Once upon a time, your mobile phone number functioned as a second private line in addition to your home landline, and peace reigned throughout the land. Today, with so many people discarding their landlines, mobile phones have increasingly become primary phone numbers, with all sorts of issues associated with that. The first and most common problem is privacy: You may not want everyone to have your private cell number, the same way you didn’t just hand out your home number to anyone who asked for it. What can you do if your mobile number is the only one you have? Easy. Get another number.
You don’t have to jump through too many hoops to add a second or even more numbers to your smartphone, and it’s hardly a novel concept: Verizon and T-Mobile have both caught on to this idea for their customers.
Second or multiple phone numbers give you more control over your life by offering either a permanent or burner number — a second line for web signups, travel, business, online ads, and making calls from an anonymous number. As with most things tech, there’s an app for that, and some solutions are even free of charge, at least for a limited time. Here are some reputable apps you can use to protect your main cell phone number from businesses, casual friends from dating apps, strangers from eBay or Craigslist, or to avoid abusive calls without having to purchase a second phone. Only give your real number to people you trust. For everyone else, there’s your backup phone number.
Sideline is a business oriented app that provides a second phone number as well as calling, texting, and voicemail features, designed for workplace collaboration with your team as well as with customers. All calls are cellular and use your existing carrier plan. Texting includes SMS, MMS picture messaging, and group messaging. Pro features include a team number that allows you to split a single number among multiple devices.
The app also lets you build a unique identity with vanity phone numbers, where your name or product is spelled out. You can choose area codes to find an available local number for your region and employ auto reply via text or MMS if your team can’t pick up right away. An enterprise account lets you manage company phone numbers on employee devices. Additional features include custom caller ID so you know which phone number is ringing, business voicemail message and greeting, voicemail to text, and auto voicemail during non-business hours. You can pick a new Sideline phone number and port numbers from a burner number, Google number, Smartline, Line2, or other services.
Sideline is available for a seven-day free trial, after which you can subscribe to a contract-free monthly or yearly plan costing $10 per month, $50 for six months, or $100 per year.
If you have a personal Google account, Google Voice will give you a phone number for calling, text messaging, and voicemail that you can use with your smartphone or computer. It will even sync across devices for on-the-go-connections and message management. The app automatically filters out spam and blocks designated numbers. You can arrange personalized settings for forwarding calls, text messages, and voicemail. All communications are stored and backed up so you can easily search your history.
Google Voice provides advanced voicemail transcriptions that you can read in the app or have sent to your email. The app lets you call international destinations at competitive rates without extra charges from your carrier for international minutes. Google Voice calls are placed via the app’s access number and use your own standard minutes from your cell plan. Google Voice only works for personal Google Accounts in the U.S. and G Suite accounts in some markets. Text messaging is not supported in all markets.
With Flyp you are in control of your smartphone life and can use the app to effectively separate work and personal calls. Flyp lets you add up to five U.S. phone numbers to your existing phone in any local area code you choose. You can also send and receive unlimited calls, texts, photos, and GIFs to and from any U.S. phone number and to any international Flyp phone number. You can restrict incoming calls to whomever you want and set Do Not Disturb messages for any of your numbers. This is a great option if you want to manage all your calls, texts, and voicemails from a single app.
The first number you add is free for 7 days, but costs $8 per month thereafter. Each additional number costs $8 per month.
If you need multiple phone numbers on your smartphone for international conversations between mobile and landline, Cloud SIM — which offers numbers from the U.S., U.K., Canada, and Poland — may be the answer. The service offers low cost and free rates for calls or text SMS without additional or roaming charges, lets you choose your connection type, and lets you set up your call via either local access (GSM), mobile data, or Wi-Fi. That way you never have to worry about bad reception or dropped calls to some 200 countries.
Cloud SIM facilitates receiving texts and calls to your new number, free text chat between phones worldwide while using Wi-Fi or data, sharing pictures, and using local access from your free minutes while you travel or have no internet. It offers dedicated voicemail for each separate mobile number. You can buy up to four virtual numbers.
Burner gives you a second line for calling, texting, and picture messaging for routine interactions. It works by intercepting calls on your Burner and routing them to your cell phone so no one can see your real number. You can call, text, and manage contacts from within the app and treat it as a long term second phone number for your business or outside projects. You can create a disposable phone number for dating, sales, deliveries, shopping, or selling items on Craigslist. Integrations with Dropbox, Google Drive, and Slack allow you to archive messages and voicemails, or communicate with your team.
You can create multiple phone numbers, keep them as long as you want — or burn them anytime. Share your Burner with anyone while keeping your new number secret for anonymous texting. Burner is free to download and comes with a seven-day free sample number. Additional phone numbers are available through in-app purchase or subscription. You can use Burner via a prepaid plan or subscription and can change your plan at any time in the U.S. or Canada, except Puerto Rico. Burners are free for a trial period only and area code availability varies.
Say you’re looking for a full-featured business phone system in addition to your personal phone number, consider 2ndLine, which operates in the U.S. and Canada. The app lets you call and message from a separate number on the devices you and your employees own, either via Wi-Fi or your existing cellular network.
You can choose a local phone number with unlimited text and picture messaging, unlimited phone calling, and cheap international calling. It offers frills like emojis, stickers and GIFs. You also get voicemail transcription, caller ID, call forwarding, customizable text and ringtones, quick reply, plus you can add your own signature to each text. Passcode functionality lets you keep all calls and messages private.
Be anonymous, keep conversations private, and burn numbers once you’re done with them — Hushed not only provides you with a second smartphone number, it offers local numbers for more than 60 countries worldwide, including the U.S., Canada, U.K., Australia, Spain, Mexico, and Brazil. This additional phone number works for private calls and texts, letting you camouflage your caller ID, and then burn the numbers when you’re finished with them.
The app provides full talk, text (SMS), and picture messaging (MMS) capabilities. You get unlimited calling and texting in North America. Each number features custom voicemail greetings, auto reply messages, call forwarding, and call routing. You can access your account on any device connected to Wi-Fi or data — and even use your tablet as a phone. The app offers Flexible Prepaid for 7, 30, 90, or 365 days as well as pay-as-you-go plans and you can extend, delete, or top up numbers at any time. Try out the app with a free U.S. or Canada three-day trial, which includes up to 20 SMS or 20 minutes of free texting and calling — no contracts or verification. Local calling is available on all Hushed numbers with SMS and MMS available in some countries. International calling and SMS is available on selected 30-day international plans.
Numflix is for folks who need to communicate but do not want to reveal their private information to vendors and strangers. The app gives you real phone numbers with functionality that includes voice calls, texts, voicemails, reverse caller ID lookup, and call recordings. The app creates numbers on demand with a few taps. Straightforward to use with a familiar interface, the app uses the infrastructure of top tier carriers.
Right now, you can create numbers with U.S. and Canada country codes only. Support for more country codes will be added in the future. In addition to the on demand packages, the app also has monthly subscription options that feature heavy discounts, with prices ranging from $2 to $5 per month.