In a time when our smartphones can help you order pizza, hail a cab, and detect our heartbeats, you’d think it’d be easy to record a simple phone call. Unfortunately, it’s not. Despite what you may think, recording a call isn’t as easy as merely pressing a button on your iPhone, so in order to get it done you’ll need to install an app. There are tons of these littered across the Apple App Store and the Web, and while many of them promise crystal-clear quality at a nonexistent pricetag, very few live up to the claims. To help you pinpoint the right app for your needs, we’ve scoured the Internet in search of the best call recorders and offered up a quick overview of our favorites in the paragraphs below. Just try not to forget about the whole legality thing.
Editor’s Note: There is a melange of federal and state laws pertaining to the recording of phone calls. As a general rule of thumb, though, you shouldn’t experience any legal trouble if you capture both parties verbally consenting to the recording within the recording itself. Some states require that only one party consent. However, feel free to check your state or local laws if you need further clarification.
Method #1: Record an incoming call using Google Voice
Surprisingly, Google Voice will record incoming calls for the stellar price of zero dollars. The only setback is that Google doesn’t allow you to record outgoing calls – only incoming ones. This makes it rather inconvenient if you’re hoping to record any conversations that you yourself need to initiate. Pro tip: The website GetHuman is a great workaround for recording customer service calls. The site allows you to notify a specific company that you’d like a rep to contact you.
To start recording incoming calls with Google Voice, you first need to set up a account. This is extremely easy — just head to voice.google.com and follow instructions. Once your account is up and running, the next step is to enable call recording so you can actually record and automatically save your conversation as an MP3 file.
Step 2: Click the gear icon in the upper-right and select Settings from the resulting drop-down menu.
Step 3: Select the the Calls tab and check the box directly beside Enable Recording, near the bottom of the page.
Once you do this, you can record incoming calls by pressing the number “4” on your phone’s keypad during the call. Doing so will trigger an automated voice notifying both parties that the call is being recorded. To stop recording, simply press “4” again or end the call as you would normally. After you stop recording, Google will automatically save the conversation to your Inbox, which is where all your recordings can be found, listened to, or downloaded.
Next Page: How to record an outgoing call with an iPhone app.
Method #2: Record an outgoing call with an iPhone app
When it comes to recording both incoming and outgoing calls, you’ll need to utilize something other than Google Voice. There aren’t too many free options out there, but thankfully, there are more than a few options if you’re willing to shell out a few bucks. We’ve tested out quite a few call recorders, and based on what we’ve seen thus far, we believe the three options below are your best bet.
If you’re only looking to record a single call, this app is probably your best bet. After you download it and sign up for a NoNotes account, you get 20 minutes of call recording for free each month. If you go over this monthly limit, you’ll need to purchase additional minutes, but NoNotes does offer a variety of pricing options. If you only need a little bit more time, you can pay 25¢ for each additional minute, or you can buy in bulk at get 100 minutes for $10. As an added bonus, NoNotes also offers low-cost transcription services, which are ideal if you’re recording an interview.
With one of the cheapest pay-per-minute rates, IntCall might be a better choice depending on the specific country you’re calling. Additional minutes can be purchased for $5, $10, or $20 dollars, and the cost per minute varies in each country. We definitely advise checking out the price list before you buy anything, but most countries can be reached for 10¢ or 20¢ cents per minute, which makes it more of a bargain than the pay-per-minute plans offered by NoNotes. The only downside is that it works through a VOIP line, meaning you’ll need to be connected to a Wi-Fi network in order to use it.
If you don’t mind shelling out some money up front for a good app, spring for TapeACall Pro. For just 10 bucks, you get an unlimited amount of call recording time, regardless of who or where you’re calling. It works a bit differently than the other two listed here — you initiate a recording by placing a call to whomever you want, putting them on hold for a moment, and then opening the app and hitting the record button. Once you do all this, the call is merged and stored with a remote recording service. Unlike other services, TapeACall Pro doesn’t notify the other party that you’re recording the conversation. When you’re done recording, you can access the stored audio file directly on your smartphone.
Method #3: Record using an external voice recorder
The final option is to pick up a dedicated voice recorder designed to plug directly into your smartphone’s 3.5mm headphone jack. Products like the Esonic Cell Phone Call Recorder or the Forus FSV-U2 will easily record any incoming or outgoing calls, thus allowing you to save hours of conversations. They’re incredibly simple and reliable, but more expensive considering most range between $70 and $90 through retail outlets like Amazon.
Update 3-24-2015 by Joe Donovan: This article was originally published on Oct. 3, 2013, and has been updated to include a video and current info on various recording tools.