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What is a Monophonic Ringtone?

A monophonic ringtone is the simplest type of ringtone, playing one note at a time, much like a traditional landline phone's ring. It's the original mobile melody, reminiscent of early cell phones. These tones paved the way for the rich, multi-layered audio we enjoy today. Wondering how ringtones evolved? Join us as we explore the symphony in your pocket.
Shannon Kietzman
Shannon Kietzman

A monophonic ringtone is a type of ringtone that is only capable of playing one sound at a time. Ringtones are the sounds cell phones make when a person calls the cell phone subscriber. These ringtones can be modified and personalized in such a way that a specific ringtone sounds for a certain caller. For example, the cell phone subscriber may program the cell phone to use a monophonic ringtone of a happy and fun song whenever his or her best friend calls. The subscriber may also program it to play a romantic monophonic ringtone when his or her significant other calls.

The monophonic ringtone was the first type of ringtone available to cellular subscribers. Today, polyphonic and full music ringtones are also available. The polyphonic ringtone was the first to follow the monophonic ringtone.

Older cell phones may only be capable of monophonic ringtones.
Older cell phones may only be capable of monophonic ringtones.

Unlike the monophonic ringtone, the polyphonic ringtone can play more than one tone at a time. Both polyphonic and the monophonic ringtones, however, can only play tone based versions of songs. Although polyphonic ringtones can play up to 40 notes at a time and sound more like the actual songs they are mimicking, they still do not sound as good as full music ringtones. In addition, lyrics cannot be played with a polyphonic ringtone.

Full music ringtones are also referred to simply as music ringtones, or as true tones, voice tones, or MPS ringtones. Full music ringtones are far more advanced than polyphonic or monophonic ringtones. Full music ringtones are capable of playing the real song, complete with vocals and all musical accompaniments. This results in radio-quality ringtones that were not possible with the original monophonic ringtone.

Although the technology for ringtones has evolved greatly, some cell phones are still not capable of playing the full music ringtone. In fact, an older cell phone may only be able to play a monophonic ringtone. Also, some cell phone subscribers still prefer the sound of the monophonic ringtone. For those wishing to upgrade to a full music ringtone, however, is may be necessary to upgrade to a newer cell phone, as most newly released phones are created with the ability to download and play this type of ringtone.

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    • Older cell phones may only be capable of monophonic ringtones.
      By: nick barounis
      Older cell phones may only be capable of monophonic ringtones.