The Best Small-Business Phone Systems

Did you know that 65% of people still reach for the phone to contact a business?¹ That means you need the right phone system. But don’t stress—we’ve found the best phones for all kinds of small businesses.
Best overall
Best for budgets
cisco business phone
Cisco SPA 33 3-Line IP Phone
  • Icon Pros  Dark
    Cheap price tag
  • Icon Pros  Dark
    Excellent sound quality
Best for sales
mitel 5330e ip phone
Mitel 5330e IP Phone
  • Icon Pros  Dark
    Large backlit screen
  • Icon Pros  Dark
    Web browsing integration
Best for expanding
rca visys 25424re1
RCA ViSys 4-Line Expandable System
  • Icon Pros  Dark
    Up to 16-phone expansion
  • Icon Pros  Dark
    2-year warranty
Best for remote work

Did you know that you don’t have to go through a provider to find the best small-business phone system? Too often, small-business owners get roped into choosing a system based on what a provider offers, or you might be subject to other limitations that don’t put you and your customers first. Business.org looks at small-business telephone systems based on the needs of your unique business—whether it’s a home-based operation, a service-based business, or a startup that relies on remote workers.

We looked at the most important things you need to make your business a success: price, features, service and reliability, ease of use, flexibility, and more. Then we identified what types of phone systems are the best match for different types of businesses. We even made provider recommendations so you can make your choice based on what fits your business best.

Compare the best small-business phone systems

Best for
Type
Max phones
Preferred provider(s)
Buy now

Panasonic 2-Handset Landline Telephone

Home-based businesses

Traditional

3

Frontier, AT&T, Verizon

AT&T 2-Line Corded Telephone

Home-based businesses

Traditional, VoIP

1

AT&T

Cisco SPA 303 3-Line IP Phone

Businesses on a budget

VoIP

25+

Vonage

Yealink SIP T23G Professional Gigabit IP Phone

Businesses on a budget

VoIP, virtual

10+

Verizon

Mitel 5330e IP Phone

Customer service and sales business

VoIP

Unlimited

Frontier

Panasonic Small Office Business Phone System

Customer service and sales business

Traditional, VoIP

24

Frontier, AT&T, Verizon

RCA ViSys 4-Line Expandable System

Expanding a small business

Traditional, VoIP

16

AT&T

Avaya IP Office Phone System

Expanding a small business

VoIP

6

Nextiva, Telco

Polycom Soundstation2 Expandable Conference Phone

Businesses with remote workers

Traditional

1

Ring Central

Logitech P710e Mobile Conferencing Speakerphone

Businesses with remote workers

Virtual

1

N/A

Types of small-business phone systems

It’s easy to think a phone is a phone is a phone. But in today’s technological communications landscape, it’s likely that even Alexander Graham Bell would be overwhelmed. To help cut through some of the clutter, here’s a breakdown of the most common types of small-business phone systems.

Traditional

This is the one our friend Alexander would be most familiar with. Traditional phone systems use a phone jack (that’s usually in the wall) to connect the phone to a phone service, and the phone sits on your desk ready for action. In small business, traditional phone systems are also called PBX (private branch exchange) phone systems.

PBX phone hardware can come with single or multiple lines and typically use a customary handset. Most also have options to add a headset. And if you get hosted PBX, you’ll have the same flexibility as VoIP. If you want a hosted or virtual PBX phone system, make sure you pick the right hardware. It doesn’t work with an analog phone line, as it needs to connect to the phone provider using an IP (Internet Protocol) network.

Strengths
Pro Bullet Handles hundreds of lines
Pro Bullet Doesn’t require an internet connection
Pro Bullet Offers on-site or hosted options
Weaknesses
Con Bullet Costs a lot to upgrade or reconfigure
Con Bullet Comes with expensive monthly phone line costs
Con Bullet Requires ongoing maintenance and service

VoIP

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone systems are the most common telephone systems used in business today. VoIP systems share a lot of features with traditional PBX phone systems, but they come in at a lot cheaper prices. VoIP refers to the way calls are made—using a high-speed internet connection instead of a conventional phone line. You can also use a business VoIP system with customary hardware or opt to answer calls using computers, which saves you the cost and hassle of installing phones.

Even though VoIP phone systems can be a good choice for any business, they’re our favorite for smaller businesses because of how flexible they are. With IP phones, it’s easy to add new users and expand features as your business grows. It’s also easy to downsize, if needed. And the overall cost for smaller operations is more affordable with VoIP service.

Strengths
Pro Bullet Offers flexible configuration
Pro Bullet Integrates voice and conferencing services
Pro Bullet Maintains affordable pricing
Weaknesses
Con Bullet Usually requires professional installation
Con Bullet Relies on an internet connection
Con Bullet Suffers from voice quality issues

Virtual

Virtual sounds like something from the future, but it’s actually an updated version of traditional PBX systems. A virtual phone system uses cloud technology and works well with mobile phones. That makes it ideal for businesses that need to keep employees connected to customers on the go.

But virtual doesn’t mean “mobile only.” You can have a cloud-based phone system that works with traditional handsets, computers, or mobile phones. Because virtual phone systems are so versatile, it’s important to have a clear picture of what you need—and what you don’t. Small-business owners can get dazzled by the features and flexibility and end up taking on more than they need in a virtual phone system.

Strengths
Pro Bullet Provides versatile payment structures
Pro Bullet Supports flexibility for remote employees
Pro Bullet Is compatible with mobile phones
Weaknesses
Con Bullet Offers pricey usage charges
Con Bullet Can have glitchy call quality based on internet signal strength
Get your business connected

RingCentral is our top VoIP choice for small businesses because of its unlimited domestic business phone and messaging, starting at just $19.99/mo.

  • Adaptable to your business needs from equipment rentals to toll-free numbers
  • Global infrastructure with an easy setup
  • Easy to scale and find a plan that works for you—regardless of your business’s size
Let us help you find the best phone system for your business

The best small-business phone systems

We’ve grouped the best phone system solutions for small businesses based on business needs. Our top picks are below.

Best for home-based small business

Running a small business from your home comes with unique challenges. You often end up balancing household and family needs with the demands of your business. But the right phone system can help with the balancing act. These home office phones are packed with features for your business plus extras that make working from home easier. Things like cordless phones, noise reduction, cell phone sync, speakerphones, and conferencing make it easier for you to juggle the demands of a home-based business without missing a call.

Panasonic 2-Handset Landline Telephone
Strengths
Pro Bullet Bluetooth sync with smartphones
Pro Bullet Mobile app
Pro Bullet Digital answering system
Pro Bullet Built-in baby monitor
Weaknesses
Con Bullet Landline required
Con Bullet Only one phone line
Con Bullet Complicated programming
AT&T 2-Line Corded Telephone
Strengths
Pro Bullet 3-party conferencing
Pro Bullet VoIP compatibility
Pro Bullet Easy programming
Weaknesses
Con Bullet Glitchy microphone
Con Bullet No call transfer function
Con Bullet Corded handset

Best phone systems for home-based small businesses

Phone system
Type
Recommended provider(s)
Buy now

Panasonic 2-Handset Landline Telephone

Traditional

Frontier, AT&T, Verizon

AT&T 2-Line Corded Telephone

Traditional, VoIP

AT&T

Best for small businesses on a budget

Making your dreams a reality takes a lot of blood, sweat, tears—and money. We know that many small businesses have to watch every penny. But being budget-conscious doesn’t mean you have to skimp on quality or features. We like these small-business phone system solutions because they deliver reliable performance without draining your business bank account or sacrificing a reputable brand name. Both of our top picks come in under $100 per phone.

Cisco SPA 303 3-Line IP Phone
Strengths
Pro Bullet Affordable prices
Pro Bullet Integration with Cisco’s productivity-enhancing features
Pro Bullet Speakerphone, caller ID, conferencing, and password encryption
Weaknesses
Con Bullet Poor noise-canceling ability
Con Bullet Tricky installation
Con Bullet No backlight on the screen
Yealink SIP T23G Professional Gigabit IP Phone
Strengths
Pro Bullet Intuitive user interface
Pro Bullet Crisp call quality
Pro Bullet Quick, easy setup
Weaknesses
Con Bullet No included power adapter
Con Bullet No call transfer ability
Con Bullet Few programmable buttons

Best budget phone systems

Phone system
Type
Recommended provider(s)
Buy now

Cisco SPA 303 3-Line IP Phone

VoIP

Vonage

Yealink SIP T23G Professional Gigabit IP Phone

VoIP

Ooma Office

Best for customer service and sales businesses

Reputation is everything when you’re running a small business, so you need a phone system that helps you take care of customers quickly, smoothly, and dependably. You may need hands-free operation, multi-line phones, and a digital answering system to keep your customers happy instead of frustrated. We’ve picked the phone systems below because of their multiple features designed to support a customer service or sales environment.

Mitel 5330e IP Phone
Strengths
Pro Bullet Hands-free operation
Pro Bullet Customizable settings
Pro Bullet One-touch access to web browsing and contact lists
Weaknesses
Con Bullet Expensive cost
Con Bullet Licensing requirement for expansion
Con Bullet Possible incompatibility with other Mitel models
Panasonic Small Office Business Phone System
Strengths
Pro Bullet Easy installation
Pro Bullet Up to 60 individual mailboxes and 24 extensions
Pro Bullet Custom on-hold music and messaging available
Weaknesses
Con Bullet High price
Con Bullet Auto attendant unit sold separately
Con Bullet Only three incoming phone lines

Best phone systems for customer service and sales

Phone systems
Type
Recommended provider(s)
Buy now

Mitel 5330e IP Phone

VoIP

Frontier

Panasonic Small Office Business Phone System

Traditional, VoIP

Frontier, AT&T, Verizon

Best for expanding your small business

When your small business is growing, it can be hard to scale equipment and services to meet fluctuating needs. Whether you currently have one employee or ten, being able to move quickly when your business changes is crucial to successful expansion. That’s why the phone systems we recommend for expanding businesses work for both small and medium-sized businesses. Best of all, they can expand with your business. We looked for systems that are adaptable, compatible, and—most of all—affordable.

RCA ViSys 4-Line Expandable System
Strengths
Pro Bullet Up to 16-device system
Pro Bullet Call transfer/intercom function
Pro Bullet 2-year warranty
Weaknesses
Con Bullet Corded headset
Con Bullet Phone jack requirement
Con Bullet Caller ID issues
Avaya IP Office Phone System
Strengths
Pro Bullet Four-phone bundle
Pro Bullet Traditional, IP, or hybrid operation
Pro Bullet Two fax lines
Weaknesses
Con Bullet Expensive price tag
Con Bullet Complicated setup

Best phone systems for growing businesses

Phone system
Type
Recommended provider(s)
Buy now

RCA ViSys 4-Line Expandable System

Traditional, VoIP

AT&T

Avaya IP Office Phone System

Traditional, VoIP

Nextiva, Telco

Best for small businesses with remote workers

These days you don’t even need a dedicated office to operate a small business. Many businesses and startups rely on remote workers. This can mean that you bring on the best employees no matter where they live—or that your team is on the go and needs to stay connected during and between client meetings. You may also be dealing with some workers that use desk phones and others that use mobile phones. We’ve found the best communications tools to make collaborating easier no matter how your remote office works.

Polycom SoundStation2 Expandable Conference Phone
Strengths
Pro Bullet Dynamic noise reduction up to 10 feet
Pro Bullet Great sound clarity
Pro Bullet Easy installation
Weaknesses
Con Bullet Analog phone line only
Con Bullet Iffy customer service
Logitech P710e Mobile Conferencing Speakerphone
Strengths
Pro Bullet Smartphone, laptop, or tablet
Pro Bullet 15 hours of talk time
Pro Bullet Small, portable size
Weaknesses
Con Bullet Sound quality issues
Con Bullet No phone charging options
Con Bullet Inconsistent Bluetooth connection

Best conference phone systems

Phone system
Type
Recommended provider(s)
Buy now

Polycom SoundStation2 Expandable Conference Phone

Traditional

AT&T

Logitech P710e Mobile Conferencing Speakerphone

Traditional, VoIP

Virtual

The takeaway

You are a business owner, and that means you’re the master of your own destiny. You should also be the master of your phone system. Don’t let a provider dictate (and limit) your small-business phone system options. Find the phone that works for you and then match it with a provider. We’ve put our research and expertise to work for you to save you the headache of sorting through all the options. Use this guide to help navigate the phone system waters—and once you’ve found what you like, we’re here to help you figure out the best business VoIP providers too.

Disclaimer

At Business.org, our research is meant to offer general product and service recommendations. We don't guarantee that our suggestions will work best for each individual or business, so consider your unique needs when choosing products and services.

Sources

  1. Invoca, “Call Intelligence Index ʼ16
Sarah Ryther Francom
Written by
Sarah Ryther Francom
Sarah is Business.org’s senior content editor. She has more than 15 years of experience writing, editing, and managing business-focused content. As the former editor-in-chief of Utah Business magazine, Sarah oversaw the state’s premier business publication, developed several custom publications, and managed all business-to-business content. She also co-authored a business book with FJ Management CEO Crystal Maggelet. Sarah is passionate about helping small-business owners reach sustained success.
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