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Best small business phone systems 2021 – TechRadar

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Not so long ago businesses used landline connections to communicate, systems which took up a lot of space and were laborious to set up and maintain. Now, though, we have VoIP.

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP, for short) is a cloud-based phone service that utilizes the internet to make calls. It uses a digital signal that is then converted to reach regular cell phones and landline phones. What this does is essentially replace a traditional PBX (private branch exchange) system with something a lot more convenient and user-friendly. 

While you could opt for a VoIP business plan from your traditional mobile operator, it’s generally a much better idea to look for dedicated providers that offer the best VoIP providers. These plans tend to be a lot more economical. 

In this article, we’ll take a look at the best VoIP-based small business phone systems and help you discover the best VoIP provider for your business.

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Nextiva is the best cloud-based phone system for small businesses (Image credit: Nextiva)

1. Nextiva

The best cloud-based phone system for small businesses

Specifications

Pricing: From $20 per user/mo

Features: HD phone, app, team chat, conversational AI

Support: Live chat, knowledge base, ticketing

Reasons to buy

+Unlimited voice and video calls+Auto-attendant feature+Compatible with popular CRMs

Reasons to avoid

Three-year commitment for best prices

Nextiva, based in Scottsdale, Arizona, offers one of the most feature-rich VoIP services in the industry, used by over 150,000 businesses worldwide. It’s a great solution for businesses with physical office space but with most of their employees working from home. It’s especially useful for companies that are currently adapting to a work-from-home setup.

Nextiva works by offering its business customers hardware, such as cordless headsets and mobile smartphones, to buy or rent for their teams. Users can then access the Nextiva App to remotely use the same office numbers from the comfort of their homes. You can also set up VoIP infrastructure on your employees’ existing hardware using a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) system.

Nextiva has several features suitable for businesses of all stripes. These include unlimited voice and video calling on all plans, call queuing and forwarding, and an auto-attendant tool to greet callers and point them towards the right business departments. Nextiva also integrates seamlessly with CRMs like Salesforce and Hubspot.

The VoIP system provider offers four simple plans, starting with its Essential subscription, priced at $18.95/user/month, then going up to the Ultimate plan for $57.95/user/month. All plans offer unlimited voice and video calling, as well as an auto-attendant tool, voicemail notifications, and online fax features. 

Read our full Nextiva review.

nextiva homepage

RingCentral is a highly affordable VoIP service with unlimited messaging (Image credit: RingCentral)

2. RingCentral

Affordable cloud-based VoIP plans with unlimited messaging

Specifications

Pricing: From $19.99 / £7.99 per user/mo

Features: Integrated phone, video conferencing, and messages; RingCentral app

Support: Live chat, support case, app integration, knowledge base

Reasons to buy

+Unlimited messaging+HD audio and video conferencing+CRM integration and compatibility

Reasons to avoid

Limited entry-level plans

Founded in 1999, RingCentral offers a comprehensive cloud-based solution that caters to all business communication needs. Apart from offering some of the most feature-rich plans in the industry, RingCentral also gives users unlimited messaging via SMS and MMS, which is great if you want to send alerts to your customers or keep your team members apprised of the latest updates.

Naturally, the cloud-based system requires a good internet connection in order for it to work. But a great thing about RingCentral is how well it integrates with existing PBX hardware. Thanks to the high-quality technology used, the sound quality during voice calls is always crystal clear. The company also offers HD video and audio conferencing features as well as HD screen sharing. 

A few other features worth mentioning include call logging, monitoring, and recording. The service also enables you to send and receive faxes online. And the unlimited messaging feature is great for issuing automated text alerts, both internally and outside your business. As well as this, RingCentral offers great compatibility with services like Salesforce, Microsoft 365, Zoho, Zendesk, and Oracle. 

Plans are highly affordable, too. There are four subscriptions to choose from, starting with the Essentials plan at just $19.99/user/month. The next tier up is the Standard plan, priced at $24.99/user/month. Finally, we have the Premium and Ultimate plans for $34.99 and $49.99/user/month, respectively. Fees are calculated based on the number of toll-free minutes allowed per month, although things like text messaging, internal conferencing, and call recording remain unrestricted and totally free.

Read our full Nextiva review.

ooma office homepage

Ooma is a great hardware-based VoIP service provider (Image credit: Ooma)

3. Ooma Office

The ideal VoIP solution for traditional small businesses

Specifications

Pricing: From $19.99 per user/mo

Features: Mobile app, ring groups, video conferencing (Pro plan-only)

Support: Live chat, knowledge base, 24/7 phone

Reasons to buy

+Affordable rates+Excellent hardware+Unlimited local calling

Reasons to avoid

Not many extra features

Founded in 2003, Ooma Office has quickly grown to become a premier name in the business phone system space. It’s currently based in Silicon Valley, California. Ooma’s biggest asset is the excellent quality hardware it offers alongside its products. If you are a traditional business with physical office space, Ooma can supply you with desk phones to meet any communication requirements. 

Ooma Office is a great solution for smaller businesses with a tight budget that are dipping their toes into VoIP territory for the first time. It doesn’t have the bells and whistles that some of the other providers on this list offer, but Ooma’s simple yet efficient system allows you to transition smoothly from your existing PBX setup with no headaches and at a low cost. 

To its credit, Ooma Office isn’t an entirely hardware-based system. In fact, it offers excellent cloud-based services through its functional and intuitive app, which can turn any desktop or mobile device into a “softphone.” This allows you to migrate to Ooma’s environment without investing in any of its hardware, although that isn’t usually recommended. After all, the hardware is this provider’s greatest selling point. 

Ooma charges all users a flat rate of $19.95/user/month or $24.95/user/month. The costlier plan comes with extra features such as video conferencing, call recording, and downloadable software for your desktop. However, this does not include hardware costs. Any desk phones or other physical products need to be purchased separately for an affordable one-time fee. Each monthly subscription plan gets you free unlimited calling, a virtual receptionist, cheap international calling, and a toll-free number.

Read our full Ooma Office review.

Grasshopper voip homepage

Grasshopper is the best phone system for solo entrepreneurs and very small businesses  (Image credit: Grasshopper)

4. Grasshopper

The best provider for small teams and solo entrepreneurs

Reasons to buy

+Great for freelancers+No call limits

Reasons to avoid

No available hardwareLimited number of users

Grasshopper is a virtual phone service that offers a great solution for solo entrepreneurs and small businesses with their own hardware. If you don’t have the requirement or bandwidth to invest in a traditional VoIP system—which comes with its own associated hardware such as desk and mobile phones—Grasshopper is the perfect solution for you.

The service is especially popular among small-scale, fully remote businesses that have almost all of their staff working from home. By simply downloading the Grasshopper app on your laptop or smartphone, you will be able to use your device as a softphone and access features like business texting, call forwarding, automatic voicemail, and more.

Despite not offering its own hardware, Grasshopper comes with enough features to match any other VoIP service provider. It offers toll-free, vanity, and local numbers as well as essential tools like business texting, online faxing, custom voicemail, video conferencing, and more. These features are available across all plans and come in handy, even if you are a team of one. There are no limits on the number of calls you can make or receive, and 24/7 customer support is available.

Plans start at $26/month for the Solo offering, followed by the Partner plan at $44/month for three phone numbers, and the Small Business plan at $80/month for five numbers. These are flat rates billed annually, and each plan is limited to a set amount of users. You can also opt for a subscription that’s billed month-to-month if you’re not quite ready to make a yearly commitment, in which case the plans cost $29, $49, and $89 per month, respectively. 

Read our full Grasshopper review.

aircall homepage

Aircall is an excellent small business phone system with powerful CRM features (Image credit: Aircall)

5. Aircall

A CRM tool that doubles as a great business phone system

Reasons to buy

+Excellent CRM+Powerful analytics

Reasons to avoid

Very expensiveNo video calling

Aircall bills itself as a “cloud-based call center and phone system.” While other business phone systems offer a more general approach, Aircall specializes in customer relationship management and customer support. It provides you with all the necessary tools required to manage and serve your customer base, making it great for businesses that don’t want to invest in a separate CRM.

Aircall is currently used by over 6,000 businesses all over the world. It’s primarily popular among remote businesses following a work-from-home culture, but it can be used by organizations of all stripes looking to strike up a conversation. Aircall focuses strongly on customer relationship management and integrates well with tools like Salesforce and Hubspot. There’s voicemail personalization, audio conferencing, and a selection of apps for your desktop and smartphone. 

Aircall also features excellent analytics tools to measure the success of your customer campaigns. If you are looking for a business communication tool with a strong focus on customer support and help desk functionality, you can’t do much better than this provider. You can easily import the contact details of your customers from the platform of your choice and engage with them using the medium they are most comfortable with.

One thing to note, though, is that the specialized nature of this software and the added functionality make Aircall pretty expensive. Essential, Aircall’s starting tier, costs $32/user/month. This is followed by the Professional tier at $51/user/month. This plan assigns you an account manager who is there to support you at all times. Finally, a custom tier is available for enterprise-level businesses.

Read our full Aircall review.

dialpad homepage

Dialpad is an AI-powered communication suite for small businesses (Image credit: DialPad)

6. Dialpad

AI-based cloud communication suite great for remote working

Specifications

Pricing: From $14 / £12 per user/mo

Features: Call and routing, video conferencing (+ mobile app), voice intelligence

Support: Live chat, knowledge base

Reasons to buy

+AI-based resources+Auto-transcription feature+Unlimited calls and messaging

Reasons to avoid

Limited video conferencing features

Operational since 2011, Dialpad is an artificial intelligence-based cloud communication startup that takes your business phone system to a whole new level. Aside from offering the usual software and hardware resources that go hand in hand with any phone system, Dialpad also helps sales and marketing teams navigate the modern information marketplace.

Dialpad uses artificial intelligence to augment the calling experience. It does this by offering live prompts to helpful resources whenever a caller asks a question. It also helps sales and marketing representatives answer customer questions by providing access to much-needed information in real time. Moreover, each conversation is recorded and transcribed using AI so that you can focus on the conversation rather than on taking notes. These transcriptions can also be fed directly into CRM software like Hubspot or Salesforce.

All plans come with unlimited calls and messaging. Custom voicemail, auto-attendants, contact syncing, and hold queues are just some of the other features on offer. Dialpad also lets users access its video-calling tool, Uberconference, to host conference calls of up to 10 participants for 45 minutes. 

The provider offers three plans depending on the number of team members you need a license for. The Standard plan costs $15/user/month for at least one user if billed annually, followed by the Pro plan for $25/user/month, which requires a minimum of three users. For large-scale businesses with over 100 users, Enterprise plans are also available with variable custom pricing. 

Read our full Dialpad review.

More info about VoIP phones and providers

Looking to learn more about VoIP? Try these articles: How to choose a small business VoIP phone service gives advice for first-time buyers; our article Best VoIP phones reviews IP handsets for the small business and home office and you can always check our our latest VoIP phone reviews to find the best handsets or headsets for your team.

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