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Best business phone systems of 2021

Business phone system put on hold by hand
(Image credit: Getty Images)
PRICE
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID

The best business phone systems make setting up and managing a corporate phone system a doddle. The very best business phone systems however, work for both employees in the office and those attending business duties remotely, since business is always on the go. 

Aside from flexibility and convenience, find out the other perks to owning an office phone system with our article: 7 reasons you still need a business phone system.

The move to cloud services has revolutionized business phone systems, allowing small businesses to have access to telecoms features normally only available to enterprises. 

Powered by VoIP services using HD calling, these business phone systems have completely replaced legacy PBX systems for many businesses. Additionally, the rise in the use of business smartphones means these can also now be added to a modern cloud-based businesses phone system, employing BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) features though take note to apply Mobile Device Management (MDM) solutions for added security. 

The result is a feature-rich enterprise-grade solution which is available to any size business, small or large, and offers the flexibility to cater for office or home working.

On top of all this, cloud-based phone systems offer unprecedented levels of software integrations and analytics, allowing you to maximize communications across your phone system. This also makes it easier to discover actionable insights into the customer journey and customer behavior, as well as making it simpler for sales and support to engage with customers.

Here we feature the best business phone systems, both for the modern office as well as for remote workers.

(Image credit: RingCentral)

1. RingCentral Office

The best business phone system

Reasons to buy
+Simple to use+Good compatibility+Many features+Advanced options

RingCentral Office is an all-in-one cloud platform for calls, audio conferencing, online fax, and SMS. It's a powerful but flexible system that allows you to use most any mobile device to run as a softphone, and there's good compatibility with a range of existing PBX phone hardware.

As expected, there is a comprehensive set of features included as standard, including call logging, monitoring, recording, and online faxing. It also offers HD voice and audioconferencing through mobile devices, as well as team collaboration through screen sharing and HD video for both tasks as well as video conferencing.

The central contact center features omnichannel routing, CRM software integrations, agent management tools, as well as actionable analytics. There are also integrations available for a large number of apps, including SalesForce, Microsoft 365, Zoho, Zendesk, Oracle and more.

Pricing depends on the number of users and number of features required, with the best deals available when there are more than two users. There are also option to include the developer network which allows access to APIs to make for a truly integration phone system.

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(Image credit: Ooma Office)

2. Ooma Office

Affordable business phone system

Reasons to buy
+Easy to set up+Great value+Good functionality

Ooma Office is an internet-based business phone service which aims to deliver a big business phone experience to small businesses.

Ooma might not be overflowing with the kind of bells and whistles you might find with some VoIP services, but it presents itself as a solution for smaller firms with tighter budgets, and is positioned very well in this respect.

There is a lot of functionality provided for a relatively modest outlay per user per month. There’s no fuss – you get all the features with that one subscription plan – and what’s more the system is easy to set up and get going with.

Naturally, you don’t get everything compared to the feature-sets of the more costly rivals out there, and the most notable missing piece of the puzzle is a lack of CRM software integrations.

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(Image credit: GoToConnect)

3. GoToConnect

The best for a wide range of telephony features

Reasons to buy
+End-to-end encryption+Same features for each tier+CRM integration
Reasons to avoid
-Does not include cloud storage

With all of the VoIP solutions featured in this guide, there is a multitude of different features on offer, depending on the particular pricing plan that businesses decide to go for. What makes GoToConnect so impressive is the sheer number of features available, with the platform offering businesses more than 100 calling, collaboration, and mobile features and tools, as well as several video conferencing services.

All of the general features, including custom call routing, team-based call distribution, as well as time-based and geolocation routing, are included, and customers also have access to personal meeting rooms.

Advertising itself as a UCaaS solution, businesses don’t need to install any new equipment and GoToConnect will handle all maintenance and upgrades. That being said, the company does recommend that customers have a business-standard router, an Ethernet switch capable of Quality of Service, and a firewall configured to allow access to HTTP, HTTPS, and UDP traffic on their network.

Interestingly, unlike most VoIP service providers, GoToConnect does not charge businesses more for additional features. Instead, the company’s pricing plan varies based on how many employees a business has. Prices range from $29.95 per user, per month for customers with between one and four users, to as little as $19.95 per user, per month for businesses with between 50 and 99 users. All pricing plans come with access to the majority of GoToConnect’s tools, and bespoke pricing plans are available for businesses with more than 100 members of staff.

Among the available features are Cloud PBX, custom hold music, call management, advanced ring strategies, and one-click screen sharing. Of course, more features do mean a greater potential for things to go wrong, but GoToConnect also offers extensive email and call support should any issues arise.

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(Image credit: Aircall)

4. Aircall

VoIP call center and CRM solution

Reasons to buy
+Strong focus on CRM+Easy call center setup+Lots of integrations

Aircall is another cloud-hosted business phone system solution, which can be set up with just a few clicks. This then provides your business with a complete communications center solution for calls, video conferencing, and messaging from the web, desktop, or mobile. 

Aircall also makes it very easy to set up a call center in minutes, and so includes a wide range of CRM, help desk, and productivity functions to both support this, as well as improve how your sales and support teams handle calls, not least in terms of transferring them as well as approaching customers. And, as expected, there's an analytics suite to help gauge efficiency and track KPIs in workflows and look for ways to improve them.

Because Aircall looks beyond Unified Communications and toward CRM solutions as well to better provide for sales and support teams, it also provides a large number of integrations, not least SalesForce, Zendesk, Hubspot, Zoho, Freshdesk, and Slack. 

Pricing depends on the range of services required. However, note that a minimum of three users is required to operate this service.

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(Image credit: 8x8)

5. 8x8 X Series

The phone system for small and medium business

Reasons to buy
+Full-feature basic plan+Basic plan price competitive
Reasons to avoid
-Enterprise plans very expensive

The 8x8 X Series cloud-powered business phone system offers a feature-packed bundle that means even with the most basic plan, you still have a comprehensive set of services as you'd expect with a ful-blown business PBX system.

The starter tier, known as 8x8 Express offers a basic set of phone features that includes all aspects of call handling such as caller ID, call forwarding, call queues, and ring groups, as well as an advanced auto-attendant. Other features at this level include team messaging, voicemail, and voicemail transcriptions, as well as integration with Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace. 

The X Series X2 plan really stands out as being very accessible for small and medium businesses, offering almost everything they might require, with the sole omission of Interactive Voice Response (IVR), but otherwise delivering on most of the features they are likely to need. This is also a very price-competitive plan compared to rivals, though the enterprise plans may be another issue.

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(Image credit: Avaya)

6. Avaya OneCloud

The cost-effective and scaleable VoIP suite

Reasons to buy
+Strong suite of features+Scaleable Unified Communications+Configurable options

Avaya OneCloud is the latest unified communications offering from Avaya, succeeding the previously successful IP Office platform and expanding its current Avaya IX Workplace and Contact Center range.

The service aims to create a truly scaleable solution using whichever cloud solution you're most comfortable with. For small and medium-sized businesses that are happy to rely on third-party suppliers, Avaya OneCloud can easily run through a public cloud, meaning that you receive continuous service and don't have to concern yourself with software upgrades or IT buy-ins.

For enterprise companies that already have a private or hybrid cloud service, a standard Avaya OneCloud can be setup, or else a customization solution according to needs under the OneCloud ReadyNow service. There's the option of setting up any required server hardware on premises, or else host it in one of Avaya's data centers.

Of course, Avaya OneCloud is more than just calls, and as a unified communications solution it means integrating all communications channels into a single system. Avaya have a solid track record in their expanded VoIP and UC service provisions, and the sheer scalability of the OneCloud solution has to be attractive.

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(Image credit: Microsoft)

7. Microsoft Teams Phone

The best for businesses using Microsoft Teams

Reasons to buy
+Robust integration with Microsoft 365+Strong mobile and desktop performance
Reasons to avoid
-Limited user capacity

Microsoft Teams Phone lets organizations make calls from any Windows, iOs, or Android device to anywhere in the world, leveraging the company’s cloud services to ensure high levels of reliability and good audio quality.

Microsoft Teams Phone works out to be very affordable if subscribers are already paying for Microsoft 365. It includes a cloud-based phone system with advanced features such as call transfer, multi-level auto attendants, and call queues, as well as 24/7 customer support. 

The major drawback for users of Microsoft Teams Phone is that it comes with a participant limit, depending on the plan. This is 100 for the free version, and 300 for the normal subscriptions. 

Nevertheless, if that’s not an issue, then Microsoft Teams Phone represents great value for businesses that already use Microsoft 365.


Brian Turner

Brian has over 30 years publishing experience as a writer and editor across a range of computing and technology titles, and has been interviewed multiple times for BBC News and BBC Radio. His specialty on Techradar is Software as a Service (SaaS) applications, covering everything from office suites to IT service tools. He is also a science fiction and fantasy author, writing as Brian G Turner.