As your business expands, your phone system must grow with it. With each stage of business growth bringing more clients, more employees, and more complex communication goals, your small-business needs are no longer small. And as you start competing in the big leagues, you have to level up your customer experience to stand out.

Buying a new desk phone or mobile device for every employee may have made sense in the past, but there comes a point it’s no longer the most sustainable or strategic choice. The best small business phone systems are the ones that are simple to scale, feature-rich, and allow you to get the full context of every conversation with customizable features.

To help you zero in on the right choice, we’ve compiled a list of the 10 best small business phone systems for you to consider. Keep reading to get a checklist of the features you should look for and learn why choosing a fully virtual business VoIP provider is ideal for any growing team.

10 best small business phone systems

Virtual phones are ideal for growing businesses, but dozens of brands exist under each category — some offering more value than others. Here are 10 of the best small business phone systems you can consider. 

1. OpenPhone: The best business phone system for small businesses

OpenPhone Mobile and Desktop apps

OpenPhone is a robust VoIP system with modern features that can scale with your business. With plenty of automation capabilities — including phone menu features and texting auto-replies — and integrations with your favorite business apps, OpenPhone ensures you never feel alone in managing your communications, even if you’re a solopreneur. Best of all, you can easily call and text with OpenPhone on your existing computer, smartphone, or tablet. 

As your business grows, you can easily increase the number of users on your account at any time. Each user can get their own US, Canadian, or toll-free number, allowing you to expand your business throughout North America, or share existing numbers with their team members to help field calls and texts. Collaborating is also flat-out simple as teammates can add specific notes to contacts. Plus, start internal threads to work together on external communication and assign out tasks. 

Don’t worry about needing to sit on hold or visit a store to activate your business phone system. With OpenPhone, you can get and up running in under 15 minutes. Try out OpenPhone for seven days by signing up for our free trial.

Key features

  • Free unlimited calling and texting in the US and Canada
  • Affordable international rates
  • Desktop, web, and mobile apps
  • Shared phone numbers
  • Call recording
  • Business hour settings
  • Voicemail transcriptions
  • Auto-attendant (IVR)
  • Texting automation (snippets and auto-replies)
  • Business app integrations (Slack, Zapier, Google Contacts, and email come standard)

Pricing

  • Standard: $10 per user per month
  • Premium: $20 per user per month
  • Enterprise: Custom pricing for a custom plan

2. Google Voice

Best small business phone systems: Google Voice

Google Voice for Google Workspace is a popular small business phone system for businesses that already use products like Gmail and Google Docs. It offers a number of necessities for growing businesses, like voicemail transcriptions and unlimited calling to the US However, with no toll-free numbers or call recording capabilities for business accounts, Google Voice can make it difficult to scale your business and train your team at a large scale.

Key features

  • Free unlimited calling to the US from anywhere (and to Canada from the US)
  • Free unlimited SMS in the US
  • Mobile and web apps
  • Voicemail transcriptions
  • Auto-attendant (upgrade required)
  • Google Calendar and Google Meet integrations

Pricing

  • Starter: $10 per user per month
  • Standard: $20 per user per month
  • Premier: $30 per user per month

Unfortunately with Google Voice for Google Workspace, you need to pay for two subscriptions to access Google Voice for Google Workspace. This includes an additional $6 per user per month payment for Google Workspace required to use Google Voice for business.

3. Dialpad

Best small business phone systems: Dialpad

Dialpad is an AI-powered business phone solution that offers plenty of modern features like shared phone numbers and business app integrations. It can even tell you when your team members are speaking too fast or slow. However, Dialpad may cost more than it initially appears. Dialpad charges customers who want to port more than one existing number into the system and requires an upgrade for users to access more than one number per user.

Many other key features, like Slack and Zapier integrations and international SMS, are similarly locked behind higher tiers.

Key features

  • Free unlimited calling and texting in the US and Canada
  • Desktop and mobile apps and Chrome extension
  • Shared phone numbers
  • Voicemail transcriptions
  • Business app integrations (upgrade required except for Google Workspace and Microsoft Office 365)
  • Speed coaching

Pricing

  • Standard: $20 per user per month
  • Premium: $30 per user per month (three license minimum)
  • Enterprise: Must contact for pricing (100 license minimum)

4. Ooma

Ooma

Ooma offers a phone system that’s especially built for small businesses, but with only two plan options and no customization available, it may limit your growth. You won’t get any analytics or integrations no matter what plan you choose — and you need to upgrade to use Ooma on your computer, instead of just your phone. Ooma misses the mark on many necessary features while offering features like overhead paging that few small businesses really need.

Key features

  • Free calling in the US, Canada, and Mexico
  • Texting (SMS only) in the US and Canada
  • Mobile app (desktop app with upgrade)
  • Ring groups
  • Call recording (upgrade required)
  • Auto-attendant

Pricing

  • Ooma Office: $19.95 per user per month
  • Ooma Office Pro: $24.95 per user per month

5. Vonage

Vonage

Vonage is a legacy VoIP service provider that’s well-known, but fairly out-of-date compared to modern options like OpenPhone and Dialpad. Its basic plan offers few built-in features, requiring upgrades for today’s essentials, like auto-attendant capabilities and CRM integrations. While Vonage does offer desktop, web, and mobile apps — which is ideal for remote businesses — it doesn’t make up for the considerable amount of fees, like the cost of extensions, toll-free numbers, and add-ons expenses for features that come standard with other providers.

Key features

  • Free unlimited team messaging
  • Desktop, web, and mobile apps
  • Call recording (upgrade required)
  • Voicemail transcriptions (upgrade or add-on required)
  • Auto-attendant (upgrade required)
  • CRM integration (upgrade required)

Pricing

  • Mobile: $14.99-$19.99 per line per month
  • Premium: $24.99-$29.99 per line per month
  • Advanced: $34.99-$39.99 per line per month

6. Grasshopper

Best small business phone systems: Grasshopper

Marketed as a small business phone system, Grasshopper offers an atypical pricing model for all of its plans. Every user can access 100% of Grasshopper’s available features, and higher-tier plans simply allow them to access extra phone numbers and extensions. However, even its top-tier plan is only built for a team of five, which means you’ll soon need to switch to another provider as you grow or pay far more. Plus, while you’re paying a premium to access all Grasshopper functionality, you still won’t meet key business needs like integrations or shared numbers as Grasshopper is very much a legacy provider.

Key features

  • Free unlimited calling and texting in Canada and the continental US (doesn’t include Alaska or Hawaii)
  • Desktop and mobile apps
  • Voicemail transcriptions
  • Custom greetings
  • Virtual fax

Pricing

  • Solo: $29 per month (one phone number, three extensions)
  • Partner: $49 per month (three phone numbers, six extensions)
  • Small Business: $89 per month (five phone numbers, unlimited extensions)

7. Sideline

Sideline

Sideline is a virtual phone that allows you to make calls through your phone, but it’s the only option on our list that’s not a true virtual VoIP app. Whether you’re dialing your client’s number or receiving a call, Sideline uses your existing cell phone service, which means you’ll still need to pay for a traditional phone plan on top of your Sideline plan.

On Sideline’s basic plan, you’ll mainly get business texting features like auto-replies. But as you look at the higher-tier Sideline plans, you’ll see no matter how much you upgrade, not all features are available with a single one of their plans. Confusing, right? 

Key features

  • Free unlimited calling and texting in the US
  • Web and mobile apps
  • Shared phone numbers (with Team Number plan)
  • Business hour settings (upgrade required)
  • Voicemail transcriptions
  • Texting auto-replies

Pricing

  • Standard: $9.99 per month
  • Pro: $14.99 per month

8. Nextiva

Best small business phone systems: Nextiva

Nextiva is a popular VoIP service provider that’s used by many well-known enterprises. However, as a small business, you can expect to pay higher per-user fees than any large-scale team. While Nextiva uniquely offers video calling features with screen sharing features on every plan, its business phone features are a little lackluster without upgrades. A basic plan (which still costs $30.95 per user per month for teams of less than four) doesn’t even offer SMS or MMS.

Key features

  • Free unlimited calling and video calling in the US and Canada
  • Mobile text messaging (upgrade required)
  • Desktop, web, and mobile apps
  • Voicemail transcriptions
  • Auto-attendant (IVR)
  • Business app integrations (upgrade required except for Outlook and Google Contacts)

Pricing

  • Essential: $24.95-$30.95 per user per month
  • Professional: $29.95-$35.95 per user per month
  • Enterprise: $39.95-$45.95 per user per month
  • Ultimate: $60.95-$75.95 per user per month

9. Line2

Best small business phone systems: Line2

Line2 is a VoIP service that mainly offers the bare necessities. With its Starter plan, you can expect a virtual phone that simply replicates a typical cell phone or landline. Only with upgrades and add-ons can you access key VoIP features like call recording and auto-attendant.

Key features

  • Free unlimited calling in the US and Canada
  • Unlimited domestic texting
  • Desktop and mobile apps
  • Call recording (add-on or upgrade required)
  • Voicemail transcriptions (add-on or upgrade required)
  • Auto-attendant (upgrade required)

Pricing

  • Starter: $15.99 per month
  • Growth: $20.99 per month
  • Business: $25.99 per month

10. 8×8

8x8

8×8 is a communications platform that offers three core pricing plans, though you can also upgrade even further to access an enterprise-level contact center solution. With a basic plan, you can get key necessities like auto-attendant. However, while you may get the perk of unlimited video calling, you can expect 8×8 to skip out on basic features like group texts.

Key features

  • Free unlimited calling and video calling in the US and Canada (more countries with upgrade)
  • Unlimited text messaging to US and Canada or from any country (no group texts)
  • Desktop, web, and mobile apps
  • Voicemail transcription
  • Auto-attendant (IVR)
  • Business app integrations (including Microsoft Teams, HubSpot, and Salesforce)

Pricing

  • 8×8 Express: $15 per user per month (10 users max)
  • x2: $24 per user per month
  • x4: $44 per user per month

10 phone features every small business needs

There are a lot of vendors in the business phone system space, from legacy providers to relative newcomers, each providing a range of features at different price points. Some vendors charge a premium for advanced features that others consider standard, while some vendors don’t offer them at all.

Here’s a list of features offered by the best small business phone systems. Use it as a checklist as you evaluate service providers.

1. Transparent pricing

When you’re trying to grow your small business, the last thing you need is hidden fees. Look for a provider that offers simple, upfront pricing. Ideally, look for a phone system that offers unlimited calling and texting in the places you conduct most of your business.

Any add-on costs — like those for international calling or extra phone numbers — should also be transparent and reasonable.

2. Computer and smartphone access

A phone system should be compatible with your iOS or Android mobile device, or your Windows or macOS computer. And you should be able to use it with your preferred web browser — Chrome, Safari, Firefox, etc.

Also, keep in mind not all systems have a desktop app and a mobile app.

If you want to keep all your business conversations focused away from your browser or use click-to-call features, you’ll need to shortlist a desktop app as a must-need for your chosen business phone solution. 

3. Call management solutions that streamline communications

Time-saving features are key to efficient call management. The best small business phone systems offer auto-attendant or IVR. These virtual phone menus automate call routing by allowing callers to choose where they need to go, so you and your employees can stay on task instead of fielding inbound calls.

Call forwarding and call transfer capabilities are also ideal for team collaboration.

4. Call recording

Set up a script to record all your calls or record on demand for training, transcription, or legal purposes. If you have a business number for recruiting, you can also record interviews to make better staffing decisions.

5. Caller ID

Build trust by setting up a caller ID that displays your business name, even if your call recipient doesn’t have you in their address book. Caller ID usually isn’t available for toll-free or Canadian numbers, but it should be available for local numbers in the US.

6. Voicemail transcriptions

voicemails to emails: desktop view of OpenPhone's Gmail account

Having voicemails automatically transcribed and then pushed to an email inbox or Slack channel when you miss a call is a major time saver. Even if you can’t listen to a message right away, you can see how urgently you need to call back.

7. SMS, MMS, and automated texting

You don’t always need to have real-time phone conversations to conduct business. Wouldn’t it be awesome if you could send texts, pictures, videos, or have group messaging conversations? SMS and MMS are essential services in a world where consumers send 2.2 trillion text messages each year.

If you want to speed up your texting response time, choose a small business phone system that offers automated texting features like snippets and auto-replies.

8. Integrations

Leverage the business tools you already use like Slack, HubSpot, Salesforce, and Zapier by selecting a phone system with CRM and workflow integrations.

9. Shared numbers

Make sure a team member’s got your back when you’re away. Shared phone numbers, like a shared email inbox, ensure incoming calls and texts from customers and prospects are always taken care of.

10. Free phone number porting

Switch providers without losing the numbers your clients have saved on their phones. Opt for a VoIP provider that will port your business phone numbers for free — whether you have a local number or a toll-free number, and no matter how many you have — like OpenPhone.

Why you need a modern phone system

If your business relies on calling and texting for specific touch points with your customers, you need a phone solution that’s flexible and helps you leave a good impression with every interaction. 

Modern phone systems allow you to conduct business from anywhere, support your remote employees, and provide the level of service your customers expect through the communication channels they prefer. 

Types of small business phone systems

There are a ton of acronyms and terminology to describe the types of phone systems being used by businesses today — and some can be used in combination too. But in the interest of keeping things simple, we’ll divide them into two categories: on-premises phone solutions and cloud-based phone solutions. 

On-premises phone solutions

There are two kinds of on-premises solutions: landline phones and private branch exchange.

Traditional landline

Companies once exclusively used traditional analog landline systems installed by phone service providers. Though they were reliable and produced great call quality, these phone systems were costly to set up and maintain. 

Today, analog lines are still in use within large institutions and in places without access to a reliable high-speed internet connection.

But most companies have moved on to phone solutions that provide more features than call transfer and call waiting. 

Private branch exchange (PBX)

As phone lines became digitized, businesses started implementing private branch exchanges, or private telephone networks within their own company. 

These systems require expensive hardware, proprietary office phones, and on-site expertise to maintain, but they provide advanced calling features like call recording, voicemail, call queues, and interactive voice menus (IVR). And they can be further customized to meet a business’ needs.

However, these solutions still don’t meet the needs of modern businesses, particularly for those with workers who don’t need to be tethered to a desk phone waiting for inbound calls. 

Cloud-based phone solutions

The advent of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and its ability to place calls over the internet was a game-changer for business communications. There are two kinds of VoIP services: hosted and virtual.

Hosted VoIP phone system

Most modern business phone providers use VoIP in conjunction with PBX technology — hosting the PBX hardware off-site for the client. This combination makes robust features like call recording and auto-attendant more affordable for small businesses. 

These hosted phone systems integrate with VoIP phones. So while the phone service is cloud-based, the VoIP phones are needed in the office to connect to the service. 

Hosted VoIPs also include online interfaces that make administrative tasks easy, like adding users and making customizations to the system. Some systems can even integrate with many of the productivity and workflow tools businesses already have in place. 

This added functionality costs a lot less than on-site PBX systems. 

But for the most flexibility at an even lower cost, VoIP really comes to life through a virtual phone system.

Virtual VoIP phone system

A totally virtual phone system also uses VoIP. But there’s no expensive backend hardware to manage yourself or to pay a vendor to host on your behalf. Users simply download an app that turns their desktop or mobile phone into a “softphone” that can place calls over the internet. 

Virtual phone systems provide robust calling features and integrations, but because they are virtual, they may lack certain features of a unified communication system like video conferencing. 

However, the many benefits of a virtual phone system — like low pricing, easy installation, scalability, and lightweight footprint, to name a few — far outweigh the drawbacks of including an additional app or two to your business’s toolbox.

OpenPhone: The best small business phone system

OpenPhone chat window

You know the litany of features we listed above? Well, those are all OpenPhone features. Many are add-ons with the other guys, but nearly all of them come standard with OpenPhone for only $10 per user per month.

We might be a bit biased, but you don’t have to take our word for it. Thousands of happy customers/growing businesses can’t be wrong. When you use OpenPhone, you’ll be saying things like “Solid, Streamlined, Seductive, Superpowered” and “OpenPhone is the greatest.” 

Our virtual phone system will transform the way you do business. And because we’re constantly finding new ways to delight our customers with enhanced features and functionality, we’re gonna keep redefining greatness.

Check out OpenPhone with a free trial and see how you can be up and running with your business phone in about a minute!

Small business phone systems FAQs

If you still have questions about small business phone systems as you consider making a switch, check out our answers to these frequently asked questions.

What is Voice over IP (VoIP)?

VoIP is a technology that lets you make and receive calls and texts over the internet. Instead of traveling over copper wires, your voice message travels through the web in the form of data packets.

What is a small business phone system?

A small business phone system is a multi-line phone solution that helps you manage inbound and outgoing business calls.

How do I set up a small business phone system?

Though traditional small business phone systems (like landlines) require a physical setup and the help of IT professionals, to set up a small business phone system, you can just sign up online and invite your team members through email. It only takes a few minutes!

How do traditional PBX systems compare to cloud-based phone services?

Traditional PBX systems are far less flexible than cloud-based phone services. Since your system is tethered to a physical location, you can’t use your phone outside of the office.

What are the benefits of a cloud-based office phone system?

Cloud-based office phone systems offer robust calling features — including business app integrations that are only possible with an internet connection — for a far lower price than traditional phones. Plus, with easy upgrades and no need for brand new devices, scaling your small business is simple.

Can I use my existing phone with OpenPhone?

OpenPhone is compatible with any smartphone with iOS 12.1, Android 6.0, or later. If you don’t have a compatible phone, you can always use your computer to make calls.

How does a small business phone system work?

A small business phone system provides one or more dedicated business phone numbers that companies can use to communicate with their customers and colleagues. The best small business phone systems are cloud-based, enabling teams to access their phone system from any computer or mobile device.

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Author

Emily is a freelance business and marketing writer based in the desert, though her writing is anything but dry. Her passion is writing compelling, human-friendly content that helps growing businesses perform better.

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1 Comment

  1. Justin Robinson Reply

    Curious, what has been most beneficial for you? I see a lot of great phone systems, but each one has a specific need based on the business niche.

    Thank you for taking the time to share.

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