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Softphones vs Hand Phones: A Buyer’s Guide


When it comes to choosing the right phones for your business the first step is evaluating your needs. Your business’ mobility, reliability and functionality requirements are all things to take into consideration.

But, when you start looking for the right business phones, you’ll see that there is a wealth of options on the market, including softphones and hand phones. With so many alternatives available, it is important to fully understand what each phone has to offer and how it can help your business run more efficiently and effectively.

Softphones vs Hand Phones: A Quick Comparison

A softphone is simply a software application that allows users to make calls over the Internet. Instead of using a traditional phone to make calls, you can make and receive calls over your laptop or any other smart device. Softphones tend to be appealing for a few reasons; they are affordable, highly flexible, and offer a variety of advanced features.

A hand phone, or a desk phone, is your standard hand-held phone. Many people prefer the traditional use of handheld phones because they are already familiar with how to use them.

There are many advantages to softphones, the most appealing being that they are very affordable. Since there isn’t any hardware or equipment involved, installation is quick and easy and typically doesn’t cost a thing.

In addition, the mobility that this allows users is a great selling point. Softphones can make and receive calls from anywhere, provided there is Internet access. This comes in handy if you work from home or travel often. You have the flexibility to access your softphone wherever you are, so you never miss a call.

Adversely, there are drawbacks. Being that your softphone operates using Internet connection, any loss of connection or lack of bandwidth will directly impact the ability to use your phone. Operating your softphone in a public location may slow down the connection and create poor call quality or even dropped calls.

Desk phones do not offer the same mobility as softphones. But depending on your phone system, you can often forward calls to an alternate number or device after hours. Many users prefer desk phones because they are just that – hand-held phones. This type of phone is often used in conference room or reception desk settings.

What Are My Softphone Options?

When it comes to softphone providers, you have many options to choose from. Here are a few of the most popular softphone providers on the market today:

Avaya currently offers both softphones and handphones. While their handphones offer a wide variety of features for users and management, they do tend to involve a more complex setup process.

The Avaya IP Softphone, which is compatible with any PC or laptop running a Microsoft Windows operating system, offers a host of helpful features. This softphone provides users with a personal contact directory, call history log, speed dialing, name look-up in the contact directory, Microsoft Outlook, and even Click to Dial from web pages (within the Microsoft Internet Explorer browser).

The Bria Stretto, manufactured by Counterpath, can be used on a range of devices, including laptops, desktop computers, tablets and smartphones. The desktop version that is available for Mac and Windows offers voice and HD calls, Instant Messaging, Company Chat rooms and multiple account integration. The mobile version offers many of the same features.

Skype for Business
The Skype for Business plan offers IM, video and audio calling, online meetings and sharing. Using Outlook, you have the power to schedule meetings and start conversations from various apps like Word and PowerPoint. You can host meetings with up to 250 people. Managers can control employee accounts and pick and choose the features necessary.

The Acrobits Softphone allows you to download a SIP Client on your mobile phone, enabling you to hook into your office’s phone system. This application provides users with a number of features, including video calling, push notifications, and more.

While the Acrobits Softphone is a popular option for many users, there have been noted problems with the voice quality. In addition, it does not have all the features that many businesses use, such as call transfer.

WebRTC is a free, open project that provides users with real-time communications capabilities via simple APIs. The WebRTC softphone can be accessed using nothing but your Internet browser. Developers can easily revise the code that comprises this softphone, making user access to the latest version readily available.

The WebRTC softphone allows audio and video streams through commons browsers such as Firefox, Internet Explorer or Chrome . However, it has been reported that there is a significant lag time between the audio and video streams.

What Are My Hand Phone Options?

There are a lot of desk phone providers on the market; but, Polycom and Cisco are two of the most popular.

Polycom prides itself on its ability to deliver revolutionary sound quality, broad interoperability, and easy to use business-class desk phones. These phones require little maintenance, and they have proven to be consistent when it comes to performance and reliability. Since the phone configures itself once plugged in, the installation process is quick and easy.

Cisco hand phones are also a popular choice. This provider offers a full line of desk phones, ranging from entry-level phones with basic functionality, like the Cisco® Unified SIP Phone 3905, to the more advanced Cisco® IP Phone 8800.

But, they are not as much of a “plug and play” option as the Polycom model. Because most Cisco hand phones require more work to install, they can cost more in terms of training and implementation.

Softphones vs Hand Phones: Which One Is Right for You?

When it comes to choosing phones for your business, there is no easy answer. In order to pick the right phone, you must first make a list of your business’ specific communications needs, and then shop for providers who offer a solution that can cater to those requirements.

The softphone and hand phone providers listed above are a great place to start looking for the right phone solution for your company.

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