Skip to main content

Do us all a favor: Put your phone on vibrate mode, and leave it there

Galaxy S10+ volume controls
Galaxy S10+ volume controls (Image credit: Andrew Martonik / Android Central)

Any smartphone from the last couple of years will have a good speaker. And if you spent some more money, it probably has a pair of really good speakers — with tuning and optimization that makes it sound great. I regularly use my phone's speakers to listen to podcasts and music around the house when I don't want to bother with a Bluetooth speaker. But that's where my usage ends: those speakers are for media, not for ringtones and notification sounds.

How often are you in public within earshot of your ringtone but not able to tell it's vibrating?

Please do us all a favor and put your phone on vibrate, because nobody needs to hear your phone. If you're in public, the people around you really don't want to know that you just got a Facebook message or an email, or your Ring camera saw motion at your front door. Much like not every app on your phone deserves the highest priority when it comes to notifications of any sort, very few deserve to actually intrude on you — and everyone around you — audibly. We're thankfully well past the era of Samsung's whistles and bloops, with ringtones and notification sounds that are much easier on the ears of everyone. But it's still no replacement for being courteous and silencing your phone.

The situations in which you're within earshot of your phone and also in a scenario when you can't tell that the phone is vibrating are few and far between. The phone's probably in your pocket or on a table, and if it isn't (like in a bag) then you probably aren't thinking whatever notifications that are coming in are that important in the first place. And if they really are, then you can deal with that in software in a way that doesn't have your phone making noise every 2 minutes.

Phones provide so many ways for you to only be alerted by notifications that really matter.

Many phones let you un-link the phone call and notification sound volumes, so you can have a proper ringtone for phone calls (which may still be important to you) while leaving every other sort of notification on silent. You can adjust the vibration intensity for notifications. You can set Do Not Disturb rules with exceptions for certain callers and apps. And if you really want to get deep into it, on Android 9 and later you can adjust every single type of notification from each app to be silent or make noise. At the very least, you can un-link your media and notification volumes so that when you adjust sound for media it doesn't turn everything else up.

Or, you can skip all of that configuration and just put your phone on vibrate and leave it there. Your contribution to a calmer society will be appreciated.

OnePlus 7T vs. OnePlus 7T Pro

Source: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)

The great thing is that while smartphone speakers have improved over the years, so have vibration motors. They're no longer rattly and annoying to the point where you'd turn vibration off — they're solid and vibrate with conviction. With the combination of vastly improved vibration motors, all of these software features that customize alerts, and the increasing popularity of wearables that bring notifications to our wrist, there are fewer and fewer reasons to ever have your phone's volume up.

We're trending in the right direction, but have lots of room to improve — please silence your phone.

My disdain for hearing people's phones alerting them for no reason is the basis for my appreciation of Apple's continued use of a physical mute switch; even as it has dropped components like a physical home button. OnePlus has stuck with its Alert Slider for years as well, but there are sadly very few phones hanging on to this hardware feature. Google has a decent alternative with the option to quickly press power and volume down at the same time to throw the phone in vibrate mode, and you'll find some sort of "flip to mute" option on most phones.

I feel things are trending in the right direction. A lot of people I know keep their phone in vibrate (or heck, even fully silent) 100% of the time, even at home. My phone has been on vibrate for months. Let's hope the trend continues; and maybe when the situation arises, you can nudge someone to mute their phone too. This is to say nothing of the people who have conversations on speakerphone in public ... I fear there's no saving them.

Andrew was an Executive Editor, U.S. at Android Central between 2012 and 2020.

64 Comments
  • I totally agree. My job demanded I put my phone on vibrate, and I still do that even though I retired. I honestly don't know what my ring tone sounds like.
  • I've kept my phone on silent for years, don't even use vibrate.
  • Maybe if vibrate motors weren't so weak on most phones, this advice would be doable. Even then, there is still a need for the phone to alert in your pocket just the same as from a distance - like for those of us who work in hospitals and have to be ready to answer texts, not just calls. Aside from scenarios where silence is golden, like meetings and movies, is it really this much of a pet peeve for you? Talk about first world problems. If you're being hounded by endless notifications from the hordes out in public, then let me suggest you relocate to a place that doesn't offer much in the way of cell service. Then you'll finally be free of those maddening notifications. Incidentally, your lack of connectivity might also spare the rest of us from reading condescending articles written by schoolmarms who turn up their noses at the rest of us with more important jobs than you. Grow up. Your use case is not the only use case.
  • It can't be said better than that. Nailed the nail on the coffin. Saved me a reply.
  • Bravo! Your answer perfectly encapsulates how I feel about what Mr. Martonik wrote. It’s quite annoying that there’s always some holier-than-thou tech writer telling the rest of us what we should do, how we should do it, and why they’re right and we’re wrong.
  • Couldn't have said it better than that lol. Though I'll still end up leaving my two cents, although much more crude and no where near as concise XD
  • Exactly. Give me a phone with strong vibration intensity and I'll leave it on vibrate. Just a little under taser strength will do just fine. But this S10+ is turned all the way up on intensity and I still can barely feel it in my pocket.
  • Thank you!! You saved me the trouble of ripping this article apart. Other than locations where you have to leave it silent....I'll have my notifications on full loudness. My phone...my money. Don't like it ...oh well. Andrew needs to get over himself. Maybe go to another planet if it bothers him so much. Please!
  • Dead right! When I need advice on how to use the phone i bought with my hard earned money (outright in Nigeria), I'll let you know AC.
    Till then, keep your supercilious opinion on how people choose to use their phones to yourself 😑
  • This dude occasionally writes idiotic opinion pieces, probably as click-bait. I prefer my phone on vibrate 100% of the time, but if I miss a message or call from my wife she gets pretty pissed. So, yeah, vibrate ain't good enough for some use cases.
  • Best comment ever!
  • "more important jobs than you" you're being just as condescending and full of yourself as the OP.
  • From time-to-time I forget my phone on silent mode when leaving to work from home after the night sleep. But then for some inexplicable reason it happens that I miss the notifications that I was sent and I am late or in a suboptimal time in answering a question and/or acting upon a notification that I subscribed for for good reason. Excellent advise, but sounds more like Andrew has an annoying colleague or friend rather than this being a good or even reasonable advice. There may be few situations when it is useful for some, but the reason one doesn't mute the phone is those few reasons. It's the same as navigation. In 90% of the times it's the same route I need to take home. The reason I use navigation is not that I can't find my way home, it's because I am too late to start traffic-dependent navigation when I am already late, having gotten stuck in a traffic jam due to an accident or unforeseen event. So I am pretty sure it's an awesome idea. …for that one annoying person. But this sounds more like a Messenger private message than an article.
  • I can't believe it's 2020 and there are still people that, when their phone does ring, will let it CONTINUE ringing while they pull it out and look at it to see who is calling. When I actually do have it on audible ring, I immediately hit the volume button to silence it.
    Also...those people who take some stupid hip-hop or country song as their ringtone...ugh. I just can't even...
  • Smartwatch + vibrate for as long as I can remember. I don't even know what my ringtone is...
  • Same here. When I get a new phone, I connect it to my watch and it is on Silent forever.
  • There is almost no reason to have blaring notifications anymore these days. It's widely considered a rude practice these days. Especially in busy work environments. Get a smartwatch or a tracker to give notifications. You can get them about as cheap as a decent wristwatch these days.
  • My annoyance at wearing something on my wrist trump's your annoyance at hearing my ringtone for 5 seconds if you randomly happen to be near me when it happens.
  • If it only goes off for a total of 5 seconds, that would be more acceptable, but it usually ends up being 20 consecutive 5 seconds bursts one right after another with little regard for anybody around them. One notification would be fine. But it never just one notification. Ranks up there with talking on speakerphone while holding the phone two inches from your head.
  • Andrew, I just hope you don't get old and deaf like me. You might just change your mind my friend.
  • I need to hear mine as my job is very loud and I can never feel it vibrate in my work bottoms
  • That makes no sense. It is like telling people not to answer their devices in public because you dont want to hear them talking to someone else. Which is not only idiotic but a very toxic outlook. My device is set up so I know who is contacting me and by what medium they are using so I know if I need to answer them right away or not. This is due the simple fact that I cant pull my phone out for every little buzz that it does when devices are still ghost vibrating. Also you are very wrong. Very few devices these days outside of samsung allow for separating the notification and ringtone. If this is what triggers you then I would stay home as you seem to have an issue with sensory overload. Lets not mention the fact that more and more jobs are frowning on pulling your device out while at work. Hell I fired 3 people this week for constantly checking their devices. When one even used the argument that they needed to know if it was their child or not I showed them how to set up proper ringtone notification settings. So I will put my phone on vibrate and miss business deals if you promise you will no longer ever answer your phone in public. Now really, when you say it out loud doesnt that **** just sound silly.
  • Put your phone on silent ! Nobody wants to hear the vibration of your phone
  • For some reason if my phone is in my pants pocket I can't feel it vibrate. I just can't. Please spare me any jokes about having a numb butt. Back in the day when phones REALLY vibrated I could feel and hear it but not with these modern phones. I dont get all that many calls and texts so people can just deal with my ringers. I try to choose the least obnoxious tones I can.
  • You'll just have to hate me, mine are all Mario themed and I want to hear them :P
  • I agree. Regardless of where I am I put my phone on silent.
  • I thought the AC title should have been... "Do Android phones have a vibrate option?" Or "Best ringtone option for 2020?"
  • Hey do me a favor a get rid of all these loud, intrusive pop up ads that come on for no reason. Arrogant you are.
  • No, I won't. 🤪
  • Lol if I did this I’d never answer a call or notification. I understand the argument of not FaceTiming in public, or talking with someone on speakerphone in public because I would agree those are rude and no one wants to hear that. But really? The notification sounds? They trigger you that hard?
  • This does actually remind me of a situation at work recently. Someone left their phone in the breakroom to charge, I was in there eating lunch and trying to watch tv and the thing just kept ringing and ringing.
  • That's a negative ,I love hearing navi go off and say hey listen , everyone's head turn lol, in my store all the time customers are looking around priceless.
  • Hey junior, nobody reading a tech blog needs any help/advice on how or when to silence their notifications! Do what you want with your phone and we'll do the same.
  • While yes, I leave my phone on vibrate about 99.99% of the time, saying that 'everyone' has to do that is just ridiculous and outright disrespectful to everyone out. There are TONS of reasons why you should have the notification sounds on... If its in your pocket, chances are you DON'T feel it vibrate... unless you're sitting down or wearing tight pants, it just isn't 'feelable' 90% of the time. Now what NEEDS to happen/be implemented, is the phone realizing that you're actively using the phone, so don't make a notification sound because obviously you already have the phone in your hands, thus do not need to be violently disrupted. A simple vibrate, or just a pop up bubble or something suffices for that... But, if the phone isn't in your hand, then yes, an audible notification makes perfect sense because you don't have 'ghost sounds', but you definitely do have 'ghost vibrates'... A perfect analogy here, is what happened at work. We have an audible system that tells people out on the floor when something happens. that system, has not been working for 2 weeks now. Every day I get asked when its going to be fixed, along with this analogy: How do you know when you have a text or a phone call when you aren't looking at the phone? It rings. how do you know if you have a text or phone call when the ringing doesn't work? you have to stare at it for hours expecting something to happen. So no, not everyone should turn off their notification sounds. I think developers of phone OS's need to create a better notification system. Like I said before, having it know when you're using the phone and thus not being obnoxious with notifications would be best. But until then, having a notification go off, period, is better than not having one. For me, vibrate is just fine. Why? Because I have a Galaxy Watch which is strapped to my wrist for the majority of the day. When an important notification comes along, my wrist vibrates and I know to check my phone. If i didn't have the watch, i'd have audible notifications on the phone, although turned down low when at work so i don't bother people in a quiet work environment. But when out and about, you better believe I'd have that sound cranked up to max because I want to know when I am getting a freaking message!
  • This is a good moment for a OK Boomer comment.
  • I agree and disagree. Generally, I barely ever receive phone calls, and the emails I get generally are of more importance than not. I 'm not on any social media, so none of my notifications come from that junk. SO, my notifications are usually of decent importance, which means I don't give a s**t if someone things it's annoying that they're audible. Bite me. If the vibrating motor is too strong on the phone, then it's literally like a ringtone anyways, as the vibrations are audible to everyone - even several feet away. Putting it on Vibrate Accomplishes nothing. You'd had to lower down the power of the haptics to the point where you'd start missing important stuff, as it would be almost like having your phone on Do Not Disturb. On the flip side, I had a neighbor whose phone would beep every 3 minutes and she had to check her Facebook or Text Messages during conversations. It was really annoying. She also used the default iPhone ringtones, so when I had an iPhone I was always thinking I had a text message or something when talking to her. IMO, that's a bigger issue. If you get tons of notifications on your phone, you should consider a non-default notifications ringtone, because people who don't get tons of notifications usually don't have much reason to manage notification tones or assign specific tones to specific people. I think the biggest annoyance is when someone with a default ringtone has a phone blowing up and half the room has to keep checking their phone because they're using a default iPhone or Samsung notification bell. So putting the phone on vibrate is tantamount to changing the ringtone.
  • The advice provided in the article just doesn't quite work if you're working in a more "blue-colored" collar industry. Vibrations don't seem to suffice when operating an excavator or driving a dump truck. Of course, YMMV. {sheesh}
  • It's like everything else... If common sense was actually common, we wouldn't have to have these discussions. If you're in a must-have quiet scenario (theater, church, concert, etc.), it should be on silent or off altogether. If you're commuting, in a restaurant, public/shared workspace, put it on vibrate or at very least silence your phone when a call comes in and move it to vibrate after the first message or two in a conversation. (If you've ever sat in a shared office environment next to someone who carries on text conversations all day but insists on leaving their obnoxious bleeps and bloops on, you'll understand.) If you're in a private space like your own home, have all the notifications you want. Again, most people don't have a problem with the occasional. It's the repeat offenders who leave every notification enabled on their phones and then subject you to a barrage of their bleeps and bloops with no consideration for others that are the issue. (NOTE: If you take a call on speakerphone or FaceTime someone in a restaurant (as I was forced to endure this morning), know that there is a special place for you in hell.)
  • Ok dad. How about let people set up their phone how they want? Sheesh. Well, since you took a poll of everyone around me I'd better do what you said. Wow. I can't imagine being so annoyed with other people's notification sounds. It's never even occurred to me to be annoyed by them. Who cares?
  • They are nothing but annoying to everyone but the person receiving it. Having no empathy is a sign of mental illness.
  • Sorry but until the phone makers actually put a real vibration motor in these phones I will leave my ringtone and notification sounds turned on unless I'm in a location where it is not allowed. The only phone I have ever owned that had a very good vibration motor was the Moto X-pure. That phone could knock a loose filling out of your mouth. Every phone I have had since has a basically useless vibration motor. Sure, if it's sitting on a hard table you'll "hear" it vibrate, but if it's in your pocket...forget it.
  • Sorry to disappoint you, but I use Cortana on my Windows phone in the always-on mode. I like that I do NOT have to have my phone in my hand or even near me if I get a text or need to respond to/initiate a text. This is my primary means of communication, and I'm often far to busy with my hands to stop what I'm doing to pick up my device. Being able to do this 100% by voice is how I prefer to function. Tough if you hear it.
  • Sorry, disagree, for my personal use , the louder the better , don't really care if I hear other peoples phones or not , or their conversations, I really am not that uptight.
  • Not uptight, just plain rude.
  • Yeah...you're just another pain in the ass.
  • "A lot of people I know keep their phone in vibrate (or heck, even fully silent) 100% of the time, even at home. " So? You have people that don't want to know when their cell rings? Apparently they don't use their phone as a phone then.. kind of hard to answer a phone that's completely on silent. What I hate more than annoying notifications is people who keep their phones on silent all the time, forcing me to leave a voicemail every time I call them.. THAT'S annoying.
  • I don't know anyone that answers a ringing cell phone, but they'll start answering a text immediately.
  • My phone is on silent 100% of the time. The only time it is not on silent is if my wife is leaving and she knows she will call me when she leaves, she asks me to take it off silent. I took my phone off silent once and heard keyboard taps and app noises and the like and I was instantly annoyed by my own phone. My wife keeps hers on silent as well and the kids are adults and out of the house. With it just being the two of us, we never hear our phones. The key though is that my phone is connected to my Gear S3 Frontier so my watch vibrates and lets me know when a call or message arrives. Sometimes Android Auto turns the volume up on my phone when I get out of the car and then a loud notification or other audio is heard and my wife will say “Why is your phone so loud?????” and I’m like “I don’t know!!!!” Yeah, the only noises we hear are our voices and the tv pretty much.
  • My phone is usually on vibrate. I only need to hear my phone ring at home.
  • Now that I know it pisses people off, I'm turning notification volume to 100%. Do us all a favor: Learn to be more tolerant of others.
  • Everyone has their limit to what they can tolerate from others. What is your 'limit'?
  • I would much rather hear an assortment of creative sounds than the repetitive wah-wah of a vibe motor every few seconds. No matter what anyone says, vibration motors are not silent.
  • Now if we could ask all those obnoxious people who talk on their phones via earpieces in public as loudly as they do to turn a switch off so the rest of us shouldn't have to be forced to listen to a personal conversation!
  • Good luck with that in LA…
  • Geez I wouldn't like to be reminded of that
  • Respectfully disagree. A sound is better for when you can't feel the vibration, for example, when your phone is on you.
  • No. My wife already doesn't answer her phone when I call. This would make things even worse.
  • That and people who have their flash on all the time taking snaps/using social media (and no not talking about at night)
  • "Old man yells at cloud"
  • I find phones obnoxious in general, we're way past consideration for others, this is what happens when the "participation trophy" generation is cut loose on the world. You are all special...nothing but the best, just ask your mom.
  • Do us all a favor: stop telling everybody else how to live.
  • Do us a favor and be considerate
  • I like what John Oliver has to say about notifications... https://youtu.be/kxatzHnl7Q8
  • As good as it is to have a good haptic motor (same as Pixel 3, but higher quality), there are times I need to hear my phone. If I'm someplace where it would disturb others, then yes: it's on vibrate or silent. If it's in my front pocket, I can feel it while standing or sitting, but not while walking because I have to wear loose pleated pants (wife's order!). When I do need to hear it, at least I keep the volume very low, and my notification sound is subtle (obscura), unlike the annoying glass ping that Apple uses. My offices are private, so it's doesn't matter there, and I prefer the phone on the desk anyways. But the thing is, if we are so concerned about being polite, why not just go completely silent and rely on your notification light? Oh, wait... you bought a phone without one? Sucker! ;)