How to Make Free Conference Calls on iPhone

Getting more than a couple of people in more than a couple of locations onto a single phone call used to require a conference calling service. Not anymore. The iPhone makes creating and hosting a small conference call very easy. And forget about dialing into special phone numbers, having to remember long access codes, or paying for conferencing. All you need is an iPhone and everyone's phone number.

Conference calling features are built into the iPhone's Phone app. In the U.S., it can support up to 5 callers at once on AT&T and T-Mobile and up to 3 total callers (including you) simultaneously on Sprint and Verizon. If you're using Verizon HD Voice (formerly known as Advanced Calling) on an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus or newer, the limit is 6 callers. Learn how to enable Verizon HD Voice here.

The instructions in this article were written using an iPhone running iOS 12. However, the iPhone has supported this kind of free conference calling for many, many years and on many, many versions of the iOS. So, if you've got an older version of the iOS on your phone, the steps listed here might be slightly different — but free conference calling is still available to you.

How to Make Conference Calls on AT&T and T-Mobile iPhones

To use free conference calling on your AT&T or T-Mobile iPhone, follow these steps:

  1. Call the first person you want to include on the call.

  2. After the first participant answers, tap the Add Call button.

  3. This brings up your contacts list. Browse through your Contacts list and tap the phone number of the next participant. You can also use the keypad from this screen and dial the next number directly.

  4. When the next person answers, tap the Merge Calls button to join the calls.

  5. Repeat these steps to add all of the additional participants.

If you're already on the call and another participant calls you, tap the Hold Call & Answer button that pops up on the screen. When you've answered that call, tap Merge Calls to add the new caller to the conference.

Not sure how to decide which phone company will be meet your needs? For help choosing the best phone company for your iPhone, read this article.

How to Make Conference Calls on Sprint & Verizon iPhones:

To use conference calling on your Sprint or Verizon iPhone, follow these steps:

  1. Call the first person you want to include on the call.

  2. Place the first call on hold.

  3. Using the keypad to dial or your address book, call the second participant.

  4. Tap Merge Calls to join the calls into a conference and talk to both participants at the same time.

How to Make Conference Calls With Verizon HD Voice

If you have Verizon HD Voice, the process is slightly different. Just follow these steps:

  1. Call the first participant.

  2. While on the first call, tap Add Call to call the next participant.

  3. When the second caller answers, the first caller is automatically placed on hold.

  4. Tap Merge to join the calls for a 3-way conference call.

  5. Follow these steps and call up to three more phone numbers for a 6-way conference call.

Dealing With Private Lines and Hanging Up Individual Lines

When you use your iPhone to host a conference call, you can speak to one participant privately, or disconnect people from the call individually.

To speak privately to just one person on the call, tap the i icon next to the phone numbers (on iOS 7 and up) or the arrow next to Conference (on iOS 6 and earlier) at the top of the screen. The next screen shows a list of all the people on the call. Tap the Private button next to one person to speak only to them without the rest of the conference participants hearing you.

On the same screen where you enter private conversations, you can also disconnect individual callers. Next to each name, there's an End button (on iOS 7 and up) or a red phone icon (on iOS 6 and earlier). Disconnect a caller by tapping the End button (on iOS 7) or tapping that icon and then tapping the End button (on iOS 6). This disconnects that caller while leaving everyone else in the conference.

Swapping Calls

You can also choose to flip between two calls without conferencing them together using the Swap Calls button. If you're already on a call and have a second call coming in, simply tap the Swap Calls button to put the current call on hold and switch to the other. Tap the button again to reverse the process.