IP Phones are the most important part of a VoIP deployment for all business types, as they represent much of the cost, and are what the user is going to interact with daily. And if the phone is an important part of your business, ease of use, sound quality and durability are going to be critical aspects of any phone you buy. There is a plethora of new IP SIP based phones on the market, many which are good enough, but some which may inherently be more problematic than you might think and not worth investing in, in the first place.
Points to consider when choosing an IP phone
1. Consider a $250.00 phone; if you need 100 of them, then you will need to take $25,000 out of your account. So, cost is certainly one criterion which drives the decision making process of which phones you will buy. The phone choices run the spread from about $100.00 to $600.00, so one should match almost any deployment type and budget.
2. Compatibility – Compatibility means that the phone you pick will be able to be used with your phone system. There are some phone systems (PBXs, IP-PBXs) that will only support certain specific phones. Furthermore some hosted VoIP services may only support specific phones.
3. Who is using the phone? A call center agent taking a high volume of calls will dictate a different phone than the one in the board room. If an employee is on the phone all day long, then a higher end phone should be the choice. Typically a higher end phone will stand up under constant day in, day out use more than economy models.
4. Features – Features are what make the phone work the way that we want it to work. From the number of lines that a phone can handle, to the number of hard and soft key buttons, the phone’s features are going to be important in the long term success of the phone model. Usually less than 10% of a phone’s feature set is used, but if you don’t have one needed feature, then the whole use of the phone may be a problem. The most used features/ buttons are: Speakerphone, Hold, Mute, Conference, Transfer, HD Voice, Context sensitive soft keys, USB ports.
5. Power – IP phones need their own power which can be delivered by a power adapter which plugs into the AC wall outlet or is delivered by PoE (Power over Ethernet). If your local network uses PoE make sure you buy compatible IP phones.
6. Protocol – Typically, a large range of IP phones are SIP compliant. Additionally, there are various protocols that your phone must be capable of handling, the most used being G729 and G711.
7. Display type and size – The bigger the LED, the more costly your phone will be. If you need or want a higher number of soft-key functions and a well lit panel on your phone, then the LED is important.
8. Ethernet connectivity – If you don’t have a place to plug in the phone, you may end up spending more than the phone itself just on getting a cable there. Many businesses only have one Ethernet port at a location and that is probably being used by a computer. If you don’t have an Ethernet port available, select an IP phone with a switch port (most of the models we highlight have a second built in switched Ethernet port). This extra Ethernet port can be used for your PC, allowing the wall port to be shared.