Best small business phone systems for 2023 Think you can do without a business phone system? Think again. Business phone systems are a must for any startup - read on to find the right one for you Written by Helena Young Updated on 7 November 2023 Our research To recommend the best phone systems for small businesses, our team of expert writers and researchers hone in on the most important factors. We rate providers on value for money – including initial setup costs, any equipment costs, and ongoing service fees; an ability to scale as your team grows; depth of features, plus the help and support options that are available. Written and reviewed by: Helena Young Lead Writer maite.bouhali Our independent reviews are funded in part by affiliate commissions, at no extra cost to our readers. According to our research, the best small business phone system is the 8×8 X2 Series. Its excellent suite of software and hardware options and wide range of integrations make it one of the best VoIP solutions around.In the current economy, it is important to find an affordable phone system that gives you the best value for money. There's also the PSTN Switch Off to consider; come December 2025, all UK landlines will stop working as the country moves to a new Internet Protocol (IP) network, so businesses must shift to a phone with IP mode.Our research team analysed the best small business-specific plans from the top IP phone systems on the market looking at the three key areas: cost, integrations, and scalability. Here's what we found: 5 Best Phone Systems at a glance 8×8 X Series – Best phone system for contact centresVonage Core – Best for resource-stretched teams wanting a virtual receptionistbOnline Unlimited Calling – Best for those looking for a low-budget software and IP phonesNuacom Unlimited – Best for employee performance tracking through mobile appGoTo Standard – Best for remote teams needing a good video conferencing toolDon't overspend – you can click any of the links above to begin comparing fees on business phone systems for your own business's size and needs. Finding a telephone system is hard, and there are lots of acronyms to understand. To help you out, our team has developed a helpful cost comparison tool. This will give you free quotes from the top system providers, plus access to a telephone expert who can talk you through the entire installation process. Or, for detailed insight on how the best phone systems compare, read on… Swipe right to see more 0 out of 0 backward forward BEST OVERALL Provider 8×8 X2 Provider Vonage Core Provider bOnline Unlimited Calling Provider Nuacom Unlimited Provider GoTo Standard Best for Contact centres selling internationally Best for Best for resource-stretched teams wanting a virtual receptionist Best for Budget option with discounted IP handsets Best for Managing remote sales teams Best for Remote teams needing a good video conferencing tool Pricing from Not shared publicly Pricing from £18 per user, per month Pricing from £13.95 per user, per month Pricing from Not shared publicly Pricing from £21 per user, per month Want to compare business telephone system costs head-to-head? Compare Costs In this article, we will cover: 8x8 X Series Vonage Core bOnline Unlimited Calling Nuacom Unlimited GoTo Standard How do business phone systems work? What types of businesses are business phone systems suitable for? How did we compare the best business phone providers for small business? Buying guide: how to choose the best phone system Conclusion – summarising the best small business phone systems Small business phone system FAQs What is a business phone system?A business phone system is designed specifically for the needs of businesses and organisations by providing a complete package of features and capabilities beyond standard telephone services.As well as the cloud-based VoIP software that most brands offer, a business phone system will typically come with discounted hardware and a mobile or desktop app. It may also offer advanced features like video conferencing, instant messaging, and integration with customer relationship management (CRM) software.Business phone systems are typically more robust and scalable than residential phone systems, allowing companies to handle a higher volume of calls and customise their setup according to their specific requirements. Compare Business Phone System Costs Do you already have a business phone system? Yes No Find the best provider in minutes 8×8 X2 Series: best for contact centres with operations abroad 4.7 out of 5 Pricing 2.5 External Connections 4.2 Scalability 4.9 Compare costs 8×8's omnichannel approach to managing calls lets you record sales in the 8×8 platform, make on-the-go calls via the mobile app, and make video calls on top of the VoIP hardware.Award-winning communications company 8×8 brings us the X2 plan, a unified communications solution that's been designed specifically for contact centres. Like all VoIP providers, 8×8 is a cloud-based software. But its wide-ranging features and add-ons mean that is one of the best multi-channel tools to use, enabling businesses to communicate by voice, video, and chat – all from one secure platform.The provider's desktop app allows users to design a complete work dashboard for agents to manage and monitor calls (including internationally). Alongside this, 8×8 also integrates with multiple communication channels, including CRM, so you can easily connect with customers wherever they live online.What's included in the 8×8 business phone system?Desktop app: 8×8's primary offering is its cloud-based software, 8×8 Work, which is run as a desktop app on your computer. This is the main softphone (a virtual phone that mimics the functionality of a desk phone on your screen) that users will place their calls from.An unlimited number of domestic calls is included with every 8×8 plan. Also included in the app is a user portal, from which agents can record calls, and gather analytics on their performance such as average hold time.Call quality is one key benefit that the 8×8 web app provides. Its network is backed by 99.999% uptime SLA and 35+ public and private data centres. That means customer data is stored in a secure location that only your agents can access, reassuring you and your customers that the software meets rigorous compliance standards.Integrations: 8×8 is one of the best systems on this list for integrations. The X2 plan can combine with a huge range of business technology, boosting user productivity and removing a key hurdle of adoption for employees that might worry about disruption to their business tech ecosystem.8×8 includes links with 12 CRM software brands (including Zoho, Pipedrive, and Freshdesk) and helpdesk integrations (including HubSpot and Salesforce). You'll also be able to communicate internally with teammates thanks to third-party messaging apps like Slack and Telegram. Plus, X2 can also be used in conjunction with Microsoft Teams, giving you access to video conferencing technology for virtual meetings and 1-2-1s.Mobile app: Every 8×8 plan gives customers access to its Work for Mobile app. Compatible with phones, tablets, and personal desktops, it gives users a way to chat, call, meet, share from anywhere with one app. Earlier this year, the provider also released 8×8 Mobile Admin; a new solution designed for 8×8 Work admins to manage basic admin activities using the 8×8 Work for Mobile app.☎️ What hardware will I get?Hardware: 8×8 does not provide its own phones for customers. However, it is compatible with four premium phone equipment brands: Polycom, Cisco, Panasonic, and Yealink. This puts it just behind bOnline in terms of hardware range, which boasts six.Hardware costs: 8×8 users should sign up to the 8×8 Flex Program for discounted IP phone prices. This is a Device-as-a-Service (Daas) payment option that lets you lease equipment for your business, rather than buy the device outright. Prices start from $5 p/m (est. £4.50 p/m) with no upfront costs. Every plan also comes with a five-year warranty, and the option to upgrade at any time, so you can stay flexible when it comes to finding the latest equipment models.8×8 pricing8×8 has previously been very transparent with its pricing. However, in our latest round of research, carried out in October 2023, we discovered that the brand has stopped sharing its pricing information publicly.Pricing starts from: 8×8 previously charged £19 per user, per month for its X2 plan, leaning towards the more expensive end of small business phone systems.8×8 pros and cons Pros 8x8 desktop app comes with security features including multi-factor authentication and password protection Lowest-priced tier is the most generous multi-modal plan we've seen, letting users communicate by video, chat, and phone 8×8 Flex Program offers discounted leasing for premium IP phone models Cons Doesn't offer any first-party desk phones as part of its package Only area that 8x8 does not integrate with is analytics, which may limit sales team who have to produce monthly or quarterly reports Short on time? Last year, we helped nearly 2,000 readers find the right telephone system for their business, and our aim is to continue this trend by offering reliable, accurate support and advice to startups everywhere.If you'd like support in finding a phone system quickly and easily, our custom-built phone system comparison tool will match you with the best suppliers for your business needs. There are no obligations, and the form takes just minutes to complete. What small business is 8×8 best for?The 8×8 phone system is particularly beneficial for contact centres that operate internationally. Agents can utilise a range of technology products and integrations to tailor their workflow to specific customer needs. Plus, the lowest-priced X2 plan comes with unlimited calling across 14 countries for smarter global engagement. Vonage Core: best for resource-stretched businesses looking for a good virtual receptionist 4.7 out of 5 Pricing 3.8 External connections 3.5 Scalability 4.5 Compare costs Every Vonage plan includes access to Vonage Meetings, a video conference service where in-meeting features allow you to chat, collaborate, and host roundtable discussions.Vonage Core isn't quite as comprehensive a business phone system as 8×8's X2 system. However, a feature-filled desktop app mean it can act as a whole other team member thanks to its excellence in six key areas: user limit, call queue, ring groups, local numbers, call barge, and call whisper.All of these features are designed to save on resources, which makes Vonage a really beneficial phone system for smaller teams wanting to make their budget go further. Plus, its own specialist video conferencing tool, Vonage Meetings, means users can host a significant portion of their internal communications direct on the platform.What's included in the Vonage business phone system?Desktop app: Vonage's main offering is its Vonage Business Communications (VBC) desktop app. Similar to 8×8, this is hosted over the web and can be accessed on any internet browser on Mac and PC. You'll be given a softphone and access to a user portal by which to manage and monitor calls to and from your computer.Unlike 8×8, these calls won't be free as data charges will apply to domestic calls. International calling is also not enabled. However, Vonage is really for managing incoming calls. It comes with lots of nifty perks (like spam prevention and call queue) designed to improve the customer experience without using up too many resources.You'll also have plenty of other ways to chat to colleagues thanks to Vonage Core's integrated video conferencing tool, Vonage Meetings, and its group messaging feature.As with 8×8, the desktop app promises crystal-clear audio quality and 99.999% SLA. Its security features aren't quite as wide-ranging as 8×8, but the audio is encrypted and the software is backed by five compliance certifications.Integrations: Vonage Core, the system's best plan for SMEs, charges UK users an undisclosed additional fee for its integrations, which is poor compared to 8×8's X2 plan. If paid, you'll get access to nine CRM/helpdesk software brands (including HubSpot and Salesforce). This could end up making Vonage more expensive than 8×8, however. We've knocked down the system's value for money score as a result.In terms of internal messaging, business users can integrate with Slack for free, as well as workspaces like Google Suite and Office 365. Integrations with video conferencing apps are lacking, however. The Vonage Meetings tool means this shouldn't be a problem for internal calls, but you'll struggle to host client meetings in-app.Mobile app: The Vonage Business Communications Mobile app is available at every pricing tier and on iOS and Android. Link your business phone number to your mobile device, and you and your employees can make and receive free business calls using Vonage Meetings.☎️ What hardware will I get?Hardware: Like 8×8, Vonage does not provide its own phones for customers. However, Vonage is compatible with three major telecoms brands: Polycom, Panasonic, and Yealink. The provider also makes it easy to switch, with onboarding and training provided.Hardware costs: Vonage is less transparent about its third-party hardware pricing than 8×8. However, it does claim that prices are competitive. Any phone bought through Vonage also comes with dedicated 24/7 support so you can get up and running faster.Vonage pricingPricing for Vonage's lowest-priced tier, Vonage Express, starts from £10 per user, per month. However, we recommend Vonage Core to benefit from all of the system's best inbound comms features.Pricing starts from: £18 per user, per month, making Vonage Core £1 cheaper than our top-rated system, 8×8.Vonage pros and cons Pros Vonage Core includes access to Vonage Meetings, a video conferencing tool that works across the entire phone system Unlike our top-rated system, 8x8's X2, Vonage Core permits call monitoring Vonage integrates with both Microsoft Office and G Suite - bOnline and GoTo integrate with neither of these Cons Third-party desk phones are not offered through the provider. You'll have to buy hardware externally for a longer setup time Only integrates with CRM systems for an additional cost - making it expensive to engage in marketing and sales outreach Only suitable for domestic calls - not a great option for companies conducting business internationally What small business is Vonage best for?We recommend Vonage Core to fast-growing, resource-stretched startups looking for a communication tool that can act as their very own virtual receptionist. That's because we gave Vonage Core an excellent overall score for its inbound communication features and scalability. bOnline Unlimited Calling: best for those looking for a low-budget, low-featured solution 4.5 out of 5 Pricing 5 External Connections 3.5 Scalability 3 Compare costs The bOnline dashboard lets you view your sales representatives track records when it comes to making, missing, and receiving calls.bOnline is the ultimate budget phone system for small businesses, with a Starter plan that costs just £7 per user, per month. But it's the bOnline Unlimited Calling package that we like best, thanks to its plethora of features and hardware bundles that makes it a genuine all-in-one business comms solution – without the hidden fees of rivals like Vonage.For a detailed breakdown of how bOnline's prices stand up against rivals, use our free cost comparison tool.What's included in the bOnline Unlimited Calling business phone system?Desktop app: The bOnline desktop app is great for inbound communication. Its softphone solution offers HD quality and a decent list of features, including unlimited calling, call recording, and voicemail-to-text. A user portal also automates analytics dashboards to give your agents important information on everything from time of day call analytics, call density reports, and missed call logs.Outbound comms leaves something to be desired, and bOnline is not the best option for telesales teams. Dialling features, like power or auto dialling, are not offered within the softphone. bOnline also gets only one out of five for security in our testing, owing to its lack of compliance certification, which makes it a poor choice for storing sensitive client information like bank details.Integrations: Like Vonage Core, the bOnline Unlimited Calling system charges an additional fee for two major integrations: CRM and helpdesk. However, unlike Vonage, it is much more transparent about the costs. Users must pay an additional £5 per month to access third-party add-ons like HubSpot and Zoho CRM.This is where the fun stops, however, as the bOnline system offers few other capabilities with no live chat or web conferencing integrations available. This will make it difficult to align bOnline with your existing suite of business communicate tools, and could potentially jeopardise adoption within the team.Mobile app: The bOnline mobile app is available for both Android and iOS, and is as comprehensive as Vonage and 8×8. It also offers a good level of administration management, although not as much as 8×8, which recently updated its offering with the 8×8 Mobile Admin.☎️ What hardware will I get?Hardware: bOnline is the only provider to offer a desk phone as part of its pricing tier with the bOnline Unlimited Calling + IP Phone plan. On this plan, users can integrate the system with a desk phone from the top seven premium providers: Panasonic, Yealink, Polycom, Aastra, Alcatel, AudioCodes, and Htek.Hardware costs: The bOnline Unlimited Calling + IP Phone plan costs £15.50 per month. This makes it exceptionally cheap compared to the upfront cost of a new phone like the Yealink T42U, which costs £80 + VAT brand new.Because it's the only brand on this list to also provide broadband, SME customers can also bundle their bOnline digital phone line with the platform's broadband offering as part of the provider's Super Saver Deal. Hosted over the BT Open Network, this deal costs £32.90 + VAT per month and is a great option for those looking for cheaper access to the BT fibre network.bOnline pricingConsidering it's the brand's ‘premium' offering, bOnline Unlimited Calling is one of the most affordable provider on this list, making it a great option for the current poor economy. We also appreciate its transparency compared to 8×8 and Nuacom; as firms grapple to keep overheads low, the affordable bOnline gives business owners complete control over their budgets.You can choose to opt for the slightly cheaper bOnline Standard (£7 per user, per month), although this comes with certain limitations including a cap on the number of outbound calls you may make.Pricing starts from: £13.95 per user, per month, making bOnline cheaper overall than Vonage Core and 8×8.bOnline pros and cons Pros Switching phone systems? For a transfer fee of just £20, bOnline will handle the process to ensure business continuity Few customer support options available (no email, 24/7 support, or user forum) Users can bundle broadband in with their VoIP software and hardware solution for the ultimate communication payment package Cons No integration with internal or external live chat could jeopardise team communication Only available as part of a 12-month business contract Does not offer first-party IP phones What small business is bOnline Unlimited Calling best for?bOnline is a great option for small business owners looking for a smart, budget solution to their business phone system. By purchasing the bOnline Unlimited Calling + IP desk phone tier, SMEs can bundle their hardware and software into one streamlined payment plan. Nuacom Unlimited: best for managing remote sales teams with 2+ employees 4.2 out of 5 Price 4.5 External connections 2.5 Scalability 3.8 Compare costs Nuacom Unlimited is available across mobile, computer, and desk phoneNuacom Unlimited is the only phone system on this list to offer a free desk phone with every plan purchased. That instantly makes it an excellent choice for sales firms, which typically have larger workforces and require more hardware and headsets than any other industry.Combined with a free IP phone, however, Nuacom Unlimited also boasts other hardware and software perks which make it an excellent choice for outbound comms. It's pricing may not be transparent, but this premium offering offers a full suite of business communication tools for those that need to sell over the phone.What's included in the Nuacom business phone system?Desktop app: For a sales team, Nuacom Unlimited is the ideal software choice. Its softphone allows users to employ advanced outbound tools like setting caller ID, to ensure a more professional image to customers, and creating custom call lists, for targeted outreach. Call conferencing is also available to facilitate team huddles and updates in-app.Sophisticated call handling is definitely a key benefit of the Nuacom Unlimited user portal. Agents can set up an auto-attendant with a professional greeting message, and use the system's clever notes feature to summarise call content.For managers, who are likely having to oversee large teams of sales reps, Nuacom also boasts lots of admin controls including the ability to set teams, departments, and branches. User permission mechanisms can also control which team member in these groups has access to the call data for greater security.Integrations: Nuacom Unlimited is, ironically, fairly limited when it comes to integrations. While it won't charge for CRM and helpdesk integrations (unlike bOnline) there is only one option available for sales and service teams: HubSpot. If your team's do not already use this platform, they might find Nuacom harder to adopt.It's a similar story when it comes to live chat and web conferencing tools. Slack and Google Workspace are the only options available. While these are two big-name brands, there are certainly a lot of firms who might feel limited by such a poor array of third-party apps to build up their business software ecosystem.Mobile app: Unlike rivals like Vonage, the Nuacom Unlimited phone system is hosted seamlessly across both the desktop and mobile app. That means all calls are saved, recorded, and can be listened to on-the-go, directly from the mobile app. Using these insights, managers can then boost sales and improve the customer experience by identifying high-potential leads and tailoring their outreach efforts accordingly.☎️ What hardware will I get?Hardware: Nuacom allows business users to purchase third-party desk phones from five premium providers: Fanvil, Cisco, Yealink, Polycom, and Jabra. These are available on the Nuacom website, which advertises modern HD devices that also include built-in Bluetooth and can be used with a wireless headset.Hardware costs: Every Nuacom Unlimited plan includes a free Fanvil X3SP desk phone on the annual contract (RRP £50). It includes a HD voice microphone/speaker, plus noise reduction functionality, and is an excellent deal for sales businesses which need to purchase hardware for multiple representatives.If this model isn't for you, Nuacom's full hardware pricing list is available to download online. It features various models comprising of just cordless or corded handsets (around £100), extension boards (around £200), and conference phones (around £700).Nuacom pricingAs of October 2023, Nuacom has taken its prices offline which makes it difficult for us to judge its overall value for money. However, its outbound comms drastically outpaces the cheaper bOnline, and it could be considered cost-efficient for companies that engage in lots of sales calls.Pricing starts from: Nuacom used to charge £14.99 per user, per month. Our most recent round of research, conducted in October 2023, reveals it has hidden its pricing from customers, joining 8×8.Nuacom pros and cons Pros Shared office phonebook in the mobile and desktop app means you don’t miss any business contact Nuacom promises high quality voice and speakers, from the servers to your handsets Internal call conferencing is available, good for teams that are spread out across multiple locations Cons No external video calling permitted - difficult for those in the professional services industry No spam prevention available on any plan - GoTo offers this on its lowest-priced plan, in comparison What small business is Nuacom best for?Nuacom Unlimited is a superb solution for sales teams wanting an affordable outreach solution. SMEs will get access to unlimited domestic calls, advanced outbound comms features, plus a free desk phone with every plan. Similarly, Nuacom excels at onboarding new agents. Each plan has a free 15 minute sessions with a Nuacom expert (8×8 X2 charges an additional fee for this privilege). GoTo Standard: best for remote teams needing a good video conferencing tool 4 out of 5 Pricing 2.5 External Connections 2.6 Scalability 4.4 Compare costs The GoTo Connect bundle includes a softphone, mobile app, and IP phone integrationGoTo Standard is the go-to for businesses that need a suite of flexible internal communication tools they can use to collaborate remotely. Via GoTo's cloud-based software, business users can communicate anywhere and on any device whether they're based at their desk, on the web, or an iOS- and Android-supported app.For employees that might work from multiple locations, such as digital nomads, GoTo Standard offers a premium hot desking feature. This ensures users to share office phones and workstations by logging in to any device using their GoTo Connect account – a great option for those based in a coworking space.What's included in the GoTo business phone system?Desktop app: As with other VoIP cloud-software brands, GoTo Connect is primarily a desktop app where teams can access a softphone and a suite of admin tools to manage departments, tasks, and workload from one centralised hub. Essentially, it's your team's very own virtual workspace.Management features are a big pull here, as the GoTo Standard user portal simplifies admin controls. GoTo's team messaging and one-click video conferencing tools making it easy to arrange ad hoc meetings. Screen sharing also reduces barriers between remote workers and managers, while sensitive messaging is kept secure with encryption.Plus, with the GoTo Standard plan, you’ll have access to real-time analytics to track micro and macro phone traffic patterns and view statistics for your phone system’s call count, time of day, call duration, caller geography and call information to improve your operations and provide better service.Integrations: While it may not offer as many partnerships as rivals like 8×8, GoTo does permit integrations for a number of key business priorities including CRM (Salesforce and Zendesk), helpdesk (Zoho Desk), email (Microsoft Outlook), and internal live chat (Microsoft Teams).GoTo performs poorly for workspace integrations, which is disappointing given its specialism as an internal work tool. Users will not be able to integrate the phone system with Google Suite or Office 365, which could be an issue if these products are your employee's predominant way of collaborating.Mobile app: As with bOnline, 8×8, and Vonage, you can use GoTo on any device and work from anywhere with its mobile app (available on Android and iOS). Due to its reputation as a specialist internal communication tool, this experience is especially seamless. Employees have the ability to port their number through a ring group to ensure important calls are never missed when they step away from your computer or desk phone. Plus, a promise of HD audio means that, even if a customer call is answered outside the office, your clients will never know.☎️ What hardware will I get?Hardware: GoTo is compatible with just over 180 desk phones from the three VoIP phone providers (Cisco, Polycom, Yealink). That's fewer than any other provider on our list, but still provides a good range for SMEs to choose from.Hardware costs: GoTo's hardware is more expensive than rivals (while bOnline prices its IP phones at around £80+VAT, GoTo charges around £400 for a brand new Polycom VVX 601). Still, GoTo does have more advanced phones available. The most popular options are both conference (for meetings and presentations) and cordless models (for taking calls away from the desk).On top of IP phones, GoTo also offers its own unique video conferencing hardware called GoTo Room. This can be rolled out across your office, and integrated with Google or Office 365 Calendar, to allow employees to book in time for video calls direct from their calendars. Costs differ depending on your unique business needs.GoTo pricing:There is something to be said about GoTo Standard's pricing. While it is certainly more expensive than other providers, its charges are at least available to view upfront, which means it outscores rivals 8×8 and Nuacom for transparency.Pricing starts from: £21 per user, per month, making GoTo Standard our most expensive option. Our cost comparison tool will not recommend it for SMEs with smaller budgets.GoTo pros and cons Pros Permits up to 250 participants when video conferencing You can set up multiple teams/departments - great for scaling firms that are looking to expand Internal messaging tool lets you open team chats and engage in file sharing Cons No call transcript feature available from the desktop and mobile apps, which is bad for sales training Poor integration capacity means GoTo could be wasteful if you have lots of business technology you need to align your phone system with What small business is GoTo best for?GoTo is more of an internal communications system than an external one. It is best-suited to companies with multiple branches or employee bases across the UK and in need of a video and phone system that can keep them working closely as a team. How do business phone systems work?Business phone systems work by connecting the internal phone lines of a company to the outside world, facilitating both incoming and outgoing calls.Whereas traditional business phone systems utilised physical hardware, such as telephone lines, to manage call routing and handle features, modern systems now entirely rely on Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology. This allows voice communication to be transmitted over the internet.VoIP-based business phone systems use the company's existing internet connection to transmit voice signals in the form of data packets. These packets are converted into audio at the receiving end, enabling seamless communication between internal extensions and external phone lines.Most VoIP systems comprise of a desktop and mobile app to manage calls through a softphone (essentially a virtual dialpad). They will still integrate with IP desk phones, however, and many now increasingly also offer video conferencing hardware or integrations to enable video communication, texting, and of course, calls. What types of businesses are business phone systems suitable for?Business phone system companies are suitable for a wide range of businesses across various industries.All businesses and startups can benefit from business phone systems to establish a professional communication setup and enhance customer service, streamline internal communication, handle call routing efficiently, and integrate with other business tools.Larger enterprises can leverage business phone systems to support extensive communication needs across multiple departments, locations, or even countries.Business phone systems can also cater to specialised industries such as healthcare, hospitality, call centres, or professional services, offering industry-specific features and compliance requirements. How did we compare the best business phone providers for small business?In order to identify the top small business phone systems, our team of experts worked alongside an independent analyst to pick out the top five options available. Our results are based on their conclusive findings, combined with reader insight.Today's business owners need to contend with rapid inflation and an increased cost of working from home. We looked at the cost of each plan available, alongside the providers' compatibility with existing business connections, to determine an overall value for money score.We looked at the security features available with each provider to ensure that small businesses and their customers are protected if revealing intimate information. In a similar vein, the Startups research team also investigated customer support to determine how easily a user can get help should an issue arise.Finally, we also looked at scalability. It's important that such a large expense as a new phone system can grow alongside your business, so that SMEs don't need to continuously update or replace one of their largest resources.We used the results of our research to build a cost comparison tool, which Startups readers can use to get bespoke recommendations on the best phone system for their business needs. Buying guide: how to choose the best phone systemEvery business has different needs when it comes to phone systems. For example, some brands offer a desk phone as part of their plan, which might be crucial for your office-based workforce. Other firms need to ensure their system has a mobile app because their employees are out on the road during working hours.VoIP systems offer the most flexibility when it comes to designing a phone system that suits you. That's because they offer a full suite of hardware and software choices, rather than just a traditional speaker and headset as found as part of a landline. As part of our reviews above, we've ranked each phone system based on its:Desktop app (including softphone and user portal)Mobile appSoftware integrationsDesk phonesTogether, these four areas comprise the typical components of a business phone system. But just because a brand ticks the above five boxes, that doesn't mean it's necessarily the right choice for you. Even if they both have all of the above, two systems can differ greatly depending on their respective providers.Here are five things to look for when comparing the top VoIP phone system providers for your business:1. Assess your business needs and usage patternsFirst off, it's crucial to understand your current communication requirements. Determine the number of users that your organisation will need to add to your plan, the frequency of calls you typically make per day, and any special features you might need (such as call recording and video conferencing).Another consideration is your current software licenses. For example, if the workforce is entirely reliant on a specific CRM system like HubSpot, it would make good sense to find a VoIP business phone system that can integrate with HubSpot.2. Evaluate pricing models and costsVoIP providers offer a range of pricing plans which can be confusing to understand for those who are new to the industry. You might find some business phone systems advertising things like user allowances and domestic call limits, both of which will typically increase depending on how much money you are willing to spend.Compare each provider's pricing plans based on monthly subscriptions, hardware costs, and additional features. Consider factors like your business size, call volume, and growth plans to determine the most cost-effective option. Some plans can include free or discounted hardware; another potential perk to look out for.3. Research provider reliability and customer supportVoIP is an incredibly complex business technology. Business users should assume that at some point they will need assistance from the provider's customer support team, so it's a smart idea to check online reviews, customer feedback, and industry rankings to judge the reliability of a potential VoIP provider.Most will advertise their Service Level Agreement (SLA) which commits to a certain level of uptime to ensure minimal disruption to your business. Another tip? Evaluate their customer support options. Brands with live chat or phone support will be more likely to give you prompt assistance when it's needed.4. Test the VoIP software and hardwareMany VoIP providers (including our top-recommended phone system, the 8×8 X2 series) offer free trials or demos to allow you to test their software and hardware before committing to a purchase. SMEs should utilise these trials to evaluate call quality, features, ease of use, and compatibility with your existing devices and infrastructure.Following these test runs, seek feedback from employees who have been using the system regularly. Gaining buy-in from the workforce is very important to ensure you don't spend money on a product that will ultimately end up wasted.5. Consider scalability and future growthIf the past five years has taught us anything, it's that the business landscape can shift rapidly in an instant. With this in mind, it pays to be prepared by searching for a VoIP system that can accommodate your business' growth plans.If, in future, you expect to expand your team or increase its call volume, select a scalable solution that can easily add new features without requiring major upgrades or hardware replacements. 8×8 is a great option for this reason; it allows business users to upgrade their desk phones at any time so agents will always have the latest model. Compare Business Phone System Costs Do you already have a business phone system? Yes No Find the best provider in minutes Conclusion – summarising the best small business phone systemsEach phone system listed in this guide has its unique benefits and features. Nonetheless, our overall winner is the 8×8 X2 Series. Not only is it a reliable, trusted brand for contact centres, it also boasts the widest range of integrations to fit alongside your small business software ecosystem.Vonage Core is the top choice for resource-stretched startups needing an automated receptionistbOnline Unlimited Calling is definitely best for budgets, costing £13.95 per user, per monthNuacom Unlimited is designed for sales teams, with great outbound comms and a free desk phoneGoTo Standard is top for internal communication, thanks to a strong focus on features for remote teamsNow you feel confident about the providers that can help your business, it’s time to compare them directly and choose the right one for you.We are here to help with that – simply click on our free comparison form and fill out a few simple questions. In just one minute, you’ll be on the way to choosing from the best business phone system providers in the UK. Frequently Asked Questions What is the difference between VoIP and SIP? Although VoIP and SIP both support IP (internet-based) calls, they aren’t the same thing. VoIP simply means making calls over the internet, whilst SIP has a much larger scope. It’s a specific protocol that’s used to enable a range of multimedia sessions, which include VoIP calls. Will my VoIP provider supply phone handsets? Almost every VoIP provider will make you purchase your handsets separately. Some offer a package deal to give you a healthy discount on the associated costs. However, if you want to save money, searching for a brand that hosts your phone software on mobile (like GoTo) is a good alternative. How do I choose a business phone system? Our researchers recommend looking at five key areas to locate the best business phone system for your business: pricing, integrations, security, scalability, and call features. Startups.co.uk is reader-supported. If you make a purchase through the links on our site, we may earn a commission from the retailers of the products we have reviewed. This helps Startups.co.uk to provide free reviews for our readers. It has no additional cost to you, and never affects the editorial independence of our reviews. Share this post facebook twitter linkedin Written by: Helena Young Lead Writer Helena is Lead Writer at Startups. As resident people and premises expert, she's an authority on topics such as business energy, office and coworking spaces, and project management software. With a background in PR and marketing, Helena also manages the Startups 100 Index and is passionate about giving early-stage startups a platform to boost their brands. From interviewing Wetherspoon's boss Tim Martin to spotting data-led working from home trends, her insight has been featured by major trade publications including the ICAEW, and news outlets like the BBC, ITV News, Daily Express, and HuffPost UK.