We've already covered all of the convenient ways that you can call an individual person on an Android phone. But what if you need to talk to several people at once – to co-ordinate a meeting or party, for example? Have no fear! Android phones allow you to juggle several calls at once, or combine them into a single call where everyone can talk to each other! This tutorial will show you the ropes.
How many calls can you merge on an Android phone?
The number of calls you can merge at the same time on an Android phone depends on your phone's specific model, as well as your telecom carrier and plan. On lower-end models and networks, you can only merge two calls at once. On newer models and networks, you can merge up to five calls at once.
To make a three-way (or more) call on an Android phone:
- Call one of the participants, or have them call you.
- Tap Add Call and call another participant.
- Tap Merge to combine the calls.
- Repeat steps 2 and 3 to add more participants.
- Tap Manage to unmerge or disconnect a participant on the call.
- When the call is over, tap the End Call button.
That's the simple version, but the process in practice may not be quite as straightforward for you. That's perfectly okay, as there are a couple of in-between steps and side options that you may wonder about. Well, wonder no more, because we've got the complete step-by-step directions below!
How to do a 3-way (or more) conference call on an Android phone
1. Start a phone call with one of the participants.
Either place a call to the first person that you want to include in the conference call, or accept a call from them. If you need help remembering how to do either of these things, see our lesson on how to make and receive calls on your Android phone.
2. Tap "Add Call."
Once your call has connected, tap the Add Call button. Note that this will automatically mute your phone's microphone.
3. Call another participant.
You will be brought back to the main screen of your Phone app. From here, place a call to the other person (or one of the other people) whom you want to include in the conference call.
4. Swap between callers, or merge the calls into a conference call.
You will now be in an active call with the new person (so your microphone will be unmuted), and your previous call will automatically be put on hold. If you want to talk to the other person privately again, tap the Swap button to resume your call with them and put the current caller on hold. If you want to talk to everyone you've called at the same time instead, tap the Merge button.
5. Add more callers, or manage the current ones.
The caller information at the top of the screen should switch to say "Conference Call." If you want to (and can, in light of the limitations we listed above) add another person to the call, simply tap the Add Call button again and repeat steps 3 and 4. You can also tap the Manage button to take actions with the individual people in the conversation.
6. Unmerge or drop a caller, if you want.
On the conference call management screen, you can see the names and numbers of all of the current participants in the call. If you want to remove someone from the conference call, but still keep them on the line so that you can talk to them privately, tap the Unmerge button (i.e. the splitting arrows) beside their name. If you want to kick someone out of the conference call, tap the Disconnect button (i.e. the downward-facing phone) beside their name.
You can also tap the Back arrow in the top-left corner of the screen to return to the call.
7. Press the "End Call" button to hang up once the call is over.
To disconnect yourself from the conference call, tap the red End Call button at the bottom of the screen. Note that this will not terminate the whole conference call; the other participants can still talk to each other until they hang up.
Tips for making group calls on an Android phone
1. Improve call quality by talking where there's as little noise as possible.
Find a quiet place where you can clearly hear everyone in the call and aren't likely to be disturbed. Since there are more than just two people on the call, it will already be harder to determine who is speaking at any given point. Background noise, especially of other people talking, will only add to the confusion.
2. Reduce background noise while others are talking by muting your microphone.
If another person on the call is going to be talking for an extended period of time, consider tapping the Mute key to turn off your phone's microphone. This lets them talk freely without being interfered with by any background noise that your phone happens to pick up. Just be sure to tap the Mute key again to turn your phone microphone back on if you have something to contribute!
3. Use conference call management options to increase privacy and efficiency.
If you're the call host, remember that there are options for making a conference call more flexible. For example, you can use the Unmerge function to return to a private call with one of the participants if you need to tell them something that you can't tell the others.
You can also use this function to isolate a particular caller if you need to talk to the others about something that you can't talk to that person about. And although we hope it doesn't happen, you can even drop someone from the call if they're being unhelpful, abusive, etc.
4. Don't worry about disconnecting other callers if you have to leave.
If something comes up in the middle of the conference call that you need to attend to, don't worry about cutting everyone else off if you leave – even if you're the call host! Conference calls on Android phones are flexible enough that if one person leaves the call, the others can carry on without them. You could even ask them to add you back to the call at a certain time, hang up, do what you need to do, and then jump right back in!
Other apps that let you conference call on an Android phone
Conference calling is a neat feature, but as you can see, it's a bit tricky to use properly. Plus, you're still spending your monthly phone minutes when you use it. Fortunately, there are a number of apps that you can get for your Android phone that make the conference calling process easier – and, in many cases, free! Here are some of our recommendations.
Skype is a communication app popular for its ease of use, even if its capabilities are somewhat limited. If you don't mind having to stay within the program to do your text messaging, file transferring, voice calls, and video chats, it's a simple and inexpensive solution for conference calling. It also works well if you and your friends use a lot of Microsoft apps and software, since it's integrated with many of them.
If you're more of a Google fan, then try Google Hangouts. It's a mostly-free communication solution, including for conference calls, that you can use as long as you have an account for any other Google service. You can also put it virtually anywhere – on your phone, on your computer desktop, in your web browser, or right in Gmail – so it's often not far away when you need it.
This peculiarly-named communication app allows you to hold free video conference calls with up to 12 people at once. It also has some neat built-in features, like the ability to record a voice or video call, or to watch YouTube videos while you chat.
A popular mobile messaging app, WeChat supports multi-user phone calls and video chats as well as standard text chat, link sharing, and file sharing. It also has some advanced social media features, like the ability to follow activities and promotions from famous people or brands, or even the ability to send money to a friend or family member who needs it.
Popcorn Buzz is a stand-alone app from the makers of LINE, a popular mobile app that's similar to WeChat. It's designed to make group calling as simple as possible, with features that make it easy to invite callers to a group and tell who's talking on a call at any point. Up to 200 people can be on the same Popcorn Buzz call at once!
That's pretty much everything that we can tell you about how to conference call on an Android phone! It's handy to be able to talk to multiple people at once on your phone, whether everyone can hear each other at the same time or you're cycling through people whom you need to talk to in succession. But what if there is someone – or multiple people – whom you don't want to have a call with? We'll explain what to do about that in our next tutorial, where you'll learn how to block and unblock callers on Android.