The Comprehensive Call-Blocker Comparison

One of the many uses of a smartphone is the ability to screen calls – automagically. Want to stop all unknown callers from ringing through? Want to ignore a relentless ex-girlfriend who won’t let up? Well, it’s quite easy to do. Let’s compare the most popular blacklist/whitelist call blocking applications for Symbian S60 devices.

This list is organized by my top selections based on features, price and power.

First:

Epocware’s Handy Blacklist - $24.95

It’s a very ‘no-mess-no-fuss’ blocker that uses a black list to divert calls.

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You can immediately activate the blocking software, even with an empty list. It won’t block any calls – however if you explicitly decline a call, the software will ask if you’d  like to add to a rejected list which is a very nice feature however it worked spontaneously and did not always give me the option to add the number.

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In terms of the ability to set numbers to block, there’s the normal that you’d expect. Recent Calls will load your call log and show all incoming and outgoing calls that are saved.

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The ‘Contacts’ option will show all your contacts and gives you the ability to select multiple entries AND groups (if you have any set).

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You can also manually enter a phone number or block all unknown and private numbers.

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Packing the ability to display a transparent status icon on the Active Standby screen, you  can easily see if your divert options are on.

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The icon is painted a bit low, but it’s there nonetheless. One bug I found, was when I had enabled the AS indicator – the home/menu button on my E71 no longer worked for short presses – disabling it solved this.

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You can also set the log of rejected calls and view it on the main screen second tab and setup a dialog to ask if you want to add a decling call to the reject list, but again, this does not always seem to work.

Good

Starts invisibly and has extremely small memory usage.

Ability to easily pull call logs and contacts, almost immediately without lag.

Active Standby icon that only shows when the blocker is active.

Bad

Active Standby icon is not dynamic and it’s incorrectly drawn with transparency.

Rejecting a contact does not always prompt addition to rejection list.

Pricey

 

Thoughts

It’s great. It’s very low-footprint and I do not notice it running at all.  An incoming call will be silenced, without your device being notified via ring or vibe, the screen will temporarily show an incoming call – and then automatically disconnect it. It’s pricey for mobile software, however it does sit in the middle area with software up in the $40 range and ones as low as *free* (Melon Mobile Easy Reject).

 

Second:

MelonMobile/WebGate Advanced Blocker - $39.90

WebGate has a few releases of software that has the ability to divert and filter calls; Advanced Blocked, Easy Reject, Easy Busy, Easy Mute. A bit of a disjoint here – with numerous applications that provide the same thing, but differ in features and prices.

Advanced Blocker seems to roll all these into one. It features the ability to import from the phonebook, phone log, manual input and group/wildcard input – which is an extremely nice feature (you can write off a whole area code if you want!). The preferences setting has the AS icon setting.

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Importing from the phonebook is instantaneous while the phone log takes around 20 seconds to pull the information. You can import SMS and Call entries and full groups.

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When manually entering a number, you can enter a wildcard and drop off any number with the defined pattern – GREAT feature if you want to stop a whole city block from calling you.

This release also features an ActiveStandby icon, however it does not draw transparency properly – this seems to be a thing with a lot of S60 applications, let’s chalk it up to linkable libraries within the platform and not to the authors of these fine applications.

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The dynamic icon will change depending if the software has rejected a call or not. Static will simply display when the blocking software is active – and no indicator, well that’s obvious. Again, notice the black box around the icon, which is very visible when using a theme that does not have a dark background, pretty ugly.

Good

Extremely feature filled, powerful yet simple to use and configure.

Rules upon rules that you can set.

Great AS status icon that changes – keeping you informed of what’s going on.

Great wildcard functionality for including number patterns.

Bad

Phone log takes abnormally long to import, might be due to polling the SMS database.

Price. There’s really no market for software at such a high price. Chop it in half, maybe.

 

Thoughts

Great software, very full and well rounded with features. Extremely easy to set rules and filters and extremely powerful yet has a well-thought out way to provide the user with the ability to harness it. It’s a real shame that the AS icon doesn’t include transparency, but the application looks nice through out the screens and has nice representative icons.

 

Third:

SBSH’s WhiteList - $9.95

While this does not reject set numbers, it’s a new release from SBSH that will setup a list of accepted calls and then reject all other calls. Very simple, very straight-forward and concise. The main screen shows a dynamic switch indicating the state of your divert list.

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From here, you can import Contacts to the single whitelist. The contacts are displayed with checkboxes which allows you to select multiple entries or the option of selecting any groups you may have set up. 

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In conjunction with whitelisting your entire contact list, you can specify what to do when filtering a call – which does include filter an SMS.

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You can also view and clear your whitelist log and there is even an option for a Skype alias.

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Good

Very straight-forward and simple to understand.

Lowest price out of the 4 options.

Can filter SMS.

 

Bad

No ActiveStandby icon

Inconsistent capitalization, lack of punctuation throughout the UI and help. It feels like the application was poorly translated – and not created in english.

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The “Get More!” listing in the menu. The app was already purchased. Save your advertisement for those who aren’t using your products.

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Thoughts

It’s the cheapest application out of the select 4 products. It has the least amount of features but does exactly what it claims to do – and does it extremely well. For the price, when compared to the others and the features and simplicity – this wins.

Forth:

KillerMobile’s BlackBaller - $13.50

A feature packed application with the ability to block SMS, MMS as well as phone calls.  The main screen shows a log of rejected calls and the ability to ‘slide’ over to SMS, MMS logs and then the Settings. I’d prefer having a regular menu under the left soft key ‘Options’. It just makes sense.

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Upon reaching the Settings window, you can change the “Smart reject sensor” which can add the caller to a reject list. It worked just as described – but brought up the whole application – which I don’t quite care for, I’m sure you can open API and add it in the background.

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All the usual suspects for adding a number to reject are there.

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Importing call logs takes long. It actually chewed about 11MB of RAM while doing this and then gave an “Out of Memory” error. I killed the process and re-started it – same thing. I only have about 244 contacts.

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BlackBaller has a lot of features, you can create whitelists, you can filter SMS and MMS messages per list and even set an SMS response to be sent for rejected calls. Worked just fine – except there’s no way to differentiate between a mobile and a landline number, an SMS will be sent to the landline number and if your provider charges you for an SMS-to-Voice transcription, you’ll be paying for each one if you enable this. It’s cool, nonetheless.

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Also, when creating a new list – by default the Filter Call option is set to NO. You have to go in and change this for each divert list you create – which increases complexity.

Next thing? The Active Standby icon. It sucks. It’s drawn over EVERY application, and it’s buggy. You can see in the above screenshots, it covers the text and there’s no transparency. Also, after rejecting a call – the whole thing went red and stayed like that until a device reboot. Quite annoying.

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Good

A lot of features, multiple lists and the ability to filter SMS and MMS.

Can dispatch an SMS reply to a blocked number.

Bad

Confusing and very disconnected UI.

Extremely buggy. From the AS icon, to loading contacts to actually starting up. Sub-par QC going on here.

Features and Settings are hidden deep within sub-menu after menu after ‘tab’.

 

Thoughts

All in all this application is quite buggy, powerful but extremely convoluted and has a UI and feature-set that is very disconnected. It’s still light-weight and hardly noticeable when running, it also rejects calls very quickly. It wins for features and power, but it’s poorly implemented.

 

Bottom of the Line

Epocware has extremely good software, I use their entire suite, including Handy Taskman and Handy Calendar. They all have very nice
integration, are priced competitively and have great features.

Thanks and please leave any comments, questions or other software review requests.

 

Have a safe Christmas!

family-xmas

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