How to stop spam calls on your Android phone

Once your phone number becomes public you can get spam call after spam call and it is very irritating. However, there are ways to combat junk callers. Configure your phone to reject them.

Cold calls, marketing calls, robocalls and other unwanted calls can drive you mad. They interrupt what you are doing, which might be something important. There may be no-one at the other end and all you hear is silence because your phone was auto-dialed by some system.

Stopping junk calls is getting easier thanks to improvements in phone apps on our phones. However, the features available to you depend on the phone app you use. Some phone apps have few useful features for identifying and rejecting spam calls, but others have great features.

Install Phone by Google

In this article I will focus on the phone app provided by Google. A Google Pixel phone is not a requirement for this and it is a free app in the Google Play Store that can be used on any phone. I installed it on my Samsung phone.

Phone by Google app in the Google Play Store.
Phone by Google for Android

Drag the Samsung phone app out of the tray at the bottom of the screen, then drag Phone By Google to the tray to replace it. The first time it is used, you have the option to make it the default phone app. (You can switch back at any time.)

The app is said to work best in the US, but I am in the UK and have found it still works quite well. It has identified spam calls before I answered them, allowing me to reject them.

Open Phone by Google

Phone by Google app menu.
Phone by Google app menu

Open the Phone by Google app and press the three dots in the top right corner to show the menu. Then press Settings. This is where to set up spam call identification and handling.

Spam call settings

There are three sections in the phone app settings that are useful:

Phone by Google settings.
Phone by Google settings
  • Caller ID and spam
  • Blocked numbers
  • Caller ID announcement

Let’s take a look at them in detail.

Caller ID and spam

There are two switches here, See caller and spam ID and Filter spam calls. Turn them both on. When your phone receives a call, it tries to identify the number and shows you who is calling.

Caller ID and spam settings in Phone by Google app for Android.
Caller ID and spam settings
  • See caller spam and ID: Reputable businesses are in Google search and also many spammers are known too, so the phone app is quite good at identifying the caller from the number. It can show whether the caller is a contact, business or spam as soon as you pick up your phone. If it says it is spam, you can reject it.
  • Filter spam calls: When on, this switch lets the phone app automatically reject calls it identifies as spam. You have to trust it to make the right decision though. Off is the safe option and it enables you to see and manually reject or accept a call based on the information displayed on the screen.

Use caller ID announcement

Return to the Settings screen and press Caller ID announcement. Press Announce caller ID.

Phone by Google caller ID announcement settings.
Caller ID announcement

There is a choice of Always, Only when using a headset, and Never.

Phone by Google caller ID announcement settings.
Announce caller ID settings

When a call is received, the phone app tries to identify the caller and speak their name and number. It means that you can hear who is calling before you even pick up your phone, such as people in your contacts and businesses. You will know when it is an unknown caller and you can choose to pick up your phone or ignore it.

Whether you use this is up to you. It could be annoying and you might not want your phone to announce the caller when you are in a public place.

Block numbers in the phone app

Another useful option in the Phone by Google app is Block numbers. Select it in Settings.

Block numbers in Phone By Google android app.
Block numbers in the Phone app

I would not turn on Block unknown/private numbers on my own phone because sometimes people or businesses call me that are not yet in my contacts. However, it would be a good setting to enable on a child’s phone.

Press Block spam and scam calls and turn on the feature with the switch at the top.

Options to block spam in Phone by Google.
Block high risk spam,

Turn on the switch Block spam and scam calls down below and choose between Block all spam and scam calls and Only block high-risk scam calls. With any automated system you have to wonder whether it might miss-identify a call and reject it. The second option is the safer one, but the choice is yours.

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