How to Record Phone Calls on Your iPhone or Android

Recording phone calls is easy, but be aware of of the legalities

Recording call on iPhone with TapeACall
TapeACall

The idea of recording phone calls may sound like something out of a spy movie or the height of paranoia, but there are many more innocent reasons to do so. Journalists record phone calls and conversations all the time so they can get accurate quotes and avoid sparring with fact-checkers. Many professionals need to keep records of important conversations as well.

It can also serve as backup or evidence when dealing with customer service, verbal agreements, and other occasions.

While the technology behind recording cell phone calls is simple, there are legal issues everyone should be aware of, and best practices to implement to get quality recordings that your or a professional can then transcribe easily. This easy guide explains how to record phone calls, whatever your needs.

The Best iPhone and Android Apps for Recording Calls

Google Voice, as you probably know, gives you a free phone number and voicemail service, but it will also record incoming phone calls for no extra charge. To enable this, go to the voice.google.com on your desktop or launch the mobile app, which is available for both Android and iOS. Then visit settings. On the desktop, you'll see an option you can enable called incoming call options.

On Android, that's found in settings/advanced call settings/incoming call options, while in iOS, it's under settings/calls/in-bound call options. Once you enable this option, you can record incoming calls by pressing 4, which will trigger an alert that will notify everyone on the line that recording of the phone call has started.

Press 4 again to stop recording, which will trigger another alert that recording has stopped, or simply hang up. You can then make calls using your Google Voice number from your desktop or mobile device.

Digital Trends recommends using the website GetHuman, which helps you get a live person when calling customer service and also has an option to request that a specific company contact you directly, which will then enable you to record the call using Google Voice.

TapeACall Pro by TelTech Systems Inc is a paid app available on both platforms, but $10 per year gets you unlimited recording for both incoming and outgoing calls. For outgoing calls, you launch the app, tap record, and then place your call to start the call recorder. To record an incoming call, you have to put the caller on hold, open the app, and hit record. The way the app records a call is via a three-way call; when you hit record, it dials a local TapeACall access number. Make sure your cell phone plan includes three-way conference calling. This app does not disclose that it's recording, so it's a good idea to ask for permission, depending on where you live. (See the legal issues section below for more information.) Note that, while TapeACall has a free lite version, it limits you to listening to only one minute of your call recordings; the company says this is so users can test whether the service works with their carrier. It's also a good way to verify sound quality.

Alternative Recording Methods

If you need to transcribe your recorded calls, Rev.com (by Rev.com Inc, not surprisingly) has a voice recorder app, but it doesn't work for phone calls. However, if you load the app on a tablet and make your phone call on speaker phone, you can capture a recording and then submit to the service for transcription at $1 per minute; the first 10 minutes are free.

Rev has free apps for both Android and iOS, and you can upload your recordings directly to Dropbox, Box.net, or Evernote.

Alternatively, you can use a digital voice recorder to do the same thing; see Lifewire's top-rated models. There are also specialized voice recorders that can be plugged right into your smartphone's headphone jack or connect via Bluetooth, so you don't have to use your speakerphone. If you're an iPhone 7 or 7 Plus user, you'll need a lightning-to-headphone adaptor since those models eschew the headphone jack.

How to Guarantee a High-Quality Recording

For the best end product, you'll want to find the best environment to record your call.

Find a quiet place in your home or business, and put up a do not disturb sign if need be. Disable smartphone notifications and incoming calls to avoid disruptions. If you're using the speakerphone, be sure you're not near a fan. If you decide to type notes during the call, be sure the call recorder is not near the fan, or you'll drive the caller crazy and also create a poor quality recording. Do a test recording to make sure you're not missing anything.

Ask for repeats if the other party is speaking too fast or unclearly. Repeat back important phrases and reword your questions if you're having trouble understanding the other party. These simple actions will come in handy if you need to transcribe or you're hiring someone else to do so. Professional transcripts usually include timestamps, so if there are any holes in it, you can easily go back to the recording and try to figure out what it is.

Legal Issues With Recording Phone Calls

Note that recording phone calls or conversations may be illegal in some countries, and laws vary by state in the U.S. Some states allow one-party consent, which means that you can record conversations at will, though it's a courtesy to disclose that. Other states require two-party consent, which means you have to disclose or you could face legal trouble if you publish the recording or its transcript. Check your state and local laws before proceeding.

No matter why you want to record a phone call, these apps and devices will come through, but it's also a good idea to take notes just in case something goes wrong. You don't want that feeling of panic when you try to play back a recording only to hear utter silence.