By transmitting your conversation through the internet, VoIP calls are usually crisper and more clear, meaning you can feel more in touch with the loved one than dealing with old-fashioned phone lines.
Traditionally, VoIP services are seen as primarily for businesses and professional needs, but they’re increasingly popular within home environments too. If you’re looking for the best residential VoIP service for you, you’ve come to the right place.
At its simplest, a VoIP works kind of like FaceTime or Skype, allowing you to make calls through the internet rather than having to rely on traditional landline or your cell phone. Many services also offer additional features as part of your subscription or for a small fee. Generally, VoIPs are far more advanced and specialized than something like FaceTime, so you need to know precisely what you require, so you don’t end up spending more than you need to.
Most VoIP services involve a subscription fee on a rolling basis, but they often end up saving you money in the long term by providing you with free or low-cost calls as part of a bundle deal. That’s particularly the case if you have many friends or relatives who require you to make international calls at peak times. VoIP services are often far more reliable, too.
Read on to discover everything you need to know about residential VoIP services and the best ones for your individual situation.
Why are VoIPs necessary?
While you can still choose to use a landline to call loved ones, using a VoIP is typically far more reliable and also often cheaper. By transmitting your conversation through the internet, calls are usually crisper and more clear, meaning you can feel more in touch with the loved one than dealing with old-fashioned phone lines. Costs are also often much lower, especially when dealing with regular calls made long-distance. If you want to enjoy extra features like recording your calls, that’s often an option, too, through VoIP services.
What’s the difference between a residential VoIP and a business VoIP?
Simply put, there isn’t really any difference. Most VoIP companies offer features that benefit both residential homes and businesses. It’s down to you to know what to look for and what is excessive for your home needs. Not that there isn’t some overlap in features that can be useful for both scenarios.
What to look for when buying a VoIP service
It’s essential to think about what you need from your VoIP service. Do you simply want cheap calls with high quality? Or do you need voicemail features and automatic call recording? With so many different VoIP services out there, it’s crucial to have an idea of what you want so that you don’t spend too much on unwanted features.
Another thing to consider is your budget. It’s possible to spend a lot on a VoIP service with many residential users rarely needing the advanced features that heftier subscriptions provide.
1. RingCentralThis popular VoIP service is perfect for residential use with an easy-to-use interface and unlimited calls.
$19.99 per month
$24.99 per month
$34.99 per month
$49.99 per month
One of the best-known options in VoIP, RingCentral is popular for a good reason. It’s simple to use and well priced too. It has a dedicated app that’s easy to understand, making it simple to make voice calls or text to your heart’s content. On the Essentials plan, you can enjoy unlimited calls within the US and Canada, which is perfect for relatives strewn around North America. Alternatively, if you want to enjoy unlimited audio conferencing and video meetings with everyone possible (up to 100 participants), you can upgrade to the Standard package for $5 per month more.
Elsewhere, the features can be a bit business heavy, but you’ll still enjoy the useful essentials throughout. One neat bonus is the voicemail-to-text ability, which could be incredibly helpful if you have any relatives who are deaf or who have hearing challenges. Another convenient extra is the ability to share documents that can easily be used together with family chats. Call quality is consistently regarded as high-end, so your interactions should always be clear and crisp.
2. Intermedia UnitePush past the intimidating surface, and this is an excellent VoIP for organized families.
$28.99 per month
$38.99 per month
On the surface, Intermedia Unite seems a bit intimidating for home needs, but it has a lot going for it. Crucially, it offers unlimited calls within the US, Canada, and Puerto Rico — a notable feature as other VoIPs don’t often cater for Puerto Rico. There’s unlimited texting too, which can be useful in certain situations. On the lower-end package, you can easily arrange video conferencing with up to four people before extending to an audio conference with up to 200 people.
What we like most is that Intermedia Unite bundles in cloud storage for file sharing and backups as standard. You get 2GB per user, which is perfect for sharing cute video files of the grandkids or even sharing recipes and other virtual family hand-me-downs.
Intermedia Unite offers more than you’ll need as a family given its business integration tools, but stuff like automatic spam call protection and automatic call recording remind you that these business features can be useful whatever your situation.
3. 8×8It’s a little complex for residential users, but 8×8 offers convenient support for calls to more than just North America, which makes it great for international calls.
$12 per month (and 30-day free trial)
X Series X2:
$25 per month
X Series X4:
$45 per month
X Series X6:
$115 per month
Have relatives or friends who live abroad? Calls will no doubt end up being pretty pricey on your landline, which is why 8×8 is the perfect solution. For roughly the same price as other VoIPs, you can enjoy unlimited calls to the US, Canada, Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Netherlands, New Zealand, Puerto Rico, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. That’s a huge bonus for many. The downside is that if you need more countries than this, then the price goes up a lot. Still, for many, this is a great starting point.
As well as that, 8×8 offers crisp HD voice calls, HD audio, and video meetings with screen sharing options, and you can enjoy some conveniences like voicemail. With comprehensive apps for mobile and desktop, it’s the perfect setup for those who regularly call abroad. There is even voicemail transcription and automatic call recording for those times you might want to check back on something.
4. Vonage for HomeA well-known name, Vonage is reliable and has useful offers for those wanting to call a lot.
Unlimited North America:
$14.99 per month
$19.99 per month
US & Canada 400 minutes/month:
$14.99 per month
Vonage is a big name in business VoIP services, and Vonage for Home is just as good for residential users. At its simplest, it offers unlimited calls to the US, Canada, Puerto Rico, and Mexico, whether via your landline or your mobile. Just slot an adaptor on your landline to enjoy the service.
Upgrade to a more expensive service, however, and you get access to unlimited calls to 60 different countries from your landline or ten via your cell phone. It’s nearly as simple as making a regular call, so it’s perfect for relatives and friends who aren’t so savvy about tech.
The best offers come from tying into a 12-month contract, but you can also opt to pay by the month, which can be useful during certain situations such as if a loved one has traveled abroad temporarily. Other features are a little limited on the ground compared to more business-focused VoIP packages, but that means you don’t pay for services you don’t require so it works out to be a good deal.
5. Ooma OfficeOoma Office is well priced for more traditional needs, providing you plan for initial expenses.
$19.95 per month
Ooma Office prefers that you use its own phones rather than an app, although that’s an option too. This is an advantage when you’re trying to convince older, less tech-savvy users to embrace VoIP as they won’t know the difference. Their bills will be different though thanks to Ooma Office being pretty cheap after you buy the original equipment. For a low monthly fee, you get unlimited calls to the US, Canada, Mexico, and Puerto Rico, along with cheap international rates. There’s extensive spam call protection too, which is great for keeping elderly relatives away from scams.
Voicemail is sure to be useful when trying to get in touch along with call forwarding and voicemail transcription. Everything else is a little bit too over the top for residential needs, but it’s the all-important physical equipment that makes this a good option for the more vulnerable who prefer the traditional means by which to talk.
6. LifesizeVideo calls are great for feeling closer to loved ones. Lifesize is a well-priced way of doing precisely that.
$16.95 per month
$14.95 per month
$12.95 per month
Want to see your loved one’s face while you talk? There are a wealth of options out there with Lifesize being one of the fastest-growing. With six months free, you can enjoy unlimited meetings with up to 25 participants ensuring that mass family gatherings from around the world just became a reality. The service includes native desktop and mobile apps, although there is the suggestion that equipment via Lifesize makes the experience even better. Whatever you choose, it’s a bargain.
Upgrade to a paid service, and you get even more participants in your meetings, along with the option to host one for up to 24 hours. Lifesize isn’t really any use for those looking for regular landline style calls, but if you’re keen to video chat all day long, you can’t go wrong here.