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How to record a phone call on your iPhone

There are many reasons to record a phone call on your iPhone and a few ways to do it.
Written by Joshua Cox-Steib, Contributor on

The iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Mini.

Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

There are many reasons to record a phone call on your iPhone and a few ways to do it. However, because Apple prioritizes customer privacy, this process isn't simple -- on purpose. Also keep in mind that different states have varying laws regarding when you can legally record a conversation. 

That said, to record a phone call on your iPhone, you'll need two devices for the most common call recording method. This is because iPhones do not allow recording through the built-in microphone while that specific iPhone is engaged with a phone call. 

There are apps available that can help bypass this, but the method below is often considered the most accessible for those who wish to record their iPhone conversations. 

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

Recording a phone call on your iPhone

Materials and tools:

  • An iPhone
  • One other iOS device with a microphone and App functionality

Time needed:

  • A few minutes of setup, plus the duration of the conversation. If you plan on editing or transcribing the call recording, those steps will add more time.

An image of the Voice Memos app page in the Apple App store.

Joshua Cox-Steib

1. Test your Voice Memos app

First, make sure you have both an iPhone and another iOS device that includes a microphone. The second device can be an iPhone as well. The important part is that it can load the Voice Memos app and function with a built-in or attached microphone (either should be fine). The Apple Voice Memos app is free from the app store and comes preinstalled on some devices.

Before continuing, ensure that the app is installed and functioning. Open the Voice Memos app, tap the record button, and begin speaking into the microphone. You only need to do this just long enough to generate an audio file. Now, play the file back and see if the audio is discernable. 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. Once you've had a good test run, continue to step two.

2. Start recording 

In the Voice Memos app on your second device, tap the record button again. Once the recording has started on your second device, initiate the phone call on your iPhone and set it to speakerphone mode. 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. The iPhone audio must be detectable from the microphone of your second iOS device. Beyond turning on speakerphone, this may involve turning the volume up and arranging the microphone of the second device near the speaker of your iPhone.


An image of the Voice Memos app showing both the recording button and the audio waveform display.

Joshua Cox-Steib

You can tell, to a degree, how well the Voice Memos app is picking up the audio by watching the red lines that appear over the record button. These are known as an audio waveform display. When the red bars are larger, more audio volume is being detected. If the line of red bars stays flat, then the app or microphone isn't detecting enough audio for a viable recording. If the app seems to be picking up audio correctly, you can continue with your conversation.

3. Inform the other party you're recording 

Before getting into the conversation, inform the other party that you are recording the call, as many states require two-party consent for this to be legal. 

Suppose you know your state laws and live in one of the states that only requires one-party consent (and so do the other people in the conversation). In that case, you can technically remain quiet about this, although it may be considered rude or unethical.

Now you may have the conversation as usual. However, make sure that the phone in use is on speaker mode and the second device is actively recording and near enough to pick up the audio from your phone's speaker. If you move during the conversation, it's essential to make sure these devices stay near each other.

4. Transferring the file 

You may end the call on your iPhone and end the recording on your second device when the conversation is concluded. 

From within the Voice Memos app, select the file of the recording, tap the ellipses button to bring up share options, and send it directly to your iPhone via text. Alternatively, you may share it with yourself through email or other mediums. 

Is it illegal to record phone calls?

Federal law requires at least one party consents, 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 wire-tapping 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 -- and those of anyone else in the conversation. While recording calls are perhaps a less extreme invasion of privacy than other iPhone spying instances, it can still be very upsetting to people. 

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, and Otter.

Alternatively, you can use most computers and a microphone 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.

Also: How to stop spam messages on your iPhone

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