You might think recording calls on your smartphone would be a relatively easy task. After all, most new models arrive with some sort of voice recording app already installed, and it shouldn’t prove much of a technological challenge to the likes of an iPhone 6S or Samsung Galaxy S6. Well, that isn’t the case, and in truth it can be a bit of a pain. There are many reasons why you might want to record a call, but doing so can be tricky on your iPhone or Android phone. Here's how to record phone calls on a smartphone, and some legal issues be aware of first.  

How to record phone calls on your smartphone: The law

One of the reasons that you can’t record calls straight out of the box might be the potential legal ramifications that manufacturers would consider problematic. Currently the law has a few conditions attached to the recording of calls, and these differ across countires and regions.

In the US there are federal laws that say its ok to record, but then there are state laws that say you can’t, or at least demand that both parties know that the recording is happening. As PC Advisor doesn’t moonlight as Law Advisor, we’d recommend that you research the specific legislature in your area and ensure that you adhere fully to its stipulations.

The UK has a uniform law, but even within this there are conditions dependant on why you’re actually creating the recording. The general rule is that you can record someone without their knowledge, but only if you intend to use the recording for personal use. Once you play the file to a third party, be it a friend, family, or whatever, then you are in breach of the law and could find yourself in trouble. If you’re conducting an interview, as journalists often do, then you need to ask for permission to record, otherwise you can’t use anything said on the call. There are a few special exceptions, including if you think a crime is being committed, but again these should be carefully researched before you embark on any sting operations.

Businesses can record conversation without informing you, but only for specific commerce related reasons - such as ensuring quality of service. There are a few other circumstances, all of which are outlined on the Ofcom website.

One other form of recording that is permitted is that used by the security, intelligence, and police services, as outlined in the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA). As this covers national security, the prevention of serious crime, and the protection of the UK’s economic well-being, it’s not really applicable in most cases to you.

How to record phone calls on an Android phone

To capture conversations you’ll need to download a call recorder app from the Google Play store. There are quite a few to choose from, with the likes of Another Call Recorder, Automatic Call Recorder, and similarly titled offerings all garnering solid reviews. Many are free, but there are often Premium editions that open up more features, such as cloud syncing. For the purposes of this tutorial we’ll use Total Recall, mainly because we’re big Schwarzenegger fans.

1. Go to the Google Play Store and search for Total Recall
2. Install the app
3. Launch the app
4. Open up your dialler or contacts app and start a call
5. Total Recall automatically records the conversation and stops when you hang up.
6. Go back to the app, select the conversation, and listen back.

How to record a phone call on an android device

That’s it. One thing to bear in mind is that having more than one call recorder installed at any one time can cause performance issues. So, if you want to experiment with different apps just remember to delete any others before you begin.

How to record phone calls on an iPhone

Voice memos on an iPhone might seem the best place to start, but alas if you try to press record then call your friend, all that will happen is that the recording stops as soon as they answer. Instead you’ll have to head to the App Store and pick up a third-party offering. Like their Android counterparts, the apps available for iPhone are varied, but most involve some kind of cost to unlock premium features. We’ll use TapeACall Lite for this tutorial, as it lets users try out the service for free, although you’ll only be able to listen to the first sixty seconds of a call unless you pay £6.99 for the full version.

1. Go to the App store on your iPhone and search for TapeACall
2. Install the app
3. Launch the app
4. Activate the app by entering your phone number and then entering the code number that is texted to you.
5. Go through the various settings requests and watch the tutorial.

How to record phone call on an iPhone

6. Open the app and press the record button
7. Tap ‘Add Call’ and enter the phone number you wish to ring, or select one  from your Contacts.  
8. When the person answers press ‘Merge Calls’ and the recording will begin.
9. After the call is completed go back to the app, press the Play icon under the Record button, and all of your conversations will be there.