Drop Your Landline: The Best VoIP Home Phone Services (2022)

When you think of home phone service, the term voice-over-IP (VoIP) might not come immediately to mind. If you've heard it, you probably associate it with business phone systems. Believe it or not, though, there's a massive market today for VoIP in the home, too. In simplest terms, VoIP is phone service that runs over the internet. If you've ever seen ads from cable or DSL providers offering a "triple play" deal that includes TV, internet, and phone, the phone service they're offering is VoIP.

However, while that three-in-one package might sound like a good deal, it's not your only option. You can also choose from a variety of independent residential VoIP providers. These add-on services will run over any sufficiently fast internet connection, and they typically provide a much richer set of features than the basic service your internet provider offers. Here are our top picks among these indie VoIP services, and then read on for our advice on how to choose one.

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Drop Your Landline: The Best VoIP Home Phone Services (4)

1-VoIP Residential

3.0

$8.79 Per Month at 1-VoIPSee It(Opens in a new window)

1-VoIP is a solid contender for residential VoIP, providing not only a low price but a long list of advanced features you can only get using this technology. However, you'll need to watch the price as many of the more advanced capabilities, including worldwide calling, are only available with the company's premium pricing tier.

1-VoIP Residential Review

Drop Your Landline: The Best VoIP Home Phone Services (5)

AXvoice

$8.97 Per Month at AxvoiceCheck Price(Opens in a new window)

Similar to Ooma's residential service (below), AXvoice deploys its home VoIP with the help of an appliance, appropriately called the AXvoice Device. This sits between your home's phones and your internet router. This device not only serves as a bridge between your old phones and the new VoIP service, it also enables many of the advanced features that straight POTS bridges often don't address.

Drop Your Landline: The Best VoIP Home Phone Services (6)

Google Voice

$0.00 at Google VoiceSee It(Opens in a new window)

As a home phone service, Google Voice is one of your best bets in the current VoIP market. That's mainly because it'll be free for most residential users since single-number accounts qualify for the free plan. Sign up for that and you'll get a phone number as well as free calls inside the US. As long as you've got a home network or a smartphone plan with data service, you're good to call. And if your life runs on one or more of Google's other apps, especially Calendar or Google Meet, your Voice client integrates automatically. Even on its own, though, this service should have all the features you need for your home like text support, voice mail with transcription, and a software client you can run from your PC, tablet, or smartphone. Just remember to keep one of those devices on if you want to receive calls.

Drop Your Landline: The Best VoIP Home Phone Services (7)

Ooma (Residential)

Free phone service (pay only applicable taxes and fees) at Ooma Residential at Ooma ResidentialCheck Price(Opens in a new window)

Similar to its popular small business VoIP solution, Ooma Office, the company touts its on-premises VoIP appliance to power its residential service. You'll find three versions of this device to choose from: the Ooma Telo, Ooma Telo Air, or Ooma Telo 4G. No matter which you choose, they all sit between your Internet router and your phones, making installation of this low-cost service plug-and-play.

Drop Your Landline: The Best VoIP Home Phone Services (8)

Phone Power

$19.95 Per Month at Phone Power Check Price(Opens in a new window)

Phone Power is another home VoIP provider that runs its service using an on-premises device. This is called the Home Adapter and like other services, it sits between your phones and your Internet connection, though no other network is required. It can even function as a router on its own. While it's not the cheapest home VoIP solution we found, it's certainly well-regarded and mature with a wide variety of options and capabilities.

Drop Your Landline: The Best VoIP Home Phone Services (9)

Voiply

Starting at $7.16 Per Month at VoiplySee It(Opens in a new window)

Voiply may not be as mature as some other providers (it was founded in 2012), but it's a solid residential offering and you can get it at a very competitive price. The service will run you $8.95 on a monthly basis but you can drop that to $7.16 with an annual commitment. Calling is unlimited in the Canada, the US, and about 50 other countries. For locations outside those zones, you'll need to purchase an international phone number, though this only costs another $4.95 per month. Your bridge adapter is free and there aren't any setup fees, either.

The service has all the home features you'd want as well as a dedicated smartphone app so you can use your mobile phone as well as your existing landlines. There's another app that blocks robocalls, and the Voiply website has a good selection of tutorial videos as well as support contacts in case anything goes wrong.

VOIPo

Drop Your Landline: The Best VoIP Home Phone Services (10)

VOIPo

$15 Per Month at VOIPOCheck Price(Opens in a new window)

Like most of our residential VoIP players, VOIPo ships its customers an adapter that plugs into the internet router and acts as a bridge between the customer's analog phones and the internet. While it provides most of the same features as other residential players, it offers deep discounts if you're willing to prepay for two years. International calling—while cheaper than traditional long-distance rates—costs extra, so factor that in if you place a lot of calls overseas.

Drop Your Landline: The Best VoIP Home Phone Services (11)

Vonage (Home)

$26.99 Per Month, Nationwide at VonageCheck Price(Opens in a new window)

Vonage may be the largest player among our current crop of residential VoIP players, which is likely one reason its price is somewhat higher than the competition. On the other hand, you'll get not only a full complement of VoIP features for your money, but also excellent customer support.

What Is Residential VoIP?

As mentioned, you've probably been offered a home VoIP solution several times already if you've got cable TV service, or if you're getting your internet access from one of the larger residential internet service providers (ISPs). However, those services generally come with fewer features than what you'd get from a dedicated VoIP provider, because a triple-play company probably isn't as focused on its VoIP product as it is on TV or internet service.

On the other hand, dedicated residential VoIP providers offer service that's unfettered by your ISP, often with worldwide calling plans. With one of these, you should get at least four core features: caller ID, voicemail, call waiting, 911 support (sometimes called "E911"), and three-way calling. These four should be a baseline for any residential service, but most indie VoIP players offer a variety of other features, too.

Drop Your Landline: The Best VoIP Home Phone Services (12) What Is 5G?

Most residential providers don't provide bridge devices that work with your existing analog landline phones. Still, some, especially the more prominent and business-oriented players, offer special VoIP phones even to residential buyers. These look and work the same as a regular phone aside from the initial setup process, which requires making sure the phone is connected to your internet router in some way and configured to access the VoIP provider's service.

You may think that this only runs over a wired connection, but you'd be wrong. There are wireless VoIP handsets available from Yealink and other well-known manufacturers. Additionally, some home VoIP providers let you use your smartphone as an extension for their services. That means you can set your smartphone to ring if someone calls your home phone number. And, of course, if your existing landline phone has a wireless handset, that'll work the same as always once you plug it into the VoIP bridge.

You don't need to worry about getting lost in technobabble when setting up your new phone service. The best providers should be able to ship you pre-configured devices that don't require any intervention on your part. You plug them into your internet router or connect them to your Wi-Fi network, and they'll find the provider's network on their own. Just power them up, connect to your network, and wait for the light to turn green.

Residential VoIP's Advanced Features

We've already covered VoIP basics, but what about those more advanced options at the software layer? Software is where VoIP shines, and it's why VoIP is able to offer more advanced features that a regular phone can't. Whether home or business, a VoIP system can access a much richer software layer than a standard line from the public switched telephone network (PSTN).

Much of residential VoIP's software runs on the provider's servers, so you don't need to worry about it. But parts will be running on your devices, whether that's a PC, a mobile phone, or a VoIP phone. This software layer provides the rich feature fabric, which, along with its lower price, draws residential customers to the technology. Some of the more popular such features include:

An Always Reject List allows you to place specific numbers into what's essentially a blocklist. Your VoIP account will know not to ring your phone when they call.

Smart call forwarding allows you to forward your phone number to one or even several other numbers. You might configure them to all ring at once, or ring in a specific order of preference. An example might be routing calls to your home phone first, then your mobile phone, and then your spouse's mobile phone.

Virtual phone numbers are an increasingly popular option. These are second numbers attached to your primary VoIP account but managed separately. You can even purchase these through different services than your primary VoIP providers. One use for this might be to have a virtual extension of your home phone line that's located in a different area code.

Voicemail routing can take multiple forms, but it refers to a set of rules you can apply to incoming calls that will automatically route them to voicemail without even causing a ring. For example, if calls come in with Caller ID blocked, those can be routed directly to voicemail. Or, if you're not into talking to anyone, you can hang out a digital Do Not Disturb sign and route all calls to voicemail, perhaps until you're feeling more social or every day between the hours of 9PM and 7AM, for example.

The softphone app is an essential advanced feature that's ubiquitous in business VoIP services and quickly growing in the residential market. Imagine a piece of software that uses your computing device's network connection, speakers, and microphone to turn it into a phone. If that softphone is attached to your VoIP account, that software will ring whenever your home phone does, and when you place calls on it, those calls will register as coming from your home phone number. Just by installing the software, you'll be able to make and receive voice calls over your home phone account right away. And you'll be able to do it on your PC, your Apple iPad, or even your smartphone. That last one is a gotcha, however.

There are two basic kinds of softphones: a "fat" phone that's coded to run only on a full-fledged PC like a macOS, Linux, or Windows machine. This software needs an actual desktop or laptop CPU and all the other accoutrements associated with a full-on PC to perform its functions. The other kind of softphone is one designed for a mobile device, which will typically need to be running iOS or Android.

Mobile VoIP clients are "slimmer" than desktop softphones, which means they're designed to look a little different and probably have fewer features, since mobile devices aren't as powerful as desktop machines. But if you're looking to run your home phone off your mobile phone wherever you are, then a mobile softphone is the ticket. When shopping for a provider, be sure to investigate whether the service offers a dedicated mobile client and whether that client will run on your mobile device. After that, see how much more it'll add to your monthly service charge.

If you're wondering what you get with a softphone that you won't with a standard phone handset, then that depends on the service. Business-class softphones offer all kinds of features related to online meeting collaboration, call routing, multi-line conference calling, and more. From a residential VoIP perspective, you'll most often find video conferencing (though more and more this is becoming a separate product), a voicemail-to-text converter, detailed call records, and user controls for anyone other than yourself using the service. Some services also offer faxing, text chat, and call metering so you can see how much you're spending.

Drop Your Landline: The Best VoIP Home Phone Services (13)

(Credit: Kobus Louw / Getty Images)

The Pricing Question

Typically, price is one of the most important reasons people opt for residential VoIP. One of the more attractive pricing models is the "triple play" sales pitch we mentioned above, which is offered by almost every regional residential cable company and internet provider: Get your Internet, TV, and phone service rolled into one monthly charge. Bundling like this also means a technician will hook everything up for you, including your phone. You'll probably also be able to use the same phone you're using now instead of having to migrate to a VoIP phone.

The caveat there is the proverbial fine print, usually located just below the really attractive dollar figure. This small print generally details precisely how many months that nice number will remain in effect before the bloom comes off the rose and you start getting billed at a much higher number that represents the service's actual cost. Many providers don't even print this higher number on their websites, so be sure to ask the sales guy on the phone before you sign up. The nice number that pulled you in can often double once the introductory period wears off. Some providers even attach a minimum length of time that you'll need to suffer these higher costs before you can change or modify the service without getting hit with an additional early termination charge.

The services we detail in this roundup, however, aren't triple-play providers. Every service described here is an independent residential VoIP provider that you can use over any broadband internet connection. But while that means their pricing is probably somewhat more transparent than in a triple play scenario, some of them do still obscure the actual number you'll wind up paying. This can happen in several ways.

First, there might be a meager cost or even free "basic" or "introductory" tier that's so feature-poor that the vast majority of customers will opt for the next level up. That'll be the full-priced tier. Another common practice is a one- or two-year contract, each with a slightly lower price offered next to a significantly higher-priced month-to-month tier. Additionally, while most residential VoIP services offer unlimited calling, some vary their pricing on call restrictions. Those will come either in minutes (with higher pricing attached to monthly overages) or geographic regions. The latter usually start with nationwide calling and then tack on another charge for worldwide calling or even separate charges for different countries.

Should You Jump?

While it doesn't offer as many features as its business-class version, residential VoIP is still overwhelmingly attractive compared to standard phone service. Firstly because of its much lower overall price tag and second because it simply offers more features than an old-fashioned landline. With a bit of research, you can keep your current number; suffer zero restrictions when it comes to 911 or long-distance calling; drop your monthly price to a low, fixed number; and take advantage of VoIP-only features, like intelligent call routing, virtual numbers, and more.

The only area where a landline offers something VoIP phones can't is that they're more disaster-resistant. Lose power to your house and your landline phone will keep on working. But if the power drops to your home's internet router, your VoIP phone goes dark, too. However, this limitation is less crippling these days as most people have a smartphone of some kind backing up their home phone. That phone will keep working in the event of a power outage, which means you can still make emergency calls. And if you've opted for a mobile client on your home VoIP account, you can even make those calls using your home phone number rather than your mobile number if you prefer.

You'll also need to be aware of E911 requirements when you opt for VoIP. Your VoIP provider needs to register your street address with emergency services so that they can respond to the right location when you call. If you move, you'll need to make sure your E911 record gets updated with your new address, as it might not be automatic.

One last consideration is your job. The pandemic has many companies expanding their VoIP services to employees who now primarily work from home. If your company is starting a hybrid work culture, then talking to your IT support person before buying a home VoIP service might be a good idea. If your employer wants to send you a VoIP phone or manage the installation of VoIP service in your home, you can probably add a residential deal by simply tacking your home number onto the business phone.

Overall, VoIP is simply the better option for most customers. Dropping your landline means no more hidden fees or metered long-distance calling charges. Most providers charge everything at one low rate, and your ability to customize your phone service to exactly what you need is far greater. Unless you've got some highly unique circumstances that somehow mandate a landline, VoIP is simply the better choice.

For more on communications tech, check out The Best Business VoIP Providers,The Best Video Conferencing Software(Opens in a new window), and The Best Email Marketing Software.

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