It’s not so much about the ‘best’ softphone, but the right one. The softphone app generally comes with hosted VoIP services, although you may be able to use other softphone apps – such as Skype Teams – with your VoIP service. You may also be able to integrate your customer relationship management (CRM) or other applications with your softphone app to enable users to make and take calls when they are using that core application. That might be particularly important if you were running a call centre, for example.Back to top
What is a VoIP softphone?
When is phone not a phone? When it’s a ‘soft’ phone. That’s not really a joke because a softphone is not really a phone at all – it’s a piece of software. That software sits on your laptop, desktop, tablet, or even on your cellular smartphone, and acts as a virtual telephone that links you to your hosted VoIP service.
While all the work is done with software, you will often access the capabilities of your online voice service through a console screen that at last partially resembles the set-up on a physical phone. The softphone program will give you access to a whole range of familiar telephony functions. The ability to dial a number, re-dial, pickup messages, view call lists and in terms of number dialling and view your call history, for example. And do simple things, such as mute your handset, hold and transfer a call, and so on.
If you use to IP phone to access your VoIP service, all these capabilities will be accessible through the physical controls on that device – and in that sense, it is much more of a simulation of the way old-style handsets worked. If you prefer that, no problem – it’s certainly an option you can choose with VoIP services. Most desktop VoIP phones also come with small screens through which you can access other features as well.Back to top
What are VoIP softphones used for?
It is through the softphone that you are able to make and receive calls on your device. It also gives you access to all the features and benefits that your VoIP service provides. Essentially it does everything that a physical handset would have done, but on your device.
Of course, while the functions can capabilities of your VoIP service will all be accessed through the software application on your device, there is still a physical aspect to making a call that can’t be avoided – you need to be able to hear the person or persons at the other end of the call, and you need them to hear you.
The softphone will allow you to use the microphone and speakers on your laptop or other device, or you can purchase a headset for the purpose, which can be preferable as it shuts out a lot of peripheral noise (such a keyboard being used) and makes it easier to pick up your voice as well. There is a great choice of headsets available on the market and your VoIP service provider or reseller should be able to help you select the right one for your needs.Back to top
Best VoIP softphone app available
There is not really a ‘best’ softphone application as such; as with any software or service, you should choose the one that best suits your needs. What that really means though is that you should choose the best VoIP service for your business – or for home use. You can’t use a VoIP service without a softphone of some kind – and all the major providers – Gamma, Vonage, BT and so on, will provide you with a way to access their services and all the functionality they offer through their own-labelled software applications.
These apps are all based on similar core software programs, so they are very well tried and tested, and work very well. They will also be very secure, although making sure that your online security is up to scratch is a wider issue and you should look at that separately.
Quality may also be a consideration. Obviously, all VoIP services have to provide you with good quality audio, and what you get will depend to a large degree on the quality of your connection and available bandwidth. But if you really need the highest sound quality, it’s worth checking that the software will support high-quality audio that meets your required standards.
In some cases, there may be some limitations on the operating system platforms on which the software can be used. Most will be available for Microsoft Windows, Apple iOS, and Google Android – but it’s worth checking just to make sure the softphone application will run in your particular platform of choice.Back to top
Choosing the best VoIP softphone for your business
As we’ve already noted, it’s not so much what’s the best VoIP softphone, but what to look for in a VoIP provider for your business. You will need to assess each one on its merits and match its capabilities, ease-of-use, and other facets, against your own needs. But how the softphone app works and the features and capabilities it offers should certainly be a consideration when you are deciding which VoIP service to adopt.
There are going to be features of the application that you might find particularly useful, such as the ability to launch a web browser from within the softphone (i.e., without having to switch to another window), to view further information, for example. In some cases, it may be possible to tailor the software to your needs – but that may also incur an extra cost. What kind of help and support is available might also be a consideration.
It possible is also to use other programs – such as Microsoft 365 or Teams, or Google Workspace, for example – with your hosted VoIP service, but you may need some additional software if you want to do that? You might want to do this if, for example, you had decided to use Teams as the central hub of all your communications and collaboration between employees and partners. With many organisations how adopting more hybrid working practices, with more staff working at home more often, this is entirely possible.Back to top