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Office phone systems

Compare office phone system options today to find the one most suitable for your business. Get quotes and save time and money

Office telephone systems are historically a significant capital outlay for many businesses. With call costs being a substantial variable cost for many, making the choice of office phone system is critical.

If your start-up or existing business needs an office telephone, or a full multi-site office telephone network, read on and we’ll guide you through some of the best options.

On this page, we will cover a range of topics, including:

The information covered in the topics above should help you to understand exactly what your office needs. Keep reading to find out more.

VoIP and PBX office phone systems

Traditionally, office phone systems were based on a PBX system, and the hardware for this kind of system will involve capital investment. Most modern office phone systems though – unless there is a specific need for PBX system – are based on VoIP.

VoIP systems are much cheaper, there is little hardware required, and calls are made over the internet, reducing costs.

Let’s look at PBX and VoIP so you can decide which is best for your business.

PBX office phones

Over time PBX – Private Bench Exchange – office telephone systems overtook traditional KSU – Key System Unit – systems, which had a physical base unit or cabinet. PBX systems still have a base unit, unless you choose a hosted PBX system. Because of this base unit, there is still a hardware outlay, but not as high as with older KSU systems.

A PBX connects internal phone lines to the external phone network. The key difference between PBX and VoIP is that in the event of a power outage, and no internet, a PBX phone system usually has an uninterruptable power supply, and uses the PSTN – Public Switched Telephone Network. This means that calls can still be made.

VoIP office phones

VoIP office telephones are the most modern office phone options on the market. A VoIP phone system uses Voice over IP – Internet Protocol – technology for transmitting calls. VoIP phones use the internet to make and receive calls. If your business requires a telephone service in an emergency, a combined PBX and VoIP system could be an option.

VoIP systems require little hardware, a desktop VoIP phone will connect to the internet via an ethernet cable. Your VoIP office telephone system will be managed via an app from your provider, so you will simply need a VoIP desktop phone for each user.

10 best office phones

Today’s office phones, whether VoIP or PBX, are full featured telephone and conferencing devices, even the most basic ones.

Your office telephone will utilise your providers’ telephone system application, connected via your internet, and integrated with your PC. This integration gives you an office telephone geared for maximum customer efficiency and optimal communication across teams or locations.

The best office phones enable your call management, voicemail, conference calling, caller ID and more. If you don’t wish to integrate with your PC or CRM, these phones can provide your local call history and a digital phonebook.

The very best office phones on the market have large touchscreen displays, video conferencing ability, and even Android applications.

The list below includes the top ten best office phones as chosen by Startups – there is a little more information about each phone beneath.

BT Converse 2200

BT Converse 2200
If you are looking for a phone to suit a home office or small office, and are a fan of BT this could be the one for you.

The BT Converse from BT’s business and home phones offers PBX compatibility, headset ports, on hold, speed dialling and hands-free.

It’s a simple low energy phone with a reasonable price to reflect this.

  • Manufacturer – BT
  • Price – £37-£44

Yealink SIP-T21P

Yealink SIP-T21P
A lower priced phone which works fluidly with IP or PBX.

If you need to purchase multiple desktop phones for your staff, this might be an option.

With clear display and HD audio, group listening, SMS, phone book, black list and caller ID.

  • Manufacturer – Yealink
  • Price – £50-£55

Avaya Definity Callmaster 5

Avaya Definity Callmaster 5
A classic style office phone in the low-mid price range, the Avaya Definity Callmaster V, has all the basic features you would expect including: speaker phone, call transfer, call management, and conference calling.

Though it misses the more advanced LCD displays, the Callmaster V does have an in-phone call recording feature.

  • Manufacturer – Avaya
  • Price – £60-£65

Interquartz Enterprise Discovery

Interquartz Enterprise Discovery
Another well priced basic office phone from our best office telephone showcase.

The Enterprise Discovery has an LCD display, 140 name and number directory, hands free capability, recall button and is hearing aid compatible.

  • Manufacturer – Interquartz
  • Price – £70-£80

Grandstream GXP2200 Android Desktop Phone

Grandstream GXP2200 Android Desktop Phone
Ideal for entrepreneurs, home, and small offices, the Grandstream GXP2200 is a feature rich desktop phone with a 4.3-inch touchscreen LCD.

Apps can be downloaded via Google Play Store, so if you need your social media accounts open at the touch of a button the Grandstream will give you this.

  • Manufacturer – Grandstream
  • Price – £80-£90

Grandstream GXP 2140

Grandstream GXP 2140
Another next generation office telephone sporting a clear 4.3-inch colour TFT LCD screen.

It’s a two-piece phone with Bluetooth, full hands free functionality and SMS.

The Grandstream GXP 2140 is an IP/SIP 4-line phone with the ability to connect up to 4 GXP2200 extension modules.

  • Manufacturer – Grandstream
  • Price – £90-£100

Samsung SMT-i5210

Samsung SMT-i5210
A higher end office phone from Samsung, aesthetically pleasing, the Samsung SMT-i5210 gives: HD voice quality, intuitive navigation, adjustable display, system directory, call management and voicemail.

It has a local phonebook with a large 16mb flash memory. It has a small display with notifications, such as message waiting.

  • Manufacturer – Samsung
  • Price – £100-£140

Cisco SPA 525G2

Cisco SPA 525G2
An advanced office phone with a colour 3.2-inch QVGA 320 x 240 display.

The Cisco SPA525G2 is Bluetooth enabled for mobile integration, which allows contact importing and mobile phone charging.

It’s a full featured secure business phone which supports Cisco expansion modules.

  • Manufacturer – Cisco
  • Price – £150-£170

Siemens Gigaset DX800A

Siemens Gigaset DX800A
An upper range phone from Gigaset, the DX900A is a multi-line desktop phone with a large TFT colour display and HD sound.

It can support up to 4 lines and can be used as a base station for DECT phones for easy, and cost effective, expansion for smaller offices.

It’s a hybrid phone so suitable for a fixed telephone line or VoIP.

  • Manufacturer – Siemens
  • Price – £160-£180

Polycom Voice Station 300

Polycom Voice Station 300
A high-end phone with a more ergonomic design which uses Acoustic Clarity Technology, perfect for meeting rooms and conference calls.

The Polycom Voice Station 300 has 360-degree room coverage, hands free operation, dynamic noise reduction and a microphone range of seven feet.

  • Manufacturer – Polycom
  • Price – £200-£230

Small office phone systems

As a start-up or small business, the options for small office telephone systems are broad. You can choose a basic IP desk phone and keep your small office telephone system simple. Most basic office phones will give you the practical functionality you require day to day.

Most office phone systems will need and include:

  • call management
  • caller display
  • conference calling
  • voicemail

Alternatively, you could choose higher spec phones for your small office phone system, knowing you are investing in a few choice, full-featured telephones. Enabling a few key personnel with innovative, productivity enhancing telephony, such as video conferencing calling, or integrated applications, might drive your enterprise forward.

A manager in a larger office may need to keep costs low by choosing basic handsets with the essential functions, and no distractions for the best customer service. If your smaller office is high-tech, a technology service or product, then your equipment should reflect that too.

Call centres are larger still and rely on comprehensive CRM systems which integrated with feature rich, but still basic desktop phones. Preferring to handle call management, recording and dialling via their PC networks.

Below we have included two small office phone system reviews to take into account for your choice. A basic system to keep costs low, or a technology rich option to accelerate your inter-office and outbound communication.

Cisco SPA 303 Small Business Phone

Cisco SPA 303 Small Business Phone
Cisco have an excellent reputation in the telephony marketplace.

We’ve chosen their SPA 303, a 3-line business-class IP phone with good functionality and a reasonable price. The phone is IP and PBX compatible with dual switched ethernet ports, speakerphone, caller ID, call hold, conferencing and more. It has a small pixel based display and menu driven interface.

Features include: speakerphone, call hold, music on hold, call waiting, caller ID, caller blocking, call transfer, and call logging.

Conferencing can be three-way locally or multi-party via an external conference bridge.

  • Manufacturer – Cisco
  • Price – £65-£75

Grandstream GXP2200 Android Desktop Phone

Grandstream GXP2200 Android Desktop Phone
For a higher specification, technology rich phone we’ve chose to review the Grandstream GXP2200 Android Desktop Phone from our best 10 office phone list for its small office suitability.

The Grandstream GXP2200 is very well priced for an Android desktop phone with a large touchscreen LCD. It suits a small office with trusted, independent employees that need to use apps in their day to day work. Or, for an entrepreneur who needs Skype or social media at hand, whilst still working on a desktop simultaneously.

A highly advanced Android desktop phone, the Grandstream is a six-line office phone with five-way conferencing and HD wideband audio.

  • Manufacturer – Grandstream
  • Price – £80-£90

Home office phones

Finding the best home office telephone system might not be as simple as expected. It’s a difficult choice for a home-based entrepreneur or freelancer to choose between personal preference or functionality while balancing cost.

Your first step is to identify the features of your business that will require the use of a telephone.

How often will you use the telephone? For how long? And for what type of call? Are you going to be out of the office? How many incoming calls will you need to handle and what will your customers expect of you?

Making outbound calls

If you will be making few calls, a basic home office phone will suffice. If you use many applications day-to-day, such as Skype or Facebook, and feel you need the latest technology, an Android desktop phone might be attractive.

If you are making sales calls, or many calls you need to look closely at sound quality and headset compatibility.

Even with a basic phone and a VoIP provide you can integrate your mobile phone and your CRM or calendar. If you need to regularly conduct conference calls, look for a phone with more speakerphone and handsfree capability.

If you want to make calls quickly, without firing up your PC, a more advanced phone with its own call recording, history, and phone book facilities might be more suitable.

Handling incoming calls

With a home office, or as an entrepreneur you should consider closely how incoming calls are handled when you are not in the office.

Voicemail, call diversion, and auto attendant functions will all be vital to giving your customers a professional experience. Home office telephones can handle automated or recorded messages, on hold management, or fluid diversion to a mobile when you are away from your desk.

We’ve picked two of the best home office telephone systems for you to consider

BT Versatility 8662 VoIP Featurephone

BT Versatility 8662 VoIP Featurephone
A very reasonable priced phone with a large LCD display, extension paring, voice message indication, on hold and speakerphone.

If you are working from home but have an office, the BT Versatility 8662 allows extension pairing so your calls can be transferred from your main office, to home office, via your VoIP telephone system.

  • Manufacturer – BT
  • Price – £50-£60

Polycom Voice Station 300

Polycom Voice Station 300
We can’t help but be a fan of the Polycom Voice Station 300. If you love ergonomic technology and can afford it the Polycom has great voice quality, and is totally handsfree. If you need to frequently conference call while on your laptop, and don’t fancy a headset, the Polycom could be your choice.

  • Manufacturer – Polycom
  • Price – £200-£230

Office telephone system features

An office telephone should provide efficient call handling, appropriate to the type of business, with features than improve productivity. Incoming and outgoing calls, and their quality, are vital to your reputation.

The list below offers a brief insight into the features office phone systems offer, with more detail further below:

Continue on down the page for more information about each feature.

Automatic Call Forwarding / Auto Attendant

If you don’t want to operate a manned switchboard, or reception, then automatic call forwarding, takes that strain. Auto attendant as it is sometimes termed, is a feature that allows callers to choose an option or an extension to reach their required person or department.

If you have a small or home office, or staff who are out of the office frequently, calls can also be routed to mobile phones, or passed to the next suitable colleague.

Automatic call forwarding is especially useful if you operate a 24/7 business or service. Often rules based on the time can be set for out-of-hours calling.

Auto attendant functionality and call forwarding also allows you to handle voicemails, choosing at what point a call goes to voicemail, or to a recorded messaging.

Conference Calling

Despite the advent of Skype and other VoIP calling and conference calling applications, there is still a key place for an office based conference call system.

Most office phones will allow between three and five-way conference calling between colleagues or customers. Combined with hands-free or speakerphone, business meetings can be conducted quickly and fluidly.

Some of the most advanced and stylish desktop phones have aesthetic designs and high-quality HD audio for call clarity during conference calling. Or, like the Polycom 300 in our best 10 office phone review, dynamic sound reduction to limit interference during conference calls.


Any office phone should have a headset port. Headsets are essential for any personnel who need to access data on a PC or type as they call.

They are also better for posture and help to meet workplace health and safety requirements. Headsets can be used independently with a desktop phone, or when a phone is integrated with a PC, and CRM, or softphone applications, like Skype.

Headsets are certainly a must in a high-volume sales or service environment.

Office Telephone System Dashboard

We’ve talked extensively in this article about office telephones. You will be able to purchase your office telephone independently, or from your office telephone system provider.

The telephony company you choose for your PBX, VoIP, or combined IP-PBX service. With a VoIP provider, your phones will be connected to your internet service via an ethernet connection allowing you calls to be made across the net. You can then access your phone system dashboard, and manage many of your call features online.

A telephone system dashboard will give you access to call handling, call recording, auto attendant and much more. A VoIP office phone system and its application, or dashboard, can allow you access to your phone system, and call activity via any device online. If you are out of the office you can receive calls to your mobile via the application, manage settings and much more.

VoIP systems allow fluid integration with mobile phones and devices. If you work in the field, your customers or employees will have the same level of interaction with you, if they need it.

Office Phone System Installation

Office phone system installation

If you are looking for a phone system for your business, then you will need to consider installation. It can be a simple process, but in some offices more thought will be required.

Installing a traditional analogue or KSU telephone system

Traditional analogue, or fixed line, office telephone systems required a base unit and every telephone to be wired into it and connected in the correct place for each extension required.

These types of systems, or hybrids of them, are still available and you will need engineers to install your hardware. Some training may be needed for you and your staff for day to day management of the system, and a maintenance contract is usual for ongoing support.

Installing a PBX telephone system

A PBX will also use your fixed line, so installing a PBX office phone system will need an expert and some training.

A PBX system has a Key Service Unit (KSU) which will need a cabinet or to be wall mounted. Each telephone will need to be wired to the KSU, and programmed to its extension using the service providers’ technology, and instruction.

Your PBX provider should install and implement your PBX office telephone system as part of your purchase. They should also provide training and/or guides on how to install your phone system, and a maintenance plan.

Installing a VoIP telephone system

Once you have identified your VoIP system provider, VoIP phone system setup and installation is relatively quick and simple.

You will need a broadband internet connection, and a computer to act as the server where you can access your office phone system dashboard, or VoIP application. You will also need an office telephone which is IP compatible. You will then need a router or a VoIP adapter to make your ethernet connection between your VoIP and your broadband internet, and to convert your VoIP signal to an analogue tone for compatibility.

Implementing is then a case of powering down, connecting up, and switching on. You can then setup your office phone system using your VoIP application from your provider.

As VoIP installation is relatively simple, often you can do this yourself with some guidance from your provider.

Installation, Contracts and Maintenance Costs

A VoIP office telephone system has little initial outlay. There are no implementation fees and all you will really need are the office telephones themselves.

A PBX or combined system may have more hardware costs. For VoIP alone, after the handsets, your costs will be based on the number of users monthly. Without physical hardware maintenance contracts are not required.

VoIP providers can have a range of introductory offers, and contract terms. Always make sure you compare a number of providers and check any terms thoroughly.

Compare office phone system quotes

The information on this page should help you to understand what goes into an office phone system. There is a lot of information, as well as several recommendations, but the best way to find the office telephones perfect for your business is to speak to suppliers.

To help with this process, you simply need to complete the form at the top of this page. Filling in this form is free, quick and easy, and it will help us to put you in touch with up to four top UK suppliers. This process can save your office or business both time and money.

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