To find out who’s the best small business phone system, we tried all the top providers and compared them based on price, features, reliability, ease of use and customer support.
Best Small Business Phone System: Nextiva
Our choice for the best small business phone service for 2016 is Nextiva VoIP. We chose Nextiva for their excellent customer support, ease of setup, company stability and risk free 30 day money-back guarantee.
Nextiva vs. RingCental vs. Phone.com Summary Table
30-Day Money-Back Guarantee
Free 30-Day Trial
Free 30-Day Trial
Monthly Contact Basic Pricing For 5 Employees incl. taxes. Learn More
$232.92 / month
$298.63 / month
$158.53 / month
Yearly Contact Basic Pricing For 5 Employees Incl. Taxes. Learn More
$219.32 / month
$232.25 / month
$145.34 / month
Unlimited US Calls?
Mobile apps to receive & make calls from business #
iOS, Android, Window Phones
iOS, Android, Blackberry
Yes W/ Digital Signature
Available as an Add-on
Available for "Enterprise" accounts
Available as an Add-on
US Based Phone, Email, & Chat
Not Solely US Based By Phone, Email, and Chat
24 Hour Support, US Based
Note: The exact amount you pay in taxes and fees will vary depending on location. Some states, counties and cities will charge more than others. The prices in this example reflect the taxes in New York City.
Why We Recommend Nextiva for Small Business VoIP Phones
We recommend Nextiva because of their reliability, top-notch customer service, and stability in a rapidly changing industry.
Between the physical hardware and back-end software, business phone systems can be a challenge to set up. Nextiva is the only provider to give small business clients a personal U.S. based account representative to talk them through the process. This, as well as the free professionally recorded phone greeting, are just a few examples of the conveniences you get from Nextiva.
Nextiva provides US based customer support and answers 95% of all calls within two rings or less. Its major competitor, RingCentral only guarantees US based customer service to larger companies, those paying for more than 20 lines.
Nextiva is one of the more reliable VoIP providers when it comes to call quality and connectivity. This is due, in part, to their large size and multiple data centers. While Phone.com is a bit less expensive, their smaller network can make them more prone to relaiability issues. For a company doesn’t want to have worry about the stability of its service provider, Nextiva is a better choice than smaller competitors.
When to use RingCentral
RingCentral is the “luxury” VoIP phone service for businesses who can afford the higher price tag. It has a top-notch interface for setting up the auto attendant and for users to check their voicemail or customize call forwarding settings. It has by far the best mobile app, which lets you make calls over the internet or over your mobile network using your business phone number, and even switch between the two mid-conversation.
Thanks to RingCentral integrations, you can even make calls within Zoho, Salesforce, Zendesk, Desk.com and other business applications. (Nextiva and Phone.com can also integrate with CRMs using a service called Tenfold, but this requires additional setup & charges.)
Where RingCentral falls short is their customer service, which prioritizes larger businesses. U.S. based support is only available to 20+ user accounts. Likewise, while small businesses do get a setup specialist similar to Nextiva, this is non-US based unless you have over 10 users.
When to use Phone.com
One of the key benefits of Phone.com is the price. You can purchase a comparable plan for $10-$15/user/month less than Nextiva. There’s also a pay-per-minute option, which can save you even more money if your employees speak on the phone less than several hours per month.
Phone.com is also the best at international calling. With an unlimited plan, you can make free outgoing calls to landlines in Canada, France, Germany Israel, Italy, Netherlands, Puerto Rico and United Kingdom and rates for other countries are low compared to competitors. Phone.com even gives you the option to purchase an international phone number for as little as $5/month, so you can avoid international fees if you make a lot of calls to a particular country.
The downside to Phone.com is you don’t get a setup specialist like you do with Nextiva and the customer support is not as effective. The smaller network size can also make it more prone to reliability issues. For small business owners who aren’t as tech-savvy, we recommend using Nextiva.
When to use a phone system besides Nextiva, Phone.com or RingCentral
If you prioritize good customer service and reliability of phone service, but want a more affordable option than Nextiva, check out Jive. We found Jive to be one of the most reliable phone services, having few reports of technical issues like dropped calls, outages or poor voice quality. They also have highly-praised customer service.
If you need a phone system that can integrate with your CRM or Help Desk software, but want a more affordable option than RingCentral, check out 8×8. For about $30-$40/user/month, you get a high-powered phone system with unlimited minutes that integrates with Salesforce, SugarCRM, Netsuite, Zendesk, eAgent and other business software.
We reviewed two other VoIP providers, Ooma Office and Grasshopper, but did not find them worth recommending. Ooma Office has by far the lowest pricing, yet the highest number of technical issues reported by users, with many noting poor sound quality in particular. It also has a steep one-time hardware fee of $250 and a not-so-clear pricing policy that has caused many businesses to pay more than they expected.
Grasshopper, while also inexpensive, does not actually provide phone service. You can use it to setup a professional call forwarding system, but to talk, you must use cell phones, landlines, or Skype accounts. This is something Phone.com can also do, but for cheaper.
Small Business Phone System Costs
1 User (price per month, monthly contract)
5 Users (price per month, monthly contract)
25 Users (price per month, monthly contract)
Pricing for small business phone systems can be confusing. The pricing plans quoted above are all for unlimited US and Canada calling minutes. If your company doesn’t doesn’t speak on the phone all that much (under 500 minutes per month per user), you should check out a pay-per-minute plan instead. While Nextiva don’t offer such a plan, Phone.com and RingCentral do, charging 3.9 and 4.9 cents per minute, respectively.
A few more things to note about small business VoIP costs are:
- All the companies above offer a free 30 day trial or money back guarantee. You may also be able to negotiate with your account executive for an extra free month.
- The cost of the phone handsets themselves are not mentioned in the table above. This can range from $50 to $200 per handset.
- Each provider also charges $5/month for additional phone numbers. Nextiva and RingCentral include a unique 10-digit number for each user. Phone.com, does not. Instead you have to pay $5/month for additional phone numbers. Although, as an alternative, you can give each user a unique extension at no extra cost.
Here’s how the three companies compare in terms of cost:
Phone.com is by far the cheapest provider for both the monthly and annual contracts at $159 for 5 users on the monthly contract and $145 per month for an annual contract. There’s also pay-per-minute plans. If you have 5 employees who talk an average of 5 hours per month (or 1,500 minutes), you could pay as little as $84 total per month.
The downside is that each user does not get a unique 10-digit number.This costs an additional $5/user/month. Also, you also have to pay more for advanced features like automatic call recording ($5/month for 300 minutes) voicemail-to-text transcription ($1.50 per extension) or caller analytics ($2/month).
A fully-loaded Phone.com package would come out to $207 for 5 users on the monthly contract – still a little cheaper than Nextiva, and much cheaper than RingCentral. Visit Website
RingCentral monthly pricing ($299 for 5 users) is the most expensive of all the VoIP phone providers we reviewed. The price radically drops, however ($232) with an annual contract, although you have to pay for the entire year upfront.
While you get unlimited outbound calling, RingCentral is also the only provider to charge for incoming toll-free calls. With a mid-tier “Premium” edition account, each user gets 2,500 toll free minutes, which is over 41 hours. After that, you must pay 3.9 cents a minute. Visit Website
At $234 for 5 users on a monthly contract and $219 annually, Nextiva falls in in the middle. We calculated pricing based on the “Office Pro Plus” edition, which includes all the key features as well as call conferencing and a mobile app. For an additional $7/user, you get premium features like call recording and monitoring. There’s also a basic “Office Pro” plan that gives you just the essential features at a slightly lower cost.
All three of these VoIP providers will enable you and your employees to make and receive calls anywhere in the United States with high quality audio for free. Here are some basic features which are standard with all three providers.
- Each employee and / or department can have their own unique phone number, phone greeting, and voicemail box. RingCentral and Nextiva give each user a unique 10-digit number for free. Phone.com charges an additional $5/month per number.
- Each company can use local phone numbers, have an 800 number or a combination of the two. Phone.com and RingCentral also offer international numbers for some countries.
- An auto-attendant can direct callers to the right department or you can give callers the options of dial by name directory. For the phone greeting, Nextiva lets you send in a script to be professionally recorded by their production team at no extra cost.
- You can set rules for how calls are handled. For example, sales calls can ring on multiple lines at once or roll from one person to another if calls aren’t picked up. Nextiva and RingCentral give you the most options for call routing.
- Employees can make and receive call on their personal smartphone, using their business phone number. RingCentral had by far the best mobile app.
- You can send and receive electronic faxes (e-faxing).
- All services will help you port / transfer your existing number to your new phone service.
Mobile App Comparison
Each of these small business phone services also offers a mobile app for iOS and Android. The key benefit to using the mobile app vs. your regular cell dialer is you can make outgoing calls using your business number. This way you can reach clients outside the office without “giving out” your personal number.
RingCentral has by far the best mobile app, in part because you get a lot of the same features as your office handset (such as, the ability to transfer calls, record conversations, place callers on hold, etc.)
The RingCentral and Phone.com apps also have some handy tools (though not as many). They’re also a little buggy compared to RingCentral.
The Nextiva app has a few advanced tools: You can forward calls, start conferences and send instant messages or video calls to your colleagues. “Call pulling” enables you to transfer calls between your mobile phone and office phone without hanging up.
You can make outgoing calls that display your business number, but you need to be connected to the internet and select “VoIP” after dialing. If you select “mobile” instead, it will go over your mobile network and display your personal mobile number to callers.
Because the call is routed over the internet, you don’t have to use your cell minutes. Based on our test, however, we noticed the call quality was rather poor.
Note: The mobile app is only available on an Office Pro Plus Edition ($33/month) or higher.
The RingCentral mobile app gives you loads of in-call tools – with a single click you can begin recording the conversation, put the caller on hold or transfer the call. If the signal is getting weak, you can transfer the call to your cell network without the caller being interrupted.
If you don’t have a strong wifi signal or are connected to 3G / 4G instead, you can still place calls using your business number. The call, however, will go out over your mobile network instead of VoIP. This means the call will count as cell minutes. Also, you do not get the same tools (record call, transfer call, hold caller, etc.) that you get with a VoIP call.
Like Phone.com, you can also check your inbox and change user settings.
Phone.com’s mobile app lets you manage your voicemail, fax and SMS inbox, view call logs, open your address book and more. You can make outgoing calls using your business number, but you have to be connected to the internet. Calls can also go out over your cell network.
Nextiva provides all US based customer support by phone, email, and chat. However, the hours are limited to 5 AM – 6 PM MST during weekdays and 9 AM – 1 PM MST on Saturday. Based on user reviews and our personal experience, we found Nextiva customer service to be among the best, boasting fast response times and knowledgeability.
RingCentral offers 24 hour support, with a mix of US and non-US based support and onboarding for those that have less than 20 phone users. Users are generally very content with RingCentral’s customer service, although large businesses do get preference over smaller clients.
Phone.com has 24 hour US phone and chat support. While response times are fairly quick, some users have noted trouble getting answers to more technical questions or troubleshooting their system. I can confirm this based on my personal experience.
Through Tenfold (formerly Callinize) each of these VoIP phone providers can integrate with popular CRMs, such as Insightly, Zoho, Salesforce, REthink, SugarCRM and more. The integration enables you to automatically log calls in your CRM, including the duration, who made the call, which leads/contacts are related and user-entered notes. When you get an incoming call, the system also scans your CRM automatically and shows you any relevant details. (see below)
Tenfold supports all 3 systems: RingCentral, Phone.com and Nextiva. Because it is a 3rd party service, however, you have to pay an additional charge for the integration. Pricing starts at $29/month.
Nextiva and RingCentral also support some integrations of their own. The benefit of using “official” integrations is you typically do not have to pay an extra charge:
Nextiva has a few official integrations. There’s a toolbar you can install for Outlook, Firefox and Internet Explorer that lets you send or receive calls and adjust call forwarding settings (available for Enterprise Edition users only). There’s also an integration with ZenDesk that lets you make and receive calls within the program.
RingCentral integrates with Box, Google, Outlook, Office 365, Salesforce, Zoho, Zendesk and Desk.com. The Google/Outlook integrations enable you to make and receive calls or texts from your inbox. Likewise, the Salesforce, Zendesk and Desk.com integrations let you make or receive calls directly from the program.
Phone.com does not support any additional integrations.