With dispersed, remote, or otherwise on-the-go teams continuing to become more prominent, it’s more important than ever to keep your team connected with your company’s contacts no matter where they are.
When you’re looking for this kind of business phone solution, Sideline’s simple second number set up that piggybacks off of your existing cell phone plan seems like a great option. It helps you ditch the landline and move into the cloud.
But if you dig a little deeper, you may struggle to find a Sideline plan that offers all the business phone features you need.
In this article, we’ll take a look at five Sideline alternatives that might be a better fit for your business phone needs.
What you should know about Sideline
Sideline isn’t actually a VoIP-based business phone system. Instead, it provides a second number and voicemail through its mobile app, which uses your existing cell phone service to place and receive business calls.
With Sideline, you’ll find some common business phone system features, but nothing too fancy:
- Auto-reply to calls and texts
- Group messaging
- Shared or team number
- Business hours
- International calling
What you won’t find is a single plan that offers all of these features. For instance, you’ll have to choose between a shared number or an auto-attendant — no plan offers both.
Sideline also completely lacks some increasingly standard business phone features, like analytics and integrations with external tools. You also won’t find toll-free numbers or call recording options.
While Sideline doesn’t promise a lot of fancy features, and reviewers agree that it carries out its basic function, some reviewers on sites like Capterra express frustration at how inbound calls are displayed and hint at call unreliability, poor customer service, and a high instance of spam and missed calls. Here are some examples:
- “It was very confusing how the calls entered into my primary phone line’s stream, and made it confusing to realize which line they were calling into, so I would often use the wrong line calling out, therefore removing the usefulness of the app to me – to keep my personal information private.” –Capterra
- “Had a few calls that were dropped or not properly connected. Numbers are HIGHLY prone to spam calls.” –Capterra
- The app does not always keep contacts’ saved names, so I will receive phone calls from regular clients but all I see is their number which I do not memorize. Sometimes, text messages do not go through but I do not receive an error message.” –Capterra
Although Sideline’s homepage lists just two subscription plans (shown above), there are actually multiple paid plan options buried in the support center. Some features are unique to one plan — and you won’t be able to get all Sideline features with any of their plans.
All of Sideline’s plans offer free calls and texts within the US, a second phone number, group messaging, and voicemail and auto-reply features.
Here’s a quick breakdown of some of the unique features.
- $9.99 per month
- Only one user/second number per account
- $9.99 per month
- Can either share a number or have personal second number, but not both
- No advanced features
- $9.99 per line per month
- Unlocks international calling and auto-attendant (IVR) capabilities. Both of these features require an additional cost.
- Admin controls to manage phone lines
The bottom line for Sideline
If you’re looking for a flexible business phone system to grow and adapt alongside your business, you’ll want to look beyond Sideline. Its features are too siloed across its plans, so even if you upgrade you won’t necessarily get everything you need.
While its basic features might work okay for a very small business or solopreneur, expanding companies will find the features they need in a single plan in our list of Sideline alternatives.
5 Sideline alternatives
If you’re ready to make the switch to a VoIP-based business phone system, you want one packed with features that work well on any device you and your team might use.
In our list of Sideline alternatives, you’ll find great options with features like analytics, integrations, and multiple phone numbers to keep your business on track. Take a look at these options:
OpenPhone is a VoIP-based business phone system that adds work numbers to virtually any device. Instead of using your cell carrier’s plan, all you need is an internet connection. Use the mobile app on iOS or Android, the desktop app for Mac, or a web app in Chrome, Safari, or Firefox.
Every OpenPhone plan comes with these standard features:
- Free calling, SMS, and MMS to the US and Canada
- Local or toll-free second phone numbers
- Shared phone numbers and group messaging
- Snippets (saved responses)
- Voicemail to text transcriptions
- Call recording
- IVR (auto-attendant) and extensions
- Integrations with email, Slack, and Zapier
That alone is more than you’ll get on any Sideline plan.
OpenPhone base features are designed to support teams as they work together to get things done. By sharing phone numbers, contact records, and more, everyone can collaborate to support clients quickly and easily.
Another cool OpenPhone feature? You can create custom properties to organize your contacts in a way that makes sense to you. Record the date of the call, assign tags or groups, or leave notes to track the status of each contact.
Best of all, the contact management features mean you won’t ever have to worry about not recognizing important calls.
Start your free trial to see for yourself why thousands of businesses use OpenPhone.
With three transparent pricing plans, OpenPhone makes it easy to figure out the best plan for your needs. You’ll never have to choose between two key features — you can simply upgrade or add-on to get everything you need to support your customers.
Here’s a quick breakdown of OpenPhone’s plans:
- $13 per user per month
- Includes call recordings and email/SMS support
- $20 per user per month
- Unlocks phone menus (IVR), HubSpot CRM integration, call transferring, and analytics and reporting,
- Custom pricing based on your specific needs
- Unlocks dedicated account manager who helps you design the right plan for your team
You can add these features to any plan:
- Extra phone numbers: $5 per line per month (each user on your plan comes with one free number)
- Automated texts via Zapier: $0.01 per message
- International calling: Per minute or message based on the current rate to destination
How to port your existing number from OpenPhone
If you already have a phone number you’d like to port over to OpenPhone, it’s a very easy process.
Even better? It’s free! Here’s how to do it:
- Create an OpenPhone account (if you haven’t already).
- Complete your porting request through the OpenPhone app (it takes 1 minute!).
- Leave it up to us. We’ll take care of the technical parts of porting over your number, which takes about 1-2 weeks.
The bottom line for OpenPhone
With its emphasis on collaboration and suite of must-have features like analytics, integrations, and shared numbers, OpenPhone is so much more than a VoIP-based phone system. It’s a critical business tool that helps your team work better together and gives your customers an even better experience.
2. Google Voice for Google Workspace
Google Voice for Google Workspace is a good Sideline alternative — if you already have a Google Workspace account for other tools and apps.
With this VoIP-based system, you’ll get free calls and texts within the US, as well as:
- Second phone number
- Free calls to Canada from the US
- Call forwarding
- Voicemail transcriptions
- Google Suite integrations
- Web and mobile apps for iOS and Android
If you compare Google Voice vs Sideline, you’ll notice Google Voice requires you to upgrade for auto-attendant features. But Google Voice has an advantage where it comes to integrations — where Sideline offers zero ways to connect with other tools, Google Voice easily connects with the Google Suite.
Other Sideline alternatives, like OpenPhone, offer a wider range of tool integrations, so be sure to consider what you already use.
Although Google Voice has the ability to share numbers through its ring groups feature, keep in mind that your ring groups will only be able to receive incoming calls by default. If you want your team to place outbound calls from a shared number, you’ll need to manually set that up in your account.
Google Voice for Google Workspace pricing
This may also be a dealbreaker: before you can subscribe to a Google Voice for Google Workspace plan, you’ll need a basic Google Workspace subscription, which starts at $6 per month.
Then, you can choose the Google Voice plan that best meets your needs.
Here’s a quick breakdown of each plan:
- $10 per user per month
- Up to 10 users and domestic locations
- Includes calling and texting in the US, Google integrations, and voicemail transcription
- $20 per user per month
- Unlimited users and domestic locations
- Unlocks auto-attendant, ring groups (shared numbers), and desk phone support
- $30 per user per month
- Unlimited users and domestic and international locations
- Unlocks advanced reporting and data regions
The bottom line for Google Voice for Google Workspace
If you primarily use Google Workspace for your other business needs, Google Voice might be a good choice. But you might find the lack of integrations and collaboration features limit your team from reaching its full potential.
Nextiva’s VoIP software solution caters to everyone from small business owners to large enterprise teams. It offers a wide range of features and plan prices depending on the number of users and the size of your business.
Here are some of Nextiva’s essential features, included on every plan:
- Unlimited calling in the US
- Voicemail transcription and email notifications
- Internet fax
- Android, iPhone, and desktop apps
Upgraded plans offer video conferencing, integrations, and a caller ID feature known as call pop to help you identify incoming calls.
Nextiva offers quite a few features, but that comes with a heftier price tag. If you run a small business, you might also find Nextiva a little too complex for your needs.
Their pricing is also complicated and depends on how many teammates you sign up. To get Nextiva’s most competitive price — $17.95 per user per month — you’ll need to have more than 100 employees, limit yourself to the “essential” plan, and pay for a full year upfront.
If you’re a small business with less than four employees, Nextiva quickly gets pricey. Below, we’ll break down Nextiva’s pricing for 1-4 users, billed monthly:
- $30.95 per user per month
- Unlimited voice calls, videos, and internet fax
- Includes auto-attendant, toll-free numbers, voicemail notifications via email, and some integrations
- $35.95 per user per month
- Unlocks mobile SMS, conference calls and video conferencing, call pop, and more integrations
- $45.95 per user per month
- Unlocks unlimited participants for voice and video conferencing, unlimited call pop, voice analytics, and extended integrations
- $75.95 per user per month
- Unlocks additional business tools such as sales pipeline management, automated surveys, and customer journey analytics
The bottom line for Nextiva
Nextiva is an impressive tool for all your business communications, but it might prove too unwieldy for some entrepreneurs. You can get many of the same VoIP features for a lower price from another VoIP SaaS provider.
Grasshopper is an app-based VoIP system for businesses. Like Sideline, its main selling point is the ability to provide a second phone number on your existing mobile device. However, checking out their reviews you can see their dated user experience falls short for many customers compared to other Grasshopper alternatives.
You’ll also find the following features on Grasshopper:
- Toll-free, vanity, or local numbers
- Business text messaging
- Desktop and mobile apps
- Virtual fax
- Auto-attendant or live receptionist service
Grasshopper’s subscription plans are based entirely on the number of phone lines and extensions you want. Every plan comes with all the features covered above.
On plans with multiple phone numbers, you can choose a combination of area codes or local and toll-free numbers. Your extensions can forward to any phone number you choose, including a cell phone.
Here’s a quick breakdown of Grasshopper’s three plans:
- $28 per month
- 1 phone number
- 3 extensions
- $46 per month
- 3 phone number
- 6 extensions
- $80 per month
- 5 phone number
- Unlimited extensions
The bottom line for Grasshopper
Grasshopper is packed with features, but that comes with a cost: a higher price tag and less flexibility than some other Sideline alternatives. This legacy VoIP provider may also not be your cup of tea. 🍵 It’s very much a throwback to the early 2000s.
Line2 has a very long table comparing the features between its three plans, but you’ll find there’s actually not that much difference.
Here’s what you’ll get on any Line2 plan:
- Local and toll-free calls in the US and Canada
- Texts in the US
- Toll-free and/or vanity numbers
- Caller ID and call blocking
- Customer support
- Mobile and desktop apps
You’ll have to add on or upgrade for features standard with other providers like voicemail transcription, auto-attendant, and call recording. Also, you won’t find options like team numbers or integrations with other tools.
Line2’s subscription plans are on the more affordable end of this list of Sideline alternatives, but it’s also lighter on features.
- $15.99 per month billed monthly
- $13.75 per month billed annually
The bottom line for Line2
Line2 is a fine option for a simple small business phone system, but it’s likely not the best option. You’ll find better value elsewhere.
Related: Line2 vs Sideline
OpenPhone: The best alternative for Sideline
Most Sideline alternatives are just variations on the same old VoIP-based systems we’ve seen for years. OpenPhone brings something new to your business phone.
With OpenPhone, even “bonus” features come as standard. Every plan offers options for shared phone numbers, auto-attendants, and even email and Slack integrations. The best part? OpenPhone is one of the most affordable Sideline alternatives out there.
|Pricing||Starts at $10 per month per user||Starts at $13 per month per user||Starts at $10 per month per user||Starts at $30.95 per month per user||Starts at $28 per number per month||Starts at $13.75 per month per user|
|Unlimited calling to US & Canada||Unlimited in US only||✓||Unlimited calls to Canada from US only||✓||✓||✓|
|SMS/MMS to US & Canada||X||✓||US customers only||Requires upgrade||Local numbers only||✓|
|Voicemail transcriptions||✓||✓||✓||Requires upgrade||✓||Requires upgrade|
|Set business hours||Requires Pro plan||✓||✓||✓||✓||Requires upgrade|
|Additional phone numbers||✓||$5 per month per number||x||$4.95 per month||$10 per month per number||$14.99 per month per number|
|Call recording||x||✓||x||Requires upgrade||x||Requires upgrade|
|Shared phone numbers||Requires Team Number plan||✓||Requires upgrade||✓||x||x|
|Auto-attendant (virtual receptionist)||Requires Enterprise plan||✓||Requires upgrade||✓||x||Requires upgrade|
|CRM integration||x||Requires upgrade||x||Requires upgrade||x||x|
|iOS and Android apps||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓|
Sign up for a free trial and see how easy it is to streamline your phone and text communication on OpenPhone.
Sophia is a freelance content writer based in sunny San Diego. She focuses on the latest trends in SaaS, digital marketing, and remote work.