When I get a phone call on my Google Pixel, it’s really loud and everyone in the room stares at me. Embarrassing! How can I lower the ringtone volume? The volume buttons on the side don’t seem to work at all!
The Google engineers behind Android made a curious decision when they were designing the popular phone OS: they included not one, not two, but four different volume controls. An iPhone, by comparison, has a single volume slider that adjusts both ringtone and alert volume, accessible from the volume control buttons. On an Android phone, however, the volume buttons on the side of your phone only adjust one of the four volumes. This means that you have no choice but to go into Settings to adjust the others.
This leads to common problems like lowering the volume to zero (essentially dropping the phone into “mute” mode) and then being frustrated that incoming text messages or phone calls still cause the phone to ring or otherwise give you an auditory notification. Are four separate volume controls necessary? I’ll leave that up to you, but at least I can show you how to get to those volume controls and adjust everything as you desire.
ANDROID 13: SOUND SETTINGS
Start by going into Settings on your Pixel phone. I’m running Android 13 for this demo, but earlier versions of Android should present very similar options and screen layout elements.
You’re probably familiar with the basic choices here on the Settings screen, so simply swipe down as needed so you can choose “Sound & vibration“. It’s the last choice in my image, above.
There are the four volume controls! As you can see they are Media volume, Call volume, Ring & notification volume, and Alarm volume. I currently have my phone on “mute” which means that the Media volume is at zero, but notice everything else is pretty loud, with my ring and notification volume at maximum!
ALMOST POINTLESS SIDE VOLUME BUTTONS
What’s interesting is that if I tap on the volume control button on the side of my Google Pixel 6a, it shows the slider, but ya gotta wonder what it’s controlling:
Seems like if I have the volume dropped down to zero, as the side graphic indicates, I should be able to have all of my notification and alert volumes automatically match that setting, but the Android devs don’t agree. In fact, what the volume buttons control is more obvious in this second image:
Basically, this is one of those “now you know” design aspects of Android. Now you know where to adjust the volume of your ringtones for incoming phone calls, you shouldn’t have a problem again.
One additional step while you’re here is to possibly pick a more low-key ringtone too. That’s easily done by choosing “Phone ringtone” from this Settings screen. You can see it in the earlier screen capture: Mine is currently set to “The Big Adventure”. Tap on Phone ringtone and you’ll see a very attractive interface:
One great thing about Android is that it has a lot of ringtones from which to choose. In fact, scroll down a bit and you’ll find a category that is great for people who want subtle rings, but don’t want it to be completely muted: Minimal Melodies:
I really like Falling Star, but you can audition the various ringtones to find the one that best suits your own tastes easily enough. Done? Don’t forget to tap on “Save” on the top right of the window.
Finally, while you are in the main Sound & vibration area, swipe to the bottom and check out some of the other options and preferences you can tweak:
Lots of ways you can customize your auditory experience, and now you know how to mute your ringtone as desired too! Have fun figuring it all out…
Tip: There are tons of ways you can customize your Android 13 experience! Keep experimenting and please do check out my extensive Android help area for lots more articles while you’re here too!