Switching to Android: How to fix not receiving text messages from iPhone iOS users

After quite a few years of reliable use, my iPhone 5S finally broke down on me. There were some odd scratches or particles inside the camera mechanism in the phone that caused large blotches to appear in all of my pictures. It was really annoying because I love using my phone camera while I’m out.

A picture of my wall, showing the dark blotches from damage to the camera.

A picture of my wall, showing the dark blotches from damage to the camera.

I did some research online and the problem seems to be caused by dust or impact damage to the camera lens. My iPhone wasn’t new, by any means. It had suffered more than a few drops and it was out of warranty. Regardless, Apple won’t repair damage to the camera in-store. People who had this issue were given new phones instead if they were within the warranty period. Even if Apple did repair damaged camera mechanisms, I wonder if it would have been worth it? A brand new iPhone 5S is $99 on Virgin Mobile. The repair might have been as much or more.

Not quite ready to spend a lot of money on a new phone, I tried carrying around an actual camera with me for a while. Besides being extra weight, bulky, and more difficult to use (so many settings and stuff), it felt like I was whipping out and wielding a rotary phone. Mostly, it was just an awkward experience and the pictures the camera took weren’t that good anyway. Even the iPhone 5S did a better job. I wasn’t really surprised though. The camera I was trying to use as an alternative was a few years older than the 5S.

I finally caved and decided it was time to purchase a new phone. After much consideration, I decided to jump ship and switch to a Samsung Galaxy S7 running Android Nougat 7.0. I think what finally sold me on the device was the water and dust proofing (so I wouldn’t have the camera problem I had with the iPhone 5S) and the excellent camera. I’m also still butthurt about Apple’s decision to remove the headphone jack on the iPhone 7. I don’t think it was worth it to get a vibrating non-button home button. They’re giving less and asking for more than a viable competitor.

It took me about 10-12 hours to install and log into my favorite apps (or find alternatives in the Google Play Store), customize the launcher, set wallpapers, and just get comfortable with the device. But then I hit a snag. I realized I wasn’t receiving text messages that were sent to me by people using iPhones.

The Fix:

I did some research online to see how to get the problem fixed. I had a feeling it had something to do with iMessages, and I was right. The top search results recommended doing things like sending text messages to random numbers with a STOP command, but that didn’t seem to do anything. Also, the article was pretty old and dealt with a previous version of iOS.

I did some tinkering on my own and realized the solution in iOS 10 is pretty simple:

Simply toggle off iMessages in your Messages Settings menu.

Simply toggle off iMessages in your Messages Settings menu.

On your iPhone, open Settings < Messages, and toggle off iMessage. If you have an iPad like I do, toggle off iMessage there as well. Also, in the next menu down, toggle off FaceTime.

Then you just have to wait. I managed to get this far at around 2 AM. By 8:30 am, I was receiving text messages from iPhone users again.

If you have an iPad, make sure to turn off iMessage there as well. Also disable FaceTime.

If you have an iPad, make sure to turn off iMessage there as well. Also disable FaceTime.

As far as the Samsung Galaxy S7 goes, it was worth it. It’s an awesome phone, especially coming from an iPhone 5S. I’m happy with the camera too. I haven’t had a lot of opportunities to test it yet, but so far I’m happy with how it performs. There are no filters on the photos below:

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Late afternoon sunshine at City College.

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Philippines Mobile Phones and SMS (Text Message) Scams

The Philippines is sometimes called the texting capital of the world and from what I’ve seen it’s true.  People in the Philippines, and Filipinos in general, seem to text non-stop.  In the US, it’s most common for people to have contract based plans with cell phone carriers and those plans usually have plenty of, if not unlimited, voice minutes.  Before coming to Asia, I can count the number of times I sent a text message on two hands and those were because someone texted me first.  Since then I’ve sent thousands, sometimes upwards of 200 per day.  Texting is the preferred method of communication in the Philippines, and other parts of Asia I’ve been to, mostly because it’s cheaper than voice calling.

Load na Dito!

Like I said, in the US most people have contract based plans.  Now, texting is catching on and people have the option to get unlimited texting packages added to their monthly bill.  In the Philippines, the majority of people don’t have contract plans; they use pre-paid instead.  If you’ve never heard of that, pre-paid is when you pay the carrier, either by purchasing a card with a set value, through an ATM, Internet banking, or even through distributors / resellers that can transfer value to your phone.  In the Philippines, this value is referred to as “load”.  That’s why when you look at photos of the Philippines you’ll often see signs that say “Load na Dito!”  It means “Load Available Here!”.  You can go to those stores and have value added to your prepaid SIM.  That’s another thing.  Phones in the Philippines are all based on GSM / SIM cards.  There’s no CDMA like Verizon and Sprint use in the US.  At least, not that I’m aware of.

Another way to have value added to your pre-paid SIM is by transfer from a friend or family member.  Well, it doesn’t have to be a friend or family member.  Anyone can transfer value to your SIM and it only carries a 1 PHP fee, to be paid by the sender.  This is where the scam comes in.

Now, I want to say that only an idiot would fall for these scams, but the fact that it’s an ongoing problem shows that people do in fact fall for them and fairly regularly.  The exact wording of the scams vary, but it usually goes along the lines of a ‘friend’ loses their phone and gets a new one, but needs you to send them ‘load’ until they can get their own and pay you back.  Sometimes they add a name to the text message, so that in the event the recipient does know someone by that name, they’ll be more likely to follow through and send a transfer.

I’ve probably received 20 or 30 messages like this in the past 4 months.  I deleted most of them, but here are some recent samples:

Example of a phone scam in the Philippines.

Example of a phone scam in the Philippines.

Example of a phone scam in the Philippines.

If you ever happen to visit the Philippines and you have a GSM phone, it’s easy to get a prepaid SIM to use while you’re in the country.  Just be aware that you’ll likely find yourself receiving messages like this and you shouldn’t fall for it.  Of course, it’s more obvious if you’re just a tourist because who else would you know here that would ask you for load?

Horrible Singaporean Buyer (SMS Conversation Screenshots)

If you’ve ever tried to list something publicly to sell it, you’ve probably had a similar experience.  I doubt many of you have had to deal with this level of annoyance though.

Just to give a little background, last month I sold a Nokia e51 I had sitting in a drawer, because, well it was just sitting in a drawer.  I use my iPhone all the time now and there was no point in keeping the thing around.  I could use the money for other things.

Anyhow, I listed the thing on Singapore’s eBay and the following is a conversation I had with a prospective buyer:

First off, note the time that this guy sent me this SMS.  This was a Saturday night, sure, and we were still up, but who in their right mind sends an SMS to someone about an eBay listing at that time of the morning?  Also, the listing made it clear that I was selling the phone and not representative of a company, so why did he think I had multiple color versions of the phone laying around to sell off?

When I put this phone up for sale I anticipated that I might encounter some less than bright questions or behavior, but this guy seriously tested my patience, as you’ll see as the conversation continues.  I tried my best to humor him, because it was my goal to sell the phone.  I figured I could always post screenshots of the conversation later.

I stated the condition quite clearly in the item description in the eBay listing, and simply repeated it to him.

On the eBay listing I posted the low end of the bidding at 185 and the high end at 200.  I thought the point of setting those figures was so that people would know immediately what your “best price” is, but… guess not.  I let him have his 5 dollar discount because I figured he would feel like he won something and stop being so troublesome.

His question about my age threw me off guard.  I couldn’t figure out what bearing that had on selling a phone, or why he would think it was appropriate to ask.  Later, I realized that it was a calculated question.  He was trying to do a quick mental calculation to see if I was potentially easy to rip off.  That’s probably why he kept going on and on and on too.  Trying to wear me down to just give up and sell it for a lower price.

Still trying to be polite and conversational here, so I deflected his question, but I was pretty sure my eBay listing was for a Nokia e51 and not pimping services.

If you’re from the US and wondering about the ‘Happy New Year’, this was right around the Chinese Lunar New Year.

So, if you notice the timestamp, this was two days later, again at an inappropriate time of the night for him to be sending me a text message. Regardless, I took the opportunity to tell him that I’d gathered the stuff for the phone together, and hoped he would stop fucking around and just agree to meet and buy the thing.

I thought I was pretty clear about why the SIM was in the phone.

This is when I realized this guy was just trying to screw me over.  First off, I’d looked around and roughly 180 SGD was the average price for a used e51, both here in Singapore and in other countries around the region.  Second off, this guy was trying to get me to sell it to him for what a pawn shop would give me for one.  That’s some pretty flawed logic, and I was insulted that he thought I was that stupid.  It was also pretty obvious that he didn’t work for a shop, for a number of reasons, and that this was just a ploy to try to get me to sell the phone to him for a ridiculously low price.

I felt like I was in a video game and he was trying to use a special attack on me or something: “Barrage of Stupidity! Go!”

There’s a time stamp here because I decided to ignore him.  I wasn’t going to play that kind of stupid game.  Sure enough, he messaged again and then launched right into another ploy.  The phone was worth 180 without the 4 GB memory card in it.  I just left that in there to act as an added incentive, so someone would choose to buy my e51 over another sellers.  That should be obvious, so I don’t know why this guy thought I’d keep a 4 GB memory card I’d have no use for and then let him rip me off on the price.

By the way, I think I’m being generous calling this person a guy, because it seems more like I was talking to a boy of about 16, trying to lie and cheat his way into a good deal on a phone because 130 bucks was all mama would give him.

I decided to just ignore him and sure enough, he started SMSing again.  Then, as you can see at the end of this screenshot, he launched right into another game.

So, now all of a sudden I’m his “bro” and since we’re such good “bros” I should let him pay me part-now / part-later and because he’s my “bro” I’ll just be able to trust that he’ll pay me the rest?

Of course, the guy never sent me another message after that, since it was obvious I wasn’t going to sell him the phone for 130, or let him trick me into giving it to him for 130.

I feel sad when I see that people this annoying and retarded manage to survive, but it did teach me a few important lessons.  When I listed the phone on eBay the second time I left a VERY detailed list of what came with the phone, what didn’t come with the phone, what time to message me and not message me and I made it very clear what the “best” price was.  I had a few more people try this same bullshit on me but I didn’t bother with it again.  I wasted enough of my monthly limit of SMS messages on this one fool already.

This whole “best” price thing is something that annoys the hell out of me.  It’s not local to Singapore, but this is the first place I’ve had to deal with it with any regularity. Singaporeans are so hellbent on getting a “best price” that even if you tell them that what you asked for initially is the “best price”, they’ll think you’re just playing hard to get and keep trying to haggle with you, or start playing games like the jackass in these screenshots did.

The day after I listed it for the second time I was contacted by a very polite woman who met me at Tampines, looked over the phone and handed over the asking price without trying to find out the “best price”, so I gave it to her for 10 SGD less than what I was asking for, out of thanks for her being so pleasant.