Install Ringtones Without a Data Plan




About: I was an engineer for the Air Force for 28 years and did land ownership research across Texas for several years. Now I am a field appraiser for a tax district.

I was tired of the $180 per year fee for a data plan for each of my cell phones, so I canceled them. Then I found out I could make my own free .mp3 ringtones, upload them to the net, and download them to my phone. Then I learned about the fee$ for doing that without a data plan.

If you have a data plan, cell phone manufacturers are happy to provide instructions to download their ringtones ($2.50 each), and they sell you the data plan ($15.00 per month). If you try to download a ringtone without a data plan they charge you a connection fee plus a transfer fee for each kb of data moved. What they don't tell you is that you can 1) make your own ringtones, 2) load them on the phone with a USB cable, miniSD flash drive, or Bluetooth, and 3) assign them to your contacts or general callers. Some phone manufacturers and providers make this a trivial exercise. For Sprint users with a Samsung phone, this Instructable can save you some money.

There are two ways I know of to do this: a really complicated way and a really easy way. The really complicated way uses software designed to reprogram the commands in your phone. A mistake could make your phone useless. It is just like editing the registry on your computer. I could explain the hard way but my eyeballs start shooting blood just reading it. This Instructable is the easy way, but there are some compromises you will have to live with.

Step 1: What Is This?

This is a process to load all the free ringtones you can load onto your microSD chip and use them directly as ringtones for your contacts or as a general ringer. This technique relies on the little known fact that a Video file stored on your microSD chip can be set to activate when someone calls. If the "video" file contains only audio and no video, then that file is the same as a ringtone. This Instructable shows how to convert any music file into a third generation video file with a .3g2 file extension. This is the kind of video file the modern phones use.

This Instructable will show you what you need (with links to software), illustrations of how to edit the music down to a ringtone of 10 to 30 seconds, illustrations of how to convert the .mp3 ringtone file to a .3g2 video file that your phone will recognize as a ringtone, how to put the video file onto your phone, and how to assign the video file as a ringtone.

While the process I am about to describe works without having a data plan, it is not ideal as you will see at the end. It is also not free, but neither is a data plan, so put the one-time fixed cost of this Instructable into perspective as you read. Plus the software you will be buying is NOT hackerware, so I don't feel bad about this at all - especially since I already spent $30 in connection fees to Sprint for downloading without a data plan.

I did what I consider an exhaustive search of the Internet for all programs that will make the necessary conversions, but I did not find anything except QuickTime Pro. Feel free to prove me wrong. I know someday, if not now, there will be free converters, and even QuickTime Pro still is not the magic bullet that solves every problem, but keep reading.

Thanks to josh (see the comments to the original Instructable), I have added a step using free software called Super. So now this Instructable is completely free (after you buy the phone, computer, phone plan, operating system, etc.)

Step 2: What You Need

- A cell phone (I assume you have one or you would not be reading this thread)
- Computer (I assume you have one or you would not be reading this thread)
- USB data cable (comes with newer phones) or Bluetooth enabled
- microSD card (32M comes with many newer phones - 32M is about 100 of these ringtones)

- Audacity software (free download from SourceForge (I love those guys). I am using version 1.3.2 beta)
- QuickTime Pro software ($29.99 - which is equal to two months of a data plan) OR
- Super (free download) (THANKS Josh)
- At least one music file to convert into a ringtone. Audacity works with all formats except the proprietary ones, so you can use Audacity to rip a ringtone from your CD collection.

What you don't need
- endless monthly charges for a data plan (yay!)

Step 3: Disclosure

The following directions are based on LavonneJ's directions posted elsewhere on a Sprint forum. He came up with the process. All I did was update it, clarify some things, and illustrate the heck out of the process. LavonneJ is credited plenty throughout the discussion. His steps worked on a slightly older version of QuickTime Pro. My contribution is more or less an update for QuickTime Pro 7.2. For the sake of completeness, I used his steps almost verbatim. His steps have letters a through h. All the rest, including the illustrations for a through h, is the stuff I added.

All the instructions for using Super came from Josh. Again I illustrated and expanded.

Step 4: Edit File to 30 Seconds or Less

a) I used Audacity to do this.
b) your ringtone should be 30 seconds or less, and 512kb or less, so you must trim your mp3 file.
c) Open your MP3 file in Audacity, and click where you want the ringer to start. Then you can drag the shaded grey area to where you want it to end. You can play around with it a bit until you get it perfect.
d) With your ringer section highlighted in gray, click edit at the top and then select "Cut." There may be an easier way to do this, but this is how I did it and it worked for me.
e) to the left of your music, the title of the song is displayed, with an "x" to close it to the left. Click that "x" to close the song.
f) Now you'll have a blank space. Go up to Edit and Paste. Your cut selection will appear now.
g) go to the FILE menu and select "export as MP3...".
h) select the folder you want your ringer saved in. Save it as a simple name WithNoSpacesOrDashes and as .MP3

Editor's NOTE: There are many ways to edit your music file down. Fiddle around with Audacity and see what you can come up with.

MAJOR EDITOR'S NOTE: If you already own QuickTime Pro, proceed to step 5. If you do not own it but you want to continue with this using a FREE software program called Super, then skip step 5 and go to the NEW step 6.

Step 5: Convert File From .mp3 to .3g2 (a 3GPP2 File) Using QuickTime Pro

1. Open the edited song in QuickTime Pro ($29.99, sorry but this is not entirely free) Go to the FILE menu and click "export." The Exported file dialog box will open. One of the dropdown menus says, "Export:" On that dropdown menu, select "Movie to 3G." Then click the "Options..." button.

2. The 3G Export Settings window will open. All the settings I used were the same as LavonneJ's but the window seems slightly different than he described. Here are your settings
File format: Select 3GPP2 near the top. There is another 3GPP2 (EZMovie) that also works but you'll use different settings and things will be subtlly different on the phone.
The next dropdown menu is untitled and defaults to "Video." Click the unnamed dropdown and select "Audio." A new set of dropdown menus will appear. Set them as follows.
Audio Format: AAC-LC (Music)
Data Rate: 128 kbps
Channels: Stereo
Output Sample Rate: 44.1000 kHz
Encoding Quality: Better
Frames per Sample: 1 (you can't change this)

3. Click OK to return to the Export dialog box.

4. Navigate to the location on your computer where you want to save your exported ringtone and click Save to save and return to QuickTime Pro. Once you do this once, your next QuickTime Pro conversion will take less than 30 seconds.

5. Note that the file extension will be .3g2. If it is not .3g2, then you did something wrong at number 2 above.

Step 6: Convert File From .mp3 to .3g2 (a 3GPP2 File) Using Super

Special thanks to josh for explaining how to do this with the free software called Super. This step 6 was edited in after he made his helpful comments to the original Instructable. I had tried using Super as part of my exhaustive search for software, but I could not make heads or tails from it. I think I was blinded by the overwhelming amount of stuff on the Super window. Josh simplified it considerably. Thanks.

1. Start Super. Super wants to connect to the Internet for some reason (my suspicious mind is working). If you are using Zone Alarm, it will tell you that. If you allow it access to the net, Super will open in a second. If you deny access to the net, you will get about 10 Zone Alarm alerts that Super is being denied access to the Internet.

I should warn you in advance that Super has a very annoying habit of recentering itself every time you move it on your desktop. That makes writing about it hard because it's always jumping around.

2. Super is color coded so I'll be referring to the various colors to help describe this. On top of the Super window, there are three drop down menus labeled
- 1. Select the Output Container colored magenta (reddish)
- 2. Select the Output Video Codec, colored green, and
- 3. Select the Output Audio Codec colored blue
Ignore 2 and 3 and set 1 to 3g2 (Sony Ericsson)

3. In the green area of the screen, check "Disable Video"

4. In the blue area select the following
Sampling Freq = 44100
Channels = whatever the default was
Bitrate kbps = 128

5. At this point you need to open a Windows Explorer window and navigate to where your .mp3 ringtone file is. Click-drag your .mp3 ringtone file into the gray box near the bottom of the Super window. The file name and path should appear in the gray area with a checked checkbox. You can add as many ringtone files as you want (apparently). Super will process them all at once.

6. Before you continue, you need to tell Super where to save your file. Right click then go to output file saving management to choose where to save the file. Otherwise it will go to your root directory (C:/). Then click the Encode (Active Files) button below the gray area to do the deed.

7. Now go to your window in Windows where your file(s) is. Note that it has a goofy name like yourfilename.mp3.3g2. You'll have to rename the file so it looks like yourfilename.3g2.

Step 7: Put Ringtone on Phone

1. Connect the phone to the computer and drag the ringtone file from your computer to the phone as follows: Use your flash card, USB cable, or bluetooth to navigate to your DCIM directory on the phone. Inside that folder is a folder named 100xxxx. This is where the .3g2 video file (your ringtone) should go. If the ringtone is not in this directory then you won't be able to find it when you're looking for it from the phone. I did not illustrate this part because I'm assuming everyone has some familiarity with using standard Windows windows.

2. Use Windows Explorer to drag the file from your computer to your phone. If you have several ringtones, you can move them all at once.

3. End your session on the phone and go back to your startup screen. At this point it does not matter whether you disconnect the wire or not. If you installed directly on your micro flash chip, just plug your chip back into the phone. Once you get the hang of this, it will take you a little less time than the QuickTime Pro conversion.

Step 8: Assign the Ringtone

1. Go to where you select your ringtone for either a contact or to your ringers in general. The following is specifically for the Samsung M500 phone. Yours might be identical, or maybe not so identical. I did not illustrate this step because I couldn't figure out how to take a screenshot of the phone.

2. Here is the step that makes this work. Your ringtone has a .3g2 file extension. The phone thinks it is a video, so you have to select it from among your videos. Select Edit > My Videos > Memory Card. Were you watching? That step was the trick! Look in your Videos folder/file or whatever your phone calls it.
NOTE: Now we have another problem. Videos have no text to identify them, so your ringtone will appear as an empty thumbnail with an X in it. If they all look alike, how do you know which ringtone is which? We'll deal with this next.

3. Select any of your X-files, then use Options > Play to listen to it and make sure it is the ringtone you want (if you have more than one). If is it not the one you want, use the Back button and navigate to select a different file.

4. When you have the right one, click Assign and wait for the phone to assign it.

5. Push Done and wait again until the phone is finished. When the phone is finished you can click the End button to return to your Wallpaper.

That is it. When you assign these ringtones, they show up either as "no title" or just blank for the ringtone; but they do play correctly with the quality of an .mp3 ringtone. Once you edit the music file down to 10-30 seconds, your total time to make the ringtone ring should be less than 5 minutes.

Step 9: Summary

You have just used Audacity and QuickTime Pro or Super to edit and convert any music files to video file to be used as a ringtone on Sprint with a Samsung phone and no data plan. If you still have a data plan, try this Instructable on your phone to see if it works for you. Then consider calling your carrier to cancel the data plan.

If anyone has an easy way to make a title for these ringtones, I'd like to know how.



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    69 Discussions


    11 years ago on Introduction

    My friends who are into ringtones simply use their RECORD function. It's obvious to anyone born in the 1900's. It used to be a red button on the left side of most media devices.

    5 replies

    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    You mean like this one??? heh, heh It's a joke son. I was born in the last century but not in the 1990s.

    Fischer Price Recorder.jpg

    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    I didn't say 1990's. I was alive when men were on the moon. And my TRS-80 doesn't crash when I do digital sound work on it.


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    Sorry my eyes were moving faster than I was reading. But seriously, I only discovered that I could make my own ringtones and do this recently. I'm a late adopter of cell phone technology having had one less than three years. I got a phone for my daughter two weeks ago. She wanted different ringtones (who has she been talking to?), so I had to read the manual. There is no record button on this phone. But from there sprang the interest in ringtones, the subsequent downloading charges, and the search for something less expensive.


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    I like cheap 2 way radios, Engenius(tm) phones, and VOIP over wi-fi.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    great guide! ended up figuring out how to do this before I saw guide, and it would have helped. now if only we could get text alerts without data connection.


    9 years ago on Step 6

    there's also a really simple converter site at if you don't want to fool around with software :)


    10 years ago on Introduction

    awesome! worked like a charm (free super method) with the samsung Rant for sprint. no more stock ringtones!


    10 years ago on Step 8

    i have an lg vantage and was able to get the file on the phone and be able to find it. but once i tried to assign it. it said it was an unsupported resolution. how can i fix that


    10 years ago on Introduction

    I've got the Samsung T539 (Beat) and I use pretty much the same process, except having to use Super or Quick Time. I just edit the mp3 to be about 10-20 seconds, hook up my phone, transfer the file, and set it as my ringtone(as an mp3).


    10 years ago on Step 8

    I have a Katana Eclipse X (6750) When changing the default ringer to the file I get error (WARNING! This file cannot be set." Every step form Quicktime Pro conversion worked. Now I have the file in my microSD card. Please help me get it to the ringer. Thanks.

    i had a similar problem with blackberry i had a 7105t i had to download the MDS simulator that matched the desktop app then use the WAP sending thing to get it it was really time consuming


    10 years ago on Introduction need an instructable for this? Just warez the software and upload the music file to your phone. Im assuming with the samsung it can read normal music files and set them as ringtones, right? RIGHT? If not...time to discover modern day technology.

    koaxLego man

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    for an iphone (Edge and 3G) i'll suggest you to use iPhoneRingToneMaker (you can easely found a crack for it ) if you really dont found nothing pm me i,ll send you a link


    gosh your harsh...... and if it was ONLY about the samsung m500, it should have said so in the title not just "Install ringtones without a data plan". therefor im pretty sure it meant it was for any phone that would work..

    2 replies

    in step 8 it says "The following is specifically for the Samsung M500 phone". If you can't assign the ringtone how can it work.Example:I can edit pictures I've already taken on the Samsung Zinc, But my brothers Razr cannot