Will MagicJack Replace My Landline?

Category: Telephony

Here’s a common AskBob reader question: “I've seen advertisements for Magic Jack, a gadget you can plug into your computer and fire the phone company. It sounds too good to be true... is MagicJack a scam, or does it actually work? Can it really replace my landline, and eliminate my monthly phone bill?” Read on for the surprising answers…

What is MagicJack?

The short answer is 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, Ooma, Skype, and other VOIP telephone service providers.

The MagicJack device has evolved considerably since its 2007 debut. It is currently the best-selling consumer VoIP product on Amazon, with over 1,500 customer reviews, an average 4.5-star rating, and hundreds of answered product questions. Let's take a look at the current MagicJack products and services.

The hardware side of MagicJack is the magicJack HOME 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, magicJack Express, and magicJack GO, all discontinued, were essentially the same design. But the latest magicJack HOME device has a processor chip that’s 4 times faster than the previous model, with improved voice quality, even under congested network conditions.

Magicjack HOME - cheap 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, call blocking, conference calling, and 411 service. The Automated Call Screening feature promises to block unwanted calls from automated calling systems, telemarketers and others.

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 price of the magicJack HOME device, which includes 12 months of service is $39.99. Renewing also costs $39.99/year. You can get 3 years of service for $99 or a 5-year pan for $130. (about $26/year, or $2.16/month!)

The companion 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 with 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 Really 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 monthly 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. You can also call international numbers at very low per-minute rates. Call to the UK, France or Germany for 2.2 cents/minute, Mexico for 4.0 cents/minute, or China for 3.3 cents/minute.

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 Magic Jack Customer Service page online, or call MJ Support at 844-866-2442 . 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.

Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below…

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Most recent comments on "Will MagicJack Replace My Landline?"

(See all 37 comments for this article.)

Posted by:

19 Sep 2020

I have used the Majic Jack GO for over three years and I would highly recommend it. It came highly recommended from both friends and family. It is an exceptionally VERY GREAT Value.
As noted above, it does NOT handle fax machines, and occasionally it will drop a call. I live in a condo and the WiFi interference is extreme and my HP Win10 laptop drops more often than MajicJack. My friend has an Ooma and it is considerably more expensive, without a noticeable quality improvement.
You will have to manually setup an 911 address if you want this service to be available. In Canada there is a $CAN10 yearly charge for a phone number, somewhat steep, since I only pay $20 a year for the actual MajicJack service. It was $100 for 5 years) ( still far less than Ooma )
Never needed to call support so I can't comment on that issue.
When we travel, we just use call forwarding to a cell phone. Feature setup is web based so if you decide to engage call forward when away, there is no problem. If your house power goes out calls are still forwarded. We unplug MJ when we are away.
By the way, almost all "land lines" are now VOIP and are subject to failure when there is a power interruption. My only cable company VOIP box would completely fail in a power failure, including call forwarding, unlike Majic Jack !

Posted by:

19 Sep 2020

I have been using a similar system "Nettalk" for many years now for about the same costs. I have friends overseas who also use it. Buy on-line, take a US or Canadian number and use on your computer in any part of the world with internet capability.

Posted by:

19 Sep 2020

Short answer NO!!! Ive had MJ for 7 years and you can hardly make a call, the line quality is sooo bad, Ive had both computer dongle and router dongle. On the other hand, a Google Voice unit is free once bought and has PERFECT quality. When my 5 year contract runs out Im switching. I have the Google set up at 2nd residence.

Posted by:

John Wafford
19 Sep 2020

I get telephone and optical cable broadband from Virgin Media. Bizarrely, the cost of the two is less than the cost of broadband only. As Virgin Media has the fastest broadband speed in the UK, I have no desire to change my ISP so will continue to use my landline, which, incidentally, has advantages over VOIP as contributors above have stated. For VOIP, I have Skype.

Posted by:

Ernest N. Wilcox Jr.
19 Sep 2020

in November 1999 I decided to give Magic Jack a try. I got the device and hoked it up and got it activated. The process was fairly quick and easy. Porting my existing phone number took a few days during which I had a 'temporary' phone number from Magic Jack. I suspect that the delay was waiting for my previous phone service to release the number (I canceled my phone service after setting up the Magoc Jack). Once that was done, it has been smooth sailing. If anyone wants to get home phone service for about $40.00 per YEAR, Magic Jack is a good and reliable choice. I am a very satisfied Magic Jack customer. Ernie

Posted by:

Jerry Owen
19 Sep 2020

I have been looking at this for years and would like to use it. The problem is in order to use it I must have an internet connection. My internet is DSL via landline. If I eliminate the landline I eliminate my internet connection and therefor MJ would not work. I already have unlimited voice long distance with my cell service so MJ would be of no use there. I do not make international calls so MJ would be of no use there. I could use my cell for a hotspot to get internet access but the data cap is prohibitive. I like the MJ idea but it is not practical for me. I know it is not for everyone and perhaps someone reading my comments will get some additional ideas to evaluate MJ for themselves.

Posted by:

19 Sep 2020

I work at a museum that had MJ. More often than not, I could hear callers but callers could not hear me, and visa versa. Additionally, the current time transmitted to CID is "eastern" time. I called MJ customer service to see how to change it to my time zone, I was told it could not be done.

Posted by:

Diane AR
19 Sep 2020

I had Magic Jack for many years and never any problem. Then I went with Nettalk. If I remember correctly, it was because there was a special? I don't remember. Now I use Google Voice, which I hear that may be on the way out. So I downloaded Smart911 on my cell. So, in case Google ends the Voice, and I need my phone for an emergency, all my medical info and address will be on the screen at 911 when they answer. Haven't had a landline for over 20 years and have never missed it or needed it. I am hoping Google doesn't stop support for Voice, but I'm sure something else will pop up that is as convenient.

Posted by:

top squirrel
19 Sep 2020

1. I see the MJ device pictured terminates in a USB plug. What do you plug it into? (see #2)
2. I have DSL internet through the phone company. The line from their box ends in a router from which an ethernet connection goes to the computer and a phone plug gives phone service. The only USB jacks I have are fed ultimately by the land line.
Any ideas on how I can stop paying the phone company for phone service, keep the internet and just use MJ?

Posted by:

20 Sep 2020

I've used Magic with my fax machine for years. Never had any problems.

Posted by:

Stanley J. Solomon
21 Sep 2020

Yes, but in the Boston area, the Internet & TV suppliers price their plans so that it is cheaper to add telephone than to exclude that service. Since these are the big national suppliers,I expect this would be true all over the US.

Posted by:

Barry S
23 Sep 2020

I have been using MagicJack since 2014 in Alberta, Canada. I have had no problems whatsoever with service or quality from day one. I enjoy the savings especially when talking to relatives in Canada and the United States with no long distance charges. As a retired person the savings are most appreciated. Always enjoy your articles Bob.

Posted by:

Glenn Heard
26 Sep 2020

I had a land line for years but finally just let it go. The only reason I miss the land line is for my Fax machine. Can I use MJ to fax?

Posted by:

31 Dec 2020

With only ONE ethernet jack on your modem there is a workaround, but I really don't like it-more below.
The MajicJack device has three connections. The first will go to your phone and the second, an ethernet jack will go to the router. The third is indeed a USB, that usually connects to a supplied AC to USB power "supply". A few modern computers maintain USB power even if switched off, so that could save you using a separate power supply.
To connect the ethernet "permanently" you would need another device to share this connection. -an ethernet switch, or an old router that has been turned into a switch, through a change in its software configuration. Either of these devices also requires a separate AC power supply and that is what I don't like. I hate adding another vampire power device to the hoard I already have.
If you go for the old router you could easily add wireless capability to your household. Thrift store typically abound in old routers.

Posted by:

07 Feb 2021

Magicjack does not have a local telephone number available in my town so my neighbour next door needs to pay long distance to call me. Any idea how I can get a local telephone number for my Magicjack? Thanks for the help.

Posted by:

16 Mar 2021

Can you plug MJ to same router that your landline phone plug-in? And you use your MJ parallel with your landline phone?

I am currently using MJ without issue and would like to help my mom in California change to MJ.

Posted by:

16 Mar 2021

Can you plug MJ to same router that your landline phone plug-in? And you use your MJ parallel with your landline phone?

I am currently using MJ without issue and would like to help my mom in California change to MJ.

Posted by:

Mark Cox
23 Mar 2021

Hi, i have a MajicJack connection and and using an app in my cell phone, i tried a lot to get it fixed with my drandsteam phone instrument, but am unable to do that, am ready to buy another phone instrument, but an not sure how to configure it. Am having a tough time using Majicjack in my cell phone. Majicjack is good if you use it with a phone device. Can anybody suggest me what can be done with regards to this. Please advise.

Posted by:

Izzy Goodman
09 Jul 2021

I had Magic Jack for many years and was happy with the service until I got a cell phone. I found that the magic jack app, which is supposed to allow me to use my cell phone with the magic jack number, was unreliable. I lost calls or was unable to hear or be heard. I have since gotten the Polycom Obi 2.0. This is a 4x4 inch box which plugs into your router and is paired with your free google voice number. You can plug a phone into it or have it forward calls to your several numbers including a cell phone. Like MJ, you can take it with you when you travel (as long as there is a router at the destination) and continue making and receiving calls. There is a one time charge of 39.95 for the box and after that it is free (which is even cheaper than magic jack).

Posted by:

Ernest N. Wilcox Jr.
02 Jan 2022

Bob, thank you for re-posting this item! I re-read my original response and I found an error. I stand by everything I said about Magic Jack's service quality, but I entered the wrong year (sorry!). I actually switched to MagicJack in about November 2019 (not 1999) after my wife passed away in an effort to reduce my monthly expenses.

Now, at the start of 2022, I am still a faithful and happy Magic Jack user, but there is one caveat. When I started service with Magic Jack, the original device I purchased did not work. I contacted customer service/support on the Magic Jack website. Since I purchased the device at Walmart, I was directed to them for replacement (something vaguely related to that seller's contract), so I had to return it to them. Walmart replaced it at no additional cost to me (I just had to go to the electronics department, pick up another device, and the kind folks at Customer Service processed the switch for me - easy-peasy!). There was one great benefit. I started my service on the replaced device with two years pre-paid (not one). I do not know why, but I suspect that it was due to the first device failing to work. I interacted with the Magic Jack Customer Service on the website, so I cannot judge their telephone support, but their web-based support was exceptional, professional, and courteous. I asked them what to do, and they helped me with very little delay. Even though the first device failed out of the box, I am very satisfied with Makic Jack's response, Walmart's response, and my over-all experience from start to present. I understand that manufacturers cannot quality check every device on every production line (they usually do spot checks), so a few bad devices can get into customer's hands. It happens, and nobody's perfect.

I have used that (second) device since I started service with great results. I have experienced no dropped calls or any other service issues and the voice quality is as good as or better than what I experienced when I used a dedicated copper land line. I use my Magic Jack for home phone service. I have a smart phone, but I have not set up forwarding my Magic Jack calls to it yet. I may have to look into that for when/if power fails (an uncommon event here - knock-on-wood :)).

My Internet service is ATTs Fiber 300. It was recently upgraded to Fiber 500 - at no additional cost to me - by ATT. How can you beat that!? My Internet experience is great - no interruptions that I can recall, so I suspect that the quality of MagicJack service may well depend on the Internet service/bandwidth quality of the connection.

My opinion: If you have a good dependable broadband connection, Magic Jack can/will save you money with no degradation in service quality! I pay about $40.00 per year because I have been buying service one year at a time. That is a good deal, but I will look into the five-year plan at renewal time. It is always good when I can save money without sacrificing quality!

This has been my experience,


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