The following is a somewhat clunky workaround for ATT cellphone subscribers with LOCKED iPhones to block specific telephone numbers. This was a simple solution to my battle against a particular nasty Telemarketing / Travel Company called E Tour and Travel. You too may have a number you’d like to block; a disgruntled ex, a bailiff or debt collector, the Pope, your parole officer, or any other such “person non grata”. You actually have 4 options, 1) Pay AT&T (and soon Verizon) for a service that blocks numbers 2) Use the silent ringtone method (that what this article is all about!!) 3) Port your number over to Google Voice (GV) and block the call on the Google Voice side 4) Unlock your phone and use iBlacklist this is a true call blocker and costs $12.
The bad news is that there is currently no FREE way to block a particular phone number from calling your iPhone. AT&T appears to offer a paid service called “Smart Limits” that allows a user to block numbers but it’s $5 per month / line and why should we have to pay for this!
The method I’m going to describe here is called the silent ringtone trick and no, I did not come up with the idea even though almost half a million people have read this article! Dead simple idea really, grab a new ringtone off my site called Silent Ringtone then assign it to the bugger, er number, you want blocked. The silent ringtone is actually a real 30 second ringtone that consists of 30 seconds of sweet Fanny Adams i.e. pure silence. Your phone will ring for all other calls, except the ones assigned to this silent ringtone! (See gotchas at the end of this article)
Here it is in three easy steps:
- First download file by double clicking on this special secret SILENT Ringtone download link. It’s a zip file so you’ll need to unzip it once it’s down loaded.
- Next add the number that you wish to block to your Address book, give it a nice name like “Telemarketer Scum”, “Miffed Ex” or “Jonny Law”. If you’ve got a lot of numbers to block create one universal blocked call contact called Blocked and you can then add other numbers to it in future by the “Add to existing Contact” feature.
- Finally assign this secret Silent Ringtone to the just added Telemarketer or Miffed Ex. Voila! you’ll never be disturbed by them again.
This method is not really a true way to block calls at the telephone exchange / network level but really just a clunky workaround. You’ll still see the callers number in the Phone > Recents > Missed list. If you phone is on vibrate, it will vibrate when the baddies call but not ring; this may be annoying.
They will still be able to leave you a message (most telemarketer won’t) BUT the phone will never again ring when they try to call and harass you, out of sound out of sight perhaps??!
Update, Jan 2011: Use Google Voice to block the baddies!
Another option is to port your current cellphone number over to Google Voice and then let Google Voice do the blocking. Your carrier would give you a new number and all you’d do is program Google Voice to ring this new number. Calls can be permanently blocked with Google Voice at the touch of a button. Also, your carrier may not like you running off to Google with you current phone number and you may incur charges when you port the number over. You’d also have a problem when dialing out from your iPhone as if you dial calls in the regular manner the other person would see your new number not you old cell number. Still this is an option to consider. It has been reported that some folks are having some trouble with Google Voice after they have ported over their numbers; missed, delayed calls and texts etc (Ha ha AT&T customers, myself included have has this BS for years) so you may want to wait a month or two until you decide to port your number over.