Uncluttered ringtones for smartphones

20130710_cleartonesLike many of you, I enjoy the convenience and fun of owning a smartphone. However, I detest loud, obnoxious ring tones. It’s jarring to be in a room with someone whose phone suddenly begins blaring a Metallica riff. My iPhone shipped with several options for ring tones, and several are acceptable. But, there is still much to be desired.

I had an opportunity to review Cleartones, which are non-obnoxious and downright minimal ringtones and alert sounds for the iPhone and Android. (Thanks to Cleartones for letting me give these a try.) After a week of testing these sounds, I can safely say they’re the least annoying ringtones I’ve heard.

When I’m picking a ringtone, I’m looking for three things:

  1. It can’t be embarrassing in a professional or more formal setting. Something goofy might amuse my friends over the weekend, but that won’t cut it when with a client.
  2. It must be loud enough to be heard while in a pocket. This might be a function of my age, but I don’t always hear my iPhone ring when it’s in my pocket. I dislike the vibrate function, so the tone I choose must be loud enough for me to hear through clothing from a few feet away.
  3. It can’t be insistent. People think I’m crazy on this one, but hear me out. A ringtone’s job is to let me know when someone is calling. It rings, I hear it, and then I respond. There are many rings out there that repeat almost instantly, over and over. I want a good “five Mississippi” between rings. I know someone’s calling, and I’ll get to it when I get to it.

With these points in in mind, here’s what I found from Cleartones.

The company offers two sets of tones, each with three packaging options. The original set is Cleartones Classic. These are mostly electronic-sounding tones, each super brief. The one called “A Clear Tone” is literally a single, electronic “ping” that repeats every six seconds. It’s like the Cleartone developers were reading my mind when they designed this one. Others, like “Loud & Clear” sound like an old ’90’s portable phone, while “The Friendly Tone” fades in and out quickly. The “Classics” set contains 50 tones for $10. Likewise, the Classics Notifications set offers 50 sounds to use with sms, email, voicemail and other alerts. It also sells for $10. Or, you can buy the lot — 100 sounds — for $17.

The other set of sounds is called Cleartones Organic, which feature acoustic instruments exclusively, like metal bells, glass bowls, a vibraphone, and more. This is my favorite set. “Hello There Wood” is very nice, as it’s three sharp raps on a wooden block, but my favorite is “Gamelong:” two quick taps on a glass bowl that repeats every five seconds. It meets all my criteria.

Just like the Classic set, Cleartones Organics ringtones and notifications sets (50 each) are available for $10, or you can buy all 100 for $17.

I should mention another company that sells pleasant ringtones called iRingPro. Their site was recently hacked, unfortunately, but you can still access their web store. iRingPro focuses more heavily on nature sounds.

They’re all worth checking out and, in most cases, are more pleasant and uncluttered than whatever shipped with your phone. Also, if you have another favorite set of uncluttered ringtones, please share your finds with everyone in the comments.

16 Comments for “Uncluttered ringtones for smartphones”

  1. posted by Greg Chabala on

    Vibration is the only professional way for your cell phone to alert you. Obnoxious ringtones make one appear like a foolish youth, and any other sound makes one look to be old and out of touch, hard of hearing, or both.

    Everyone has cell phones. Some people get calls or texts constantly. No one should have to hear it when you do.

  2. posted by Deb on

    I actually had a student whose ring tone was a woman coming to orgasm. Classy, huh?

  3. posted by customic on

    And I thought I was the only one crazy about the ‘minimalism of ringtones’. Thank you, David!!!

  4. posted by David Caolo on

    You’re not alone, customic!

  5. posted by Tori on

    I like the tones and have downloaded them – HOWEVER I wish I had been given the option of buying my one or two favourites as stand-alone. All those 50 tones are now cluttering my phone and I have to decide which one to use …

  6. posted by Bastian on

    I’m in search for decent and minimalistic ringtones, since there are cellphones and the collections of Cleartones are just awesome!

    Thanks for sharing them with us.

  7. posted by Richard on

    Tori, if you sync with iTunes, you can disable which tones you do not wish to be on your phone. I’ve done it for tones I’ll never want to use. Just un-tick the box next to the individual tone in iTunes and sync.

  8. posted by infmom on

    I just got my first smartphone not so long ago.

    The ringtone is the “Inspector Gadget” theme song (I made it myself) and I’m very pleased about that. 🙂

  9. posted by Yvette on

    Some apps (like Ringtone Maker) let you choose a title in your own music library and transform it into a ringtone. It is nice to select a tune that means something very special to you so you recognize it instantly and don’t mistake it with the people sitting next to you in a train…
    Sometimes I want to laugh when I hear a very noisy ringtone and compare it to the owner of the phone !

  10. posted by Yvette on

    Mine is made with the first quiet notes of the Roumanian Rhapsody, it is quiet but since I anticipate the whole music it gives me a great pleasure and I answer with a smile.

  11. posted by Rob O. on

    If you must…

    Make your own:


  12. posted by Laurie Buchanan on

    I have a ZEN CHIME ringtone that is beyond phenomenal – you actually look forward to someone calling! http://tuesdayswithlaurie.com/.....artphones/

  13. posted by Kate on

    I still have a dumbphone and was really annoyed to find they had no simple one tone or beep alert options preinstalled for even texts or voicemails, much less ringtones. What were they thinking?

    Vibrate is certainly an option, but I’ve been in plenty of meetings where a phone set to vibrate has been just as disruptive as if the person had the 1812 Overture as their ringtone.

  14. posted by Rachel on

    Vibrate can kill your battery’s charge pretty quickly, so it’s not always a good option. That’s even more of a concern if you’re in an area with poor reception and your phone is constantly searching for a signal, which also drains the battery.

    I put my phone in silent mode when I’m in situations where I think a ringtone would be obnoxious (restaurants, stores, hiking, parties). I put it on vibrate when I’m one of those settings and I especially don’t want to miss a call.

    Otherwise I try to find ringtones that are NOT jarring, because I really hate when a phone makes you or your friends jump out of their skin. 😉 My text/message alert is even less jarring – just a brief tone.

  15. posted by TinaInVA on

    We are supposed to turn off phones at church, invariably somebody doesn’t. A ringtone blaring in the stillness is extremely disruptive, and always embarrassing no matter what. Vibration can be felt through the pews.

    It even happens to priests, if they are unable to turn off the phone due to possible emergencies. In a blog comment, one priest offered his suggestion of a cough ringtone.

  16. posted by [email protected] on

    I have a really hard time hearing my phone when I’m out. My hearing is fine – I’m just usually hyperfocusing on shopping and don’t pay attention or the sound blends in with all the other sounds. So for years I had a ringtone that was a cat meowing. I ALWAYS heard it. ALWAYS. But so did everyone else. I’m a homemaker so it wasn’t a big deal and I was diligent about putting on vibrate when the meow would be disruptive (like church). But I can’t get that ringtone on my new phone so I had to go with a barking dog. I hate having a ringtone like that but I have to be able to hear it. I answer quick so those around me don’t have to listen too long.

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