Replace Your Landline With MagicJack?

Category: Gadgets , Telephony

A reader asks: “I've seen those commercials for Magic Jack, a gadget 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?

Yes, MagicJack is legit. 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 MagicJack products and services.

The hardware side of MagicJack is the MagicJackGO device. It's a minimalist device 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! (The MagicJack Plus and MagicJack Express, both discontinued, were essentially the same.)
MagicJack GO

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 for US and Canadian numbers, 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?

The regular price of the MagicJackGO device, plus 12 months of service is $59.99. The MJ website advertises that for $35 now, and offers the first 30 days free. Renewing costs $35/year, or you can get 5 years of service for $99.75 (About $20/year, or $1.66/month!) With the five-year plan, you also get a free MagicJack SLIM Power Bank -- a portable 4000 mAh battery that can be used to charge your smartphone or other mobile device on the go. (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 or Canada, 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. You can also call international numbers at very low per-minute rates.

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. Emergency 911 service is available with MJ, but with some limitations. 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. If you keep the device and service after the trial period, your card will be charged $35.

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 "Replace Your Landline With MagicJack?"

(See all 47 comments for this article.)

Posted by:

John T
17 May 2017

Really do not see the point in having this device and then also a mobile phone!
I finally cancelled my landline years ago and only use my mobile phone.
I have had no bad experiences operating this way.
MJ as other VoIP services is an additional cost and if you lose your internet then your lose your phone too.


Posted by:

Charley
17 May 2017

Magic Jack has certainly improved over the years, especially for people who have relatives overseas.

But you still need a reliable Internet connection.

So in a power outage, Magic Jack won't work if your Internet is down (which is the usually the case in a power outage).

The most reliable system is still an AT&T landline. But you are paying a lot for it.

And my experience has been that cell phones often don't work with area wide power outages.

So I may be a little crazy but I have an AT&T landline, a cell phone and also phone service from my cable company. And I use Skype to talk with people overseas.


Posted by:

Rob
17 May 2017

I have had magic jack since 2008 and it has been a work horse for me, I got it when it was 19.99 a year and it sounds too good it was not it worked great the one and only issue that I have is that the time resets to there server time which is back east so the time on the phone is always wrong, however I prepay for 5 years at a time and I have not had a phone bill in over 7 years, magic jack renews automatically and it just works I have moved several times it is easy as long as you can connect to the internet you have phone and you can take it with you and use it all over the US and Canada with you laptop and have instant phone they are calling your home number and they get you whether you are in florida or california.


Posted by:

Tomzzz
17 May 2017

To get absolutely free USA calls over VOIP, I bought an OBIhai 200 unit (Amazon.com) for $47.00. Now I get free calls through my Google Voice number!

I just plug the OBIhai box into my router and then my old-fashioned home phone into the little OBIhai box. A few tweaks on the OBIhai website and I'm making and receiving free calls through Google Voice.

No monthly charge is the best!


Posted by:

nicky49
18 May 2017

Magic Jack is ok until you have a problem. Then the aggravation begins because they have the worst customer service out there.


Posted by:

Jerry
18 May 2017

Have had MagicJack Plus for years with no problem whatsoever........ we pay with a five year plan which averages out at 19.95 a month....... it seems that some people are just not compatible with MagicJack. LOL


Posted by:

Hugh Williams
18 May 2017

I am interested to know why Majic Jack works out better than apps like Whats Up or We Chat.
Both are free, and you can send videos, large files have video calls and texts all for free to mobile and landlines I think. We use it on a mobile with a Sim but no plan at all so it is totally free to family in Europe. I believe it works on pc as well


Posted by:

Sy Ellin
18 May 2017

We have 2 Magic Jacks. Obviously to serve 2 locations. Both phone numbers are the same so it rings at both locations.


Posted by:

Cat
18 May 2017

I have used magic jack around 8 years now, i love it!!! I find it will not bog down your pc if you plug in magic jack to make your call..you can always check email to see if any called you.
I LOVE magic jack, it has saved us a lot of money on phone calls.


Posted by:

Phil Rome
18 May 2017

I have used at least 2 iterations of MagicJack over several years early on there were a few instances when I could not get a dial tone. Most the time turning the cable adapter and the router off for several seconds corrected the problem. I do the same thing for computer problems,just shut it down and reboot. For all long distance calls we use MJ free in US & Canada. We have many relatives in Germany and make many calls at about 2.5 cents/minute. For international calls you need to deposit money into the phone number account usually in $10.00 increments, enough for 400 min. talk time for my wife to talk to her 6 siblings in Germany. MJ lists the rates for most countries in the world on line, there are many different rates. I am satisfied with the reliability and quality in recent years. Occasionally a call gets dropped, no problem, just redial.


Posted by:

Dee
18 May 2017

I have used MagicJack since it started up. Picked my own area code and number. Initially had to use speaker phone to get good quality however ever since the MJ App for mobile and tablet devices came out, I have had absolutely no problems. Bonus, you don't need the cumbersome computer and adapter with you if you are a traveller. Friends use it as their main phone line in both the US and Canada with two corresponding area codes. If you like the use of a hand held telephone or if you like to use your smartphone or tablet, MJ is a great cheap option. Ps. A Canadian area code will cost $10/yr extra.


Posted by:

James
18 May 2017

I am on my 2nd 5 year term with MJ. I have sent faxes with my MJ. I have the android app, using my cell phone. My only issue is that the app apparently closes, my fix was to just access the app daily. As far as PC issues go most fixes are resolved by rebooting PC with MJ still connected (could take several reboots). Keep your PC updated. Since I have the app for my cell phone and use wifi I no longer need my MJ installed anywhere. My best advice is to read about your MJ and understand ALL it's capabilities. Information and knowledge is a great tool. I picked a number as close to my actual location as possible. As far as the other FREE unit mentioned here, I guess you will need a GOOGLE account.


Posted by:

Boyd
18 May 2017

I have used Magic Jack for several years and canceled our landline December 2015. It is $20 per year if you pay for 5 years but you do have to pay the local 911 charges. That's a little less than $20 per year here. Still cheap in my book. Zero problems and we are able to send and receive faxes. I just wish they had come up with a better name.


Posted by:

Jim B
18 May 2017

Been using for over 6 years now as a second line. Earlier comment about about not all USA tel numbers being free to call is true, however that being said, it only occurred on one number ever in all these years. Free Android app also works fantastically. I tried an experiment on a recent trip to Norway with my unlocked smartphone. I decided not to purchase a local SIM card for tel service. I call forwarded my land line to my MJ number. Any incoming calls were answered by me when I was in a WiFi area in Norway. When I was not in a WiFi area, my hard drive in my email was automatically saving wav files of unlimited length messages that I could review and respond to at my leisure. UNBELIEVABLE VALUE and UTILITY imho. I live in the woods and cell service is spotty. AT&T better than Verizon, but both weak enough to require a land line.


Posted by:

Ken McInnes
18 May 2017

I was prompted to order Magic Jack about 2008 or so, after Sprint had charged me $35 for a 20 minute landline phone call to London. I have used it successfully since that time, with very few issues. My calls to their customer support were handled professionally and enabled me to continue using MJ with no interruption..price is def. right!!!
BTW-- they advertise that you dont need a computer to use their product...that's misleading because you do need an internet connection..if I am not mistaken...


Posted by:

larry
18 May 2017

I used MJ for ~5 years but then the sound quality got worse , i tried to resolve this by calling tech support and spent 20- 40 hrs of my time but could not improve sound quality , so I switched to ooma , can get device for ~ $80 but then there are monthly charges for fees ~ $6/month or $72/yr
however the sound quality is much better than I had on MJ


Posted by:

Jay R
19 May 2017

John T- You say you see no reason to have a cell and another phone. I offer my congratulations​ on never misplacing your cell phone.


Posted by:

Joe
19 May 2017

MagicJack was a big disappointment to me. They said they couldn't port in my landline phone number, yet another cell company (Republic) did so with no problem. I had had that number for nearly 40 years, so that was important to me! When I wanted to cancel my service, they didn't want to provide a refund, and I considered it false advertising. Would NEVER recommend them. I still get notifications once in a while that there are a few seconds of unrecognizable noise on my account's number.


Posted by:

Egbok
19 May 2017

20 bucks! thought it was a joke, so I bought it to spoof my friends with. I've had it now since '07' and couldn't be happier. I kept my land line for 3 years just in case it was a no go and wasted about $1300 paying ATT. I ported my home phone number to another device and I did everything online and have never needed to call customer Service.


Posted by:

Gar Suitor
22 May 2017

I have two Magic Jacks. One is the original Magic Jack, and the other is a Magic Jack Plus.
One is our primary number, the other I use for an office line.
They work well. My principal complaint is that they refuse to support the Nomorobo service. Robo calls are becoming an increasing annoyance, and the government is unwilling to force the phone carriers to do something about it.


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