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 88 comments for this article.)

Posted by:

03 Dec 2015

I have used MJ for more than 12 years. Their customer service lacks in many ways but somehow the price has outweighed the problems, The first was small and required unplugging and replugging in the USB port at the first sign of a problem. I bought one for home , one for work, and three more for nephews. Then when the new MJ go came out I ordered two of those. but they did not work as well as the small first MJ but pluggging and unplugging destroyed one USB unit so I am down to one USB port. So after I went back to the small first MJ and customer service ported my number to it. When I renewed the serial numbers did not match and I renewed the wrong one , so customer service could not change it and sent me another MJ Go and charged me $59.95 to my credit card. now I have one I use and three broken ones. But still ahead $$ , the training these customer service or tech reps get must be very limited as they have to read from manual for every problem to solve. One thing I learned was it likes Internet explorer and Firefox and if you use those you will have less problems. I wish I could find a source for the first $19.95 model as it worked the best. I was spending $600.00 a year for phone.

Posted by:

John Rogers
22 Jan 2016

Thank you for a great explanation about Magic Jack. I went nuts and bought my wife one as well. So for 3.34 a month (total) we have our own phone systems and they work just great. We have been using for years now and even my wife is good with it. The phone app works well as well but then we now have Whatsapp and Facebook and Google talk etc to talk with as well. Where will it end I still find it difficult to convince dedicated / hardcore land line users to switch. They still feel better being ripped off by the old line telcos. Thanks again

Posted by:

27 Jan 2016

Is there a way for magicJackGO to work if it is connected to the computer when the computer is not on? Also, is there a way to have my magicJackGO NOT show my phone number when making calls?

EDITOR'S NOTE: No, but you can plug the device into your router, instead of the computer.

Posted by:

28 Jan 2016

Yes, I have plugged the mJ connecting wire into my router. Does the "No" also refer to the "NOT show my phone number" question?

EDITOR'S NOTE: Not sure about the caller id question, sorry.

Posted by:

Gerry Smith
13 Feb 2016

We have used MJ for 8 years and very satisfied with it. You can also get the FREE apps for Smartphones and iPhones that allow you to text for free. My hubby uses his Samsung cell with NO cell service and as long as he can hook up to Wi Fi,the MJ app works and his cell phone sounds crystal clear, all free. Magi Jack has been our landline phone service at home for over 8 years!

Posted by:

Brian in COS
06 Mar 2016

Love my MJ plugged into my router. Every once in a while(maybe every 6 months or so) for some reason, the MJ will go offline and get lost. Simply unplug for a minute and get back online. I too have a 1500UPS backup for my big screen tv and plugged the router and MJ in for AWESOME no delay power for my phone calls and internet connectivity for hours on end if the power goes out.

Posted by:

21 Mar 2016

Does it work when you need to call 911.

Posted by:

Andrew Prakken
01 Apr 2016

Yes, I think 9-11 can be made from the magic jack but you will be charged additional cost once you register your address where you want the 9-11 calls to be used for.

Posted by:

Khushroo Dholoo
01 Apr 2016

I have been using Magic Jack for the last several years& I have had NO problems whatsoever, the speech is crystal clear also hardly any drop outs. Even to other countries after subscribing the calls are clear. I am very happy with my Magic Jack, my only grudge is that it used to be 20 bucks now its USD$35/-

Posted by:

22 Apr 2016

MAGICJACK COMMENT/ sidenote: If your computer connection has a UPS (battery power supply type surge suppression), you also get the advantage of not losing house phone during short power outages. NOTE:(NON-BATTERY Surge suppressor only power strip will not give you this feature)

Posted by:

Norbert (Bob) Gostischa
04 Jun 2016

MJ can only be as good as your internet connection. I've had excellent service from both. MJ has been my home phone service since 2010. I've already committed for the next 5 years. By the time it's time to anti up again, I'll be in my 80's - Hopefully.

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

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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Can MagicJack Replace Your Landline? (Posted: 6 Feb 2015)
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