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.
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
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 you can use with iPhone or Android devices.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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:
- 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.
- Now tap Merge to combine both calls into a single conference call.
- You can repeat these steps with any subsequent incoming calls as well.
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.
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:
- 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.
- You should see each participant in a list on your iPhone screen.
- 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.
- Tap End next to someone’s name to drop them out of the conference call without opening a private conversation.
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.
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 .
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.
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:
- Open the FaceTime app on your iPhone and tap the Plus (+) button in the top-right corner to start a new call.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 that can provide a permanent record of what everyone said.