Ringtones are the sounds that cell phones make to signal that there's an incoming call. They can be as simple as a standard telephone ringing sound or as complex as a clip from a popular song or a recording of a voice saying "answer the phone!" Some cell phones even let you choose a different ringtone for each person on your contact list.
Most cell phones come with a selection of free ringtones. These are usually generic ringing sounds or cheesy MIDI sound files. These ringtones are "monophonic," which is just another way of saying that they are limited to a few easy notes with and a small set of sounds (along the lines of the music in early Nintendo games). They usually have a very electronic feel to them and they never have any vocals.
In order to get cool ringtones of pop music, you usually have to pay. You can go online to various sites and download ringtones for your phone. Then you can connect your phone to your computer (usually with a USB cable but sometimes through other methods) and upload the ringtones to your phone.
Ringtones that sound the same as real songs are called "polyphonic" cellular ringtones. This means that they can play multiple sounds all at once. They sound better than monophonic ringtones, but they are still not as good as playing a clip of an actual song.
Some cell phones have the ability to play clips of real songs as ringtones. Usually, these ringtones are in one of the following audio formats: MP3, WAV, WMA, QCP or AMR. These are the most popular ringtones today, as they allow you to hear your favorite song every time your phone rings. That way, you'll be able to tell that it's your phone that's ringing, even if you're in a crowded place with lots of noise. You can even pick out different songs to play when different people call. You might want a rap song for your boyfriend, a soft rock song for your mom and a lullaby for your little sister.
Customizing your phone with ringtones is really fun and it allows you to show a bit of your personal style.