I’ve been an iPhone user for a long time and always will be – it’s just in my blood. While I’ve dipped my toes into several Android devices since I started here at Digital Trends, my primary device is still an iPhone 14 Pro. There are a few reasons for this decision: I’m already heavily entrenched in the Apple ecosystem, I bought the 1TB model so as not to worry about storage, and some of the apps I use don’t have a good enough Android equivalent.
Despite my personal choice to mainly use iOS, the more time I spend with Android, the more I notice things that it does much better than Apple’s iOS. And one of those things is how Android handles volume controls compared to iOS’s rather rudimentary and annoying system. It may sound like a small thing to be at home in, but it’s something I just can’t overlook.
Apple’s iOS volume controls are heavily outdated
Let’s take a look at how Apple currently handles volume control on iOS. On an iPhone, there are two volume buttons on the left side that you can use to turn the volume up or down. It’s simple and pretty much every phone out there has volume buttons, so that’s to be expected. Press those buttons and you’ll make the overall volume louder or softer.
In the Settings app, under Sounds and haptics, you will find the software volume control for ringtone and alert sounds. You can also optionally set it so that the ringtone and alert volume are controlled independently via software, so they are not affected when you use the volume buttons. This way your ringtone and alert sounds will stay at the volume you set with the slider and won’t be turned up or down with the physical buttons.
Adjusting your volume on the iPhone is cumbersome to say the least.
If you allow the ringer and alert volume to be controlled through the buttons, each press will only adjust the volume level for the ringer and alerts. When this happens, if you want to adjust the volume for other media, such as music and videos, you must do so while the audio is playing. This also includes the volume level for Siri, although you can only adjust that while Siri is active.
Even if you decide to just mute your iPhone, but still have the “change with button” setting for the ringer, you’re still adjusting the ringer volume instead of other audio. It’s confusing and makes little sense. iOS from Apple technically has independent volume controls for different audio elements, but the method of independently adjusting the volume is cumbersome to say the least.
Android does it so much better
As Android devices keep coming my way, one of the first things I do is always adjust the volume – I’m the kind of person who prefers to put their phone on silent and rely on vibrate when I get a notification. I forgot to do this with a plethora of devices, and every time a notification comes through, I hear a handful of devices ring at once. Unsurprisingly, that drove me crazy.
But when I pressed those volume buttons, my eyes lit up with excitement at the volume control that appeared on the screen. I see an icon that tells me what audio volume I’m adjusting, then the familiar three-dot button that tells me there’s more. I tap those dots and the volume pop-up expands to reveal five independent volume sliders (at least on my current Samsung Galaxy S23): system, alerts, Bixby Voice, ringtone, and media.
If someone has been using Android for years, this might be old, boring news. But when I first saw these volume controls, I gasped – how easy is this?
Want your ringtone to be loud enough to make sure you don’t miss an important call, but don’t want millions of notifications going off because a post of yours went viral on social media? Hate phone calls but don’t want to miss out on those Instagram likes and the like? Do you want to turn off all sounds except music and video when you play them? Not a single sound? Just customize them however you like!
When I first saw these volume controls I gasped – how easy is this?
There are no confusing settings to jump through or the requirement to hit the volume button at the right time. No matter what audio you want to adjust, it’s always a simple touch away on Android.
I wish more Android phones had a mute switch like the iPhone, but it’s easy enough to mute your device using just the Android volume controls. It’s so much easier on Android to independently control the volume for different audio elements that I’m shocked at what a chore it is on iOS.
Another trick Apple should steal from Google
The more I use Android devices, the more I notice how badly some things are done in iOS. The volume controls aren’t the only thing – iOS notifications are still horrible and embarrassing.
It’s been years and Apple only recently made it so that adjusting the volume doesn’t show a heads-up display in the center of your screen (remember?). So I doubt there will be a drastic change in the way the volume controls work, at least in the short term. At this point, it might be best if Apple copied some of Android’s best features, such as the independent volume controls and, of course, notifications.