How to Record a Conversation on an iPhone
By John Lister
While the iPhone does not have a built-in recording option for telephone calls, you can record face-to-face conversations using the Voice Memos app, which by default is located in the Utilities folder. However, you can still record incoming and outgoing calls by using a third-party solution.
You can record incoming calls when using the Google Voice service. This service allows you to get a single phone number from Google, and then decide at any time where you want to receive the calls, such as on your iPhone. If you receive a call through Google Voice, tap "4" on your iPhone to start or stop recording. The recording will then appear in your Google Voice inbox, accessible through the iPhone app or the Google Voice app. As of October 2013, you cannot record outgoing calls on Google Voice.
Several apps allow you to record phone calls. Examples include Recorder, We Talk and ipadio (see Resources). Such apps usually carry a charge, either to buy the app or as a subscription service fee, such as a monthly fee or a per-minute fee for the time you actually use it. Check reviews and details before buying, as some apps have limitations such as only recording outbound calls. Also check how you can retrieve and transfer recordings, as some apps may make stored calls inaccessible once you cancel the subscription.
Creating a hardware solution for recording iPhone calls is a complicated task. The way the phone is designed means that trying to connect recording equipment directly to your phone's earphone socket usually means you either can only record the other person's voice, or you wind up with an echo of one or both voices on the call. Professional third-party hardware does exist, but can be very expensive, be subject to distortion or interference in the recording, and make it less practical to hold the phone. If you do not require perfect audio quality and are calling from a private location, the simplest hardware solution may be to put the iPhone onto speakerphone mode and place it next to a digital voice recorder.
Check local laws for any legal restrictions on recording a phone call. The state and/or country in which you live may disallow recording calls without the consent of the other party. You may also be affected by the laws prevailing in the place where the other party is physically present at the time of the call, or where the other party legally resides.
A professional writer since 1998 with a Bachelor of Arts in journalism, John Lister ran the press department for the Plain English Campaign until 2005. He then worked as a freelance writer with credits including national newspapers, magazines and online work. He specializes in technology and communications.