Check Out the Silence Unknown Callers Feature in iOS 13 for Blocking Spam Calls

Spam phone calls have become increasingly problematic in the United States over the course of the last few years, and most people receive multiple spam calls per week, and some, per day.

Apple is aiming to help combat spam phone calls in iOS 13 with a new "Silence Unknown Callers" feature, which does what the name suggests - it silences incoming phone calls from numbers that are not in your contacts list. In our latest YouTube video, we checked out this feature to demonstrate just how it works.

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With the Silence Unknown Callers feature activated, all incoming calls to our test phone from unknown numbers (aka numbers not in our Contacts list) were silenced.

Silenced means sent straight to voicemail without the phone ringing at all, but the person does have the chance to leave a voice message. The person being blocked still hears the standard number of rings before voicemail picks up, so there's no real indication that Silence Unknown Callers is on.

For a call to come through with Silence Unknown Callers turned on, it needs to be added to the Contacts list. A number previously sent in an email (iOS can sometimes recognize phone numbers from emails) does not green light a call to go through. If you call a number that was sent straight to voicemail, however, it is no longer recognized as an unknown number even if that number isn't added to your contacts.

Silence Unknown Callers is a simple solution, but it's not identifying spam calls or risky numbers specifically. It's blocking out all unknown numbers, which may not always be a desirable solution. Still, those silenced callers can leave voicemails and the numbers are listed in the Recents list in the Phone app, so this is a solid way to cut down on calls that you don't want if you're contacted by a lot of spammers.

You can turn on the Silence Unknown Callers feature in ‌iOS 13‌ by opening up the Settings app, selecting the Phone section, scrolling down to "Call Silencing and Blocked Contacts" and toggling the Silence Unknown Callers option to the on position.

Silence Unknown Callers is activated right now in both the ‌iOS 13‌ developer and public betas, and it will be available for everyone with an iOS 13-compatible iPhone when ‌iOS 13‌ launches this fall.

Related Roundups: iOS 13, iPadOS

Top Rated Comments

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15 weeks ago
this is not what I imagined this would be. I wanted blocks for calls that come up on callerid as "unknown", not to block the world except for what's in my contacts... Apple please try again.
Rating: 45 Votes
15 weeks ago

this is not what I imagined this would be. I wanted blocks for calls that come up on callerid as "unknown", not to block the world except for what's in my contacts... Apple please try again.


Ironically, the "unknown" callers are all things I want to answer these days. It tends to be a doctor or government office, usually.

Meanwhile, every spammer in the world has figured out how to spoof the area code next to mine so they appear to be local calls from the next town over.

Not sure that blocking 'unknown' would do a darned thing anymore. Spammers have moved on.
Rating: 38 Votes
15 weeks ago

this is not what I imagined this would be. I wanted blocks for calls that come up on callerid as "unknown", not to block the world except for what's in my contacts... Apple please try again.

No, blocking unknown is not very helpful, pretty much useless actually. Nearly all of my robocalls have caller ID, many times spoofed with my area code and sometimes a local prefix, or even my exact prefix. I rarely get a phone call that comes through as unknown/no caller ID.
Rating: 18 Votes
15 weeks ago
It blocks any and all numbers NOT in your contact list. I have been using it from day one and have not had a single sales, give away, phishing Robo call of any kind. It sends everything not in contacts to voicemail with no ring on your end. In the weeks I have used it I only had two legitimate calls go to voicemail and they left messages. I then added them to contacts. I’m loving it.
Rating: 13 Votes
15 weeks ago

this is not what I imagined this would be. I wanted blocks for calls that come up on callerid as "unknown", not to block the world except for what's in my contacts... Apple please try again.


Agreed. I get calls from doctors or my vet or whatever, and they don't always call from the regular number listed for them. I know for myself - I'd never use this feature.
Rating: 11 Votes
15 weeks ago
This is a step in the right direction, but the Android Call Screening is really slick. If you haven't seen it...

[MEDIA=youtube]O4jOdVTkqS4[/MEDIA]

One of the only features I envy on Android.
Rating: 11 Votes
15 weeks ago
A very welcome feature! I will be turning this on the moment it becomes available.
Rating: 9 Votes
15 weeks ago
Wish iOS could prevent blocked numbers from leaving voicemails.

Even better would be iOS responding to blocked callers with "We're sorry, you have reached a number that has been disconnected or is no longer in service"
Rating: 8 Votes
15 weeks ago
I also want the phone screen to cover entire screen space when I receive a call. It’s very in your face and often time it interrupts what I was doing at the moment. I want to be able to flick away like messages if I don’t want the call.
Rating: 7 Votes
15 weeks ago
I love this feature. Most unknown numbers are spammers/telemarketers, for me anyway. If it is an important call, and I don't have the number in my contacts, they'll leave a message.
It is extremely rare that a spammer/telemarketer leaves a voicemail.
Rating: 6 Votes

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