December 15, 2023

Best Free VoIP Phone Services & Software for 2024

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For small businesses and startups, the advent of VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) technology has been a boon, especially for those at the helm of these burgeoning enterprises. Although many apps espouse their free VoIP capabilities, hidden fees often rear their heads eventually. In this article, we explore truly free VoIP software, highlighting how this technology can be a game-changer for small businesses and startups.

Whether you’re a freelancer juggling clients from your kitchen table, a small business owner seeking efficient ways to connect with your team, or someone looking to keep in touch with family and friends around the world, we provide the best free VoIP services available, focusing on their practicality, ease of use, and how they can fit seamlessly into your daily routine. 

Based on a thorough evaluation of more than 18 titles, here’s our list of the best free VoIP software options moving into 2024:

  • Google Voice: Best for small businesses and entrepreneurs
  • 2ndLine: Best for North American users
  • Linphone: Best for open source customization
  • Jitsi: Best for secure open-source video conferencing
  • Acefone: Best for security
  • Microsoft Teams: Best for integrated team collaboration and communication

Our picks for the best free VoIP software

Google Voice: Best for small businesses and entrepreneurs


Pros

  • Free numbers
  • Multiple device ring
  • Porting of existing phone numbers from other services
  • Spam call filtering
  • Easy integration with Google ecosystem

Cons

  • Text limits
  • User caps

Free local numbers: Google Voice provides users with free local phone numbers.

Voicemail transcription: The service automatically transcribes voicemails into text.

Spam call filtering: Google Voice includes an effective spam filtering system to block unwanted calls.

Cross-platform accessibility: The service is accessible across various platforms, including iOS, Android, and web browsers.

Call forwarding and screening: Users can forward calls to different numbers and screen calls.

Integration with Google Workspace: Integrates with other Google services.

Free trial available

Basic: Free

Starter: $10/user/month, this plan is ideal for small businesses and supports up to 10 users or licenses.

Standard: $20/user/month

Premier: $30/user/month

Google Voice’s free tier is best suited for individual users or small businesses in need of basic, easy-to-use VoIP services. Its simplicity, combined with Google’s reliable infrastructure, makes it a strong contender in its category.

Google Voice excels in call quality, earning a score of 75. This high standard is consistent across device compatibility and operating system support, ensuring broad accessibility and scoring an impressive 100 in each category. However, when it comes to advanced features like virtual fax and automated attendants, Google Voice’s free tier shows its limitations, scoring a mere 0 in these areas. These features, crucial for comprehensive business communication, are notably absent, marking a clear distinction from some of its competitors who offer these services in their free or basic plans.

The user experience of Google Voice is notably user-friendly, aligning with Google’s overall design ethos, which makes it easy for new users to navigate. However, the service’s customizability and scalability are somewhat limited, scoring 50, which might be a drawback for businesses looking to expand or tailor the service to their specific needs.

Google Voice provides excellent self-help resources, including a comprehensive range of online guides and community forums—must-have resources for new users. Reflecting on Google Voice’s evolution, it has certainly come a long way, expanding its feature set and improving user experience over time. However, it still retains its core focus on basic VoIP services, without branching extensively into the more advanced telephony features that some businesses might require.

From its inception as a simple call-forwarding service, Google Voice has transformed into a stronger platform, integrating with other Google services and enhancing its feature set.

Recent updates to Google Voice have focused on improving user experience and functionality. For instance, there have been enhancements in its integration with Android, addressing issues with Bluetooth devices and the phone app post-updates.

Google Voice’s evolution has been marked by a focus on basic VoIP services, maintaining simplicity while gradually adding features like voicemail transcription and spam blocking. This evolution is indicative of Google’s approach to product design, prioritizing user experience and integration within its ecosystem.

The service excels in call quality, scoring a 75, and device compatibility, achieving a perfect 100. These scores highlight its reliability and broad accessibility. However, it scores lower in areas like advanced call management and customizability, indicating limitations for businesses seeking more sophisticated VoIP solutions.

The pros of Google Voice include its ease of use, with an intuitive interface that simplifies navigation, and its excellent integration with Google’s ecosystem, particularly Gmail and Google Calendar. However, the cons are notable; the service lacks advanced features like virtual fax and automated attendants, and its free tier offers limited customer support.

For individuals or small businesses seeking a straightforward, no-frills VoIP solution, Google Voice is an excellent choice. Its simplicity, combined with Google’s infrastructure, makes it reliable and easy to use. For larger businesses or those requiring advanced telephony features, Google Voice’s limitations might steer them towards other options.

2ndLine: Best for North American users


Pros

  • Unlimited calls and texts
  • Separate business line available
  • Easy integration
  • Voicemail service

Cons

  • Only available for Android users
  • Free version includes ads

Unlimited calls and texts: 2ndLine offers unlimited calling and texting to U.S. and Canada phone numbers.

Free local phone number: Users receive a free local phone number that can be used for business or personal calls.

Voicemail support: The service includes a voicemail feature, allowing users to receive voice messages.

WiFi and cellular data usage: Calls and texts can be made over WiFi or using cellular data, providing flexibility in connectivity.

Android compatibility: 2ndLine is designed specifically for Android devices, ensuring seamless operation on this platform.

Regular use requirement: The service requires regular use of the app to keep the account active and avoid termination.

Free

2ndLine is recommended as the best free VoIP for North American users primarily due to its regional optimization, which ensures high-quality call and text services within this geographic area. Its user-friendly interface, coupled with the essential features it offers without cost, makes it an ideal choice for individuals or small businesses looking for a straightforward, reliable secondary communication line. 

This recommendation is backed by firsthand user reviews and performance tests, which consistently highlight its reliability and ease of use in the North American context.

2ndLine’s performance in various categories stands out quantitatively. In terms of reliability, it consistently offers stable call and text services across the U.S. and Canada. Its user interface scores high for ease of use, making it accessible even to those less tech-savvy. 

In terms of feature richness, while it may not boast an extensive list like some paid services, its core offerings of unlimited calls, texts, and a free local number are robust for a free service. Importantly, its performance in network dependency is notable; it efficiently leverages existing WiFi or cellular data, ensuring connectivity is seldom an issue.

Compared to similar software like Google Voice or TextNow, 2ndLine holds its ground by offering a more streamlined experience for Android users. Google Voice, for instance, integrates well within the Google ecosystem but may present a steeper learning curve for those not already embedded in that environment. TextNow, while similar in its offerings, can sometimes fall short in network reliability. For users who prioritize a no-frills, reliable VoIP service on Android, 2ndLine is often the better fit.

2ndLine, as a free VoIP service, has positioned itself as a valuable tool for users in North America, particularly for those seeking a secondary phone number for business or personal use. Its latest upgrades, as of November 2023, have focused on enhancing user experience and addressing some of the bugs that users have encountered.

The most recent updates include a revamped login screen, offering a more modern and user-friendly interface. This change reflects an ongoing commitment to improving the app’s usability and aesthetic appeal. Additionally, 2ndLine has addressed a calling bug that was affecting some users, demonstrating responsiveness to user feedback and a dedication to maintaining a reliable service.

However, there are areas where 2ndLine could further improve. User reviews have pointed out issues such as the app not ringing for incoming calls and the identification of outgoing calls as spam. These issues highlight the need for better technical support and system optimization. Some users have experienced challenges with text messaging functionality, suggesting a need for more consistent performance in this area.

Linphone: Best for open source customization


Pros

  • Open source
  • Easy setup and implementation
  • Advanced configuration options
  • Works well with services like LiveAgent

Cons

  • Slightly confusing interface
  • Incompatibility with some computers

Open source: Linphone is fully open-source, allowing users and developers to inspect and modify the code.

Cross-platform compatibility: Available on iOS, Android, Windows, macOS, and Linux.

HD voice and video calls: Supports high-definition voice and video calling.

Instant messaging: Includes instant messaging capabilities with file sharing.

SIP protocol support: Fully SIP-based for all calling, presence, and instant messaging features.

End-to-end encryption: Offers secure communications with end-to-end encryption for privacy.

Free licensing model

Linphone distinguishes itself in the VoIP market primarily through its open-source architecture. This unique aspect contributes significantly to its high scores in areas like device compatibility and customizability, both of which achieved a perfect score of 100.

Its open-source nature means it can offer a level of flexibility and customization that is hard to find in commercial VoIP solutions. This makes Linphone particularly appealing to those who have the technical know-how to fully exploit its open-source capabilities.

Linphone is an excellent choice for tech-savvy users or organizations that value the ability to customize their VoIP solution. Its strong performance in call quality and compatibility makes it a viable option in the free VoIP software category. However, for users seeking extensive customer support and advanced features straight out of the box, other VoIP solutions might be more suitable. 

Linphone’s journey began as an open-source SIP phone for voice and video calls, and over the years, it has expanded its capabilities to include instant messaging and conference calling, adapting to the growing needs of its users. 

The platform has also made strides in its product design and user experience. The interface is user-friendly and intuitive, catering to both novice and experienced users. However, the level of technical expertise required to customize and integrate the software might not suit everyone.

One of Linphone’s key differentiators is its open-source platform, which sets it apart from many commercial VoIP solutions. This aspect allows for a high degree of customization and technical flexibility, appealing to users who have the technical know-how to fully exploit its capabilities.

However, Linphone’s open-source nature also brings certain drawbacks. The software’s learning curve can be steep for those new to VoIP technologies, and while it offers a range of self-help resources, the lack of immediate customer support might be a challenge for some users.

Jitsi: Best for secure open-source video conferencing


Pros

  • Free and open source
  • High-quality video
  • No account needed
  • Constant development

Cons

  • Limited chat features
  • Consumes a lot of memory

Open source: Jitsi is fully open-source, allowing for community-driven development and customization.

No account required: Users can join meetings without needing to sign up or log in.

High-quality video and audio: Provides clear video and audio conferencing capabilities.

Screen sharing: Includes the ability to share screens, enhancing collaboration and presentations.

Multi-platform support: Available on various platforms, including web browsers, iOS, and Android.

Integration capabilities: Can be integrated into websites and apps, offering flexibility for developers.

Free licensing model

Jitsi scores exceptionally well in areas like interface design and customizability, both receiving a perfect 100. This reflects its user-friendly nature and the flexibility it offers for technical customization, a hallmark of its open-source foundation. However, when it comes to customer support, Jitsi’s scores are more modest, with fair ratings in availability, channels, and response time. This is a common challenge for open-source platforms, which often rely on community-driven support rather than dedicated professional teams.

Jitsi offers end-to-end encryption for video conferencing. This is a significant advantage over many commercial VoIP solutions, especially in an era where data privacy is paramount. 

When comparing Jitsi to other VoIP solutions, Jitsi is best suited for users who prioritize security and customization. Its strong performance in call quality and compatibility makes it a viable option for those looking for a free, secure video conferencing tool. However, for users seeking extensive customer support and a more traditional VoIP experience, other solutions like Zoom or Microsoft Teams might be more appropriate.

Jitsi is an excellent choice for those who value open-source flexibility, high-quality video conferencing, and strong security features. 

Jitsi began as a simple messaging and VoIP tool and has since expanded to become a platform for video conferencing and collaboration. The platform has undergone numerous upgrades, notably enhancing its video and audio quality, and integrating end-to-end encryption, which has been a game-changer in terms of security.

Its video conferencing capabilities are notable, scoring high in both interface design and customizability. Its open-source nature allows for extensive customization, making it an ideal choice for those who have the technical expertise to tailor the platform to their specific needs. 

This strength also presents a notable drawback: the learning curve can be steep for those unfamiliar with open-source platforms. Additionally, while Jitsi offers excellent self-help resources, its customer support is largely community-driven, which might not suffice for users seeking immediate professional assistance.

Having said this, the software has consistently prioritized ease of use and accessibility. The interface is intuitive, catering to both novice and experienced users.

The evolution of Jitsi is marked by its commitment to improving user experience and security. Its suitability for a particular user or organization largely depends on their comfort with open-source software and their specific communication needs. For instance, while Jitsi excels in video conferencing and security, it may not be the best fit for those looking for a comprehensive VoIP solution with advanced features.

Recent updates have focused on enhancing the mobile app experience and expanding integration options. These updates have significantly improved the usability and functionality of Jitsi, making it a more versatile tool in various communication scenarios.

Acefone: Best for cloud-based business telephony


Pros

  • Quick and easy setup
  • Customization without additional costs
  • Comprehensive call features
  • No need for additional hardware

Cons

  • Cannot be integrated with existing enterprise PBX systems
  • Limited API abilities

High-quality calls: Ensures high-quality calls even in areas with limited telephone infrastructure.

Bandwidth prioritization: The service offers quality communication even on low bandwidth, thanks to bandwidth prioritization.

Call forwarding options: In case of internet disruptions, calls can be forwarded to mobile phones or switched to a backup connection.

Integrated IVR system: Acefone includes an Interactive Voice Response system for streamlined operations and customer self-service.

Comprehensive call management: Features like call recording, logs, and automated reports are available.

Voicemail-to-email feature: Voicemails are recorded and sent to the user’s inbox, along with a transcript.

Basic: Free

Business: $14.99/month

Premium: $16.99/month

Recommending Acefone as the best overall option for certain businesses hinges on its balance of affordability, ease of use, and integration capabilities. It is particularly suited for small to medium-sized businesses that require a reliable, customizable, and budget-friendly cloud-based telephony solution. User reviews underscore its effectiveness, noting particularly its customer-oriented service and the simplicity of its setup process. These firsthand experiences provide tangible evidence of Acefone’s suitability for businesses seeking a comprehensive yet straightforward cloud telephony solution.

When evaluating its scoring methodology, Acefone gets top marks in several key performance categories. Users commend its ease of setup, with the ability to configure services swiftly across various devices, including desktops, tablets, and smartphones. This user-centric approach is reflected in its overall ease of use, making it accessible even to those with limited technical expertise.

What sets Acefone apart from its competitors is its tailored solutions that cater to a wide range of business needs. Unlike some VoIP providers that offer a one-size-fits-all solution, Acefone focuses on customizability, ensuring that each business can optimize its telephony system according to its unique requirements. This level of customization is particularly beneficial for businesses looking for a more personalized approach to cloud telephony.

Acetone also offers competitive pricing and the ability to integrate seamlessly with CRM systems. This makes it an ideal choice for businesses that prioritize cost-effectiveness without compromising on functionality. For instance, while other VoIP solutions might offer similar basic features, Acefone’s integration capabilities with platforms like Salesforce and Hubspot provide added value, especially for businesses that rely heavily on CRM tools.

Acefone has carved a niche for itself with its cloud-based telephony solutions. 

One of the key strengths of Acefone is its commitment to providing cost-effective and flexible solutions. The company’s VoIP services are designed to cater to businesses of all sizes, offering features like Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems, CRM integrations, and call management software. 

Product evolution is a significant aspect of Acefone’s journey. The company has transitioned from traditional telephony systems to advanced VoIP solutions, incorporating features like call recording, on-hold music, and custom IVR menus. 

Acefone has focused on creating a user-friendly interface that simplifies complex telephony tasks. The integration of cloud technology allows for remote access and management of the phone system, which is a crucial feature in increasingly remote and mobile work environments.

Microsoft Teams: Best for integrated team collaboration and communication


Pros

  • Offers video conferencing, voice calls, instant messaging, and file sharing
  • Integration with Office 365
  • Accessible from multiple devices
  • End-to-end security

Cons

  • Lacks advanced telephony features like hunt groups and call flows
  • Insufficient phone system features for contact center requirements

High-quality calls: Ensures high-quality voice calls even in remote areas with limited telephone infrastructure.

Bandwidth prioritization: Offers consistent call quality even on low bandwidth connections.

Call forwarding options: Provides options to forward calls to mobile phones or switch to a backup connection in case of internet disruptions.

Integrated IVR system: Features an Interactive Voice Response system for streamlined operations and customer self-service.

Comprehensive call management: Includes call recording, logs, and automated reports for effective call management.

Voicemail-to-email feature: Converts voicemails to emails with transcripts, ensuring important messages are not missed.

Free trial available

Free plan available

Microsoft Teams Essentials: $4 user/month

Microsoft 365 Business Basic: $6 user/month

Microsoft 365 Business Standard: $12.50 user/month

Teams consistently delivers high-quality voice calls, a critical factor for business communications. The user experience is streamlined and intuitive, making it accessible for users of varying technical proficiencies. Integration capabilities are a standout feature, with Teams seamlessly blending into the broader Microsoft 365 ecosystem, enhancing productivity and collaboration.

When compared to competitors like Slack or Zoom, which are more renowned for their messaging and video conferencing capabilities, Teams excels in its comprehensive VoIP functionalities. Unlike these platforms, Teams is not just an add-on to an existing suite of tools; it is a fully integrated solution. This integration provides a unified experience where voice communication is as seamlessly managed as file sharing or real-time collaboration.

While similar platforms like Slack offer messaging and some integration with VoIP services, they often lack the native, full-featured VoIP capabilities that Teams provides. Zoom, on the other hand, focuses more on video conferencing, and its VoIP features, though present, are not as deeply integrated into a broader suite of collaboration tools as Teams.

The reason Microsoft Teams stands out as the best overall for integrated team communication and collaboration is its holistic approach to VoIP solutions within a collaborative workspace. Teams offers high-quality voice calls but also integrates these calls into a user’s daily workflow, alongside other collaboration tools. This integration is backed by the infrastructure of Microsoft, ensuring reliability and security. First-hand user experiences and reviews consistently highlight the ease of managing calls, the clarity of communication, and the convenience of having an all-in-one platform for various communication needs.

Originating as a part of Microsoft’s expanding suite of productivity tools, Teams was initially launched in 2017. It was designed to provide a unified platform for workplace communication, but over time, it has significantly broadened its scope, incorporating robust VoIP capabilities.

The most recent upgrades to Microsoft Teams have been focused on enhancing its performance and user experience. A notable shift has been its redevelopment on the React framework, particularly for Windows users, which has resulted in a more responsive and faster application. This change, along with the integration of Edge WebView2, has led to a more efficient use of memory and disk space. These technical improvements have made Teams not just a tool for messaging and collaboration but also a more reliable and efficient platform for VoIP needs.

However, despite these advancements, there are areas where Microsoft Teams could see improvement. Users have reported some challenges, particularly in terms of navigation and chat functionality. The transition to the new version of Teams has also seen the loss of certain features, such as detailed status indicators and customization options, which were valued by many users. These points of feedback highlight a need for Microsoft to balance its drive for technical enhancement with the practical usability and feature set that its user base has come to expect.

Key components of free VoIP apps

Free VoIP apps, in particular, offer a range of functionalities that cater to the basic communication needs without the added cost. Understanding the key components of these apps can help users make informed decisions about which app best suits their needs. Here are some of the essential features and components commonly found in free VoIP software:

  1. Voice and video calls: The core functionality of any VoIP app is to facilitate voice and video calls over the internet. These calls typically offer decent quality and can be made to other users of the same app, and sometimes to phone numbers.
  2. Messaging capabilities: Alongside voice and video, instant messaging is a staple feature, allowing users to send text messages, images, videos, and files.
  3. User Interface (UI): A user-friendly interface is crucial for ease of use. Free VoIP apps usually have a simple, intuitive design that makes navigation and operation straightforward for all users.
  4. Multi-platform support: Many free VoIP apps are available across various platforms, including Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android, ensuring accessibility regardless of the device.
  5. Group communication: The ability to conduct group calls and chats is a vital component, especially for collaborative tasks in a business environment or for group interactions in personal use.
  6. Security and privacy: Even free apps should offer a basic level of security. Features like end-to-end encryption for calls and messages are becoming more common to protect user privacy.
  7. Integration with other apps: Some VoIP apps integrate with other applications, such as email clients, calendars, and productivity tools, to provide a more seamless user experience.
  8. Contact management: Efficiently managing contacts within the app, including adding, organizing, and syncing contacts from other sources, is an important component.
  9. Call quality and reliability: The effectiveness of a VoIP app is largely dependent on the quality and reliability of its calls, which can vary based on internet connectivity.
  10. Customer support and community: While free apps may not offer extensive customer support, many have community forums and help centers where users can seek assistance.

Also read: VoIP vs. Landline: The Pros and Cons for Business

Benefits of using a free VoIP service for small businesses

Free VoIP software offers a suite of advantages that align seamlessly with their unique needs and constraints.

At the heart of these benefits lies cost efficiency, a critical factor for small businesses operating on tight budgets. Free VoIP services eliminate the hefty expenses associated with traditional telephony, such as installation, maintenance, and long-distance charges. This financial liberation allows small businesses to allocate resources more strategically, potentially funneling savings into other growth-centric areas.

Beyond the monetary aspect, free VoIP services offer remarkable scalability and flexibility. As small businesses navigate the ebbs and flows of growth, these services adapt effortlessly, accommodating fluctuations in call volume and workforce size without necessitating significant infrastructural changes. This scalability ensures that communication systems grow in tandem with the business, providing a stable backbone for expansion.

The integration capabilities of VoIP often integrate with a range of business applications, from customer relationship management (CRM) systems to email platforms, streamlining workflows and enhancing overall productivity. 

EXPERT TIP: This integration not only fosters a more cohesive operational environment but also enriches customer interactions, a vital aspect for small businesses seeking to build strong, lasting relationships with their clientele.

The mobility offered by VoIP services aligns perfectly with the evolving work culture, where remote work and on-the-go operations have become commonplace. Employees can access the VoIP system from anywhere with an internet connection, ensuring that business communication remains uninterrupted, irrespective of physical location. This mobility not only enhances employee flexibility but also ensures that customer queries and opportunities are not missed due to geographical constraints.

Which free VoIP service is right for your business?

Lastly, the feature-rich nature of VoIP services, even the free versions, provides small businesses with a competitive edge. Features such as call forwarding, voicemail, and conference calling, which were once the domain of larger corporations with substantial budgets, are now accessible to small businesses. This democratization of technology empowers small businesses to operate with a level of professionalism and efficiency that was previously beyond their reach.

Looking for the latest in VOIP solutions? Check out our VOIP Software Buyer’s Guide.

Featured partners

Featured partners: VoIP

1 RingCentral Office

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RingCentral is a business VoIP provider that offers cloud-based communications including message, video, phone, and collaboration features. It offers a number of different tools that you can buy as standalone products or as part of a unified communications platform. Some features include call screening, internet fax, call forwarding, visual voicemail, multi-level Interactive Voice Response (IVR), video conferencing, and team collaboration.

Learn more about RingCentral Office

2 Grasshopper

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Grasshopper is a cloud-based virtual phone system that helps small businesses be more professional, responsive, and efficient. The platform provides all the communication tools to sound big and grow bigger. It equips growing businesses with a phone number plus all of the features of a robust phone system without the expense of additional devices.

Learn more about Grasshopper

3 Ooma

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Ooma is a business communication product that features voice over IP services, messaging via chat and SMS functions, and video conferencing. This VoIP product works over a multitude of devices for seamless access while working on-premises, remotely or on-the-go. Find out more about the features of Ooma to help you choose the right VoIP solution for your business.

Learn more about Ooma

FAQs

Free VOIP software allows users to make voice and video calls over the internet without any cost, using computers or mobile devices.

Yes, many free VOIP software options offer sufficient features for small businesses and startups for basic communication needs.

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