Using iPhone Phone Features: Caller ID, Call Forwarding, and Call Waiting

iPhone Phone app features
Caller ID, Call Forwarding & Waiting on the iPhone. image credit: Caiaimage/Tom Merton/OJO+/Getty Images

The iOS's built-in Phone app offers a lot more than the basic ability to place calls and listen to voicemails. There are a lot of powerful options hidden within the app if you know where to find them, such as the ability to forward your calls to another phone number and control some aspects of your calling experience.

How to Turn Off Caller ID

The iPhone's Caller ID feature is what lets the person you're calling know it's you; it's what pops your name or number up on their phone's screen.

If you want to block Caller ID, there's a simple setting you need to change.

On AT&T and T-Mobile:

  • Tap the Settings app
  • Scroll down to Phone and tap it
  • Scroll down to Show My Caller ID and tap it
  • Move the slider to Off/white and your calls will come from "Unknown" or "Blocked" instead of your name or number. (To learn how to block other people's numbers, check out this article.)

Your caller ID info is blocked for all calls until you turn this setting back to On/green.

On Verizon and Sprint:

  • Dial *67
  • Dial the number you're calling or tap the contact in your phone app
  • You can also block Caller ID via your online accounts at the Verizon and Sprint websites.

NOTE: On Verizon and Sprint, this technique blocks Caller ID just for the call you're making, not all calls. You'll need to enter *67 before each call on which you want to block Caller ID. If you want to block Caller ID for all calls, you have to change that setting in your online account with the phone company.

How to Enable Call Forwarding

If you're going to be away from your phone but still need to get calls, you need to turn on call forwarding. With this feature, any calls to your phone number are automatically sent to another number that you specify. Not necessarily a feature you'll use too often, but very handy when you need it.

On AT&T and T-Mobile:

  • Tap the Settings app
  • Scroll down to Phone and tap it
  • Scroll down to Call Forwarding and tap it
  • Move the slider to On/green
  • Enter the phone number you want to forward calls to and tap the Call Forwarding arrow in the top left corner. You'll know Call Forwarding is turned on by the icon of a phone with an arrow coming out of it in the top left corner. 

Call forwarding stays turned on until you turn it off and let calls come directly to your phone again.

On Verizon and Sprint:

  • Dial *72
  • Dial the number you want your calls forwarded to (so, your screen will show *725551212, for example)
  • Press call and wait to hear the confirmation. At that point, you can hang up
  • The forwarding stays in place until you turn it off by dialing *73 and waiting to hear the confirmation.

How to Enable Call Waiting on iPhone

Call waiting is the feature that allows someone to call you while you're already on another call. With it turned on, you can put one call on hold and take the other, or merge the calls into a conference. Some people find it rude, though, so here's how to turn it off.

When call waiting is turned off, any calls you get while on another call go directly to voicemail.

On AT&T and T-Mobile:

  • Tap the Settings app
  • Scroll down to Phone and tap it
  • Scroll down to Call Waiting and tap it
  • Move the slider to Off/white

On Verizon and Sprint:

  • Dial *70
  • Dial the number you want to call. Call waiting is disabled during this call (but not others; you need to enable it for each individual call).

Announce Calls

In many cases, it's easy enough to look at your iPhone's screen to see who's calling, but in some cases—if you're driving for instance—it might not be safe. The Announce Calls feature helps with that. When you use it, your phone will speak the name of the caller so you don't have to take your eyes off what you're doing.

Here's how to use it:

  1. Tap Settings
  2. Tap Phone
  3. Tap Announce Calls
  4. Choose whether to Always announce calls, only when your phone is connected to Headphones & CarHeadphones only, or Never.

Wi-Fi Calling

Another cool, lesser-known feature of the iOS is Wi-Fi calling, which lets you make calls over a Wi-Fi network in places where cellular coverage isn't great. To learn how to set up and use Wi-Fi calling, read How to Use iPhone Wi-Fi Calling.