Home > Vonage Vs Magicjack

Vonage vs magicJack

Vonage and magicJack are two methods for residential customers to access low-cost Internet phone service using an adapter and their high-speed Internet connection.

With Vonage vs. magicJack, the basic difference lies in the fine print: the contracts, calling plans, and calling costs. The actual technology -- a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) adapter paired with an Internet connection to establish Internet phone service -- is very similar. However, magicJack adapters also require registration with your computer. Vonage Internet phone service does not. As one of our paid advertisers, magicJack deserves a comparison against one of the biggest players in the residential VoIP industry.

In a nutshell, their Internet phone services work like this:

  • Vonage offers no-contract, no-commitment Internet phone service that ranges from about $12/month to $55/month with a free VoIP adapter.
  • magicJack sells its magicJack ($49.95) adapters but includes six months of Internet phone service in the price. After the first year, magicJack Internet phone customers sign 1- or 5-year VoIP phone service contracts. (For five years, annual VoIP phone service is as low as $19.95 per year.)
  • With Vonage Internet phone service, you can use any compatible VoIP adapter.
  • magicJack Internet service uses only the magicJack or magicJack PLUS devices.

Customer Service and Call Quality

In looking at Vonage vs. magicJack, one other similarity is that both are known to have customer service issues.

Vonage has made inroads in customer service: Most of the negative comments on voipreview.org about their customer service date from 2010 or before. They also proactively handle a lot of complaints through their @Vonage_Voice Twitter account now.

MagicJack, however, continues to have reviews on voipreview.org that could cerrtainly be higher. Complaints seem to be pretty evenly distributed between lousy customer service, and terrible call quality and dropped calls. However, magicJack PLUS now includes HD voice and Echo Control, so these complaints are no longer quite as revalent as they once were. The customer service still don't get the best ratings however, because they are handled through an online chat room instead of a phone number.

Ultimately, customers should understand that with prices as low as magicJack charges, you shouldn't expect a perfect customer service department. They've had to make sacrifices to be able to offer such low rates, and one of those sacrifices is that they have to rely on a chat room to handle support and billing questions. With the money Vonage charges however, one has every reason to expect better service.


How Does a VoIP Adapter Create Internet Phone Service?

As far as VoIP adapters go, it's the same story when comparing Vonage vs. magicJack: Both use an analog telephone adapter (ATA), or VoIP phone adapter, to access the data signals used by the Internet.

One main difference seems to be that Vonage markets the calling service ("Oh, and by the way you'll need an adapter"), whereas magicJack sells the adapter ("Oh, don't forget to sign up for our calling service").

But, the process is similar. Vonage and magicJack both use a VoIP adapter to turn the analog signals produced by your regular phone into digital signals. The digital signals are compressed and broken into packets, and the packets are sent over the Internet. That's typically how residential VoIP phone service works, unless you have an IP phone. Fortunately, neither company makes their customers get one, and magicJack is guaranteed to work with any existing phone you already own.

With magicJack PLUS and its Ethernet port, magicJack Internet phone customers can just plug the magicJack PLUS adapter into a wall outlet and a router. This is because the magicJack PLUS features an on-board ARM CPU (To register the phone number and initiate service, the magicJack PLUS adapter still has to be plugged into the computer's USB port the first time it is used).


What Do Vonage and magicJack Internet's Phone Service Cost?

In the pitched battle for Internet phone supremacy, who wins between Vonage and magicJack?

Based on cost alone, magicJack or magicJack PLUS. After the initial cost of the magicJack or magicJack PLUS adapter, the annual Internet phone service cost (based on a 5-year plan) is lower than most of Vonage's monthly calling plans.

Vonage:

  • Adapter: Free (for the basic Vonage Box through Vonage)
  • Internet phone service: Ranges from about $12 to $55, depending on the plan and features

magicJack:

  • Adapter: $49.95
  • Internet phone service: First six months is free. 1-year term is $29.95/year. 5-year terms are $19.95/year.

These prices don't include shipping, handling, or any applicable taxes or fees.

 


What You Need to Use Vonage or magicJack Internet Phone Service

Vonage's list is simple. To use Vonage Internet phone service, you need a:

  • Fast Internet connection
  • Touch-tone phone (cordless is ok)
  • Vonage phone adapter
  • US billing/shipping address

Other ATAs by Motorola, Linksys, and D-Link are also compatible with Vonage Internet phone service and can offer more features than the Vonage Box. Check online for options.

magicJack and magicJack PLUS are equally low on requirements for their VoIP phone service:

magicJack:

  • Fast Internet connection
  • Compatible computer (for USB port software installation)
    • Windows XP
    • Windows Vista
    • Windows 7
    • Intel-based Mac
  • Any phone (corded or cordless)

magicJack PLUS:

  • Fast Internet connection
  • Compatible computer (for USB port software installation)
    • Windows XP
    • Windows Vista
    • Windows 7
    • Intel-based Mac
  • Any phone (corded or cordless)
  • Router (optional if exclusive access via the computer's USB port is intended)

With magicJack Internet phone, the magicJack VoIP phone service is only accessible with a proprietary magicJack adapter.

Note: The magicJack has now become the magicJack PLUS. The magicJack PLUS no longer has to be plugged into your computer, except the first time (so that you can register it). Instead, it has an Ethernet port and comes with an Ethernet cord. The original magicJack is still available, and still has to be plugged into your computer to use.


Vonage Phone Service Basics

Vonage is a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone company that uses a VoIP adapter and an Internet connection to offer inexpensive VoIP phone services. Vonage offers six monthly VoIP phone service calling plans, including two business calling plans. The basic Vonage adapter known as the Vonage Box is included with your calling plan when you order online.

Vonage offers the following calling plans:

  • Domestic
    • US & Canada Unlimited, $14.99/month
    • US & Canada 750, $19.99/month
    • US & Canada 300, $11.99/month
    • Vonage Pro, $34.99/month
  • International
    • Vonage World, $14.99/month
    • World Premium Unlimited, $54.99/month
  • Business
    • Small Business Basic 1500, $39.99/month
    • Small Business Basic Premium Unlimited, $49.99/month

magicJack Phone Service Basics

magicJack and magicJack PLUS are VoIP adapters. Consumers buy the magicJack ($49.95) and pay for annual magicJack Internet phone service in 1- or 5-year increments. A 5-year plan lowers the annual cost to $19.95/year.

With magicJack VoIP adapters and magicJack Internet phone service (a 1- or 5-year service plan), all local and long-distance calls to the US, Canada, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands are free. Calling from another country to the US or Canada using a magicJack adapter is free.

International calls using a magicJack adapter requires prepaid international minutes. magicJack Internet phone service includes low per-minute calls to approximately 150 countries. Calling into the United States is always free with magicJack.


Features

Vonage and magicJack both offer:

  • Voicemail
  • Caller ID
  • Call waiting
  • Number porting
  • Free in-network calls
  • Portability -- take your adapter anywhere to make free/inexpensive calls
  • Call forwarding

Vonage phone service offers free unlimited or capped minute (3.9¢/minute after cap) long-distance calling to anywhere in the US, Canada and Puerto Rico on its monthly calling plans. magicJack Internet phone service simply offers unlimited calls to the US, Canada, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands.

Vonage offers 3-way calling. magicJack offers conference calling with multiple participants (requires a call-in number and an access code).

Vonage phone service also offers these features and more with every calling plan:

  • Voicemail audio files sent via email
  • Voicemail transcriptions sent via email/text
  • Do not disturb
  • Anonymous call block
  • SimulRing
  • Click-to-call
  • Call transfer

magicJack offers free 411 directory assistance calls. Some Vonage plans also include this, but not all.


Extension Service

Vonage and magicJack VoIP phone services both offer extensions for mobile VoIP flexibility. In this Vonage vs. magicJack category, Vonage offers more functionality and greater access to their Internet phone service customers.

Vonage lets you register one landline or cell phone (no faxes or 800 numbers, and a few other exceptions) as an extension for free. A second extension is available for $4.99/month.

Vonage Internet phone service also offers an app for the iPhone and Android. With the app, you don't need to call an access number or use a PIN to use the Vonage VoIP phone service.

magicJack Internet phone service also features an app for iOS devices. With the magicJack app, you need to dial an access number and enter a PIN first.


Final Verdict

Between the two providers, Vonage offers the better features while magicJack offers the lower prices. However, when you compare the overall value of price-to-performance, magicJack comes ahead by a longshot. Prices of only $19.95 per year mean that you pay only $1.66 per month for phone service, which simply can't be beat. Despite the fact that magicJack has issues with customer service and that Vonage offers more features and service options, the fact of the matter is that you end up paying several times more money for a phone service that's only slightly better. That math doesn't add up, so we declare magicJack to be the winners in this fight.

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