Two smartphones or one with two numbers?

woman-holding-two-cellphones-shrugging-image-from-shutterstockTwo smartphones or one with two numbers? a reader asks…

Hello, I have a Samsung Galaxy S6 and phone service from AT&T. Plus I have to carry around a second cellphone. Is there any way I could get a 2nd phone number to also work on my Galaxy phone? Thanks from Wild in Wyoming

Tired of carrying two phones, eh? While standard cellphone service from AT&T won’t allow you to have multiple numbers on your smartphone, there is a solution – Voice over IP services (VoIP). This involves installing an app on your smartphone and signing up for service with a provider.

line2-logo-image-from-line2dotcomI particularly like the Line2 app from They have a personal plan for $10/month and a business plan for $15/month, plus you can add extra lines if you need to flesh out your business. This is a completely virtual and powerful telephone system including voicemail, texting, local or toll-free US or Canadian phone numbers (or transfer in your own), and works on computers (Mac and PC) as well as tablets and smartphones – iPhone/iPad, Android, and Windows Phone (sorry Blackberry, nothing for you). One warning for Line2, they are really good about getting you up and running to start off, have great rates and some good online tutorials for how to use their service. But if you’re looking for good customer service – someone to help you work out problems with the service – you’ll have a tough time. Line2 is great for people who are good at solving their own problems, but does have some nifty automation features.


google-voice-iconYou have other choices as well. For your Android-powered phone, your Google account can add Google Voice to it for either a new phone number or moving over a number you already have. Plus you can use Google Voice along with Hangouts. That might be a good choice for you, since you live in the US and already have a Google account. Google Voice has some nice features, and their service record has been pretty good overall. You could also take a look at Skype (recently purchased by Microsoft), or use the venerable Vonage. There are a lot of other companies that provide VoIP services, if you’ll comment below on whether you want this for business or personal use and more details about what you want to do with a 2nd line, I can perhaps give you more specific advice.

You need to be aware that there are a few issues that can crop up when using a VoIP service:

  1. Call quality can vary – a lot. Because you’re using the internet (which carries all kinds of data), versus dedicated telephone transmission services, you can experience degraded call quality, drop-outs and even hangups much more than you would with regular cellphone or landline service.
  2. Customer service can also vary. Many VoIP service providers work without a call center to handle customer service issues. Before you jump in, be sure their online support is going to be good enough for your needs. Larger and business-oriented service providers will be better about customer service than the little guys, but we’ve all seen the really big guys give horrible customer service. It’s worth checking out.
  3. Some services (like Line2) will work over a Wi-fi, 3g, 4g, or LTE connection. You’ll get the best quality from Wi-fi, but if the service goes over your Galaxy’s data service you may still get decent quality.

woman-wearing-jawbone-image-from-jawbonedotcomI’ve found that call quality issues can be at least partially relieved by using a 2-ear, wired cellphone headset. If you love your Jawbone and hate having dangling wires, you’ll have to put up with lower call quality in general. That’s because a wireless earbud or headset uses Bluetooth to send the signal back and forth from your Galaxy smartphone. Bluetooth is subject to its own interference and latency issues. Plus, hearing with both ears is always better than hearing with only one.

Please leave a comment and tell me more about your situation and I can give you more specific advice. Such as, are you going to use this in more rural areas where Wi-fi coverage is spotty? Are you using this 2nd line for business or personal? Is your primary smartphone cell service business or personal? Do you expect to use the 2nd line a lot, or just a little? How important are business-class features like automatic forwarding, switching, no-answer-busy-transfer, do-not-disturb, voicemail with automated attendant, etc.?


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