How to Record Calls on Your Android Phone | PCMag

How to Record Calls on Your Android Phone | PCMag

Recording phone calls on an Android device can be a real challenge. While Google's own Phone app offers a recording feature, whether or not it works depends on your carrier, region, and other conditions. You can always use an external recording device, but there are also several on-device options, from Google Voice to third-party apps.

Recording Limitations on Android

Starting with Android 9, Google added limitations that prevent many apps from recording your phone conversations. The apps may seem to work, but when you play the recording, you hear only silence or just your end of the conversation.

Some people have found workarounds to Google's block, such as changing the audio source or format, turning the speaker volume as loud as possible, recording manually instead of automatically, and even rooting their phones. But certain apps may work on specific phones and not on others. If you’re running Android 11 or higher, you’ll need to enable the accessibility service for the recording app. Some apps take you through that process, others do not.

Meanwhile, because of privacy issues, Google no longer allows calling apps to access the call log to identify the caller. That means each call you record through an app shows up as coming from an unknown caller, even if the caller is in your contact list. In this case, if the app lets you store the recording elsewhere as an MP3 file, your best option is to rename the file.

A Question of Legality

Can you legally record a phone call, especially if you don't ask the other person for permission? The answer depends on where you live. US federal and most state laws allow phone recording if just one party (and yes, that can be you) gives it the okay. Some states, however, require both parties to give permission to be recorded.

Other countries have their own laws, of course. To fully cover yourself legally, ask the other person for permission before recording the call. With all that out of the way, here are some apps that may be able to record your Android phone conversations.

Phone by Google

Google’s Phone app offers built-in call recording, but it’s contingent on a number of conditions. The app must be preinstalled on your phone with the latest update. You must be running Android 9 or higher. And most stringently, your region, carrier, and device must all support it, which leaves a lot of phones and locations out of the running.

Make sure your phone uses the Phone by Google app, and not Samsung's Phone app, for instance. If you have the right app, open it then tap the three-dot icon in the upper right and select Settings. Tap Call Recording to set up what types of calls you want to record. If this option is not visible, your phone cannot record calls through the app.

If you do have the Call Recording option, tap the Record button the next time you are on a call that you wish to record. When done, tap the Stop Recording button. You can access the recording under the Recents section of the the Phone app. Tap the name of the caller you recorded, select the recording from the list of calls, and then tap Play.

Google Voice

With Google Voice, you choose a dedicated phone number through which incoming calls are routed to your mobile phone. After you set up your phone number and your Google Voice account, tap the app's hamburger icon in the upper-left corner. Tap Settings and turn on the switch for Incoming call options to enable call recording.

The limitation here is that you can record only incoming calls. When you answer your phone, press the number 4 on the keypad to record the conversation. A message announces that the call is being recorded, so be sure to get the other person's permission beforehand. To stop the recording, press 4 on the keypad again. The recording is saved to your email inbox, where you can listen to it or download it to your computer.

Automatic Call Recorder

Automatic Call Recorder is a simple but effective recording app. Before recording anything, you’ll want to configure the app in the Settings menu. Here, you can enable or disable automatic recording for incoming and outgoing calls. You can also choose to record only certain contacts. In the Recording section, be sure to increase the loudness and turn on the recording volume. There’s also an option to turn on recording if you shake your phone.

If you leave automatic recording on by default, recording will begin any time you make or receive a phone call. You can then open the app to view the recording. From the options screen, you can save the call as an audio file to your phone, add call notes, delete the recording, or share it via email or social media. The free version is ad-supported, but the $8.49 Pro version removes ads and kicks in other features.

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In testing, Automatic Call Recorder worked out of the box on an Android 9 device. When testing with Android 11 and 12, the accessibility service needed to be enabled for the app to work. You can do this under Settings > Accessibility > Call Recorder, then enable Use Call Recorder in your phone's settings.

Call Recorder - Automatic Call Recorder Pro

Call Recorder - Automatic Call Recorder Pro is a solid app with a variety of options. It first takes you through the necessary setup steps, such as enabling accessibility settings. You can then access the Settings screen and choose to automatically or manually record calls, change the audio source and format, alter the audio quality, increase the volume, or enable an option to start recording when you shake your phone.

If you set the app to automatic, it will record incoming and outgoing calls from start to finish. Tap the recording when it appears onscreen to listen to it in the app. From the recording screen, you can play the file, save it to your phone, share it via email or other services, and delete the recording. The app is free and ad-supported, but you can pay $3.49 to remove the ads.

Cube Call Recorder

Cube Call Recorder is a more advanced and premium app. The basic version is free but imposes several restrictions, such as no way to save a recording as an MP3 file. If you need the full array of features, a subscription will run you $6.99 for six months or $9.99 per year. However, the free version should get the job done.

In the app's settings, you can turn automatic recording on or off, exclude calls from unknown numbers, modify the clarity and volume of calls, and enable recording from VoIP apps if supported on your phone. You can even geotag your recordings to identify the caller’s location.

To record an outgoing call, simply call the other party as you normally would. If you choose autostart recording, incoming calls are automatically recorded in the background. After the call is finished, open the app to view and play the recordings. You can tag recordings as important, delete them, view the caller’s location on a map, and share them via email or social media.

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