Update: I have updated this Ooma review for 2022 and have now been using the Ooma for over a decade. It’s been a number of years since I made the switch from Verizon to an Ooma (for VOIP land line) and Xfinity Mobile for mobile (review here) and I wanted to provide a comprehensive Ooma review for those considering Ooma Telo as a VOIP land line, Ooma Air, Ooma 4G, and Ooma Premier.
My thought at the time I purchased an Ooma was “If I could find a cheap land line or VOIP to make calls from home, I could lower my cell phone bill significantly by switching to a very low cost prepaid mobile plan”. And I did just that – I have cut my total phone bills for two cell phone plans and the Ooma land line to just $30/month. The Ooma was essential in that transition, and the choice of devices and features has greatly expanded since my purchase, so I wanted to give a comprehensive review for you to determine if the Ooma might make sense for you, and which version to buy.
In this Ooma review, first, I’ll give a recap on what the Ooma is and then recap all of the features, pros, and cons in the rest of the review so that you know everything you’d want to know about Ooma devices.
What is Ooma?
Ooma is VOIP (voice over internet protocol) hardware device that allows you to make free domestic calls, low priced international calls, and use a variety of other advanced telco features. It differs from other VOIP services in that you pay for the hardware and have very limited or zero monthly fees (taxes only, unless you upgrade) versus higher fees like traditional land line telephone service and mobile talk plans. It works without having your computer turned on. You just plug any regular phone into the Ooma unit, plug an Ooma into a router, activate the device, and you are ready to make and receive calls.
Ooma Features: Ooma Telo Vs. Ooma Telo Air Vs. Ooma 4G Vs. Ooma Premier
There are 3 different Ooma Telo devices. All 3 have similar feature sets, but operate differently. Additionally, you can add on premium feature sets and international calling with monthly fees.
“Ooma Telo” (Basic) Features
The standard Ooma Telo device is the most popular Ooma device and most affordable (it retails for $79, but I’ve seen it drop to $69 at Amazon on occasion). Other than providing you an internet landline phone connection, the standard Ooma Telo device does provide some great free features.
- Caller ID
- Call Waiting
- Ooma app (which allows you to make WiFi calls from anywhere)
- Answering machine functionality
- Online call logging
- Connect with Alexa
- Voicemail (also can be accessed remotely online)
- New phone number (available for most area codes)
- Free in-network Ooma-to-Ooma calling (for international calls)
- Free unlimited U.S. calls
You can also port in your old landline number for a one-time fee of $39.95 (porting is free if you upgrade to Ooma Premier).
“Ooma Telo Air” Features
The Ooma Telo Air is an Ooma device with features that are similar to the standard Ooma Telo, but it does not need a wired internet connection to operate, as the Ooma Telo does. It comes with wireless and Bluetooth capabilities, so you can take it anywhere you’d like (other locations from your home) and connect via WiFi. This device retails for around $129, but I’ve seen it occasionally dip to $99 on Amazon.
“Ooma Telo 4G” Features
Ooma Telo 4G is an Ooma device with features that are similar to the standard Ooma Telo, but it runs on a 4G LTE cellular network for a $11.99/month fee, versus a wired connection, and it has 10 hours of battery backup for power outages. The Ooma Telo 4G retails for $129, but I’ve seen it drop to $99 on Amazon.
“Ooma Premier” Features
Ooma Premier is not a separate device, but a $9.99 per month subscription that adds additional upgraded feature capabilities to your Ooma device (Telo, Telo Air, or Telo 4G):
- Free calling to Mexico and Canada (in addition to U.S.)
- Free porting of your phone number
- Expanded voicemail features: send-to-voicemail, monitoring, notifications, forwarding, voice-to-text
- Call blocking
- Spammer blocking
- Contacts only calling
- Connect with home devices
- 3-way conference calling
- And more…
What About Ooma International Calls?
If you make calls internationally, you really have an opportunity to save money over cellular and land line phone service. You can view the latest Ooma international rates on their site, but at the time of this post, calls from the U.S. to the U.S. and Canada were free. Example per minute basic (non-Premier) Ooma international rates from the U.S. to other countries are (at the time of publish):
- Canada: $0.014
- China: $0.025
- India: $0.029
- Mexico: $0.029
- UK: $0.028
You can also purchase a monthly plan:
- Premier: unlimited calling to Canada and Mexico ($9.99 per month, details above)
- World Plan: unlimited calling to landlines in over 60 countries and to mobile phones in over 10 countries: $17.99/month
- World Plus Plan: unlimited calling to landlines in over 70 countries and to mobile phones in over 40 countries: $25.99/month
Ooma Service & Sound Quality
In the decade+ that I’ve had an Ooma, I have not had to call Ooma customer service for anything. Ever. The setup is easy, the hardware has worked wonderfully, and the HD audio acoustics are incredibly clear. There was one time in the history of me owning the device that service was down for an hour and Ooma was very respondent and transparent about what caused the problem and how they were going to fix it. I have zero complaints. If you check out Ooma’s Amazon reviews, you’ll see the Ooma Telo has 4+ out of 5 stars after 5,900+ reviews. That speaks for itself.
How Does Ooma Differ from ISP VOIP Service?
Both Ooma and ISP VOIP plans (e.g. Xfinity Voice) are a way for you to get landline phone service through an internet connection. Here is where they differ:
- Ooma is cheaper than an ISP VOIP plans.
- Ooma is a separate device that plugs into a router, whereas VOIP typically works directly through your modem’s connection to the ISP.
Where to Buy Ooma
You can purchase Ooma at a number of retailers and on Ooma’s site, but the lowest price I have seen for the 3 Ooma devices are on Amazon, and include free shipping.
- Ooma Telo: retails for $79, but has dropped to $69 occasionally
- Ooma Telo 4G: retails for $129, but has dropped to $99 occasionally
- Ooma Telo Air: retails for $129, but has dropped to $99 occasionally
Believe it or not, when I purchased my Ooma Telo a long time ago, it was $250!
Ooma Telo Monthly Costs
Once you pay for the Ooma Telo unit, all domestic calls are free of charge. However, there is a nominal service charge, per month, that covers regulatory compliance, 911 service fees, and a federal universal service charge taxes. Through an Ooma tax calculator on their site you can calculate what your fee is. Still cheaper than any alternative out there. Here’s what it came up with for my zip code:
Ooma setup and activation is going to vary based on which device you own (instructions here), but I can speak to the standard, most popular Telo device being incredibly easy. Anyone with a router and high-speed internet connection can do it. The basic setup looks like this:
It’s really that simple, you plug your phone into the Ooma (in the middle) and your Ooma into a router. ISP VOP services (e.g. Xfinity Voice) differ in that there is no device and you plug your phone directly into a modem.
After you’ve connected the Ooma to your router, you choose and activate a number online, and you’re ready to go. As stated earlier, you do not use your computer at all in the connection.
Ooma Review Summary
Ooma really has made a great product that I have recommended to a number of people and would recommend to anyone looking to cut their phone bills, add land-line reliability and expanded feature sets to their mobile plans, and/or add additional phone connectivity capabilities (with the Ooma app, Ooma Telo Air, and Ooma 4G). I’d rate Ooma 5 out of 5 stars. Check out the Ooma at Amazon to purchase your Ooma device.