Why is my phone making notification sounds?

Phone notification sounds are tones or alerts that play from your device to notify you of incoming calls, texts, app alerts, and other events. These sounds are very common on smartphones, and many users wonder why their phone is suddenly making notification noises unexpectedly. This is a widespread issue that can occur for various reasons.

In this article, we will explore the main causes of mysterious notification sounds on your phone. We’ll cover the different types of alerts, common triggers, how to customize tones, troubleshooting tips, notification management, third-party apps, accessibility features, and automation. By the end, you’ll have a better understanding of why your phone may be making notification sounds and how to control them.

Types of Notification Sounds

There are three main types of notification sounds on smartphones: ringtones, alerts, and alarms. Each serves a different purpose.

Ringtones are the sounds that play when you receive a phone call. You can set different ringtones for contacts so you can identify callers without looking at your phone. Ringtones play at full volume until declined or answered.

Alerts are sounds associated with app notifications, text messages, email, calendar events, and more. They are usually short sounds or vibrations intended to get your attention. You can customize alerts for different apps. Alerts play at the system volume you have set.

Alarms are sounds set to ring at specific times, like for waking up or reminders. They play at full volume until dismissed and continue to go off at the set interval. You can choose between preset options or customize your own alarm tones.

The main difference is that ringtones are for incoming calls, alerts are for app notifications, and alarms are timed. But they can often use the same sounds. You just assign different sounds for each function depending on your needs and preferences.

Common Notification Triggers

There are several common triggers that can cause your phone to make notification sounds:

Text Messages

Incoming text messages will trigger a notification sound on most phones. This allows you to know when someone has sent you a text message so you can respond promptly. The default notification sound for texts varies by phone model and operating system, but can usually be customized (see the Customizing Notification Sounds section below).


New email arrivals will also trigger notification sounds on phones. This helps alert you when important emails come in from work colleagues, friends or services/subscriptions you may follow. As with texts, the default email notification sound can be changed.


Many apps on your phone are configured to send notifications by default, such as social media apps, news apps, messenger platforms, etc. New activity in these apps – like receiving a new message on WhatsApp or a friend tagging you on Facebook – will trigger notification sounds. Most apps allow you to customize notification settings.

Calendar Alerts

Your phone’s calendar app provides notifications/alerts for upcoming appointments and events. These alerts help remind you about scheduled meetings, due dates, etc. The notification timing can usually be configured in your calendar app settings.

In summary, the main triggers are incoming communications like texts and emails, app notifications, and calendar alerts. Understanding what’s generating sounds can help you manage notifications effectively.

Customizing Notification Sounds

Android and iOS give users granular control over customizing notification sounds for different apps and contacts. On Android, open the Settings app and go to Sound & vibration > Default notification sound to change the default sound for all notifications (Source). Tap the Settings icon next to an individual app to customize that app’s notification sound specifically. Go to Contacts, tap a contact, and modify the custom notification tone for incoming calls or messages from that person.

On iOS, open Settings, tap Sounds & Haptics and select a new default sound under Sound and Vibration Patterns. To customize notifications for a specific app, go to Notifications, select the app, and tap Sounds to pick a custom sound (Source). For contacts, go to Phone, select a contact, and modify the ringtone and text tone.

Users can add their own custom audio files as notification sounds on both platforms. On Android, place .ogg or .mp3 files in the Notifications folder, while on iOS add files to Ringtones in iTunes and sync to the device. Custom sounds allow users to assign distinctive alerts to important contacts or apps.

Troubleshooting Issues

If you are having issues with notification sounds on your phone, here are some troubleshooting steps to try:

  • Check your phone’s volume settings – Make sure the volume is turned up enough to hear notification sounds. You can adjust the volume with your device’s volume buttons or in the Settings app.
  • Check Do Not Disturb settings – The Do Not Disturb feature can block sounds and vibrations. Make sure Do Not Disturb is disabled if you want to receive notification sounds. You can find Do Not Disturb settings in your Settings app.
  • Unmute specific apps – You may have muted alert sounds for certain apps. Go to Settings > Notifications and check the app permissions. Make sure Sounds are toggled ON for apps you want to receive notifications from.
  • Restart your phone – A simple restart can often resolve intermittent sound issues. Power your phone off completely and then restart.
  • Update apps – Make sure you are running the latest version of apps that are having sound issues. Updates sometimes include bug fixes for notifications.
  • Clear app cache/data – For a specific app that is having sound issues, try clearing its cache and data which can clear up software glitches. Go to Settings > Apps for app management options.
  • Check your phone’s sound settings – There may be an issue with your ringtone or default notification sound set incorrectly. Go to Settings > Sound to verify your sound settings.
  • Test with another app – Determine if the issue is isolated to one app or system-wide. Try sending yourself a test notification from another app.

If you still can’t resolve notification sound issues after trying the above steps, you may need to contact the device manufacturer or app developer for further troubleshooting. Advanced troubleshooting steps may be required like software repair, OS reinstallation, or hardware service.

Managing Notifications

With so many apps sending notifications these days, it can feel overwhelming to stay on top of them all. Here are some ways to manage notifications on your phone:

  • Turn off notifications for apps you don’t need alerts from. Go to Settings > Notifications and toggle off any unnecessary apps.
  • Use Do Not Disturb mode to silence alerts during certain times, like at night. You can set a schedule for Do Not Disturb in Settings.
  • Prioritize notifications from your most important apps. Go to Settings > Notifications > Advanced settings. Here you can enable Priority only mode, which will only let preferred apps notify you.
  • Adjust notification settings within each app. Open the app, go to its settings, and customize things like sound, vibrate, pop-up style, etc.

Trimming down your notifications to just the essentials can help you stay focused on what matters. Make use of all the customization options in Android to take control over when and how apps notify you.

Third-party Apps

While the iPhone’s built-in settings allow you to customize notification sounds to a certain degree, third-party apps provide more advanced options for managing notifications and sounds.

Apps like Notification Manager give you more control over notification settings for individual apps. You can set custom sounds for each app’s notifications, as well as adjust other notification behaviors like banners, badges, alerts, and more.

Volume Control is another useful app that lets you control the volume level of each app separately. This allows you to turn down or mute the notification sounds of distracting apps while keeping other sounds at normal volume.

Exploring the app store for third-party notification and volume managers can unlock extra customization options beyond the iPhone’s system settings.


Users can better manage notifications by automating Do Not Disturb settings and schedules on their phones. This allows users to automatically silence notifications during set time periods or when certain conditions are met. Some ways to automate Do Not Disturb include:

Setting up a schedule in your phone’s Settings app – You can configure Do Not Disturb to turn on and off at scheduled times, like enabling it overnight while you sleep. Both iOS and Android allow creating automated DND schedules.

Using automation apps – Third party apps like Shortcuts on iOS and Tasker on Android enable setting up triggers to automatically enable DND. For example, turning on DND when connected to certain WiFi networks or Bluetooth devices.

Using a digital assistant – You can create voice commands for your digital assistant like Siri or Google Assistant to instantly turn on Do Not Disturb on command or schedule it for certain times/locations.

Leveraging IFTTT – The IFTTT app lets you automate DND based on various triggers like time of day, your location, or events in other services/apps.

With careful automation, you can ensure DND turns on when you need to avoid disturbances and turns off when you want to receive notifications. This gives greater control over managing notifications.


Many modern smartphones include accessibility features to make notifications more accessible for people with disabilities. This is especially helpful for those who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind, or have low vision.

For hearing accessibility, most Android and iOS devices have options to enable LED lights or flashes for incoming calls and notifications. This allows the user to see when a notification comes in, even if they can’t hear the audible ringtone or alert sound. iPhones also include options for LED Flash for Alerts.

In addition to LED lights, phones may also offer haptic feedback like vibration patterns for calls, messages, and other notifications. Users can customize vibration styles to create distinct buzzing patterns for different apps or contacts. This tactile feedback allows users to “feel” notifications.

On Android, useful accessibility features include Sound Notifications which plays audible alerts for notifications. There’s also options like Mono Audio to play all sounds in both ears, or Audio Balance to adjust left/right volume. iOS offers options like LED Flash for Alerts, background sounds, subtitles, and options to reduce motion in apps.

Overall, modern smartphones provide strong accessibility options to ensure notifications can reach more users. Customizing LED, haptic feedback, and audio/visual settings helps make alerts more perceivable for diverse users.


In summary, phones make notification sounds for a variety of alerts, including incoming calls, texts, app updates, calendar events, and more. These sounds help notify you of activity on your device. While they are enabled by default, you can customize or turn off sounds in your phone’s settings based on your preferences. Key reasons to manage notification sounds include reducing distractions, avoiding nuisance noises, maintaining discretion in certain settings, accessibility, and optimizing your phone’s automation. With the knowledge provided in this guide, you should now understand what triggers various notification sounds, as well as how to control them to best suit your needs. The goal is to find the right balance of useful alerts versus excessive noise from your mobile device.

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