What are the different features on a VoIP phone?

Posted on: 2018-07-13 | Categories: VoIP Services

Like most businesses, your organization has decided to upgrade to VoIP and more away from traditional landlines. A project such as this requires the business to make many decisions including the type of VoIP service, which vendor serves their needs best etc. You also need to consider what type of phones your employees need to make calls.

IP Phones Come in All Shapes and Sizes

Almost everyone is familiar with the traditional landline. IP phones look very similar to those older devices but VoIP technology allows you to use different types of devices as endpoints. For instance, an employee could install a softphone app on their laptop and make calls while on the road. Users can download smartphone apps for different operating systems and use VoIP to answer business calls as well.

IP phones are available in a variety of form factors – ranging from small headsets with basic functions all the way up to executive models with advanced functionality. Some phones don’t even have screens (such as conference units) while many feature a basic LCD screen. As a business owner or manager, you don’t have to take with only one type of device. You can use a combination of software, SIP compliant hardware and even analog instruments in an office setting.

Features on a VoIP Phone Vs. Features of Your Phone System

Before we get started on the different features you can find on a VoIP, remember that this is distinct from the functionality your service provider offers for the system as a whole. Some features may require specific hardware equipment to work properly. Your hosted VoIP service vendor may offer group video calling but if the phones in your office don’t have screens, you can’t benefit from that particular feature.

Conversely, just because you have a particular type of hardware doesn’t mean you have to use all of the features. VoIP is flexible and allows users – and system administrators – various levels of control over settings, features, and functionality. Most organizations try to avoid purchasing expensive models for employees who don’t need them, thereby reducing the total cost of the system.

Consider the example of an office with a sales department. If most of your salespeople are constantly on the move and rarely come into the office, you don’t really need desk phones. Most of them might prefer to use an app on their personal smartphones instead. But they can still have access to most of the features available in the VoIP system you use.

Basic Features of an IP Phone

Unless you’re using a softphone or mobile app, most IP phones come with the same basic setup. A desk phone will have a handset for making calls, multiple ports for the Internet connection and even an analog port or two, an LCD screen, buttons, speakers, and microphones. The basic models will have cheaper components, smaller screens, and not many additional buttons. More expensive models may have multiple speakers, higher quality components, bigger screens etc.

The LCD display screen in most IP phones is monochrome i.e. it is a black and white display. This is sufficient for basic functionality like caller ID, accessing the settings screen, changing the language etc. Premium model phones may have color screens for basic web browsing or video calling. Some manufacturers are even experimenting with touch screens instead of buttons, although the vast majority of phones have physical buttons.

Any VoIP phone has to have ports for the network connection as well as to connect to desktops or other computers. IP phones can also have multiple ports and act as a switch on the network. Unless the phone has support for PoE (Power over Ethernet), it needs an outlet for power. Unlike traditional landlines, IP phones cannot function without electricity.

Physical buttons are standard on most IP phones. In addition to the traditional alphanumeric keys, you will also find feature buttons that are preset to specific features. A good example would be speed dial or call transfer buttons. If you spend a bit more on IP phones, you can get models that have programmable function buttons which are more flexible.

Premium IP phones have extensive support for software features like encryption, network management, multiple languages etc. If you have a diverse employee base, it’s best to get phones that can handle different languages. Businesses must also look for models that support encryption as security and privacy concerns escalate in various industries.

As a general rule of thumb, you get what you pay for with IP phones. Higher end models generally have better quality sound, offer support for advanced features and will last longer without causing problems. Finding the right IP phones for your business can boost your employees’ productivity but the wrong one can seriously hamper their ability to work as well.