All Google phones will now screen robocalls, here's how to turn it on

Key Points
  • Google on Thursday said it's rolling out Call Screen, which blocks robocalls, to all of its Pixel phones this week.
  • It was previously only available on the Pixel 3 and Pixel 4, and was updated in the fall with new features.
  • Here's how to set it up, and why you might want to consider buying a Pixel if robocalls are driving you nuts.
Google Pixel 4
Todd Haselton | CNBC

If you're tired of robocalls you might want to consider one of Google's Pixel phones. On Thursday, Google announced that its Call Screen feature, which automatically blocks known robocallers in Google's database, is rolling out to all Pixel phones this week. It was previously only available on the newest Pixel 3 and Pixel 4 devices. (The original Pixel phone, which launched in 2016, stopped receiving software updates last year, but Google says it'll still get Call Screen.)

Robocalls may be driving you nuts. According to the YouMail robocall index, which is compiled from the YouMail app that's built to also block robocalls, there were 4.7 billion robocalls placed in the U.S. in January 2020, or 1,800 a second and 14.4 calls per person. Some U.S. carriers, like AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint are working in the background to prevent robocalls, too. Though sometimes they still sneak through or only work on certain phones.

And other companies, like Apple, let you automatically send calls that are received from people who aren't in your address book right to voicemail. But sometimes you miss an important call from someone, like a doctor whose number you might not have saved.

Google's Pixel phones aren't as popular as Apple's iPhones or even other Android phones made by companies like Samsung. But unique features that rely on Google's data, like Call Screen, might make them more appealing to customers in the coming years.

Call Screen works in a couple different ways. There's one where the Google Assistant can answer the call for you -- and see who's calling, after which you can deny the call or tell someone you'll call back later. But, in the fall, Google also added a filter that just blocks the call before your phone even rings.

If you have a Pixel, first make sure you have the latest Phone app from Google. The update is rolling out this week, so you might not see it yet. Once you get it, you're ready to turn Call Screen on.

Setup call screen on your Google Pixel
  • Open the Phone app on your Pixel.
  • Tap Menu on the top right of the screen.
  • Choose Settings.
  • Tap "Spam and Call Screen."
  • Choose "Call Screen."
  • Tap "Spam."
  • Choose "Automatically screen. Decline robocalls."
  • Go back to the previous screen.
  • Choose "Possibly faked numbers."
  • Select "automatically screen. Decline robocalls" again.

That's it.

There are two other options. If you want to automatically decline first-time callers or private and hidden numbers, you can also automatically screen and decline future calls. But, then your phone won't ring if an unknown but important number, like your Uber driver is trying to call you.