There’s a lot more to the sounds on your Android phone or iPhone than the volume rocker on the side of your handset.
You can tinker with dozens of sounds settings—everything from whether you want your onscreen keys to “click” when you tap them to which ringtone sounds when a specific loved one calls.
You can also tweak your music equalizer (yes, your device has one), turn down your music volume without quieting your alarm, and even silence the “lock” sound your device makes when you put it to sleep.
Read on for six Android and iOS sound settings you need to know, starting with…
(Note: The following tips apply to Android phones running on Lollipop and iPhones and iPads with iOS 8.4.)
1. Turn keyboard clicks on or off [Android & iOS]
Adding some feedback in the form of a little “click!” for each keytap can be a life saver when tapping the tiny keys on your handset’s slippery on-screen keypad.
Then again, maybe all the clickety-clacking while you’re typing on your Android phone or iPhone is driving you a bit batty.
Either way, there’s an easy way to turn Android and iOS keyboard clicks on—or off.
Tap Settings > Language & Input, then tap the name of the keyboard you’re using (under the “Keyboards & input methods” heading).
For the stock Android keyboard, tap Preferences, then flip the Sound on keypress setting on or off. While you’re at it, you can also choose whether your device vibrates when you tap a key by flipping the appropriate switch.
If you’re using a third-party keypad, you may need to hunt and peck a bit to find the right setting. For the popular SwiftKey keyboard, for example, you’ll need to tap Sound & Vibration, then check (or uncheck) the Keypress sound setting.
Tap Settings, then Sounds.
Scroll all the way down, then flick the Keyboard Clicks switch on or off.
2. Hear (or silence) the “lock” sound when you lock your phone [Android & iOS]
There’s something comforting about the sound of your Android or iOS device locking itself when you put it to sleep. That said, there’s nothing stopping you from muting the “lock” sound if it’s getting old.
For Android: Tap Settings, Sound & Notification, tap Other sounds, then flip on (or off) the Screen locking sounds setting.
For iOS: Tap Settings, Sound, scroll all the way down and flip the Lock Sounds switch.
3. Keep the volume buttons from changing your ringer/alert volume [iOS]
Here’s an interesting problem for those who use their iPhones or iPads as alarm clocks: when you use your device’s volume keys to, say, turn down the volume on a song, a YouTube video, or anything else that’s making noise on your handset, you may inadvertently be turning down the volume on your ringer and alert tones, too. (I found this out the hard way after sleeping through an iPhone alarm that was so quiet, I could barely hear it.)
Luckily, there’s an iOS setting that will keep your iPhone or iPad volume buttons from changing the volume of your ringer or alerts. Yes, that means you’ll have to dig into your settings to tone down the shrill whine of your iOS alarm clock, but that might be preferable to snoozing the morning away.
Tap Settings > Sounds, then flip off the Change with Buttons switch under the Ringer and Alerts heading.
Note: Unfortunately, there’s no similar “Change with Buttons” setting for Android users, but you can still check and change your Android volume levels for alarms, ringers, and media by tapping Settings, Sound & Notification, and then adjusting the trio of volume sliders.
4. Set custom ringtones for specific contacts [Android & iOS]
You probably don’t need to be told that you can pick different ringtones for the main Android and iOS ringers, or that you can, say, change the sound of a sent iOS Mail message from a “whoosh” to a “ping!”
What may not be quite so obvious, though, is that you can assign different ringtones to specific contacts in your Android or iOS address book. In other words, you can set your handset so you hear one ringtone when your boss calls, and another when it’s Mom.
Open the Contacts app (or the People app, if your handset is still running on Android KitKat), then tap on a contact card.
Tap the Edit button (the one that looks like a little pencil), tap the three-dot menu button in the top corner of the screen, then tap the Set ringtone option.
Pick a new ringtone, and you’re all set.
Open the Contacts app, tap on a contact, tap the Edit button, then scroll down to the Ringtone field.
Tap the current ringtone (probably set to Default) and pick a new one.
While you’re at it, look just below to find the Text Tone setting; rinse and repeat to set a custom ringtone for incoming texts from the contact.
5. Make your phone vibrate (or not) when it rings or when you tap [Android & iOS]
So, does vibration count as a sound? It might (literally) feel that way when your phone is vibrating at the same time it’s ringing, or if it gives off a little “buzz” along with your tap tones.
If you’d rather not feel as well as hear that your Android phone or iPhone is ringing—or if you just want to conserve your battery life by keeping vibration to a bare minimum—there’s a simple setting you can change.
For Android: Tap Settings > Sound & notification, then flip the Also vibrate for calls setting. Next, tap Other sounds, then do what you will with the Vibrate on touch setting.
For iOS: Tap Settings > Sounds, then toggle the Vibrate on Ring setting. You can also switch off the Vibrate on Silent setting, although you may miss a call or two if your silenced iPhone is sitting in your pocket.
6. Tweak with your equalizer levels [Android and iOS]
“Don’t touch my levels!” warns Samuel L. Jackson in Jackie Brown, but that’s exactly what we’re going to do with the equalizer settings on your Android or iOS device.
iPhones and iPads have a broad spectrum of EQ presets to choose from, while Android “Lollipop” devices have an actual (or virtual, anyway) five-band equalizer that you can adjust until your tunes sounds just right.
Tap Settings > Sound & notification, then tap Audio Effects at the very top of the screen. (Yes, that’s actually a button, not a heading.)
Make sure the Audio Effects switch is on, then go ahead and touch those five levels, or tap the Equalizer drop-down to pick a preset.
If your device is hooked up to wired stereo speakers, tap the Wired Stereo tab to choose an Effects Profile (such as “3D stereo,” “home theater,” “live stage,” and so on) or a Surround setting (Live, Wide, or Ambient).
For iOS: Tap Settings, Music, EQ, then pick a preset—anything from Acoustic or Bass Booster to Small Speakers or Vocal Booster.
When you purchase through links in our articles, we may earn a small commission. This doesn't affect our editorial independence.
Ben has been writing about technology and consumer electronics for more than 20 years. A PCWorld contributor since 2014, Ben joined TechHive in 2019, where he covers smart speakers, soundbars, and other smart and home-theater devices. You can follow Ben on Twitter.