It’s not clear what solution you’re looking for from here because there’s no setting you or your friends can change on your devices to get around this. This is ultimately an issue with the man’s account having a dead (to him) number attached to his Apple ID/Account.
However, to try and give you a plan of action, I’ve outlined a couple strategies you can attempt to resolve this.
Reason with him
He says he still considers this to be his number, even though he canceled his phone plan. He still wants to use the number to send and receive iMessages.
He is wrong. The number (block) belongs to the carrier and was assigned to him at one point, but isn’t any longer. It is impractical for him to use a number not associated with him to send/receive messages. Ultimately, when he is searched for by phone number, the number ultimately will go to you. If iMessage goes down unexpectedly, it will send the message via SMS which means you’ll be the recipient, not him.
He suggests I go to my phone provider and get a different number for my Android.
That won’t solve anything. After the grace period the carrier give when disassociating numbers from customers, it will go back into rotation to be assigned and the problem will then move from you to someone else. He’ll be stuck with the issue except it will now be with someone else. Does he wan’t to deal with this in perpetuity?
This is also a security concern. If Apple has to send a validation code (for account recovery) to a trusted device like his phone, he won’t be able to receive the SMS because you will be the recipient. Could you imagine if a bad actor was to get that number and then (maliciously) use it for account recovery? All they would need is his Apple ID.
Plead your case (in writing) to Apple that one of their customers disconnected a phone line but did not update their information. As such, you can’t create your Apple ID (they don’t need to know you switched to Android) and you’re stuck in this “limbo.” You’ll want to include the following info:
- Billing statement from the carrier showing you’re the current “owner” of the phone number.
- Chat logs asking the previous owner for assistance and his refusal
I can’t say with any certainty that any of this will work because you’re dealing with 3rd parties with their own motivations. However, it is a strategy. Just procede professionally and methodically to ensure you’re perceived as the reasonable party.
If all else fails and I were in your shoes, I might be tempted to do get a cheap iPhone and a pay-as-you go phone number, register for an Apple ID and spam the daylights out of him claiming you’re trying to reach “you.” If he blocks, let the number go, get a new one and do it again.
The bottom line is he is creating a problem for himself and for others. I would hope that a semi-reasonable person would see this, but if not, hopefully Apple will.