It’s a common scenario: A mobile phone rings in the crowded train car, prompting 15 passengers to reach for their phones.
You don’t have to be one of them: Set up an individual ringtone (it’s easy!) and you’ll always know if you’re the one receiving a call.
A good ringtone should be unique and easily recognisable, but it should not be overpowering, says Marcel Kloppenburg, from the University of the Arts in Berlin.
The problem is finding such a combination.
Ringtones are not the craze they were back in pre-smartphone days – remember Crazy Frog? – but even with today’s smartphones, you can choose something different if you’re not satisfied with the preinstalled sounds that come with the device.
Android makes this easy for its users: Connect the phone to a computer and import the sound file into the Music folder. Alternatively, you can download it directly onto the phone.
“Under ‘Settings,’ a new ringtone can simply be added under the category ‘Sounds’ and then ‘Ringtones,’ “ says Benedikt Schwimmbeck, from the German computer website chip.de.
The sound file should ideally be in MP3 format, but in general, almost all audio file formats are accepted. It also doesn’t matter how long the song or sound is.
When it comes to Apple’s iOS, things are a bit more complicated.
The desired sound “must be in the M4R format and can be a maximum of 40 seconds,” Schwimmbeck says.
The tune can be edited in iTunes or free programmes such as Audacity, while the free tool Online Audio Converter can be used to convert the file into the M4R format.
Once ready, the ringtone can be moved into iTunes, and after syncing between the phone and computer, it’ll be available for use on the iPhone.
You can also find plenty of free ringtones on the Internet. However, sites that offer music from well-known artists may be doing so illegally, Schwimmbeck warns. In addition, the sound quality is often not as good as it could be.
For those reasons, it’s worth investing a little money in buying a ringtone, advises Oliver Buttler, who works for a consumer advice centre in Germany.
For iPhone users, this is particularly easy: In “Settings,” if you go into Sounds > Ringtone, there’s a link on the upper right-hand side to the Tones section of iTunes.
Android’s Play Store doesn’t have a ringtone store, but you can always buy music and use it as a ringtone.
With apps like Ringtone Maker (Android) and Ringtones (iOS), you can edit the sound so that only your favourite part plays, as well as add fade-in and fade-out effects. — dpa