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Cloud VoIP phone solutions help you move your business phone system to the cloud to streamline communications, leverage more advanced features, and operate at a higher level of security. But not all cloud-based systems are built equal, so we’ve gone through dozens of providers and their features to find the best in class. We found that Nextiva excels in one area you absolutely cannot compromise on when looking for a cloud solution: reliability.
The Best Cloud-Based Phone System for Most
We recommend Nextiva to most businesses for its unparalleled ease of use and support. It’s feature-rich enough but not hugely customizable, but that’s the point—it’s ready out-of-the-box for non-technical teams to be able to get started quickly. And while the product is great, it’s the reliable service that really sets Nextiva apart.
The Best Cloud-Based Phone Options to Consider
- Nextiva – Best for most businesses
- RingCentral Office – Best for sales organizations
- InterMedia Unite – Best unified-communications-as-a-service (UCaaS) solution
- Dialpad Talk – Best for voice-to-text capabilities
- Aircall – Best for customer relationship management
- CloudTalk – Best for inbound support calls
- GoToConnect – Best for flexible configurations
When It Makes Sense to Invest Into a Cloud-Based Phone System
Cloud-based phone systems generally make sense for cost, flexibility, scalability, and security reasons.
For example, companies moving from on-premise to the cloud can quickly replace old hardware that’s too expensive or restrictive to run. The cloud offers much cheaper and more secure phone services, plus additional features that enable digital transformation, like software integrations and analytics. And you only pay for what you use.
And for remote teams, extending corporate communications across multiple locations can be a challenge without the IT infrastructure. The cloud provides this infrastructure remotely, enables device-independent softphone clients to mirror all the functionality of your physical business phones, and connects your phone system to your customer relationship management (CRM) tools.
In other words, a cloud-based phone system turns your phone into an app so that there’s no need to be tied to an office in order to do your job or run your business.
As promising as this all sounds, there are caveats.
Before you buy you need to know exactly how you’re going to use it and how your existing system affects the service and costs. For example, will you replace your old system, or augment it with cloud-based phones? If you already have VoIP phones that can be added to a cloud system, great, but traditional phones may require an expensive VoIP adaptor.
Cloud-based systems are entirely dependent on two things: the internet, and control over your data. Your cloud phone service is only as good as your internet connection, so if the connection isn’t strong your business should not choose a cloud-based phone system. A traditional landline may be the better option.
And if yours is the type of business that requires complete control over your system and data, the prospect of a cloud-based system will either be impossible or uncomfortable. A cloud system may not be the best fit since data is routed through the provider and stored on their servers, which may provide insufficient security for your business.
#1 – Nextiva — The Best for Most Businesses
Nextiva combines a phone system, mobile app, video meetings, and collaboration tools into one platform. Its business VoIP phone system, which is fully cloud-based and rated #1 among cloud phone systems by U.S. News, is designed primarily for small and medium-sized businesses. But it’s great for businesses of all sizes that are specifically operating in or moving their phone systems to the cloud.
More than 100,000 customers trust Nextiva, and no wonder when you look at the reliability of its performance (99.999% uptime) and, more importantly, its customer service. It’s largely the quality of customer support that separates providers on this list, and Nextiva’s support is at the top of the list for a reason.
With Nextiva, users have no trouble quickly getting through to professional and attentive support staff. It’s also easy to get in touch with support in whatever way is convenient for you—phone, email, or chat—as well as to access helpful support videos.
Nextiva offers an attractive user interface and smooth performance that is extremely easy to use for most people. It also syncs with all the tools most businesses are already comfortable using—QuickBooks, Microsoft 365, Google Suite, Sage. So you can rest assured the product is easy to use.
One of my favorite highlights of the dashboard is being able to monitor call flow in real-time, so I can ensure I always have sufficient rep coverage and calls are never missed. You can easily make changes to the call flow without having to wait hours on hold, too.
Nextiva offers several pricing tiers, ranging from $18.95 to $57.95 per user per month with annual payment. You can get started with a demo by contacting Nextiva or sign up for a generous 30-day trial here.
#2 – RingCentral Office — The Best for Sales Organizations
More than 400,000 customers worldwide use RingCentral, another leader in the UCaaS market. Like other UCaaS services, RingCentral goes beyond cloud PBX to include team chat, collaboration tools, conferencing, and contact center capabilities.
But here’s where RingCentral differs: it’s great for enterprise sales. It includes all features a sales-driven organization would need, no matter how complex their operations, including AI-powered insights and seamless integration with a multitude of productivity tools and CRMs, including, most notably, Salesforce.
Other providers integrate with Salesforce too, but nowhere near as cheaply and effectively, especially for small companies. You can make a call in one click straight from within Salesforce and automatically log calls for more efficient tracking and workflows.
Also noteworthy: RingCentral offers by far the most robust mobile app among providers on this list—a boon for teams that need to be able to keep in touch and engage with customers on the go. It’s easy to use remotely for calls and texts from any device and even from “local” numbers—just a matter of copy and pasting the contact and hitting dial.
Pricing is based on features and the number of users on your plan. The more users, the less you pay per user.
For up to 20 users, rates (billed annually) start as follows:
- Essentials — $19.99 per user per month
- Standard — $27.99 per user per month
- Premium — $34.99 per user per month
- Ultimate — $49.99 per user per month
Try any plan free for 15 days or get started with a demo.
#3 – InterMedia Unite — The Best UCaaS Solution
InterMedia offers five communications tools and InterMedia Unite is the best all-inclusive package available. It’s a fully cloud-based, unified-communications-as-a-service (UCaaS) platform, primarily designed for small businesses, that provides not just a business phone system but added capabilities for video conferencing, team chat, screen sharing, and file management with Google and Microsoft apps and services.
This makes it a contact center, conferencing, and collaboration solution in one, with the opportunity to centralize and drastically simplify your critical business operations. (Again, InterMedia is most cost-effective for small offices.)
What makes InterMedia especially popular among its users are the conferencing, screen sharing, and webinar hosting capabilities through its product AnyMeeting.
In fact, some businesses use the platform for AnyMeeting alone, it’s that effective. This is the solution for you if you’re presenting slides and videos regularly to large audiences of customers or internal staff—InterMedia allows up to 200 web participants for a reasonable price.
It’s easy to upload files and switch from phone to video. You get unlimited call recording and cloud storage. And the screen share capabilities plus a dedicated phone line to bypass audio issues make the solution perfect for remote access.
As an added bonus, no matter the plan you buy, InterMedia throws in a free phone (either a Polycom or Yealink) for every purchased user.
With the introductory plan, you can host video conferences with up to 30 participants and audio-only conferences with up to 200 participants. The Intermedia Unite package includes four plans, ranging from $15.99-$32.99 per user per month.
There are also integration capabilities and add-ons available. Reach out to Intermedia to get a pricing quote.
#4 – Dialpad Talk — The Best Voice-to-Text Capabilities
Dialpad leverages artificial intelligence (AI) and voice-to-text technology through one of the coolest features I’ve seen in a business phone system—called VoiceAI—which transcribes your calls in real time and highlights specific action items mentioned.
As you would expect, the AI isn’t yet perfect, but this is a unique feature that works a decent 90% of the time and comes in very handy—with your meeting notes taken for you, both parties can have a focused discussion, then easily review what was discussed for efficient follow-up.
AI also powers the service’s powerful reporting and analytics for insights into improving your team’s performance. You can easily track call volume, time, and even break the analysis down by team member.
AI capabilities aside, Dialpad fits well into your cloud ecosystem. Built entirely from the ground up on Google Cloud Platform, it seamlessly integrates with G Suite as well as other business-critical CRM applications like HubSpot, Zendesk, and Salesforce (although, compared to Ringcentral, its Salesforce integrations are limited unless you upgrade to the Enterprise plan).
Dialpad expertly strikes a fine balance between feature-rich and easy to navigate. It’s quick to install and easy to set up—your team can get up and running within minutes and port all contacts within days. Ongoing administration is easy, too.
There are three pricing plans, all of which come with a free 14-day trial. The Standard and Pro plans have transparent pricing, at $15 and $25 per user per month respectively. For the Enterprise plan, you’ll need to contact Dialpad for a quote.
#5 – Aircall — Best for Customer Relationship Management
A solid option for sales and service teams, Aircall includes a wide range of CRM, helpdesk, and productivity functions as well as more than 70 integrations with popular CRM and helpdesk tools—HubSpot integrates particularly well, but also Zendesk, Zoho, Freshdesk, Slack, and more (though there’s no direct Salesforce integration at time of writing).
Aircall’s real-time analytics suite further drives efficiency by processing all the information sales and service reps need to be successful. Key metrics are easy to digest at a glance in the main dashboard.
Aircall is also a great global solution. It’s easy to add numbers from 100+ countries, and even its customer service is international, meaning your team gets dedicated support wherever in the world it’s distributed.
A couple of things to note: Aircall is only good for a minimum of three users. And reportedly, the sound quality is poor without a strong internet connection—at least 10 Mpbs.
It’s also a little on the pricier side compared to others on this list. There are two transparent pricing plans to choose from, at $30 and $50 per user per month, plus a custom option that requires a quote. You can try any of these plans free for five days.
#6 – CloudTalk — Best for Inbound Support
Like Aircall, CloudTalk was primarily designed for sales and service organizations. It’s well-suited to startups and fast-growing businesses like ecommerce, with its focus on improving customer experiences and team performance.
But unlike many VoIP providers, there’s no extra charge for incoming calls. This is what makes CloudTalk perfect for inbound support. Think of it as a call center in the cloud.
It even integrates well with customer service and helpdesk tools—Freshdesk, LiveAgent, and others.
And it includes a lot of nifty features in a surprisingly snappy, modern interface, further saving time and hassle. With CloudTalk, you can easily forward calls and add custom tags to track how they went, record all calls, and set reminders and see recommended next steps for following up. Plus you can track how many calls are made daily, and when they were connected, to better manage lead pipeline and remote teams.
Choose from three tiers ranging up to $40 per user per month, or contact CloudTalk for a custom plan. You can get started at any level with a 14-day free trial.
#7 – GoToConnect — Best for Flexible Configurations
Turning your phone into an app means a significant opportunity for flexibility and integration, and GoToConnect does this best.
Formerly Jive, GoToConnect combines Jive’s VoIP phone systems with GoToMeeting’s web, audio, and video conferencing to create one 100% cloud-based UCaaS solution.
If you’ve used GoToMeeting, you’ll know the mobile app is second to none. I hoped to see the same ratings for GoToConnect, but it looks like there are still a few kinks to work out in their mobile offering. Otherwise, this is a rock-solid solution.
Of all cloud phone providers on this list, GoToConnect has the best feature set for the price. It comes packed with more than 100 features across voice, call management, and video conferencing, for as low as $22 per user per month.
GoToConnect also offers extensive options for configuration. Its amazing PBX configuration tool allows you to set up things like custom call routing, while its interactive dial plan editor lets you edit dial plans on the fly.
Some settings can be hard to find, but that’s where GoToConnect’s support comes in. The provider’s support staff can take you through onboarding step-by-step, with an extensive support center as a backup.
Ultimately, this is the solution for you if you want a fast setup and a flexible solution that you can change and adapt quickly.
A big bonus for some teams: Pricing doesn’t lock you into a contract, so your cloud phone services can grow and shrink with your business. There are three plans available, ranging between $22 per user per month on the low end up to $39 on the high end.
Methodology for Choosing the Best Cloud-Based Phone System
There are a few things every cloud phone system should be able to do well, like call quality, call forwarding, using an internet connection to make calls across any device, and the ability to work across channels (known as UCaaS, which are generally cloud-based). Every entry on this list can do these things well enough to rate a recommendation.
To evaluate cloud-based systems, there are several other factors that will make your decision process easier. Here’s the methodology we used to narrow down the top solutions on our list.
Integrations and Scalability
Most businesses use cloud phone systems to support sales and service, alongside multiple applications and services: the company website, productivity suite, and CRM. So first and foremost, it’s important that your cloud-based phone system integrates with the tools you’re already using.
Factor your business’s long-term strategic planning into this buying decision to ensure that your chosen solution can ensure continued integration and performance, as well as being able to scale up and down as your business needs change.
“Integration” also applies to applications within the phone system itself. To avoid inefficiencies or management complexity—the opposite of what you want from a cloud platform—your users must be able to access all features they need through a single interface.
Security and Compliance
As I mentioned earlier, security requirements might make or break this decision for you. If you’re going to entrust your data to a cloud provider, make sure the security it offers is sufficient for your needs.
This includes compliance. Does the cloud provider have experience with your industry, for example? Can it demonstrate its ability to meet your compliance requirements, today and in the future?
Every cloud provider worth its salt should be able to prove that your data and apps will be secure and your compliance needs met.
How quickly can the provider get you up and running with your new cloud-based phone system? This is a huge factor for businesses looking to move to the cloud without disrupting service to their customers and partners.
Adopting any cloud service means training (often non-technical) teams to use it to its maximum advantage, educating users on how to navigate the system, how it differs from a landline, how it integrates with your CRM platform, and how all this can improve their performance. Not an easy task to drive adoption among users who are happy with their legacy system.
So pay special attention to the provider’s education and support offerings—particularly self-service resources you can use in a pinch. Also, look at how the provider supports migration. You don’t have to move everything to the cloud at once, so the provider must be able to support a phased approach if need be.
Nextiva is our top overall recommendation. That’s because we think reliability is key in cloud VoIP, and Nextiva knocks it out of the park with all the features and support you need to ensure a successful deployment—and success in the long-term—even if you’re new to the cloud. Not sure if Nextiva is right for you? Use this guide and methodology to narrow down your options as you shop around. And remember that in most cases, you can test a provider’s features and reliability before you commit.