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Localphone review: Inexpensive VoIP with a unique approach

Our Rating :

An appealing VoIP service, whether you’re looking for a second line or have friends and family overseas


  • Low-cost line rental
  • No commitment
  • Flexible calling options


  • No emergency call support

Localphone is a pure VoIP provider. It doesn’t offer presence monitoring or videoconferencing, but it does have a unique product with a clear focus on cutting the cost of international calls.

It offers both pay-as-you-go and subscription plans, without commitment. There’s no need to sign up for a year and no need to buy specific hardware, which makes it an attractive proposition for home users – in particular those who have friends and family living abroad.

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Localphone review: What do you get for the money?

Like any other VoIP provider, Localphone will supply you with a local number, and there’s no obligation to register in your real-world area code. You could, for example, register numbers in London, Cardiff and Edinburgh to give the appearance of having a local presence in each, even if the calls are being picked up in Norwich or Leeds.

Localphone says that numbers are “meant for average retail customer use”, which means each can only be used for two concurrent incoming calls, and a maximum of 100 incoming calls per day. After that, they’ll still work, but a 1p per call surcharge will apply. However, it seems unlikely that many home users would reach that limit, so it’s a fair cap.

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Localphone review: How much do calls cost?

Numbers aren’t restricted to the UK, either: you can register incoming lines in more than 45 countries, with prices varying between them. UK geographical numbers cost 75p to set up and 75p a month to maintain. US numbers cost £2 and 75p respectively; for Canada, it’s £3.75 and £2; and if you need an Australian number, expect to pay £3.25 both for setup and monthly maintenance.

These charges are reasonable, and should be well within reach of home users with family abroad. Why would that be of interest? Brits in the UK might want to register a number in Spain, as an example, so that expat family members there can call them at local rates.

Stick with landlines and you can call the UK or Germany for 0.6p a minute, France or Australia for 1.1p a minute, and India for 1.8p a minute. Things are a little more fragmented for the US and Canada, where prices are between 0.4p and 0.6p a minute in most areas, but rise to 2.9p when calling 907 area code numbers in the US and 14.8p a minute to Canada’s Yukon Territory. In many cases, prices for calling mobiles are higher – but not all. Mobile calls to India, for example, are the same as you’d pay for a landline call.

You may be able to save if you opt for a subscription – so long as you use it to its fullest. For £3.55, you can pre-pay for 250 minutes of calls to landlines and mobiles in India (excluding non-geographic, special, and premium numbers), which works out at 1.42p per minute. This is around 20% cheaper than the regular per-minute price of a call to an India-registered landline or mobile. However, note that unused minutes expire at the end of the month, so if you don’t use them all, you may end up paying more than you would if billed per call.

No matter how you pay, accounts are charged in advance, so you’ll need to top up every now and then. You can do this by card or, so long as you’re adding at least £10 to your balance, via PayPal. You can also automate the process so it tops up from a saved card every time your credit drops below £3.

Localphone review: How do you make and receive calls?

You can forward incoming calls to a landline or mobile (charged by the minute) or route them to a VoIP handset, at which point they behave like a regular landline number. Localphone also has apps for Android and iPhone, and you can use a softphone, both on your mobile and at the desktop. However, the service isn’t suitable for making calls to emergency services.

If you regularly call the same international numbers, you can set up a local rate UK number that routes the call through Localphone rather than direct through your mobile or landline provider. Why would you want to do this? Well, so long as UK numbers are included in your mobile contract, or you have bundled calls on your landline, the initial connection – from the network to Localphone – should be free (check your provider’s T&Cs). You’d therefore only pay Localphone’s low international rates to your destination, whatever your service provider’s equivalent rate for the same call.

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Localphone review: Are there any additional services?

Most UK geographic numbers can also be used to receive texts. You can set the service to forward them to your mobile, or you can access them through the Localphone dashboard, where you can view, delete and reply.

Localphone also has a callback service, which lets you dial a local number and hang up when it prompts you. It then calls you back, you enter your contact’s international number, and it makes the connection on your behalf. From that point, you then pay local rate prices for both sides of the call – so 1.1p a minute if you were calling from the UK to a US landline, comprising 0.6p a minute for the UK side of the call, and 0.5p a minute for the American portion. While this is more expensive than calling direct from a Localphone number to the US, it probably still undercuts the cost of a direct call to the American number using a regular landline, or a mobile without bundled minutes.

Localphone review: Should I subscribe?

Localphone’s unusual offering is a large part of its appeal. The tight focus on voice and text messaging makes it ideal for home users and anyone who wants a second line for use on contact forms and subscriptions, or anywhere else where they’d rather not reveal their primary number. 

Even if you don’t think you’d use it very often, the low cost of a UK line makes that a moot point. It’s a keenly priced service that’s quick to set up, easy to use and commitment free, so there isn’t much to be lost by giving it a spin.

If you’re looking for an inexpensive way to set up a second line, this is it. And, if you have friends and family overseas and want to cut the cost of keeping in touch, then again, look this way. With flexible payment options and no long-term commitment, Localphone makes VoIP an easy, unthreatening, logical choice for home users.

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