Softphones vs Deskphones – Which is Better for You?

Posted on: 2017-06-23 | Categories:SIP

The media is fond of putting opponents against each other in a fight. Whether it is people, tools or technologies. How often have you heard or read about the Windows vs Mac or Android vs iOS debate online? The actual answers to these questions are much more nuanced than what most people can see. What is right for you or your business depends on many variables.

But you don’t see such discussions or analysis from experts all the time. The correct and most relevant answer of ‘it depends’ doesn’t make for catchy headlines or pageviews. So yet again we have the oft repeated hosted VoIP vs SIP trunking debate in the telephony industry. Probably every industry has a few of its own ‘this vs that’ debate raging at any point. The end result is often a confused customer who has no clue if what they’re doing is right for them or not.

Softphones vs Deskphones?

So you’ve made the decision to switch to VoIP. You got rid of all your old, outdated equipment and are ready to try new technology. Now comes the big question – what kind of phones do you get? With analog PBX boxes, there’s not much of a choice. You have to have a deskphone to make or receive calls.

VoIP is more flexible than that. You don’t actually need a deskphone to make VoIP calls. Users can download software called softphones onto their computers to make VoIP calls. You can even have softphone clients for mobile devices like smart phones and tablets. All you need on the device is the softphone app and a data connection.

Of course you can also purchase and use dedicated deskphones for your business. These phones have to be compatible with the SIP standard (the most commonly used protocol for VoIP). Plug them in and you’re ready to go! Many models offer sophisticated hardware like extra large screens for video chat or high fidelity audio speakers/mics for better voice quality.

So What’s the Right Choice?

As always, the answer is – it depends. It depends on your needs, requirements, financial constraints, circumstances and so on. Each type has its own pros and cons, so let’s take a look at them first.

Softphones are easy to get and use. Most providers offer their own clients you can download for different OSes and devices. Some let you make your own choice. You can download any third party clients that you like and use your VoIP service for calling. For the most part, they’re free. So there’s no additional cost to your business if you want to go with softphones.

Deskphones can be expensive, especially when compared to the alternative that costs zero dollars. However they do have a couple of important benefits to offer. For one thing, they come with dedicated hardware which uses good quality components. You’ll generally get better sound on a deskphone than when you use a softphone on a computer.

Deskphones are also inevitable for certain purposes like conference calls that involve both audio and video, client meetings where voice quality is extremely important etc. Deskphones are better at handling complex features like call hold, ACD queues for customer support techs and so on. They have dedicated and programmable buttons to access certain features with a single press.

What Should You Choose?

For the most part, few businesses stick to just one or the other. The flexibility of VoIP is such that you can easily use a mix of both types and most companies do exactly that. Softphones are great for those employees who are constantly traveling or meeting with clients and partners outside the office.

Deskphones are useful for staff and executives who work at their desks most of the time. People like secretaries, customer support representatives and technicians often prefer deskphones for the extra features. In fact there’s nothing that prevents the same person from using both. An employee may have a deskphone in the office and also install a softphone app on their laptop for the rare occasions when they travel.

This means you don’t have to buy deskphones for all the workers in your organization. If you have 50 employees, you might only need a dozen deskphones. It depends on your business needs. A consulting company with professional accountants will have different requirements from a restaurant chain. A real estate firm may not need any deskphones at all since most employees spend their time in the field.

One constraint to keep in mind is the cost. Sometimes you just can’t afford to buy deskphones for everyone who needs it. You can start out with softphones for everyone and then slowly purchase deskphones over time. Sometimes businesses can afford to purchase new hardware and prefer to start with everything in place. So go ahead, decide what works best for your business and start using VoIP without any doubts!