Softphone vs. deskphone: Which is best for your business?

Close up of a person's hand dialing on a deskphone in an office.Picture a typical office worker on the job. Your mental image might include the standard tools of the trade: A desktop computer and a deskphone. However, as companies have embraced Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) platforms (a.k.a., cloud phone systems), staff members don’t necessarily need a physical phone anymore. The softphones included with most UCaaS platforms can have the same features with greater flexibility.

If you’re a business leader wondering if you should ditch physical VoIP-enabled phones in favor of a softphone solution, you’ll want to carefully consider the pros and cons of each solution. Here’s some essential information you should know before you make your decision.

What is a softphone and how does it work?

A softphone is a software-based phone interface that allows end users to make and take calls from desktops, laptops and mobile devices, according to RingCentral. If you deploy a UCaaS platform, it will usually include a softphone with standard business phone features, such as mute, hold and transfer.

Because they’re virtual, softphones also offer features that traditional phones don’t, such as texting, messaging, video calling, click-to-dial, and visual voicemail management.

Choosing between softphones and traditional phones

Softphones and physical deskphones each have their advantages and drawbacks. Switching from deskphones to softphones can come with the following benefits, according to RingCentral and UC Today.

  • Cost savings due to the elimination of hardware
  • Increased mobility
  • Greater accessibility and easier deployment for remote workers
  • More efficient (e.g., you can easily switch from a voice call to a video meeting)

However, softphones also have possible downsides to consider, such as the following:

  • End user reluctance to learn a new interface (training required)
  • Might not have all the same features as the IP deskphones they replace
  • Can’t replace physical phones in certain areas with high utilization by multiple people (e.g., reception desks)

On the other hand, IP deskphones offer the following advantages for businesses:

  • High level of voice quality due to dedicated hardware
  • Familiar interface and equipment for most office workers (training not necessarily required)
  • Ideal for high-traffic areas/communal lines, such as the phones at reception desks

Despite these selling points, physical phones can also prove inconvenient in some ways. Here are some of the main cons of relying on traditional deskphones:

  • Lack of portability and mobility
  • No video conferencing, messaging or texting
  • Harder to deploy and maintain for remote workers
  • Additional costs for hardware investment, maintenance and upgrades

Ultimately, the right choice for your business depends on your specific needs and situation. For instance, if you have a lot of remote workers, you might be better off relying on softphones. Conversely, if your staff works on-site, spends most of their time at their desks, and prefers the familiar interface of deskphones, sticking with physical phones would likely work best.

If you’d like to learn more about your options, our trusted technology advisors are available to assist you. We have extensive experience working with various phone systems and UCaaS platforms. Our advisors can leverage their in-depth knowledge along with advanced tools and our partner network to pinpoint products and services that will position your organization for lasting success.

To learn more about our advisory services, please call 877-599-3999 or email

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