Can MagicJack Replace Your Landline?

Category: Telephony

A reader asks: “I've seen commercials for Magic Jack, a device you can plug into your computer for really cheap phone service. It sounds too good to be true... is MagicJack a scam, or does it actually work? Can it really replace my landline?” Read on for answers...

What is Magic Jack?

MagicJack is for real. In a nutshell, it's a device that enables very inexpensive VOIP calling (phone calls over the Internet). The Magic Jack phone service competes with Vonage, Skype, BasicTalk and other VOIP telephone service providers.

The MagicJack device has evolved considerably since its 2007 debut. It was the number one VoIP service choice among consumers surveyed by market researcher Frost & Sullivan in 2013 and it’s currently the best-selling consumer VoIP product on Amazon. Let's take a look at the current array of MagicJack products and services.

The hardware side of MagicJack is both simple and confusing. There are two options: MagicJackGO and MagicJack Plus 2014. Both are minimalist devices with a USB plug on one end and two jacks on the other, one for a phone line and the other for an Ethernet cable. Plug a standard phone into the phone jack, and connect to your computer via USB or directly to your router via Ethernet. Register your device once and that’s it; you’re up and VoIP-ing!
MagicJack GO

What’s confusing is that there is no apparent difference between the MagicJackGO and MagicJack Plus devices. There is no mention of better sound quality or reliability, no feature(s) that one has and the other doesn’t. The only difference is in the price and the term of included phone service.

Unlimited calls to landline and mobile numbers in the USA and Canada are standard, and international rates are competitive. Features include caller ID, voicemail, call waiting, call forwarding, conference calling, and 411 service. Number porting is available, allowing you to keep your current landline number. The phone carrier service is the same across all products; it’s provided by MagicJack’s sister company, YMAX.

What Does MagicJack Cost?

With the MagicJackGO, you get 12 months of service for $59.95. MagicJack Plus costs $39.95 for 6 months of service. Since there's no difference in the hardware, that makes MagicJackGO a better deal, unless you're skeptical and don't want to commit to a full year.

For either device, renewing month-to-month costs $5 ($60/year); 6 months costs $20 ($40/year); 1 year costs $35; and 5 years costs $99.95 ($20/year). With the five-year plan, your monthly cost is only $1.67! (Compare MagicJack's pricing to Vonage, BasicTalk or Phone Company service.)

The free MagicApp for Android or iOS enables free local and long-distance calls to any numbers in the U. S. and Canada on your smartphone using WiFi or 4G service. WiFi is widely available for free, but using the 4G service you'll have to keep in mind your data caps and charges. Worldwide calling is free app-to-app or app-to-Jack device. If you have a companion MagicJack device, you can set up your MagicApp number to ring at your MagicJack home or business number and on your smartphone simultaneously.

Can I Fire the Phone Company?

Magic Jack is so simple and so cheap that some people thought it was a scam when it first appeared. But MagicJack has proved to be quite real. A few years ago, after hearing a couple of my friends swear by the gadget, I did some research and found that MagicJack really does deliver what it promises. You pay a flat fee per year, and you never get a phone bill.

Using MagicJack, you can make free calls to any phones in the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, and the U. S. Virgin Islands, or to any other MagicJack user anywhere on Earth. People who want to call you can reach you at your MagicJack phone number, no matter where you happen to be.

So YES, you can even cancel your land line service with the phone company and cut them out of the loop. I've heard from many people over years who have done just that.

Another benefit is international calling. If you take the Magic Jack with you when you travel, you can call any phone in the US for free. And people can reach YOU by calling a US number. Also, if you have a family member who lives outside the US, and they have a reliable Internet connection, this can be a significant savings on overseas long-distance fees.

Like any VoIP service, MagicJack needs a fair amount of reliable bandwidth; at least 128 Kbps in both directions. DSL, cable, fiber, and other land-based broadband works well with VoIP, but dialup and satellite connections are likely to be problematic.

Most MagicJack purchasers on Amazon give the service high ratings for call quality. Even faxing is possible with MagicJack, according to those who’ve tried it. Currently, it’s the easiest and certainly the cheapest way to cut the landline and switch to VoIP calling.

You can try MagicJack for up to 30 days without obligation. Just sign up with a credit card at the company’s site; a $5 shipping fee will be charged when your order ships. If you keep the device and service after the trial period, your card will be charged $39.95 or $59.95 plus an “administrative fee” of about $3.00.

Magic Jack Customer Service

I've written before about MagicJack, and had quite a few people contacting me, thinking that this website is Magic Jack Customer Service. It's not... I'm a tech journalist, and this is a review. I don't get any sort of commission from the company, and I don't have a red phone with a direct line to MJ Headquarters. But you CAN visit the Magic Jack Customer Service page online, or call MJ Support at 561-594-9925. That's all the info I have on Magic Jack Customer Support. Really!

So there are both pros and cons to the device, but I can say that it's definitely not a scam, and works well for most people as a landline replacement. MagicJack is a very easy, highly portable, and affordable VoIP solution. It's been around a long time in "Internet years," and it will probably continue evolving. If you want to cut your phone bill, MagicJack can be a good way to do it.

Got something to say about MagicJack? Post your comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "Can MagicJack Replace Your Landline?"

(See all 99 comments for this article.)

Posted by:

Steve Eide
10 Jun 2016

I gotMagic Jack a year ago and just extended for 5 more years. Despite instructions saying not to plug into house system, i plugged into my house phone and it feeds to the main line where my wireless phone is plugged in. Works great! Only problem is that I can't block calls or anonymous or blocked numbers or ANY number, in fact. Any suggestions?

Posted by:

Steve Eide
10 Jun 2016

One more thing, I had an occasion to contact their customer service about six months ago and I must say it was fantastic!!

Posted by:

14 Jun 2016

I live in Canada but I spend six months in the US. If I take the Magic Jack to the US and someone calls me from within the US, is this person being charged for a long distance. Also is the Magic Jack using internet all the time it is plugged into the modem or is it using the internet just when calls are coming and going.

Posted by:

David Quinn
15 Jun 2016

This looks good, we will try this gadget out the next time that we return to the States.

Posted by:

Judy Mellott
16 Jun 2016

We have Magic Jack in Florida and we are not happy at all. It drops calls all the time and the worst problem is I can not call my husband's cell phone from our Magic Jack phone from home. His is with Cricket and took his phone back to them and they said there is not a problem with his phone. He has no problems with his phone. He can call me at home but I can't call him. It rings busy as soon as I dial his number. Any suggestions? Customer service was called several times and they didn't help at all.

Posted by:

Bill Prater
16 Jun 2016

I have had two MagicJacks since 2009. Have had no problems and am well pleased with MJ's and service.
By the way, from now until July 1, 2016 they are on sale at reduced rates.


Posted by:

13 Jul 2016

I live in Central America and have used Magic Jack for a few years already. I have a US number. Call quality is great, as long as you have a good connection. My first connection I used it on was only a 256 kbps. Worked just fine!

Posted by:

harry cigar
24 Jul 2016

been using the MJ's since they came out.
Love them.
The first couple of years, had some problems with failures,dropped calls, etc., but the last 5 years no the voice mails going to my emails so I don't miss any important calls.
If your looking for a cheap home phone, you can't go wrong with it.

Posted by:

25 Aug 2016

I have been using MagicJack for over 4 years now for business line , I have 2 of them setup, they work as good as Vonage does, I have had fewer dropped call on the MagicJack than my cell phone thru verizon.
Good deal and will be using it until they have a better system.
Little Bear Gun Shop

Posted by:

01 Dec 2016

Well I guess if I do not have internet service and I live in a dead spot for my cell phone then this MJ is useless?

EDITOR'S NOTE: Yes, you definitely need Internet service to use the MJ.

Posted by:

09 Dec 2016

To Gene. I'm the opposite of you. I'm a US guy living in Canada. I have a MJ with a US number so my US friends can make a "local" call to me, even when I'm physically in Canada. My Canadian friends call my MJ with a Canadian number. These MJs are so cheap, you can get one for each country and all you friends can call you on a "local" call depending on where they live. Good luck!

Posted by:

13 Dec 2016

I have used Magic Jack for years. Great product, great price!

Posted by:

17 Dec 2016

Hey Bob, are you aware that black boldface type in articles like this is in about as poor taste as big caps? Yes, my friend - it is. This page looks like spam.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Wow, boldface type has been used to denote emphasis since at least the mid-1800s. I didn't get the memo that bold is the new spam. Would you care to elaborate as to why you believe boldface type is in poor taste?

Posted by:

Greg C
30 Dec 2016

Bought Magic Jack about 6 months ago & it is great. My daughter and a couple of friends have them in many areas in Ontario, Canada.
There is a BONUS to MJ that I accidently discovered and have NEVER heard of before...
Many companies have 800 type numbers and sometimes these are limited in geographical area and CANNOT be called from outside that limited area. BUT... MJ always connects with a local phone number and as such can connect when usual phone service CANNOT. I ran into this calling an 800 number for which the company did NOT list a local number (it was a radio station)
We are moving and I bought the MJ and set it up with a phone number for my new area code. I set up call forwarding and it doesn't even need to be plugged in all the time.

Posted by:

30 Dec 2016

I've been toying with the idea of porting my business landline number to a Magic Jack and getting out of the the phone company landline loop. I have internet at home but not at work. Ive been told that I can plug in/download/register everything at home and then have all my business calls forwarded to my existing cell phone. Does this sound accurate? Would it work? Reliably?

Posted by:

Greg C
31 Dec 2016

Magic Jack CANNOT access Canadian 310-**** numbers. In Canada we have LOCALIZED phone numbers such as 310-FOOD, 310-RENT, etc. These ONLY work if the number is assigned in the area code you are calling from. EG,if you want a 310 number that is active in Toronto, but your land line is in Ottawa, the call will NOT go through. ( or if it is active in Ottawa will connect you to the place in Ottawa that has that 310 number) Regardless, MJ will simply NOT connect to ANY 310-**** number!
I do NOT know whether parts of the USA have a similar AIN (Advanced Intelligent Network) feature.
310 details:

MJ 310 issues others have:
Otherwise MJ is perfect for me, as I wrote in a separate comment above. - Greg

Posted by:

Darwin Reyes
06 Jan 2017

I have been using MJ since the beginning 4 numbers in total 3 Canadian and 1 US number, one Cad and the USA number redirected to my Canadian cell phone and never miss any calls, they are not even connected, just go to your MJ page and set up the forward option, it works fine does not matter where you are.
I hope this helps Judy, good luck

Posted by:

12 Jan 2017

I am 70 and have three Magic Jack numbers and started using MJ when it first came out in 2007. I have not had a landline since 2004. I do not understand why everyone is not using MJ or some VOIP system. The MJ is the most reasonable and flexible system on the market. We travel all over and my family and friends can call my local number and reach me in any part of the world. It only costs $20 a year for a phone line and it works great. I highly recommend this product. Bob, thank you for sharing this information with your readers.

Posted by:

Jim Willis
19 Feb 2017

Issues with some of these voip companies is they don't send full caller ID. Then they get upset that people will not answer their calls. I have a digitone call blocker set up that blocks calls from anonymous, private - no name and number displayed on caller ID, phone does not even ring.

Posted by:

milton louamina miller jr.
19 Feb 2017

My M J works fine except there is one particular number that I have previously called every day which suddenly does not allow me to call itmalthough I can receive calls from that number. M J has not been able to resolve this . Any Ideas?

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