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During a phone conversation on my iPhone (iOS5) today, I received three text messages. Each one caused my phone to play my message ringtone rather loudly in my ear.

Is this normal behavior? Is there a way to adjust the volume of the ringer while on a call?

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Short of flipping the silencer switch, there isn't any setting I am aware of for this. – George Pearce Feb 3 '12 at 21:10
Good call. I didn't think of flipping the switch during a call. That comment may just as well be the answer for this question. – kccricket Feb 3 '12 at 21:46
It shouldn't be necessary to have to remember that. If this is what the iPhone does, I'd say it is a user interface bug, and should be reported as such to Apple. – Harald Hanche-Olsen Feb 3 '12 at 22:03
up vote 3 down vote accepted

Switch the Ring/Silent switch to Silent.

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Here is how things work. The alert volume can be controlled from the sound preference pane. If you have change with buttons on, you cannot use the physical buttons during a call since that changes the call volume and not the alert volume. (the two are distinct sliders).

You can use the slider to change things (requires the phone to move away from your ear to disengage the proximity sensor) or simply flip the silent switch when you are talking to avoid hearing any alerts except for the call in progress.

My read of your description is things are working as designed / normally and you can use the silent toggle rather than the volume buttons.

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