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How to record a call on your iPhone (and check if it's legal in your state)

Want to record a call on your iPhone? I show you the simplest way I've found, plus a few more options. I also go into the laws around recording conversations.
Starting a phone call on the iPhone
Christina Darby/ZDNET

There are many reasons you may want to (legally) record a phone call on your iPhone and so few ways to do it. While it is reassuring that Apple prioritizes customer privacy, the company's dedication to it can make those times when recording is necessary and unnecessarily difficult.  

Also: 7 things you didn't realize your phone can do

Before you record a phone call from your iPhone, there are a few practical things to be aware of: 

  1. States have varying laws regarding recording phone calls. Click here to find out your state's policy. 
  2. iPhone does not allow recording through the built-in microphone while that phone is actively on a call via its own software. To put it simply, you can't hit "record" while you're talking on the phone.
  3. You either need an external iOS device with audio recording and microphone functions or a third-party app with a separate call software such as Google Voice. Also, note that these third-party apps may require a subscription fee. 
  4. The method below is considered the most accessible for most iPhone users who wish to record a conversation, especially if you want to be subtle about it. 

How to record a phone call on iPhone

What you need

  • 1 iPhone using speaker phone to engage in the call 
  • Another recording device (could be another iPhone, an iPad, or even an Android device) using Voice Memos or a recording app to record the call. 

1. Test your Voice Memos app

First, make sure you have both an iPhone and another iOS device, such as an iPad or another iPhone, that includes the Voice Memos app. The Voice Memos app comes preinstalled on most devices, but it is also free on the App Store

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Open the Voice Memos app and tap the red record button and start speaking for long enough that you can ensure that the sound quality is good enough to record, and then clearly understand, a conversation. When you are done recording, press the red button again and an audio file should appear saying "Voice Recording (number correlating to the voice recordings you have)." 

Screenshot of the voice recording "all recordings" interface.
Screenshot by Christina Darby/ZDNET

2. Play back the audio file and make adjustments

Now, play the file back and see if the audio is discernable. Make the adjustments you need before you record a phone call. 

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For example, if the sound is too low quality, you may need to speak louder, increase the microphone sensitivity, or put the speaker closer to your mouth. 

3a. Start recording

Get the second device set up so that Voice Memos is ready to record. Put the device in close proximity to the phone making the call and hit the red button again to record. 

Starting the recording before you start the call may add a few seconds of silence to the file but will ensure you don't miss any of the conversation. On your iPhone, make sure to initiate the phone call in Speakerphone mode. 

Pro tip: The red lines on the Voice Memo app indicate how well the app is picking up sound. The larger the red bars are, the higher the volume that's detected. If the lines stay flat, then you may need to turn up the phone call volume or move the devices closer together.

Screenshot of the voice memo app on iPhone showing the red sound bar waves.

The higher red bars indicate a louder sound versus the lower ones mean a quiet sound and you may have to move closer to the phone for Voice Memos to pick up a more accurate sound. 

Screenshot by Christina Darby/ZDNET

3b. You may need to inform the other party that you're recording

For legal reasons, check if the state you're recording and residing in is a one-party or two-party state when it comes to recording consent. 

Also: Stop using your 4-digit iPhone passcode in public. Do this instead

One-party states only require one person on the call -- which would count as you -- to consent to be recorded. A two-party state requires both the person recording and the person being recorded to consent. 

4. End the recording and transfer the file

When the conversation is over or you got the information you needed, end the recording by once again tapping the red button. 

From within the Voice Memos app, select the file of the recording, tap the ellipses button (three dots) to bring up share options, and send it directly to your iPhone via text message, mail, AirDrop, or even Google Drive. 

Other methods

The above steps are the easiest, most efficient, and least obvious way to record a phone call. If you (or a trusted second party) don't have another iOS device to spare, here are a few alternatives.  

Google Voice

The Google Voice app for iOS lets you make free and recorded calls using Wifi via Google Voice. You can select the device you want to make a call from via the app. For incoming calls, you can go to Settings > Calls  > Incoming Calls and then toggle the incoming calls record option. Once everyone is on the call, press the number four (4) on the keypad to start and end the recording. The call will end up in the record menu option after it ends. 

Rev Voice Recorder

The Rev Voice Recorder app is also free, able to record while you're using your phone, and can transcribe your files after a conversation is over. Note that the transcription option, however, does cost $1.50 per minute. Once you download your file, it will appear as an MP3 file straight on your device. This is also another great and easy option for recording phone calls and for narrating screen recordings. 

Easy Voice Recorder

Easy Voice Recorder is another free app that allows you to record high-quality sounding voice memos or recordings to PCM, MP4, or ACC files -- all of which can then be saved to your iCloud account. 

As the name suggests, this app is designed for users to easily be able to whip out their phones and start recording whenever, wherever. As a plus, Easy Voice Recorder is text-to-transcription capable. If you download the app and use it on an iPad to record, you can also drag and drop recordings with the Files or other recording apps for further transcriptions or simply to consolidate recordings. 

TapeACall Pro

If you're wanting to record important business phone calls, conference calls, or interviews, this $11 app may be worth the investment. For this app to record, you make a "conference call" where the TapeACall app is one of the parties. Then, go into the app and hit the record button to simultaneously record and for the app to "dial in." You do have to merge all "three" calls together, so note that this process is a bit more tedious and a lot less subtle. 

Also: How to record a phone call on your Android phone


Is it illegal to record phone calls? 

Federal law requires at least one party's consent, which means that you need to be part of the conversation you're recording or have the consent of at least one person in that conversation. Otherwise, it can be construed as wiretapping or illegal eavesdropping. Some states have even stricter laws that require the consent of all people involved in the conversation.

Before recording a conversation it's always best to check your state laws. 

Is there an app to record calls on iPhone? 

There are several that perform this function in one manner or another. However, Apple is restrictive about letting third-party apps use the microphone during a phone call. For that reason, most apps that help you record a call on your phone must use clever mechanisms to get around this barrier. Beyond the method outlined above using the Voice Memos app, people also use Google Voice, TapeACall, Easy Voice Recorder, and Rev Voice Recorder.

Also: How to buy more iPhone storage

Alternatively, you can use most mic-equipped computers or tablets to record phone conversations so long as the phone is on speaker or the microphone is held close to the speaker next to your ear. Both iOS and Windows computers have numerous audio recording software options available.

Does Apple have an app to record iPhone calls? 

Unfortunately, no -- at least not yet. Apple itself doesn't have an app, but there are third-party apps available on the App Store. Also, Voice Memos is most likely automatically installed on your iOS device. 

Does screen recording on iPhone record my call? 

Screen recording while on an audio or FaceTime call will do just that -- record your screen and screen only -- no audio included. 

Does iPhone's Voice Memos have a time limit? 

The Voice Memos app can record for an unlimited amount of time as long as you have storage availability. To check how much storage is on your device, go to your iPhone's Settings > General > Device > Storage. You can also buy more iPhone storage

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