I just spoke with Apple support and they told me straight up that without third party software, you cannot add a custom ringtone if you haven't purchased it from the iTunes store.
Apps or 3rd party software is the only way, and if it messes up the device, too bad because they are not approved by Apple.
Returning iPhone tomorrow as a result.
after all, if they can stop me from putting my own creations on my phone, what else will the phone not let me use that i already own?
their greed just pushed away two customers, my wife and myself.
Good luck all.
It is super easy to do. I do it all the time with my favorite snippets of songs (guitar solos, etc)
This is how it works:
1. Convert the file to an AAC file. (it will not destroy the original, but create a copy in the conversion process)
Note, your phone may require a ringtone file NOT LONGER THAN 30 seconds. So you may need to trim your song down to under 30 seconds. You're on your own for that - it's a different question!
2. Find that new AAC file in iTunes (easy to find if you sort by Date Added), then right click on it, and select "Show in Finder". Once the Finder window opens showing you the file, go back to itunes and DELETE the song from iTunes, but tell it to keep the file. (when it asks)
3. Go back to the file in the Finder. Change the suffix from .m4a to .m4r
4. Double click the file (this forces iTunes to re-import it- at which point it recognizes it as a ringtone, and it places it into the 'Tones' catagory in the left sidebar.
If it dosen't appear in the Tones folder, then you probably didn't delete it before importing it.
This sounds confusing, but trust me, once you do it a couple of times it'll go so fast, you'll be making ringtones like crazy all night long.
P.s. My favorite app for trimming MP3 files is a small shareware app called MP3 Trimmer by deepNiner. I think it was about a $15 app, but worth every penny! It's so handy, it'd be worth it at double the price. I got it years ago, and they keep sending new versions every year or two for free.