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Best Business Phone Systems 2016

We know that different businesses have diverse needs in phone systems. We researched and reviewed dozens of phone systems and came up with the ones we think are best for a variety of business types. Here is a roundup of our best picks and an explanation of how we chose them.

Ready to choose a business phone system? Here's a breakdown of our complete coverage:

8x8 offers everything a small business would want in a phone system. The service is a cloud-based voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) system that doesn't require expensive PBX hardware or a trained IT staff to set up and maintain. All that's needed is high-speed Internet access and IP phones. The service was among the most reliable we found and comes complete with all the features and tools a small business needs in a phone system. Additionally, the level of customer support was among the best we found.  [Go here for a full review of 8x8's business phone system.]

Editor's Note: Looking for a phone system for your business? If you need information to help you choose the one that's right for you, use the questionnaire below to have our sister site, BuyerZone, provide you with information from a variety of vendors for free:

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Ooma Office is designed specifically for very small businesses. The system, which works for businesses with fewer than 20 employees, can be set up in minutes and requires no special wiring or phones. The system includes a variety of features that allow small offices to present themselves in a professional manner, such as an auto- receptionist, ring groups and voicemail-to-email. All of this comes at a monthly price that most other providers can't match. [Go here for a full review of the Ooma Office business phone system.]

RingCentral Professional is specifically designed for businesses with on-the-go employees. The service connects business phone lines to mobile workers on their cell and home phones. While other providers also offer this service, few do so with such a wide range of features — including a mobile app and the use of a "softphone" on the employee's computer — for such a low cost. [Go here for a full review of RingCentral's Professional service.]

Nextiva offers what businesses running a call center need most: reliability. The system has a documented uptime of 99.999 percent in the last year, the highest of any VoIP phone service provider we examined. Also impressive, the Nextiva system can serve your entire business, not just your call center team. The call center plan is a service that's tacked on to Nextiva's general office phone service. Between the two plans, you have access to nearly any feature you could think of, all for a highly competitive price. [Go here for a full review of Nextiva's call center phone system.]

To determine the best business phone systems, we started by listing all of the vendors that have good reputations online (i.e., services that other websites favorably and consistently reviewed). Then, we interviewed small business owners to discover new systems to add to our list.

We ultimately settled on 16 phone systems to consider as best picks. They were: 8x8, AT&T, Avaya, Cisco, Fonality, Grasshopper, Jive, Mitel, Nextiva, Ooma Office, Phone.com, Phone Power, RingCentral, ShoreTel, Switch.co and Vonage. (See full list of business phone systems and their websites below)

Next, we researched each provider by investigating its services, watching tutorials and how-to videos, and reading user comments. We also considered the pricing available on these services' websites. After narrowing down the list to 10 contenders, we contacted each company's customer service department and posed as new business owners to gauge the type of support each provider offered its users.

Our process involves putting ourselves in the mind-set of a small business owner and gathering the data that would be readily available to such an individual. We perform all of our research by visiting company websites, making calls to customer service and interviewing real users.

We analyzed each system based on the following factors:

  • Cost
  • Level of service
  • Reliability
  • Customer service
  • Calling features
  • Computer integration
  • Mobile access
  • Ease of use

Here is a full list of business phone-system providers and a summary of what each company claims to offer. This alphabetical list also includes our picks for best services. [See Related Story: VoIP for Business: Why It Makes Sense]

1-VoIp – This VoIP service provider offers different plans based on the number of users a business has. The smallest plan accommodates up to five employees, while the largest one supports up to 100 users. Plans include digital call-forwarding, cellphone redirecting, extension monitoring, call parking, intercom service, call waiting, auto attendants, digital queues, custom on-hold music, voicemail, call recording and other features. The service provides businesses with the ability to create custom announcements and choose options to let callers know immediately when the office or store is closed for the night. 1-VoIP also offers SIP trunking services. 1-voip.com

3CX – 3CX Phone System for Windows is a software-based IP PBX that replaces a proprietary hardware PBX/PABX. 3CX's IP PBX has been developed specifically for Microsoft Windows and is based on the SIP standard. 3CX is available as a cloud-based or on-premise solution. 3cx.com

*8x8 – 8x8 is a hosted VoIP-based phone system that includes personalized voicemail, three-way calling, caller ID, call waiting, transfers, call forwarding and chat. The system offers an online dashboard to manage communications, with call history, voicemail notification and calling from a PC. 8x8 also provides auto attendants, corporate directories, on-hold music, conference bridges and ring groups. In addition, the service's mobile app allows staff members to manage their business communications from anywhere. Besides its traditional business phone systems, 8x8 also provides contact center services. 8x8.com. Read our full review here.

All Call Technologies – All Call Technologies is a virtual phone system. There is no equipment installed in your office and no changing of your current phone carrier. All Call Technologies virtual receptionist answers your calls with a professional greeting and gives callers the options they want. Outgoing greetings are professionally recorded with a male or female voice and programmed to your specifications. The Backup Attendant service takes calls only when your office lines are busy or not answered, while the Auto Attendant service plays a menu greeting immediately when someone calls. There is also an Entrepreneur and Partner plan that provides one, central phone number with extensions to reach you, your partners and staff via cell phones. allcalltechnologies.com

Allworx – Allworx provides a complete portfolio of VoIP systems, IP phones, network switches and advanced software options. Allworx is available to small and medium-sized businesses through a network of more than 1,000 independent resellers in the U.S., Canada and Latin America. The company also offers Windstream IP Simple, a managed monthly subscription service that combines Allworx with VoIP and data services from Windstream. allworx.com

AT&T – AT&T Business in a Box is a VoIP solution for small businesses and satellite locations that provide the benefits of advanced voice and data technology, without the complexity of having to manage it. This solution enables voice and data services to work over a single network connection and device. The company also offers AT&T Unified Communications Voice, a cloud-based IP telephony solution that offers a rich range of easy-to-use, high-quality voice features, as well as contact-center solutions. business.att.com

Avaya – Avaya's contact center and unified communications technologies and services are available in a wide variety of flexible on-premise and cloud-deployment options. These also integrate with non-Avaya applications. Avaya's Communicator lets employees access instant-messaging tools, voicemail, conferencing and video. The Avaya systems, which support up to 3,000 users, also offer mobile options that allow employees to access voice and video communications from mobile devices. avaya.com

Axvoice – Axvoice is a cloud-based system designed for independent entrepreneurs, and single-office and home-office professionals. The service has more than 30 inbound and outbound calling features, including caller ID, caller ID blocking, music on hold, simultaneous ringing, do-not-disturb options, call filtering and anonymous call rejection. In addition, the system allows employees to manage their voicemails via the Web. axvoice.com

Barracuda – TheBarracuda Phone System is a comprehensive VoIP solution designed for small and medium-sized businesses and midmarket companies. Because it includes every feature in every PBX box, the Barracuda Phone System doesn't charge for licensing on a per-user or per-feature basis. Features include call recording, call routing, an automated attendant, voicemail to email and electronic faxing. barracuda.com/products/phonesystem/index

Birch – Birch's TotalCloud PBX is an enterprise-class, cloud-hosted phone system that supports your entire workforce. With this system, you can transfer callers, put them on hold with music, set up conference calls or have the phone answered by an automated attendant who can direct callers to different departments. TotalCloud PBX allows you to route callers around the way you do business. birch.com

Booth – Booth's business phone system allows you to run your business through your cell phone. Booth works by purchasing or importing your current business phone number and creating call rules that allow you to route calls based around time of day, who's calling, or through our integrations platform. Through the integrations platform you can connect with software you already use, such as Google Calendar, and have calls sent to a voicemail, or a colleague, when you are in a meeting, or to your cell phone when available. Booth's other features include auto attendant greeting, business hour rules, and many more. trybooth.com

Broadview Networks – Broadview Networks' OfficeSuite platform is an easy-to-use, hosted phone system that unifies all communications in the cloud and requires no out-of-pocket expense for new equipment. It includes unlimited calling, common and advanced features, online fax service, HD video, audio and Web conferencing, toll-free phone numbers and service, as well as Internet access and multisite data-networking options. It also offers call center services and call-recording software. broadviewnet.com

Cisco – Cisco offers a variety of phone systems, including the Business Edition 6000. This purpose-built, all-in-one solution is designed for companies with 25 to 1,000 users. The service also provides a variety of computer-integrated programs to help businesses collaborate with customers and employees. In addition to the Business Edition 6000, Cisco offers a myriad of other unified communication and contact center solutions. cisco.com

Comcast – Comcast's business phone plans include a versatile service that can fit most business needs. The company offers basic lines, full-featured lines and voice mobility, which lets you take business calls wherever you work. Full-featured lines include unlimited local and long-distance calling, more than 20 features, and Web-based management. The Voice Mobility line allows you to automatically answer calls on all mobile devices and landlines and transfer calls between your mobile and office phones. business.comcast.com

Corvisa – Corvisa provides businesses with a single source for cloud communications solutions by combining contact-center software, business phone systems and connectivity services. Corvisa's business phone systems offer 100 percent Web-based administration. With the system's mobile app, users can access their Corvisa directories, dial by extension and listen to voicemail. Features include call handling, visual voicemail and call logs. corvisa.com

Dialpad– Dialpad, formerly Switch.co, is a cloud-based, business-grade phone system. Available on any device, anywhere, Dialpad includes voice, video, group messaging, SMS, MMS, conferencing, screen sharing, and document sharing, and is integrated with Microsoft Office 365 and Google Apps for Work. Features include a virtual receptionist, call forwarding, call recording and visual voicemail. dialpad.com

Digium – Digium's Switchvox offers both cloud-based and on-premise IP phone systems. Switchvox Cloud has the same feature set as the company's on-premise phone system, but without the worry of handling daily maintenance, or making large up-front capital investments. You get the control of an on-site solution, without the hassle of expensive add-on features or complicated licensing models. Switchvox's premises-based IP PBX provides an end-to-end unified communications solution with enterprise-class features. digium.com

ESI – ESI offers a wide range of cloud-based and on-premise phone systems for businesses of all sizes. Key features of its systems include Web-based administration, a mobile app, easy phone programming, presence management, visual voicemail, secure chat, click-to-call and automated help. esi-estech.com

eVoice – eVoice is a full-service business phone system managed entirely in the cloud. You select a toll-free or local business number and record a custom greeting with a menu of extensions. Then you decide where calls get routed and when. Your callers will see only your business number, no matter where you have the calls routed. Features include auto attendants, call logs, call queuing, call notification, call waiting, voicemail-to-email and voicemail transcription. evoice.com

Evolve IP – Evolve IP's phone systems free businesses from managing carriers, hardware and vendors, by providing a hosted PBX with unified communication features to any user, in any location. The phone system features group directories, three-way calling, call forwarding, overhead paging, unified messaging, hoteling and simultaneous rings. Evolve IP also offers hosted call-center services. evolveip.net

FacetCorp – FacetCorp's FacetPhone is a full-featured VoIP business phone system with unified communications and full mobile access. FacetPhone has all the features needed in a business phone system such as voicemail, auto-attendants and conference bridges. FacetPhone is an on-premise system that runs on either a Mac mini or a Linux server. facetcorp.com

FairPoint Communications – FairPoint Communications' Hosted PBX solution is a feature-rich phone system with mobile- and cloud-based services for businesses of any size. With FairPoint, companies can update user preferences and VoIP features quickly and easily to suit their business. All customer calls are routed over FairPoint’s secure Ethernet network for crystal-clear voice quality and reliable service. fairpoint.com

Fathom Voice – Fathom Voice provides a centralized enterprise-grade communication platform for small, medium and large businesses. The cloud PBX phone system requires only an Internet connection and works with or without physical phones. Features include voicemail-to-email, auto-attendants, online faxing, call monitoring, call recording, on-hold music, Salesforce click-to-call and call analytics. fathomvoice.com

Fonality – Fonality's business VoIP service and phone systems come bundled with the provider's unified communications software. The company offers a hosted PBX and hybrid PBX system. Fonality provides advanced features for office phones, like multiple auto attendants and call recording, as well as contact-center functionality like barge, whisper and monitor. The systems also include instant messaging, screen sharing, presence and video collaboration. fonality.com

FortiVoice – FortiVoice has options for businesses looking for traditional analog systems or VoIP systems. Both options offer a variety of features, including auto attendants, dial-by-name directories, music on hold, voicemail, voicemail to email, call logging and remote management. FortiVoice systems also allow for conference calls, call bridges, call waiting, call forwarding, call screening and caller ID routing. fortivoice.com

FreedomVoice – FreedomVoice provides cloud-based communications systems for small to midsized businesses nationwide. The company offers three different systems: CloudNumber, CloudPhone and CloudPBX. CloudNumber is a virtual service that routes calls to you immediately or provides you the ability to use a custom professional greeting to answer and route your calls for you. CloudPhone includes unlimited domestic local and long-distance calling. CloudPBX is a scalable, cloud-based business phone system that doesn't require any big-ticket hardware. Each phone is professionally installed, configured and supported by a certified local partner. freedomvoice.com

Frontier – Frontier offers VoIP-based phone systems with unlimited local and long-distance calling. Frontier's OneVoice system, designed for small business, features voicemail, caller ID, wall waiting, call forwarding, call hunting, and selective call acceptance and rejection. business.frontier.com

Grasshopper – Grasshopper is a virtual phone system that lets you run your business via mobile phones. Grasshopper works with your existing mobile and home phones so you never have to purchase, install or maintain expensive phone hardware. The system works by allowing you to create and customize extensions that forward calls to your home or mobile phones. For both a local and national presence, you can have toll-free and local numbers for your business. Other features include an auto-receptionist, music on hold, conference calling, call forwarding, call screening, voicemail and fax to email. grasshopper.com

Handility – Handility is a full-featured cloud-based phone system. There is no equipment to purchase, maintain or upgrade. Handility offers both unlimited-usage plans, as well as pay-as-you-go plans. Phone systems can be configured via a Web interface, with drag-and-drop objects being logically connected together to define the operation of your phone system. No special skills or training are required. Features include the ability to forward calls to any phone number or VoIP destination, play back custom recorded messages to callers, send calls to a voicemail box, host conference calls, and implement time and caller-routing scenarios. handility.com

Jive – Jive small business phone systems are VoIP-based and offer high-end features at a more affordable price point. The phone system includes more than 100 features, such as auto attendants, call monitoring, conferencing, corporate directories, custom greetings, on-hold music, dial-by-name and dial-by-extension options, call forwarding, call waiting, and caller ID. The service also offers unlimited extensions, conference bridges, speed dialing, message-waiting indicators, individual call logs, voicemail-to-email and virtual faxing. jive.com

MegaPath – MegaPath offers nationwide voice solutions for single-site and multisite businesses, including hosted voice over IP with unified communications, SIP trunking, PRI trunking and analog lines. MegaPath's voice and unified communications services include advanced features like find me/follow me and visual voicemail, as well as SMS texting, instant messaging/presence, video calling and screen sharing. megapath.com

MightyCall – MightyCall is a cloud-based virtual phone system designed to simplify and improve customer access to support. With its mobile app, MightyCall consolidates client contact channels and captures ever customer call, email and social media interaction, ensuring that every issue is handled in a timely fashion. Key features include SMS contact, a direct website dialing widget, smart call forwarding, customized voicemails and call recording. mightycall.com

Mitel – Mitel business phone systems cover a range of digital and IP phones, consoles, conference phones, and peripherals suited for businesses of all sizes and industries. The company's MiVoice unified communications platform offers a complete range of flexible communications platforms. These range from modular on-premise solutions to a single, cloud-ready software stream that supports a variety of deployment models. Mitel also offers several contact-center solutions. mitel.com

Moneypenny – Moneypenny is a personal answering service. When someone calls your business number, if you're unavailable or simply don't want to answer the call yourself, the call is passed on to a Moneypenny receptionist. The receptionist can then transfer the call either to you or a colleague. If no one is available to take the call, the receptionist sends you a text or email alerting you that you have a message waiting. Features of the service include toll-free numbers, local numbers, a bypass list and online portal. moneypenny.com/us

*Nextiva – The Nextiva cloud-based VoIP phone system is an all-inclusive unified communication solution designed for businesses of all sizes. Nextiva's phone systems offer unlimited calling, conference calling, free local and toll-free numbers, voicemail, on-hold messaging, silent monitoring capabilities, and other features. The system also provides a mobile app that gives a business's employees the option of using the system's voice, video and instant-messaging capabilities straight from their mobile devices. In addition to its traditional business phone systems, Nextiva offers virtual phone systems and contact-center solutions. The call center plan includes call-queue visibility, free auto-attendant recording and one-click transfers. nextiva.com. Read our full review here.

OnSIP – With OnSIP, a hosted business phone system, there's no equipment to manage, and it's easy to set up. With a few clicks, you can add a phone number, users, phones, voicemail boxes and more to your account. OnSIP offers more than 50 phone-system features, hundreds of configuration options and the freedom to use any standard SIP phones. The company offers two pricing plans. Under the pay-as-you-go plan, businesses pay only for the features they need and the calls they make. The Per Seat Metered plan gives each employee his or her own voicemail box, auto attendant, ACD queue and ring group. onsip.com

*Ooma Office – Ooma Office provides small businesses with VoIP phone systems that don't require the purchase of special IP phones. Ooma's system can accommodate up to 20 users. The service includes unlimited calling in the United States and Canada, caller ID, a virtual receptionist, extension dialing, voicemail, call transfers, and a call log. Ooma also offers modes for after hours, ring groups, music on hold, conference bridges, voicemail forwarding and call forwarding. ooma.com/business. Read our full review here.

Phone.com – Phone.comis a cloud-based phone system. Service plans include online account management, unlimited extensions, advanced call routing, conference calling, custom greetings, caller analytics, voicemail and online management. Phone.comalso offers iOS and Android mobile apps that allow employees to place and receive calls, get text notifications, listen to voicemails, and forward calls while out of the office. Upgraded options include call recording, on-hold music and voicemail transcription. phone.com

Phonebooth – Phonebooth is a division of Bandwidth.com, Inc., a nationwide supplier of voice and data-communication services to small and medium-size businesses. Phonebooth OnDemand is a full-featured business-phone system. Pay for as many users as needed and add users as you grow. Businesses get unlimited local and long-distance calling, with a range of business features, including auto-attendants, voice-to-email transcriptions, conference calling and call forwarding. phonebooth.com

Phone Power – Phone Power provides small businesses with VoIP-based phone systems. The service provides three-way calling, call forwarding, anonymous call rejection, call logs, call waiting, caller ID and caller ID block, virtual faxing, and the ability to keep existing numbers. Additional highlights of Phone Power's business phone systems are its online call-management system, online dashboard, block lists, voicemail-to-email options, and iPhone and Android mobile apps. phonepower.com

*RingCentral – With a RingCentral cloud phone system, you plug IP desk phones and PCs into your Internet connection and install the RingCentral Mobile App on your employees' smartphones. These endpoints communicate with the RingCentral cloud platform for secure voice, fax, text, audio conferencing and HD video meetings. Service plans come with unlimited calling and online faxing in the United States and Canada. RingCentral offers small businesses conference calling, call forwarding, call screening, paging, call logs, missed-call notifications, music on hold, an auto receptionist and more. In addition, the online account-management system lets businesses control extensions, mobile devices, call logs and voicemail. Besides its office plans, RingCentral also provides contact center solutions and virtual phone systems for employers with mobile workforces. ringcentral.com. Read our full review here.

ShoreTel – With ShoreTel, small businesses have the option of using a cloud-based, on-premise system that runs via the company's IP network, or a hybrid of both. ShoreTel Connect Cloud offers an auto attendant, full conferencing capabilities, instant messaging, video chat, call blocking, caller ID, call transfers and other features. In addition, the cloud-based system provides for monitoring, so managers can listen in on their employees' calls if needed. ShoreTel also offers contact-center phone systems. shoretel.com

Telzio – Telzio provides cloud based phone systems with voice, mobile, SMS, fax, and conferencing solutions for small and medium-size businesses. The phone system works with a standard Internet connection and any SIP-compatible IP phone or softphone. Telzio's various plans include call forwarding, custom call flows, interactive voice response, opening-hours filters, conference calls and on-hold music. The plans also offer local and toll-free numbers, call screening, voicemail, caller ID, call logs and the ability to keep your current phone number. telzio.com

Toshiba – Toshiba offers small business on-premise and cloud-based VoIP phone systems. The systems vary based on the number of users each business has, with the largest plan able to manage up to 1,000 users. The system offers basic calling features, including caller ID, extension numbers, call transfers, customized voicemail and customized call-hold messages. Some plans provide text-to-speech, an auto attendant, voice response options and other advanced features. Toshiba also offers mobility and contact-center solutions. telecom.toshiba.com

Velis4 – Velis4 is a provider of hosted VoIP, SIP trunking and call-center phone systems. Among the features the systems offer include auto attendants, voicemail to email, call recording, unified messaging, call waiting and three-way calling. Velis4's most advanced system also offers music on hold, simultaneous ringing and Microsoft Outlook integration. velis4.com

Verizon – Verizon offers VoIP phone systems, unified communications systems and contact-center services. Its VoIP portfolio includes IP Trunking, IP Integrated Access, Virtual Communications Express and Business Connection services. The company can help integrate your voice and data traffic and provide a platform for layering networking products to support Unified Communications and Collaboration (UC&C) solutions. verizonenterprise.com

Virtual PBX – VirtualPBX's product offerings include hosted VoIP, disaster recovery and phone/fax/email integration. The company's office plans are based on the number of lines needed. This service offers unlimited minutes and extensions, local and toll-free numbers, virtual receptionists, dial-by-name directories, virtual faxing, music on hold, information on hold, day and night modes, and a Web-based management system. It also offers small businesses call blocking, supervised call transfers and multistage dialing. virtualpbx.com

VoIPX – VoIPX is a cloud-based phone system and service provider located in New York that provides service to customers across the United States. The system includes more than 50 standard features, including auto attendant, follow me, call recording, call blocking, successive or simultaneous ringing, voicemail-to-email and customized on-hold music. In addition, each customer receives a free phone when they sign a contract with VoIPX. The company has a 24/7 U.S.-based customer support team. voipxpbx.com

Xblue – Xblue digital and VoIP phone systems come install-ready. Features like hold, call transfer, conferencing and intercom are already set up and ready to use when you first turn on your new system. Even voicemail is ready to receive messages at every phone as soon as the phone is connected to the system. XBLUE X16, X-25 & X-50 VoIP Systems are hybrids, because they support both standard telephone company lines and Internet-based VoIP lines. The two types of lines can be used at the same time. The company also offers cloud VoIP line service with no contracted period and no early termination fee. xbluenetworks.com

Zultys – Zultys is an all-in-one IP business-phone system that integrates voice, video, data and mobility. The company offers both cloud-based on on-premise phone systems. Zultys MXvirtual is a fully integrated, unified communication solution and IP phone system that integrates voice, video, data and mobility, to optimize collaboration and communications for businesses of all sizes. The MX250 IP phone system is a feature-rich enterprise-class business IP telephony system that supports high-quality VoIP and unified communications services for up to 250 users, while the MX-SE is an IP phone system that enables VoIP and unified communications services for up to 50 users in a smaller office or branch location environment. zultys.com

Are you a business phone system provider that would like to be added to this list and possibly considered for our next round of reviews? Please feel free to contact Jeanette Mulvey at jmulvey@purch.com

Editor's Note: Looking for a phone system for your business? If you need information to help you choose the one that's right for you, use the questionnaire below to have our sister site, BuyerZone, provide you with information from a variety of vendors for free:

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Chad  Brooks
Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based freelance writer who has nearly 15 years experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.