iPhone and iPad Productivity

How to Do a Conference Call on an iPhone

Dan Helyer Updated 19-03-2020

Starting a conference call on your iPhone couldn’t be simpler. You can add a new person to active calls with just a few taps. Your iPhone doesn’t stop at a three-way call either; it lets you have up to five people in a single conference call, including yourself.

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If that doesn’t sound like enough, FaceTime lets you add up to 32 people to a call!

Let’s look at how to do a conference call on your iPhone using either the Phone or the FaceTime apps. We’ll even show you how to start private chats or drop people out of the call one by one.

Start a Conference Call on Your iPhone

Conference call on iPhone

For most conference calls, you’ll want to use the Phone app on your iPhone. This limits the conference to up to five people, including yourself, but it doesn’t matter if participants use an iPhone, Android device, or even a landline.

If you don’t like this method, there are also plenty of other free conference calling apps The 10 Best Apps to Make Free Group Conference Calls Here are the best free group video call apps to talk with friends or business colleagues, without paying a cent! Read More you can use with iPhone or Android devices.

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And if you know that everyone is using an Apple device, you might find it easier to start a FaceTime group chat instead. We’ll explain how to do that below.

Follow these steps to start a conference call on your iPhone:

  1. Open the Phone app and call the first person as you normally would. After starting the call, let that person know you’re going to add more people, which will temporarily put them on hold.
  2. Tap the Add Call button on your iPhone screen, then select the next person to add from your contacts or use the keypad to dial their number.
  3. After connecting with the second call, tap the Merge button on your iPhone screen to combine both calls into a single conference. You should notice that both calls combine into a single line at the top of your iPhone screen.
  4. If you need to do more than a three-way call on your iPhone, repeat the previous two steps to add more people up to a maximum of five, including yourself.

Tap the red End Call button at any time to hang up the phone and end the conference call. When you do this, the call ends for all participants at the same time.

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Add Incoming Calls to a Conference

If you’re already talking on the phone and an incoming call comes through, you can choose to combine both lines and create a new conference.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Tap on the Hold & Accept button at the bottom-right of the screen when your iPhone starts to ring. This places your original call on hold and opens a new line with the incoming caller.
  2. Now tap Merge to combine both calls into a single conference call.
  3. You can repeat these steps with any subsequent incoming calls as well.

Incoming phone call on iPhone

If you don’t want to accept a second incoming call, tap the Send to Voicemail button to reject it. If your cell contract doesn’t offer voicemail, tap Decline instead.

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Be careful you don’t tap End & Accept though; this ends your current call and immediately accepts the new one.

Manage a Conference Call on Your iPhone

During a conference call, your iPhone makes it easy to talk privately with individuals or to drop people out of the call one by one. This is useful if you don’t want to end the call for everyone at the same time, or if you have information that’s only relevant for one participant.

Here’s how to manage individual people in your conference call:

  1. Tap on the blue i button in the top-right corner of your iPhone screen. This is only possible after you merge calls into a conference.
  2. You should see each participant in a list on your iPhone screen.
    1. Tap Private next to someone’s name to have a private conversation with them. This removes that person from the conference and opens a separate line for the two of you to talk privately. Choose Merge to return that person to the conference again.
    2. Tap End next to someone’s name to drop them out of the conference call without opening a private conversation.

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Mute Yourself From a Conference Call

If you don’t want other people to hear you during the conference, you can mute yourself. When you do this, you can still hear them, but you need to unmute yourself if you want to speak again.

It’s particularly useful if you need to speak to someone who’s next to you in person without disrupting the flow of the conference.

Simply tap the Mute button on your iPhone to mute yourself, then tap it again when you want to speak.

Mute button on iPhone phone call

Access Other Apps During a Conference Call

You can still use other apps on your iPhone while taking part in a conference call. Before you do this, you should tap the Speaker button in the Phone app. That way, you can still hear what’s going on in the conference while looking at your iPhone screen.

To access other apps, swipe up from the bottom of the screen (or press the Home button on an iPhone 8 and earlier) to go to your Home screen. You can then open apps, browse the internet, and carry out other actions while talking on the phone 10 Things You Can Do While Talking on Your iPhone Bored while stuck on hold, or want to get more from your iPhone's calling functionality? Try these tricks on your next call. Read More .

Return to your conference call at any time by opening the Phone app or tapping the green bubble (or green bar on an iPhone 8 and earlier) at the top of the screen.

If You Can’t Start a Conference Call on Your iPhone

You might find that you can’t add or merge new calls on your iPhone to start a three-way chat or a conference call. There are a few different reasons this might be the case.

To start, you should speak with your cell provider to check that conference calls are possible on your network. It’s possible this is a feature your cell carrier doesn’t offer.

If the Add Call button is grayed out or missing, try placing your current call on Hold, then using the keypad to dial a second number. If you can use this method to start a new call, you should be able to tap Merge to combine them into a three-way chat.

Open the Settings and go to Cellular > Cellular Data Options > Enable LTE. Turn off the options for VoLTE or Wi-Fi calls, either of which might not work with conference calls. Depending on your carrier and region, these options may not be available.

VoLTE Off option from iPhone cellular settings

Finally, your iPhone might struggle to merge a mix of incoming and outgoing calls. Try to make sure you start every call yourself to avoid this complication.

Even if you can’t get conference calls or three-way chats to work on your iPhone, you should be able to start a group chat using FaceTime—so long as everyone has an Apple device to use.

Start a Group Chat Using FaceTime

You can use FaceTime to start a group chat with up to 32 people, including yourself. And if you weren’t aware, you don’t need to use FaceTime for a video chat; you can use it for audio-only calls as well.

For FaceTime to work, everybody must be signed in to their Apple ID account and connected to the internet on their own Apple device.

Once that’s all set, follow these steps to start a group chat:

  1. Open the FaceTime app on your iPhone and tap the Plus (+) button in the top-right corner to start a new call.
  2. Enter the contact name, phone number, or email address for each person you want to add to the chat. Make sure you use contact details connected to their Apple ID, which should cause their name to appear blue in the FaceTime app.
  3. When you’re ready, tap the Audio or Video button to start the group chat, depending on if you want audio-only or audio and video.
  4. During a video call, swipe up and tap Add Person to add new people to the chat.

Record Your Conference Calls for Easy Note-Taking

While starting a conference call on your iPhone is simple, keeping up with three or more people talking in the conference call is hard work. If you need to write minutes for the conference—or don’t want to miss any important details—you might wish to make a recording of the phone call instead.

Thankfully, we’ve looked at lots of different ways to record calls on your iPhone How to Record a Phone Call on an iPhone Wondering how to record a phone call on iPhone? Here's four methods to record phone conversations on iPhone. Read More that can provide a permanent record of what everyone said.

Explore more about: Business Technology, Call Management, iPhone Tips, Remote Work, Video Chat, Video Conferencing, VoIP.

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  1. John
    March 6, 2018 at 11:48 pm

    NOTE: to get this to "kind of" work, I had to go to
    Settings
    Cellular
    Cellular Data Options
    Enable LTE
    And select "Voice & Data"

    If only Data is selected then I've experienced some of the problems listed here. Especially the one where there's no "Blue i"
    However, the "private" button still does not work. I have a Credo phone, they tell me they are on the Verizon Network.

  2. Queen
    April 8, 2017 at 1:17 pm

    Mine don't do that mine say muilt call so if I hang up on one I hang up on both ?

  3. Donald B
    July 24, 2016 at 8:54 pm

    With ios 9.3.2. My "Private buttons" are not highlighted and do nothing. All else works but not the private buttons. Any help out there? Thanks.

  4. Mark
    May 1, 2016 at 11:42 am

    This does not work. The "merge calls" button is greyed out.

  5. Pam
    April 21, 2016 at 3:29 pm

    if you have 5 participants in a call already and others call in, how many more can you merge in, over the original 5?

  6. sietse
    April 21, 2016 at 9:03 am

    how many people can join is there a limmit?

  7. Rahul
    April 7, 2016 at 6:40 pm

    How to know that if someone add you to conference? Suppose one person call me i pick up the call but that call is conference and the 3rd person listning to the call. That i do not know. so how to know call is on conference.

  8. Ted
    March 10, 2016 at 2:27 am

    I merged 5 calls tonight with my iPhone 5 running iOS 9, and it worked flawlessly just as described above. Amazing! Most user friendly conference call I've ever set up. Just worked! Love it!

    • Ben
      March 15, 2016 at 12:26 pm

      How do you individually disconnect callers while in a conference call with the iPhone 5s? Do I need an app Ted??

      • Ted
        March 15, 2016 at 1:12 pm

        No app required Ben. As the article says above, all you do is:

        Talking Privately
        During a conference call, you can talk privately with one person during the conference or end a call. To do this, tap on the blue “i” button on the top-right. This can only be done when all the calls are merged.

        This article explains it all really well. I hope this helps. Good Luck! Ted

        • carl neger
          November 11, 2016 at 6:58 pm

          on my verizon iPhone 6 during conference call there is no blue I button to knock off one of the people in the conference . Is this feature only with ATAT and not verizon? Thanks in advance

  9. Anonymous
    February 26, 2016 at 9:16 am

    By following above mentioned points and using tools like R-HUB web conferencing servers, webex, gotomeeting, gomeetnow etc. one can effectively conduct conference calls.

  10. Mario
    January 30, 2016 at 11:39 am

    yup, please submitt bug report to apple. crazy as it is, before at ios8 release it worked, then stopped....21 century, my God.Skype had it for ages.
    https://www.apple.com/feedback/iphone.html

  11. Gary pulice
    December 25, 2015 at 10:13 pm

    Has anyone figured out why the merge button is greed out while trying to make conference call on FaceTime

  12. Anonymous
    August 27, 2015 at 6:29 pm

    Yeah, this doesn't work. The "merge" button is greyed out and you can't merge the calls. You can only swap them. I've tried this from an iPhone, an iPad and 2 iPad Minis. All running versions of iOS 8.

    • Barbarrosa
      March 27, 2016 at 4:25 pm

      Same problem here. All the instructions above are of no use once the merge button is grayed. I have conducted conference calls with my iPhone before but now I can't. Is this a new bug of IOS 9?