How to reject a call on an iPhone

iPhones are so easy to use.

A colleague’s iPhone rings on his desk when he’s elsewhere in a meeting, and the screen lights up to say you slide to answer. Great! But how does one reject the call?

Android phone ringingI ask around to my office full of iPhone users.

Nobody knows. Hilarious.

I’m not just wording the question badly. Last week another colleague asked this specific question when he got a call he couldn’t take just at that moment.

On my new Android phone (which has its quirks, but overall I’m enjoying), you slide down to answer, or up to reject. And it makes this clear on the display.

What an office full of iPhone users don’t know, Google will answer:

Yes, there is a way. You press the sleep button. Which is the sleep button? It’s the one at the top of the phone. Press it once to silence the phone, or twice to reject the call.

Seriously Jobs, how hard could it be to actually tell people what they need to do?

(It turns out the owner of the phone in question knows how to do it.)

It reminds me of the beautiful, unscathed design of the PTUA Office iMac… the front is so stylish and unimpeded by buttons that a big PostIt note had to be stuck to it to tell people that the power button is at the back.

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.

18 replies on “How to reject a call on an iPhone”

I don’t understand how it’s Jobs’ fault if people don’t read the manuals and information that came with the phone. It’s all explained in there

I jailbroke my iPhone and changed the answer screen, so it looks like this:


If the screen is not locked an incoming call on an iPhone shows a green “accept” button and a red “deny” button, doesn’t get any simpler.

If it is locked, sure there is no prompt for that – for some reason it is just instinct to whack the power button or the mute switch to silence the call, no biggie. Rejecting isn’t so obvious, iOS 5 may address it as virtually nothing is untouched in that release… But if nit I am sure life will go on :)

Your friend must use old iPhone software, mine also has a green “accept” button and a red “deny” button.

Could be the latest software isn’t on it. When did the Accept/Reject buttons get introduced?

I wonder how many people update to the latest, and how quickly? From what I understand it doesn’t happen automatically like, say, Google Chrome (but then it’s always a more complex beast updating an operating system) — though at least it’s an easier process to get hold of the latest software than for those of us on Android.

@Adam/@Paul, surely you’re not suggesting that I, sitting next to someone with an iPhone but not having one myself, should go and read the iPhone manual?

In any case, who buys a phone acclaimed for its ease of use, and reads the manual cover to cover? I haven’t read my Android phone’s manual — it didn’t actually come with a full printed manual, but with a PDF found on the phone itself… does the iPhone come with a full printed manual?

I thought the idea of iPhones was that their OS is so intuitive that people don’t need to read the manuals. At least, that’s what all the Apple fanboys tell me.

I ceased my Apple-hating about 10 years ago and I have felt much calmer ever since. I no longer need to find things to dislike about a company that makes products. And I didn’t the Apple-hate into Microsoft-hate, it just evaporated. Try it.

Actually, looking at that HTC phone, it’s certainly not obvious what one should do. It says ‘drag’ up or down. Drag what? The picture on the screen is so complex it is hard to know what to drag. A Nokia makes things much easier – just push the green button to answer or the red button to reject. One can also push the multi-purpose button below the word ‘reject’.

HTC and Google haven’t beaten Apple on this. They’re marginally less clumsy (when the keypad and screen are locked) and neither has caught up to Nokia’s tried and true method.

If locked, just press the volume button on the side. Up or down – doesn’t matter. The phone will immediately shut up and it will divert to voicemail in a few ticks.

If unlocked, just press Deny.

If you don’t like their ring tone (Friday by Rebecca Black for example), and the person gets lots of calls, press the small switch above the volume control down so that the red dot shows. This will put it into vibrate mode. Just put the phone on a coat or in a pocket and you’ll not hear it any more.


As iPhone users are regularly prompted by iTunes to upgrade, most are running the latest firmware for their phone a few days after it is released.

In January, a large app provider put it like this:

4.X: 89.73 %
3.X: 10.25 %
2.X: 0.02 %

Apple likes it like that to keep jailbreaks and tether hacks to a minimum.


One of the HTC’s, I think it was the Wildfire, has the option to silence/reject the call by placing the phone face down.

@Philip, I had no trouble figuring out that it’s the grey bar (with “Unknown” in the pic, as that call was coming from a number with Caller ID blocked) that you drag.

I just tried ringing from a recognised number, and in fact it comes up with name, picture (if available), number, and a green Accept and red Reject button, therefore replicating Nokia’s design. Odd that it’s different for blocked numbers.

Sounds like Apple has also now replicated the Nokia design.

@Andrew VDS, thanks for the tips. Interesting on the firmware figures; good for Apple for pushing fairly strongly on people to update.

Re the power switch on the shiny iMacs – when you open it, it is on the bit of paper you read first, and once it’s on, you don’t use it much. Who turns computers off all the way? Had a serendipitious accident with it last week. I was upgrading the memory, when I had a table failure, it fell forward onto the glossy screen cover and broke it (yes, it is glass) but fortunately the screens ok. Turns out the screen is not glossy, it’s just the glass cover that is. If you want a non-glossy iMac, the glass cover is attached by magnets. You can remove it fairly easily with fingernails.

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