TIME Consumer Electronics

These Are the 10 Best-Selling Products of All Time

Shoppers Take Advantage Of Black Friday Deals
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This post is in partnership with 24/7 Wall Street. The article below was originally published on 247wallst.com.

Creating the most popular product of the year will make consumers and investors happy. But making an all-time bestseller can transform an industry and define a business for decades.

Many of the best-selling products were first in a new category. Apple, which has sold more than 500 million iPhones, was the first to introduce a touchscreen smartphone that could seamlessly handle music, web browsing and phone calls. Other bestsellers took a niche market and made it mainstream. Before Star Wars, film was either comedy, romance or drama. The Harry Potter book series was so successful that The New York Times Book Review created a separate children’s bestseller list in 2000 to account for the series’ popularity.

MORE: 10 Companies Paying Americans the Least

In some cases, top-selling products were a simply better than their competitors. Before the Sony PlayStation, video game consoles were largely cartridge-based. With the advent of the PlayStation, which relied on the new CD-ROM format, game files could be large enough to support 3D gameplay and full-motion video. Lipitor, which has become the world’s best-selling drug with $141 billion in sales, was far more effective than previously-released drugs at lowering bad cholesterol.

A number of these products continue to be dominate their markets. The iPad remains the world’s best-selling tablet, with a 32.5% market share last quarter, despite challenges from Amazon.com’s Kindle Fire and Samsung’s Galaxy tablet lines. The PlayStation 4 has sold over 7 million units since it launched last year, well above the Microsoft Xbox One.

Despite their success, some of these products face challenges. Sales of Pfizer’s Lipitor dropped each year after its maker, Pfizer, lost patent protection on the drug in 2011 and cheaper generic drugs came on the market. The ongoing Star Wars saga may lose its status as the all time best-selling movie franchise to Walt Disney’s Marvel Franchise. The Avengers broke box office records, grossing $203.4 million on its opening weekend.

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To determine the best-selling products of all-time, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed categories of products widely purchased by consumers and identified individual products that had the highest sales in their category.In some cases, we gathered figures from multiple sources and estimated the final sales figure. In other instances, where one company had a clear market lead, figures reflect data from previous years.

These are the best-selling products of all time.

1. PlayStation
> Category: Video game console
> Total sales: 344 million units
> Parent company: Sony

When Sony released the PlayStation in the United States in 1995, its 32-bit processor was the most powerful available on the console market at the time. Sony sold more than 70 million PlayStations worldwide by the time the PlayStation 2 was released in 2000. The PlayStation 2 also sold very well in the U.S. and abroad. Sony released the PlayStation 3 in 2006, and it sold 80 million units to retailers by November 2013. The latest generation, the PlayStation 4, has been wildly successful thus-far, already selling 7 million units as of April.

2. Lipitor
> Category: Pharmaceutical
> Total sales: $141 billion
> Parent company: Pfizer

Pfizer’s Lipitor is prescribed to lower LDL (or bad) cholesterol — high levels of bad cholesterol increase the risk of heart disease. Lipitor is classified as a statin, a class of drug used to reduce the risk of heart-related ailments. However, Lipitor sales have plummeted in recent years after its U.S. patent expired in 2011. Lipitor has lost patent protection in other major markets since. In 2013, Lipitor sales totaled $2.3 billion, down from $9.6 billion in 2011 according to Pfizer’s 2013 annual report. Still, since its introduction in 1997, no other drug came close to Lipitor’s commercial success. The closest competitor for all time sales is Plavix, which had slightly more than half of Lipitor’s lifetime revenue, according to Forbes.

MORE: America’s Most Miserable Cities

3. Corolla
> Category: Vehicle
> Total sales: 40.7 million units
> Parent company: Toyota (NYSE: TM)

Toyota announced last month it sold 1.2 million Corollas in 2013, a 5% year-over-year increase. Since its introduction in Japan in 1966 — the car became available in the U.S. in 1968 — Toyota has sold more than 40.7 million Corollas, more than any other car model. The Corolla’s success on the market is likely due to its reliability, relatively low gas mileage, and affordability. The newly redesigned 2014 Corolla is the model’s 11th generation, and it claims to have better gas mileage and a slightly larger interior. Brand new, the Corolla’s starting MSRP is $16,800.

4. Star Wars
> Category: Movies
> Total sales: $4.6 billion
> Parent company: 20th Century Fox

Only “Gone with the Wind” brought in more money than the original Star Wars movie. Combined, however, the original trilogy grossed $2.4 billion, accounting for inflation. When Star Wars: Episode I was released more than 20 years later, it grossed $675 million, considerably more than the later installments — episodes two and three — which each still grossed more than $400 million. In total, the Star Wars movies, including special editions and re-releases, grossed $4.6 billion adjusted for inflation in the U.S. While 20th Century Fox still owns the rights to the original Star Wars, Disney purchased the Star Wars universe — Lucasfilms — for $4 billion in 2012. Disney will release the final three movies under J.J. Abrams’ direction. The first of the three is scheduled to hit the box office in 2015.

5. iPad
> Category: Tablet
> Total sales: 211 million units
> Parent company: Apple

Despite losing market share in the first quarter, Apple’s iPad is still the best-selling tablet. The iPad held 40% of the tablet market in the first quarter of 2013, but only 32.5% in the first quarter of this year, according to market research firm IDC. Close rival Samsung picked up much of that market share. IDC analyst reported that iPad lost some of its market share because consumers are holding onto their tablets for longer rather than immediately purchasing the newest version. Apple sold 16.4 million units in the second quarter alone, and more than 211 million since the iPad was first introduced in 2010.

Visit 24/7 Wall St. to see the remaining best-selling products of all time.

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TIME how things work

How 3D Printers Work

See how 3D printers create everything from guns to chocolate.

3D printers were invented by Chuck Hull as far back as 1983, but they recently rose to prominence after being used to make common items ranging from guns to body parts. But how do they work?

Using a process known as “additive manufacturing,” 3D printers can take a number of different materials from metal to plastic and even chocolate to create every piece of the final structure from scratch, with no material left over.

Hull sees a bright future for 3D printing, saying it’ll be a $4.5 billion business by the end of the decade.

TIME Innovation

Ready or Not, Driverless Cars Are Coming

There may be an autobot in your driveway sooner than you think

Predictions about a future in which cars that will fly, float or drive themselves have been staples of everything from science fiction to pop culture to corporate PR for decades. But now it looks like driverless cars, at least, may finally be hitting the road in short order.

Google announced as early as 2010 that it logged more than 140,000 miles in a self-driving car as part of a secret project. “While this project is very much in the experimental stage, it provides a glimpse of what transportation might look like in the future thanks to advanced computer science,” said Sebastian Thrun, a Google Fellow working on the company’s self-driving cars. “And that future is very exciting.”

Since then, Google and auto manufacturers have made great strides in refining and testing driverless technology by integrating semi-autonomous features into cars already on the market and building legal and public acceptance of the concept. But as the technology develops, questions have been raised about what it would mean if autonomous vehicles start hitting the roads in larger numbers. How do “robot cars” determine the best ways to react to an impending collision? How will human drivers and robots interact when they have to share the road? It won’t be long until we begin finding answers to these questions and others.

TIME Shopping

People Are Ignoring Store Assistants Because Their Phones Are More Helpful

"Find everything okay?" "Yep, no thanks to you."

If you’re out shopping and would rather get help from your smartphone than an actual person, you’re now in the majority.

A new study by Deloitte found that more than half of in-store shoppers prefer to look up prices, get product information and check item availability using their own smartphones. By comparison, less than a quarter of shoppers prefer to talk to a sales associate. Given the option, 48 percent of shoppers would also rather check out using their own devices, instead of dealing with a cashier.

This isn’t a huge surprise. If you look up prices or product reviews on your phone, you know you’re getting unbiased facts about the product in question. Store associates probably won’t tell you if a product is cheaper elsewhere. They can also be hard to trust for buying advice, especially in the electronics business, where they may be trained to push one brand over another. (Do you really think that “Samsung Experience Consultant” at Best Buy is going to give you an even-handed view of the Galaxy S5 vs. the iPhone 5s?)

Deloitte says retailers should respond by creating mobile applications that focus on making the in-store shopping experience better, rather than just giving them another digital storefront to wade through. That includes providing simple in-store checkout tools and even providing price comparisons to other stores.

“If you stop trying to sell to her, she will buy more,” Deloitte says.

[Engadget]

TIME How-To

Delete Your Accounts: Links and Phone Numbers to 65 Sites and Services

Delete
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It's time for some spring cleaning, friends.

Here’s a list of direct links and phone numbers to 65 popular tech services. Some are harder to quit than others, forcing you to call to speak to a live person who’ll undoubtedly try to talk you out of your decision (be strong!). In those instances, I’ve listed the phone numbers directly under the service name.

For most of the others, the link under each one’s name should either lead you to a way to close your account online with a few clicks or to an email address you can use to request that your account be closed. And if you’re not sure which accounts you even have any more, here’s a handy trick to look them up.

Adobe

Cancel your membership or subscription

Amazon

About Closing Your Account

End Your Amazon Prime Membership

AOL

How do I change or cancel my AOL account for paid plans?

How do I change or cancel my AOL account for free plans?

Apple (iTunes)

Contact Apple Support (choose Account Management > Managing or editing an Apple ID)

AT&T

Cancel service or remove a line from an account (wireless: call 1-800-331-0500)

Other services (Internet access, TV, home phone, etc.): Call 1-800-288-2020

Comcast

Cancel or Make Changes to Your XFINITY Service (call 1-800-934-6489)

DirecTV

How do I disconnect my DIRECTV services? (call 1-800-531-5000)

Dish

MyDish – Cancel Service (call 1-888-496-1260)

Disqus

Deleting your account

Dropbox

How do I delete my account?

EA (Origin)

How to delete an Origin account

eBay

Closing your account

Etsy

How do I close my Etsy account?

How do I close my shop?

Evernote

How do I deactivate my account and remove its data?

How to manage or cancel your Evernote Premium subscription billing

Facebook

Deactivating, Deleting & Memorializing Accounts

Flickr

Delete your Flickr account

Flipboard

Email privacy@flipboard.com with a request that your account be deleted

Foursquare

How do I delete my account?

Google

Delete or restore a Google Account

Groupon

Customer Support (email support@groupon.com or call 1-877-788-7858)

Hulu

How Do I Delete My Free Hulu.com Account?

How Do I Cancel My Hulu Plus Subscription?

Instagram

Delete Your Account

Instapaper

Delete Account

Klout

How do I opt out of Klout?

How do I delete my account?

Last.fm

Account settings (select the “Data” tab)

LinkedIn

Closing Your Account

Cancel Premium access

Microsoft

How do I close my Microsoft account?

Myspace

How do I Delete My Account

Netflix

Cancel Membership (streaming)

Cancel your DVD plan

Nintendo

How to Deactivate an Account

How to Delete an Account

Pandora

Must be done via email form

PayPal

Log in to your PayPal account, then click Profile > Close Account (under Account Information)

Pinterest

Deactivate or reactivate an account

PlayStation

Close a Sony Entertainment Network Account

Pocket

How can I delete my Pocket account?

Quora

How do I deactivate my Quora account?

Rdio

Cancel subscriptions

Delete account

Reddit

How do I delete my account?

Rovio

Rovio account page (click “Delete Account” at the bottom)

RunKeeper

How to delete your RunKeeper Account

Samsung

How Do I Delete My Samsung Account?

Shutterfly

Email, use the Live Help feature or call 1-888-225-7159

Skype

How do I cancel my subscription?

Deleting Skype Accounts

Snapchat

Delete your Snapchat account

Soundcloud

How do I delete my account?

Spotify

Cancel your subscription

Contact Spotify support to delete your account

Sprint

Call 1-888-211-4727

Square

Disable Your Square Register Account

Disable Your Square Wallet Account

Steam

Create a support ticket

StumbleUpon

How do I delete my account?

Ticketmaster

Close Your Account

Time Warner Cable

Transfer or Cancel Service (call 1-888-892-2253)

TiVo

Considering canceling your TiVo® subscription? (call 1-877-367-8486)

T-Mobile

Call 1-800-866-2453

Tumblr

Close my account

Twitter

Deactivating your account

Verizon

Wireless: 1-800-922-0204

Other services (Internet access, FiOS TV, home phone, etc.): Call 1-800-837-4966

WhatsApp

How do I delete my account?

Wikipedia

Right to vanish

WordPress

Deleting Accounts

Xbox

Close your Microsoft account

Yahoo

Terminating your Yahoo account

Yelp

Close my account

YouTube

Delete YouTube channel

(See also: Delete or restore a Google Account)

Zynga

Privacy FAQs (see fourth question)

TIME Companies

General Mills Reverses Legal Terms After Controversy

General Mills Headquarters Ahead Of Earnings Figures
General Mills world headquarters in Golden Valley, MN, March 15, 2014. Ariana Lindquist—Bloomberg/Getty Images

The food giant reversed itself regarding widely criticized new legal terms on its website that some said could prevent customers from suing the company over downloading coupons, joining its online communities or interacting with the company

General Mills announced it was removing controversial legal terms from its website on Saturday following an uproar over the changes.

“Because our concerns and intentions were widely misunderstood, causing concerns among our consumers, we’ve decided to change them back to what they were,” company spokesman Mike Siemienas wrote in an email obtained by the New York Times.

The New York Times reported last week that General Mills had added new legal terms to its website that could force customers to surrender their right to sue the company if they downloaded coupons, joined its “online communities” or interacted with the company in a variety of other ways. Instead, the Times said, customers would have to submit complaints through arbitration or “informal negotiation.”

The company later clarified that “online communities” did not include its Facebook or Twitter profiles.

The surprising reversal follows criticism from both consumers and legal experts, who questioned the breadth and enforceability of such terms.

TIME Gadgets

Verizon Offering Discounts for Bringing Your Own Phone

Verizon
Bloomberg / Getty Images

Verizon is finally willing to give you a discount for bringing your own device to its network. The company announced that starting Thursday, April 17, compatible phones brought to Verizon will qualify for its lower, no-contract Verizon Edge discount rate on a new MORE Everything plan.

For individual users, the savings amount to $10 per month discount on your monthly line access fee with your own phone. Under the Edge plan, one line with 250MB will cost you just $45 per month (albeit with nasty data overage fees looming).

Larger families can qualify for even larger discounts as long as you purchase a 10GB or larger data plan. Four lines with 10GB of shared data now cost just $160 per month on Verizon Edge, the same cost as AT&T.

For more on getting the best deal while for shopping for a new cell phone plan, check out Techlicious’ recently updated carrier price comparison chart.

This article was written by Fox Van Allen and originally appeared on Techlicious.

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TIME Big Picture

PC vs Mobile: How Technological Worldviews Are Shaped

world phone
Getty Images

The shifting shapes of technological worldviews invite new challenges and new opportunities.

A worldview is the way someone thinks about the world. Everyone has a worldview, whether they know it or not. This word came up often during many of my sociology and psychology classes, and it came up even more often as I was studying behavioral science.

When we talk about worldviews, we often talk about religious ones, political ones, scientific ones or philosophical ones. As I began studying consumers when I joined Creative Strategies in 2000, however, I started applying this thinking to technology. I started exploring how different segments of consumers may have shaped or were in the process of shaping technological worldviews.

I shared on my blog how my upbringing shaped my technological worldview. My worldview is that of an early adopter. My wife, on the other hand, is a textbook late adopter. I approach technology emotionally, whereas she approaches technology pragmatically. I have to have the latest and greatest gadgets, and she will use her smartphone until it is no longer usable. Even then, she will loathe the fact that it didn’t last longer. Our personalities, exposure to certain types of technology, environments and more all contributed to each of our technological worldviews.

It can get complex when you start to peel back the onion of how and why a particular consumer’s technological worldview was formed. However, it is extremely helpful when trying to understand consumers and how they may think about technology products. It is also very helpful in my line of work as I try to understand adoption cycles.

As of late, I have stumbled onto something interesting that’s related to technological worldviews. I have started to gain insight into how consumers in mature markets like the U.S. and Western Europe and how consumers in emerging markets like China, India, Africa, and others have come to shape very different sets of technological worldviews.

For example, here in the West, most of our entry points to computing and the Internet have been desktop or notebook PCs. This is the foundation for a Western technological worldview. Taking this point even deeper, your preference of operating system — Windows or OS X, for example — could also play a role in your worldview. The main point, however, is that this particular technological worldview’s foundation was set with a personal computer of some type. This is why so many in the West have a hard time grasping the idea that a PC is a legacy computer, and things like tablets, phablets, and smartphones are becoming more central computing devices.

In contrast, for consumers in many emerging markets, the entry point to computing and the Internet is a smartphone. This shapes their technological worldviews in very different ways than it does Western consumers. This is the one major issue I see standing in the way of the chat apps that are popular in emerging markets attempting to penetrate more developed markets. These applications like WeChat, LINE, and WhatsApp were born out of very different circumstances, targeting groups with very different technological worldviews. This is not to say that they can’t be successful in Western markets, but it hints that the value propositions of these apps may need to be something other than the fact that they’re appealing to consumers in emerging markets.

Similarly to consumers in emerging markets, we now have generations of consumers who are extremely comfortable with technology and know nothing but being constantly connected via mobile devices. My kids, for example, have no frame of reference of a world where they can’t use a smart device for real-time communication, information and entertainment. This will shape their technological worldviews, opening doors for new challenges and new opportunities.

Understanding different technological worldviews and how they can be applied to classes of consumers in every market can help us understand the many nuances that make up the global markets for personal technology devices — and the consumers who will buy them.

Bajarin is a principal at Creative Strategies Inc., a technology-industry-analysis and market-intelligence firm in Silicon Valley. He contributes to the Big Picture opinion column that appears here every week

TIME Shopping

Is Amazon Prime Still a Good Deal at $99? Let’s Run Some Numbers

amazon-prime
Doug Aamoth / TIME

Now that it costs $20 more, a look back through all of 2013's purchases to see if an Amazon Prime membership pays off

I’ve paid $79 per year for an Amazon Prime membership for the past five years or so, and I’ve always wondered how much (if any) it’s saved me. Now that the price is going up to $99 a year, I thought I’d run through all my purchases from 2013 to see what the difference would have been if I hadn’t shelled out for Prime last year.

Quick Prime primer: You pay Amazon (now) $99 a year, and in return, you get free two-day shipping on a vast selection of what Amazon sells, and you can step up to overnight shipping for $3.99 per item. Amazon also includes a Netflix-like streaming video service containing 40,000 movies and TV shows – some popular, most not. You also get the ability to digitally borrow half a million eligible Kindle books one at a time. More info here.

This is all very unscientific, back-of-the-napkin math, but here are some stats and assumptions about my 2013 orders.

Basic Stats:

  • Total number of orders placed in 2013: 76
  • Number of Subscribe-and-Save orders: 13
  • Total number of shipments (orders + Subscribe-and-Save): 62
  • Total number of orders totaling less than $35: 31

I placed 76 orders last year, but some of these orders were multiple different orders placed on the same day or Subscribe-and-Save orders, which are basically discounted subscriptions to items that get shipped out on a set schedule (paper towels, batteries, detergent and things like that).

So when the dust had cleared, I ended up getting 62 shipments last year. Of those shipments, exactly half were orders that totaled less than $35. Amazon offers free shipping if you spend $35 or more.

Extra Shipping Charges:

  • Number of items overnighted at $3.99 per item: 5
  • Number of non-Prime orders: 1
  • Total 2013 shipment costs (Prime + extras): $104.44

I had five items overnighted at $3.99 per item ($19.95 total), I paid $79 for the membership, and I bought one item that wasn’t eligible for Prime shipping. It was a t-shirt that carried $5.49 in additional shipping costs. I have no regrets about buying this shirt. None whatsoever.

So: $19.95 plus $79 plus $5.49 comes out to $104.44 – the total amount I paid for shipping last year on all my Amazon purchases.

Cost of Overnighting the Same 5 Items Without Prime:

  • Pair of shoes: $18.98
  • Wireless weather station: $18.98
  • Wig I bought but never used: $18.98
  • Another wig I bought but never used: $18.98
  • Wireless keyboard: $20.97
  • Total overnight shipping costs if not for Prime: $96.89

I would have incurred $96.89 worth of shipping costs just for the five items I chose to overnight. That’s before even getting into how much I would have paid in shipping charges for orders totaling less than $35.

However, I can look you straight in the eye and tell you that there’s no way I would have overnighted a single one of these items if I hadn’t been able to do so for $3.99 apiece. I probably wouldn’t have purchased any of these items from Amazon in the first place. The two wigs (see above photo) are my biggest regrets for several reasons, but I know deep down in the cockles of my heart that having them on-hand will someday pay off in spades. I didn’t need to overnight either of them, though.

Standard Shipping Costs Without Prime:

  • Total standard shipping costs on orders under $35 if not for Prime: $112.15

I fudged the numbers a bit here: I had a few orders that were shy of $35 by less than a buck, and a smattering of orders staggered within a day of each other. In a non-Prime life, I would have found something dinky to make a $34 order clear $35 and I would have been more vigilant about placing larger orders that qualified for free shipping. So I didn’t count those orders in my 2013 totals. But for the rest of the one-off, sub-$35 items I ordered, I would have paid around $112 in shipping costs.

Assumptions, Advice and Conclusion:

I’m surprised at how close these two realities are. In a Prime life, I paid $104.44 in shipping charges; in a non-Prime life, I would have paid $112.15 in shipping charges.

In my case, I actually have to think a bit about whether $99 is worth it. Prime was a no-brainer for me at $79, but if I buckled down and made sure to order things only in $35-and-up clumps, I could conceivably cut shipping costs out of the equation altogether. (I’d still pay $5.49 extra for that shirt – all day long. No regrets.)

What such a scenario doesn’t take into account, of course, is that Prime offers two-day shipping, whereas standard shipping is listed at five to eight days. If you live in a populated area that’s relatively close to an Amazon distribution center, however, I can tell you that a standard shipment generally shows up in three days. At least, that’s been my case (I live in Boston).

It also doesn’t take into account the free movies and TV shows, or the free Kindle books. You could make the argument that if Amazon has the same stuff you want to watch as Netflix does, you could save $8 a month on a Netflix membership and basically offset the yearly cost of Prime. I also happened to read more Kindle books this year thanks to my Prime membership, but I can’t argue that I would have paid full price for any of them otherwise.

My colleague Brad Tuttle lays out 5 ways to skirt paying $99 for Prime, the least cumbersome being to sign up for an educational discount if you have a .edu email address, or being diligent about placing $35+ orders. I’ll also add that you can share a full-price Prime membership with four other people (Prime members: see the “Invite a Household Member” section on this page), so round up four friends – sorry, “household members” — and everyone can chip in $20.

And now the big question: Will I be re-upping my membership at $99 this time around?

Yes. Yes, I will. Being able to pay $4 to overnight a wig I’ll probably never use is worth it to me. So is not having to look around for stuff to pad a $34 order. The two-day shipping on everything else, coupled with the video and e-book extras is icing on the cake.

But finally running the numbers after all these years has left me feeling less like Prime is a must-buy, especially now that it costs $99. If the price goes up any higher, I think that’ll be it for me.

TIME apps

How to Block Telemarketers on Android and iPhone

No one enjoys cell phone spam, especially aggressive telemarketing calls and texts while you’re on the go. Though you can list your cell phone number on the Do Not Call Registry, that doesn’t stop telemarketing text messages or even all phone calls, in our experience.

If you’re tired of these nuisances, you have options. You can use the following apps and features built into your phone to help cut down on spam.

For Android smartphones

If your phone is updated to Android 4.4 KitKat (check Settings > About Phone to check which Android version your device is running) there are some built-in features that identify incoming calls. Caller ID by Google will match incoming calls with Google Places listings and display that name on the call screen for you. Unfortunately, this is highly dependent on the company being listed in Google’s business directory.

For earlier versions of Android, your options vary somewhat by manufacturer. When you get a spam call, open the call log and press and hold the number you want to block. While you’re holding, a menu will pop up letting you add that number to your contacts or block it. Samsung calls it “add to reject list,” HTC calls it “block contact”—you get the idea. On LG models, you can go into system >> call >> call reject >> and then use the + to add numbers from your recent calls.

If you have Android 4.2.2 you can also opt to send all calls from a specific contact directly to voicemail. Once you get a call, make a contact out of that incoming number. Then view that contact (the People widget) and tap on the menu to see the option “All calls to voicemail.”

If your version of Android doesn’t have what you need, check out one of these apps that specialize in dealing with annoying calls in different ways.

mr-number-screensap-300px
Mr. Number

Best for blocking spam: Mr. Number

Mr. Number lets you block calls and texts from specific numbers or specific area codes, and it can automatically block private or unknown numbers. It also lets users report spam, so when you get a call from an unknown number, you can see what others have reported about it.

When a blocked number tries to call, your phone may ring once, though usually not at all, and then the call is either disconnected or sent to voicemail based on how you want the call handled.

Price: Free at Google Play (reverse lookups for a fee)

truecaller-app-screenshot-350px
Truecaller

Best for Identifying Calls: Truecaller

While Mr. Number focuses on blocking calls and texts, Truecaller focuses on identifying who’s trying to get in touch.

Truecaller provides caller ID information and reverse lookup data for incoming calls and texts — and all this info means that Truecaller knows who spammers are and lets you block them before they start bothering you.

The app makers maintain a database of spam callers and telemarketers and will automatically flag incoming calls as such. This database comes from both white and yellow pages services as well as crowdsourced from the Truecaller community. And, it’s proven effective in screening out the One Ring Phone Scam calls.

Truecaller will ask to add your list of contacts to its database, but this is purely optional. You will have to verify your number with Truecaller before being able to use the service.

Price: Free at Google Play

truecaller-app-ios-225
Truecaller

For iPhones

iOS 7 has built-in options for blocking numbers.

Go to the Contacts app and tap on the contact you want to block or find the number on the Recent Calls tab (clock icon) in your Phone app and tap the circled “i” icon to the right of the number. Both these methods will take you to the contact page for that caller. Scroll to the bottom and click on the Block This Caller.

But what about identifying incoming calls or texts as spam?

For that you can rely on Truecaller listed above in the Android section. It also has an iPhone version that will identify incoming calls against their extensive list of telemarketers and spammers.

Price: Free on iTunes

Other blocking options

If you don’t find any built-in features or apps to your liking, your carrier might offer blocking options (although they could come at a cost).

  • AT&T users should look for Smart Limits, a parental control feature that lets you block calls and texts for $4.99 per month.
  • Sprint users can set up call blocking from My Sprint.
  • Verizon users can block five numbers for free or pay $4.99 a month for more blocking options.
  • T-Mobile offers the fewest features here, though you can block all text messages or contact support about potentially blocking specific numbers.

Finally, try filtering by using a Google Voice number as your primary means of contact. Google Voice offers great spam filtering options with a database of known spam numbers, and it can automatically block potential spam. You can port an existing number to Google Voice for a $20 fee to enjoy first-class call filtering options no matter what kind of phone you’re using. This method works for both iPhones and Android smartphones.

This article was written by Elizabeth Harper and originally appeared on Techlicious.

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