choose something unique to me. It makes it easier to identify who is getting a call at least.

I much prefer this to the old fashioned type, when everyone sounded the same because they had to choose from a short list. The only downside is it can get a bit crazy if several start ringing at the same time.

By Penzance356 — On Jun 05, 2011

I kind of miss the days when a cell phone simply rang, and they all sounded the same! Nowadays there are so many free mobile ringtone downloads that most people seem to have one. I find most of them quite irritating to be honest.

By armapill — On Jun 04, 2011

Just to clarify a bit- monophonic ringtones are the basic "standards" or alarm-sounding mobile tones included on most slightly older non-smart phones. Some common examples are the Super Mario theme song, a "Good Morning" tone, or a 1950's era mimic. They sound like singular notes played on either a piano or cellphone keypad most of the time.

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