Have you ever heard someone's cellphone ring with the sound of a popular song? It is more than likely that the person who owns that phone downloaded a ringtone. A ringtone is just a piece of music, or even a funny sound, that plays on a given cellphone whenever someone calls that cellphone. On many cellphones, it is even possible to install different ringtones that ring when different people call. For example, you can configure a cellphone like this so that it plays a Nelly Furtado song when your friend Sarah calls, or a Nickelback song when your friend Zack calls. Installing ringtones like this is a great way to have a bit of fun with your phone, and to express your individual tastes to the outside world. It also serves a practical purpose in that you know who is calling just from the sound of the ringtone.
There are several different types of ringtones. Older phones generally play only monophonic MIDI ringtones, which consist of a very simple set of tones played by the cellphone speaker. Only one musical note can be played at a time. Obviously, this means that the sound quality and complexity of the music is very limited. To provide better capabilities, the next generation of cellphones was created with the ability to play polyphonic MIDI ringtones. These still played a series of musical tones, but at least the phonce was able to play several such tones simultaneously in multiple musical channels.
This allowed the ringtones to have much richer and more complex sound quality, where for example you can hear the individual sounds of keyboards, guitar and bass. However, the MIDI aspect of the sound was still not that great. The most recent (current) generation of phones have overcome this limitation by allowing full MP3 ringtones or realtones. These ringtones are MP3 files that can play back a snippet of the song (or sound) in the same high level of detail one would expect from an MP3 music file.
There are several ways to get ringtones onto your phone. The first step is to discover what sort of ringtones your phone can play. The best way to do this is to read the User Guide that came with the phone, or contact your cellphone service provider and ask them. Then you can download ringtones individually from a variety of ringtone services, which are easy to find on the web.
However, you will have to pay anywhere from 99 cents to $2.99 per ringtone to download ringtones one at a time. A much better approach is to sign up with a service that allows you to download all the ringtones you want for a small monthly fee. If you download lots of ringtones, this service pays for itself many times over.
Marc Ilgen is a cellphone software publisher and developer and an expert in cellphone entertainment. His website KewlCell.com provides information on a terrific download program for ringtones.