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magicJack Reviews and Ratings

The below provides a quick overview of the user submitted reviews for magicJack.

Service Provider Average User Rating Total Reviews Write a Review
magicJack (3.2) 65 Reviews
(42% Recommended)
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MagicJack Plus Review by WhichVoIP

This section provides an overall summary of our review of the magicJack Plus phone service. Scroll down to read the complete review, including ordering, installation, using the service and returning.

The Good

The magicJack Plus is very simple to acquire, setup and also has three (3) different ways to utilize the service (computer, home phone, and mobile). The biggest plus is the low cost of service, a fraction of a typical landline cost. This device and service lends itself very well for a cheap second line or for people who are not that reliant on a home phone line (e.g. someone who uses their cell phone for most conversations).

The Bad

There is no customer support to call if you have issues but they do have online chat and a knowledgebase. This would be more of a concern for less tech savvy people who like the comfort of knowing that help is just a phone call away. The feature set is minimal compared with other VoIP services available. There are also a few annoying points with the magicJack mobile application.

The Bottom Line

  • Cost: $39.95 for the magicJack Plus device which includes 6 months free phone service.
  • Service Plans: Monthly plan costs $5 per month, 6 month plan costs $20 every 6 months, 1 year plan costs $35 per year and their 5 year plan costs $120 every 5 years.
  • Extra fees apply for some features (e.g. porting your number) plus applicable regulatory fees and taxes.
  • Extra fees apply for certain national area codes plus international calling.
  • MagicJack Go is now available and comes with 1 year of free service included for an up front cost of $59.95

Overall Thoughts

Overlooking the nuances about the magicJack Plus, it is actually quite a neat product. Setting up the device is a little obnoxious but after you survive the deluge of ads, what lies beneath is an acceptable calling solution. Worth considering if you are comfortable with technology and cost is a major driving factor over anything else.

Our Ratings for the magicJack Plus

OVERALL RATING (3.4) Ease of Order
Delivery Installation
Voice Quality Service Reliability
Service Features Customer Service
Value for Money Mobile App

Introduction

A lot of easy-to-use VoIP calling solutions have made their way to the market. A variety of solutions have surfaced both as an attempt to meet the needs of the everyday consumer as well as enterprises. These simple devices and applications allow people with an Internet connection the ability to make a voice call without an actual landline. One very low cost solution is the magicJack Plus.

MagicJack first hit the market in 2007. The original version was a small USB device that plugged directly into a Personal Computer (PC) and allowed a standard telephone to be plugged into the device. It utilizes Voice over IP (VoIP) technology, allowing users to make internet-based phone calls. MagicJack Plus was introduced in 2011 to remove the requirement of connecting directly to a PC, instead connecting directly to an available internet port (modem, router etc).

The company behind the MagicJack products is YMAX Communications Corporation, who provide the transfer of the phone calls made with these products. Many people have heard of MagicJack as it is promoted through commercials on television. It is a very low cost option, with a small annual charge, for making unlimited calls in USA and Canada (note that certain fee type codes and some area codes may require prepaid minutes to be purchased though). A 30-day money back guarantee is offered for those who want to try it out with no risk.

We decided to take the magicJack Plus for a test drive to see how it performs, including ordering, setting up, using it, trying customer support and returning the device.

Ordering the magicJack Plus

Though you can find the magicJack Plus in many consumer electronics stores, we went ahead and purchased the device through the company's website. We selected the expedited shipping option for an additional $8.95 so the device would arrive between 3 to 5 business days. However, the device arrived 9 days (7 business days) after ordering, causing us to deduct a star.

If you are someone who is easily offended by "up selling" tactics, I would avoid ordering the device online. After you register for your free trial, magicJack bombards you with a deluge of add-ons for your order. Some of the offers do make some sense though if you were planning on keeping the service. However, it still feels like a high pressure sales situation so we knocked a star off for these tactics. The below image shows an example of some of the ads.

Up selling tactics

The cost for the magicJack Plus device is $49.95 and this includes six (6) months of service free (unlimited calling to the USA and Canada). They also promote a 30 day money back guarantee, excluding shipping fees. Like any phone solution, VoIP or landline, additional fees apply to make international calls. Unless you are calling another magicJack subscriber, you are subject to certain fees for numbers outside of the coverage area (including some national area codes). Fortunately, their rates are fairly low (it differs by country.) These fees can only be circumvented if a person you are calling in another country is also using magicJack. If you're really trying to beat the system, you can also assign a local number to a unit and send it to someone over seas.

Here is an image of the package once it arrived.

Delivery package

Installing the magicJack Plus

There are three (3) main ways that the magicJack Plus device and service can be used, as follows. However, option 1 below is required to configure your service before you can make phone calls.

  1. You can connect the device directly to a computer via the USB connector. In this scenario you can use what is known as a "softphone" application, which includes a piece of software that turns your computer into your phone dialer. You will then need a headset, or separate microphone and speaker set to make calls. You can also plug any analog, touchtone phone to the device for a more authentic experience.
  2. The magicJack Plus device can plug directly into your Internet modem or router, which is the easiest way to use the device if you want to use a regular phone. For various set-up options with your home network we recommend reading our set-up article.
  3. There is a free mobile application (App) available on Google Play and Apple App Store which gives users a highly mobile option to use the service as it can function on 3G or higher networks or over Wi-Fi connections. Perfect for modern day smartphones.

No matter how you use it, you have the ability to access voicemail. Fortunately, you don't have to fine tune anything (nor do you have the ability) as you simply plug in the device, provide requested information and you're good to go. Next, lets look at the different ways to use it as introduced above.

1) Using the magicJack Plus with a computer

Installation can be a pain point for some users who are not technology comfortable so we will walk through this. The device utilizes a USB 2.0 connection to interface with a computer. Since Windows commands a majority of operating systems in the market, we installed and tested the device on a computer utilizing the Windows 7 64 bit operating system.

When you plug the magicJack into a USB port on your computer the driver automatically installs. One quick note here is that the device includes two additional USB ports which can be very useful as the device depth means it can cover multiple ports on your computer device. If you have not already registered the device you will need to now. You have to work through a few web forms to setup the device and register a valid phone number. Be prepared: the same offers you encounter when ordering the device come back for a second round of promotional assault. The below image shows the device connected to one of our laptops.

Connection to computer

You can request an area code for anywhere in the US or Canada which is a free feature of magicJack Plus. Additionally, it is possible to port an existing number to the service or you can optionally create a vanity number (subject to availability, of course) both for an additional fee of $20 plus $10 a year annually. Note: we typically recommend not porting your existing phone number initially until at least you have used the service and are happy with it. We recommend this for any VoIP service you may be considering. Once you have named your device, selected a valid number and shuffled through all the promo's, you are ready to make calls. The below image shows the phone dialer on the computer screen.

magicJack Plus dialer

The magicJack application you see above is the softphone you can utilize to initiate phone calls. If you dont have a phone connected to the device then you will need a headset or microphone/speakers combo as mentioned previously. Just like every phone since the rotary phone went to the wayside, you will see a familiar number layout. You use this dialpad to dial the phone number you want to call and click on the "send" button. To end the call you simply click on the "end" button.

You can also connect your existing home phone to the magicJack Plus device in this configuration. Connecting a phone to the device is just as simple as connecting a phone to any other RJ-11 socket in your home or business. If you're using an actual phone, you can also use it's number pad like any other phone, just pick it up and dial the number you want to call. We made a few test calls with this set up and found the sound quality as good as a landline, with no noticeable hum, echo, or static noises in the background.

Depending on how you plan on using the magicJack device, this option works OK but it is somewhat clunky and space consuming, especially when using a laptop. It also requires the computer device to be on and running for the phone service to work. Fortunately, the Plus device includes other ways to use the service as well.

2) Using magicJack Plus with your router

Another way to use the magicJack Plus is by plugging the device directly into an Internet modem or a router Internet port. The device includes an adaptor for the USB connector to plug into a 120V mains socket to power the Plus device (similar to a smartphone power adaptor). Your analog phone will plug into the RJ-11 port just like when using the device with a computer. Then you will use the phone in the same way as if it were a landline. The below images shows the magicJack Plus device connected to a mains outlet and then a cable connected to a router and a cable connected to the phone (3 connections in total).

Connection to phone

The device will protrude if connecting directly to a mains outlet, so it is best to avoid plugging it into a socket in a high traffic area. Alternatively, the device does include a USB-power extension cable. This setup is likely the most commonly used. However, when performing an initial setup it is probably simpler to start with the device connected directly to your computer and then move to this setup once complete.

We recommend setting up 911 service as soon as you can, which must be configured through a separate verification process, especially if this will be your main home number.

3) The magicJack smartphone application

This magicJack application is one more way you can utilize this service. For someone with limited minutes on a carrier plan, this is the perfect way to add virtually unlimited minutes to your cell calling plan. It works over both Wi-Fi and 3G or higher mobile data networks. The image below gives you an idea of what the app looks like on a smartphone.

Mobile app

Though the magicJack application is a great a value add-on, we did notice a couple of minor issues we should mention. The first one was that when going to download the app the icon presented is a green square with the words "Talk Free" in white. This App icon looks nothing like the rest of their branding and we almost didn't download the App as we were not sure it was truly for magicJack.

The second issue we encountered with the application has to do with the contact integration. For Android, after selecting a contact in the magicJack application, you are taken to the actual phone's contact database. If you attempt to make a call from here, you will simply utilize your actual phone and not the magicJack application (so using your phone minutes rather than free calling). Many VoIP App's, for example Skype, integrate further into the Android OS such that they appear in a prompt that allows you to select your phone, Skype or another application to call the number you select - magicJack does not.

Though the magicJack app has some flaws, it is a nice add-on feature and does work for making phone calls. The sound quality was no worse than a typical phone call made from your cell phone. The 4G network in the area where we tested the phone App is very good so that would have helped.

Features of the magicJack Plus

As a VoIP product and service, the magicJack Plus is considerably light on features. The included call features are voicemail, caller ID, call forwarding and call waiting. They do also boast free 411 calling. However, these are basic features when compared to many other VoIP services available today (some with 40+ features). As mentioned previously they do allow number porting, but at an additional fee to switch ($20) and then annually to maintain ($10). A fee for porting your existing number is common though (due to "paperwork" involved).

Customer Service

The customer service options are detailed in the tabbed section above titled "Customer Support". This is a very low cost service so it's not surprising that there is NO phone support. They do have a knowledgebase on their website which includes some "how-to" videos and frequently asked questions, as well as a live chat option.

We reached out to magicJack's tech support with a hypothetical issue that we considered uncommon to test out the persons knowledge. Here is the live chat:

Customer service chat window

This is the meat of the conversation - the rest of the unseen messages primarily consist of profuse appreciative statements from the live chat person. We were also presented with a link to claim a 5 year contract extension for a grand total of about $70. In a nutshell, the live chat person was able to provide an answer even though it was a somewhat obscure request. This is just an example and of course does not cover all scenarios so is not necessarily a true representation of their support as a whole.

Final Thoughts

The only remaining item to test was returning the device. This can be an important step for those who decide it is not for them during the trial period. Returning the product was straight forward and simple we are glad to say. It consisted of entering in a little information, confirming that indeed we wanted to cancel and then getting an RMA authorization to include in the return shipment.

Overall, we had a positive experience with the magicJack Plus device and phone service. The sound quality was acceptable during our testing, although it must be noted we have a high quality Internet connection. The main strength and attraction is quite clearly the low cost. If cost is your only priority then this service is worth considering. The weaknesses include no customer service phone line and the reduced feature set compared with typical VoIP services in the market today. There are also some quirks with the mobile App, although it is a nice feature to have and does work.

Based on it's low cost we would certainly recommend this device to anyone who was looking for a second phone line that was not for critical use. If you are considering this option for your main home phone line then we recommend you consider what is important to you most (cost, customer service, features etc) and to also look through the user submitted reviews before making your decision.

Continue to User Reviews Section >>

Author: Mike Bragg

Summary

Total Number 65 5 Stars 9
Recommended: YES 27 4 Stars 17
Recommended: NO 38 3 Stars 19
Average Rating 3.2 2 Stars 18
VIEW OTHER PROVIDERS 1 Star 2
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