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Best Business Phone Systems 2015

Best Business Phone Systems 2015 Credit: Gajus/Shutterstock

We know that different businesses have diverse phone system needs. Our staff 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.

Editor’s Note: If you’re looking for 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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8x8 offers everything a small business would want in a phone system. What's most appealing is that it's a cloud-based Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) system, which means there is no need to purchase expensive equipment or have a trained IT staff on hand to set up and maintain the system. You just need high-speed Internet access and IP phones. In addition to being easy to use and set up, 8x8 offers a reliable service, outstanding customer support, and all the bells and whistles that the most robust phone systems offer. [Go here for a full review of 8x8's business phone system.]

Ooma Office is one of the only phone systems designed specifically for very small businesses. The system can be set up in just 20 minutes and requires no special wiring or phones. In addition to its ease of use, Ooma Office has a variety of features that allow small offices to present themselves in a very professional manner, such as an auto- receptionist, ring groups and voicemail-to-email capability. All of this comes at a price that most other providers can't match. [Go here for a full review of the Ooma Office business phone system.]

RingCentral provides what businesses with on-the-go employees need. The company's Professional service is designed to connect a business phone line to mobile workers on their cellphones or 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. While its customer service didn't live up to our expectations, the service's positives far outweigh those negatives. [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 also like that 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 the company's general office phone service. This saves money because you only have to purchase the call center services for those employees working in that part of the business. 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 a good reputation online (i.e., services that were favorably and consistently reviewed by other websites). Then, we interviewed small business owners to discover new ones to add to our list.

We ultimately settled on 13 phone systems to consider as best picks. They were: 8x8, AT&T, Avaya, Cisco, Grasshopper, Jive, Nextiva, Ooma Office, Phone.com, Phone Power, RingCentral, ShoreTel 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.

In all, we analyzed each service 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.

1-VoIp – This VoIP service provider offers different plans based on the number of users. The smallest plan can accommodate up to five employees, while the largest one supports more than 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 also provides businesses with the ability to create custom announcements and options to let callers know immediately when the office or store is closed for the night. 1-voip.com

*8x8 – 8x8 is a VoIP-based phone system that includes personalized voicemail, three-way calling, caller ID, call waiting, transfers, call forwarding and chat. The system also offers an online dashboard to manage communications, with call history, voicemail notification and calling from a PC. The system also provides auto attendants, corporate directories, options for 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. 8x8.com. Read our full review here.

All Call Technologies – All Call Technologies is a virtual receptionist for small and medium sized businesses. There is no equipment to buy, install or maintain. This system works with your current equipment and phone service provider. All Call Technologies Virtual Receptionist answers your calls with a professional greeting that gives your callers the options they want. Outgoing greetings are professionally recorded with a male or female voice and programmed to your specifications. There is also an Entrepreneur and Partner plan that provides one central phone number with extensions to reach you and your partners or staff cell phones. allcalltechnologies.com

AT&T – AT&T offers a host of phone systems for small businesses. The company's Synapse solution is an on-premise phone system for small businesses with up to 100 users. This office phone solution includes call transfers, an auto-attendant, and customizable hold and voicemail recordings. It also provides conferencing capabilities and unified messaging tools. AT&T's RingCentral Office@Hand is a cloud-based system that features conferencing, auto attendants, advanced call handling, multiple extensions, voicemail, dial-by-name directories, on-hold music, paging and toll-free numbers. att.com

Avaya – Avaya offers a variety of phone systems that allow for both voice and video communications. The system's basic calling features include call transfers, call holds, voicemail recordings and an auto-attendant. Avaya's one-X Communicator lets employees access instant messaging tools, voicemail, conferencing and video. The Avaya systems, which support up to 2,000 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 service allows a business' employees to manage their voicemails via the Web. axvoice.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 multi-site 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 small business phone system provides instant messaging, unified messaging, call transfers, auto attendants and customizable messages. Cisco's Business Edition 6000 can handle up to 1,000 users, and provides 1,000 mailboxes, so each employee has his or her own dedicated voicemail. This service also provides a variety of computer-integrated programs to help businesses collaborate with customers and employees. cisco.com

Comcast – Comcast's phone service is designed for businesses of any size. From Full-Featured Voice to Business VoiceEdge to PRI Trunks, Comcast offers a broad range of services that deliver crystal clear calling, packed with calling features. Among the features the company's cloud-based phone system offers include unified communications, HD calling, unlimited inbound, local and domestic long-distance calling, video calling, and a mobile app. business.comcast.com

Digium – Digium's Switchvox offers both cloud-based and on-premise IP phone systems. Switchvox Cloud has the same robust feature set as the company's on-premises phone system, but without the worry of handling daily maintenance, or making large upfront capital investments. With this option, you simply choose a monthly payment plan that best fits your business. Switchvox's premises-based IP PBX provides an end-to-end unified communications solution with enterprise-class features. You get the control of an on-site solution, without the hassle of expensive add-on features or complicated licensing models. digium.com

ESI – ESI offers a wide range of phone system options for businesses of all sizes. Its systems provide voice mail, automated attendants, caller-ID, call forwarding, conference calling, on-hold messaging and other features. ESI also offers network-based VoIP options. In addition, some plans allow businesses to incorporate cordless handsets. esi-estech.com

EvolveIP – EvolveIP's IP 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, unified messaging and simultaneous rings. EvolveIP 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, conference bridges, etc. FacetPhone is an on-premise system that runs on either a Mac mini or a Linux server. facetcorp.com

Fonality – Fonality provides unified phone systems and applications for growing businesses. Its customers are able to select the deployment, voice connectivity and payment options that best meet their needs. The many features offered include voicemail management and transcription, personalized call routing, mobile device integration, an auto-attendant, and a Web-based administration panel. 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. This system can handle up to 400 users. fortivoice.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

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, including 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 multi-site businesses, including hosted voice over IP with unified communications, SIP trunking, PRI trunking and analog lines. megapath.com

*Nextiva – Nextiva's phone systems combine voice, conferencing, email, messaging and other components of communication and store them on the cloud so they can always be accessed. Nextiva's small business solution offers conference calling, unified messaging, unlimited 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' employees the option of using the system's voice, video and instant messaging capabilities straight from their mobile devices. 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. The company offers two simple 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 voice mailbox, 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 five phone extensions and 15 virtual extensions. 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. Read our full review here.

Phone.com – Phone.com offers a VoIP-based phone system for small businesses. Service plans include unlimited extensions, advanced call routing, conference calling, custom greetings, caller analytics, voicemail and online management. Phone.com also allows businesses to connect the system to mobile devices so employees can 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 – RingCentral phone systems are VoIP based and work with traditional phones connected to analog telephone adaptors, phones made specifically for VoIP systems, mobile phones or headsets connected to computers. 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. ringcentral.com. Read our full review here.

ShoreTel – With ShoreTel, small businesses have the option of using a cloud-based or on-premise system that runs via the company's IP network. ShoreTel Sky, a cloud-based system, offers full conferencing capabilities, instant messaging, video chat, call blocking, holds, caller ID, call transfers and other features. The phones also notify you of any missed calls or any new voicemails. In addition, ShoreTel Sky's systems provide for monitoring, so managers can listen in on their employees' calls if needed. shoretelsky.com

Sonetel – Sonetel provides a free, global business phone system for small and medium businesses. It enables free internal voice and video calls worldwide and marries IP-telephony, mobile phones and regular telephony into a seamless, company-wide, global solution. sonetel.com

Telzio – Telzio is a VoIP phone system designed specifically for small businesses. 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 phone systems. The plans are based on the number of telephones each business needs, with the largest plan able to manage up to 1,000 phones. 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. Depending on the system, businesses also have the option of integrating their service with mobile devices. Additionally, some plans combine a business' computers with the system, which allows staff members to use their mice to dial, answer and transfer calls, without ever picking up the phone. telecom.toshiba.com

Velocity Network – Velocity Network's hosted VoIP business phone systems offer a variety of standard and premium features. Standard features include anonymous call rejection, call hold, call transfers, call waiting, extension dialing, three-way calling, voicemail, voice messaging to email and do-not-disturb options. The service also offers premium features, including call screening, priority alerts, selective call acceptance and rejection, push-to-talk intercom options, and the ability to connect with mobile devices. vel.net

Verizon – Verizon's Virtual Communications Express is a cloud-based phone system that includes unlimited local and nationwide long-distance calling, a robust feature set, IP phones, and a mobile app for smartphones. No annual contracts are required. verizonenterprise.com

Virtual PBX – Virtual PBX is a VoIP-based phone system offering plans based on the number of lines needed. This service offers unlimited minutes, local and toll-free numbers, free phones, 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, unique greetings for each phone number and multi-stage dialing. VirtualPBX additionally provides mobile apps for iOS and Android that allow employees to make and receive calls over their data connections. www.virtualpbx.com

Vonage – Vonage is a VoIP business phone solution. The company's various plans provide for internal extensions, call forwarding, voicemail to email, simultaneous rings, call screening, integration with Microsoft Outlook and other features. Vonage also offers telecommuting employees a number of tools, such as call continuity, cellphone integration and voicemail transcription. www.vonagebusiness.com

Editor’s Note: Looking for a phone system for your business? If you’re looking for 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:

buyerzone widget


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 Chad Brooks at cbrooks@purch.com.

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.