Spam calls are a running joke at the Stuff offices. Do you just stare at an unusual phone number on your smartphone screen with dread, wondering whether this is the telemarketer who just hangs up, if there’s nothing but dead air, a robot voice or — horror of horrors — perhaps it is a cold-caller attempting to sell you something you don’t want or need. No matter, we wind up making fun of the calls anyway.
But how do you handle them in a way that doesn’t just consist of mockery? For spam calls you’re basically resigned to installing something like Truecaller, but then you’re asking for smartphone changes (it pesters you to use their dialler and the app will keep trying to take over as the default messaging app) and intermittent ads. Plus, you don’t really know what data they’re looking at. Do you?
Where does that leave you? The manual blocking options available in your mobile operating system, of course. The unsung settings. The hidden helpers. And you don’t have to go out of your way to divine their secrets, because we’ve done it for you. Here’s how you can stop persistent callers in their tracks.
Android (Stock and One)
You might be one of the fortunate few to have gotten your hands on one of Google’s Pixel smartphones, or perhaps you’re using an AndroidOne device. There are a few of those floating about here in South Africa. That’s just grand, that means you’ve got three ways to torch annoying callers.
The first is to visit the Phone app (yup, that’s what it’s called), and then hit up the overflow (…) and Settings. Your next step it to look for Blocked Numbers. You might also see a Call blocking option, on certain handsets. Here you can manually add the number you’d like to consign to cellular oblivion. In the Phone app you can also tap on a number in your Recent calls list and select Block/report spam. That takes care of your second option.
If you select Android Messages, you can long-press on a contact and block them that way — though you’ll have to have them added as a contact for that. There’s a block icon, which is a circle with a line through it, once you’ve made the press. Tap that, and they’re dead to you.
If you’re a Samsung user, blocking options are very similar to stock Android. You can select the Phone app, then the overflow option — the vertical (…) — and then Settings. Here’s where the difference comes in. You can add numbers you want to block manually (under Block Numbers) but there’s also a toggle for you to block all unknown numbers. No more unidentified callers for you.
Depending on your Android version, there are two methods to get a number blocked the second way. You can either select Phone, Recents, and then select the offending digits. Tap on the overflow icon and select Block Number. But… if you’ve got the latest (for now) Android OS then when you select your number you’ll see a Details icon. Tap that and you’ll get a small Block Number option at the end of a row consisting of Create and Update choices. You know what to do.
And now for something completely different. If you’re using a Huawei smartphone, you’ve got… let’s be honest, a similar series of steps. But you’re going to be facing a few different names, so that’s going to make navigating a little trickier.
Here’s what you do: Realise that you do not block numbers on Huawei phones. You add them to a blacklist. Select Phone, then Contacts, and then tap the contact you’re annoyed with. Could be that one weird relative who always asks for money, it could be that number saved as Calls at 6AM, Don’t Answer. A More option will become available on selection, and you’ll have an Add to blacklist showing up after that. Press it.
You can also go through Phone Manager. Head over to Blocked, take the gear/settings icon and then you’ll see a Numbers Blacklist option. You can add numbers here but there may also be options to block messages with certain keywords in them, as well as a Whitelist option. In case you’re feeling benevolent, or expecting a call from a telemarketer that you actually want to answer.
LG’s process is very simple. Select the Phone app, go to Call Logs, and then select the phone number you’re unimpressed with. Press the overflow icon (…) on the resulting page (in the case of LG’s latest) and then select Block Number. You can also report it as spam, if you feel the need to take that step.
For a little more control, go Phone->Call Logs->(…) and then choose either Call Settings or Call blocking & Decline with message. Here you can manage the numbers you’ve blocked and also enable the same option Samsung gives you — blocking all unknown numbers by default.
If you’re using one of the newer AndroidOne Nokia smartphones, you’re going to have much the same settings to contend with as stock Android. Basically, you have three methods for blocking numbers here. You can refer to the Android section at the top of the page for that one, though you might see a Call blocking option rather than Blocked Numbers. If you’re using an older Windows Phone Nokia or the newer KaiOS (wait, what?) handsets, you’re out of luck. Should we get our hands on one of the brand new (KaiOS) or antique (Windows Phone) devices, we’ll puzzle out how to get rid of pesky callers for you.
We’re assuming that you’re using iOS 7 or later for this process to work. For some manual blockage using an iPhone (we’re not sure how well this will work on iOS 12, yet) the process is pretty simple.
You’ll need to find Settings, and then select either Phone (iOS 11) or General Phone (iOS 7-10). From there, search out Calls and then Call Blocking and Identification. You’re looking for Block Contact, which will take care of known annoyances saved to your contact list. If they’re not saved…
Then you need to select Phone->Recents, and then track down the number you’re done answering. Tap the small i icon next to the number and you’ll have an option to Block This Caller. Seems easy enough, right?