A hand holding a smartphone with an unknown caller coming through
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Sick of spam calls? If you have an iPhone, Apple can help

You can divert any unknown call to voicemail automatically — and here's how to set up that feature in your iPhone settings

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Spam calls are more than annoying — they can prevent important calls from reaching you during the day. But Apple has a solution for iPhone users that may help.

Certainly it's simple to quickly glance at a call — and see if it's from a contact. But the ringing and even haptic buzz from the call itself can be a serious distraction. And while some phone carriers help by marking certain calls as "Spam Risk," for example, and app makers provide quick programs to try and weed out these interruptions, they're not 100 percent effective.

But Apple's feature sends any unknown call directly to your voicemail, while still routing all calls from contacts, and even those from someone you've called or texted, to you. You may have even gotten a nudge via your iPhone as Apple will suggest the feature if you get a few spam calls in quick succession.

Spam Risk in While some calls are tagged as Spam Risk, they still ring to your phoneGearBrain

Spam Risk in Recent Calls

Called Silence Unknown Callers, the tool works as it sounds. Calls from third-parties, those you've never reached out to before, are directly sent to voice mail. They never ring — and you never see them as they come through.

What's particularly nice is you also don't miss the call if someone leaves a message — which doesn't mean you'll entirely weed out spam. (These people like to drop a voicemail down sometimes too.)

Who gets through?

How does the feature knows who to send through — and who to not? There's a bit of a privacy call here as the feature will push through the following people:

  • Contact list
  • Recent call list
  • Phone numbers that have benign emails
  • Phone numbers in text messages

Also — if you've placed an emergency call, say to 911, the Silence Unwanted Callers feature will be paused for 24 hours so your iPhone can be reached by any number.

You can turn on the feature right in your iPhone settingsGearBrain

Why wouldn't you want to add the feature now?

Spam is annoying — and disruptive. You can easily quiet your phone for select times during the day already by just using the Do Not Disturb feature (which can also be set for when you're driving.) But maybe you feel spam calls are getting too frequent and want to try the feature.

If you're however waiting for a call from someone — and you don't know the number that will be contacting you — that's a good reason not to use this feature. That could be a doctor, something related to a family matter, even a work situation.

You will still get a notification of a new voicemail, and the call will also show up in your recent calls list. But the call itself? You won't even see that come in.

But if the feature is one you want to try, here's how to set it up, and how to remove it if you choose too.

  • Open Settings on your iPhone
  • Scroll down iPhone
  • Scroll down to Silence Unknown Callers
  • Tap to move the slider to turn it on. (It will show green if it's active)
  • To turn it off, just move the slider back so only the grey color shows.
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