There’s still a lot of back and forth going on with this iPhone mute switch argument, but reader Ian Ferrel (@ianferrel) emailed in to say:
It’s worth noting that the image shown when you flip the switch is a bell with a line through it, not a speaker symbol with a line through it. This is a clue that the switch is not setting the volume to zero, it’s turning off the ringer.
That’s a fantastic point and here’s what he is talking about:
I don’t think most iPhone users are going to notice the difference between the ringer symbol and the speaker symbol, but Apple took the time to make them different because, they do in fact, have different meanings.
Update: I’m not saying this exonerates Apple. I am saying that Apple sees a clear differentiation between the mute switch and the volume rocker — and uses symbols differently to convey this to users. It should also be noted that Apple labels the speaker icon as “ringer” when you adjust it with the volume rocker and this leads to more confusion.