If your business is stuck switching between analog and online communication technologies, you might be wasting time and missing out on the features, savings, and scalability that SIP phones can offer.
In the last several years, Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) has become the standard for modern communication as older methods are getting phased out. This is because SIP phones can link analog and digital multi-line phone systems and even equip remote workers with the tools they need to be part of a dispersed team. They are ideal for businesses and call centers of all sizes, including home offices.
Most SIP phones look like what you’d expect a modern business desk phone to look like—they come with a dial pad, a few buttons, and a small screen. There are also headsets and portable models that work via VoIP softphone apps, giving you similar features with more mobility.
The industry is also growing quickly, and that means there are already a lot of available options and features across a full spectrum of prices. So whether you’re preparing to incorporate SIP technology into your existing infrastructure or contemplating making upgrades to your current SIP setup, it behooves you to consider your options before buying into one.
SIP Phone Pricing Overview
SIP hardware phones come in desk and handset models, with desk phones offering the convenience of larger displays and more features. Meanwhile, headsets are generally cheaper and offer greater mobility, which means you don’t have to burn through your entire communication budget just to get a capable SIP phone.
Entry-level SIP desktop phones can range from $50 to $150 per unit and offer basic features that are suitable for small to medium-sized businesses. Mid-range SIP phones can cost $150 to $300, providing additional functionalities and better build quality, and high-end SIP phones will put you over the $300 mark.
You’ll often find that the price of a SIP phone increases with its screen size and that conference phones and those with more capabilities cost more. Other upgrades you can opt for include cordless phones, handsets, and features like noise reduction. For instance, the high-end Grandstream GXV3380 model gives you the possibility of 16 separate SIP lines and includes a 1,280 x 800 resolution touchscreen with built-in Bluetooth, WiFi, and a 2 MB camera.
Businesses with heavy call loads often invest in higher-quality SIP phones, as the extra upfront cost can result in a more efficient and reliable system down the road. If you can find a vendor with a track record of excellent customer support, firmware updates, and device compatibility, that alone can cut down on your support needs in the future.
For those with stationery jobs, picking up a desk phone or handset is easy—but warehouse employees, event personnel, and other workers who need mobility could benefit from hands-free calling with a dedicated SIP headset.
SIP headsets are simplified versions of SIP phones, connecting remotely to VoIP services so you don’t have to fiddle with buttons and screens on your headset. Furthermore, they’re designed to be comfortable, so they’re suitable for long periods of extended use.
They also generally cost less than the big-screen juicers meant to stay on a desk. For a basic headset with decent audio quality and features suitable for standard office use, you can find options priced between $20 and $50. Higher-end models can cost hundreds of dollars, but these often include advanced noise-cancellation technology, better microphones, and more comfort.
While most SIP headsets are platform-independent, it’s still a good idea to double-check and confirm that a model will work with your specific infrastructure or softphone app before you purchase it.
9 Things To Know Before Buying a SIP Phone
SIP phones can be a great boon for your business, but they can also be a significant investment—especially if you’re buying devices for dozens or hundreds of employees. That’s why it’s important to consider all the key factors so you don’t run into any unexpected surprises.
1. Not all IP phones are compatible with SIP
IP phones and SIP phones are two different things. IP phones work purely with VoIP lines and transmit voice over internet lines. On the other hand, SIP phones can share more than just voice data, enabling messages and video conference calls.
Similarly, not all SIP phones work seamlessly with every SIP service provider, so be careful before rushing in—because if your SIP phone doesn’t play well with your full tech stack, you won’t be able to benefit from SIP-based services.
To confirm if an IP phone is SIP compatible, you can check its product specifications or consult the manufacturer or vendor. They should give you information about SIP compatibility and any additional requirements for proper integration.
2. Conference phones have some curveballs
SIP conference phones can sometimes throw unexpected challenges your way. One common example is a complex user interface that takes much longer to get used to than you and your employees might expect.
Another, perhaps more common example is poor sound quality, including mic echo, static, and muffled voices that make conversations difficult.
You can ensure smoother calls by choosing a high-quality SIP conference phone. Look for a phone with a wide microphone radius to ensure that all participant voices are captured clearly regardless of their proximity to the device. Also, consider whether you’ll need an omnidirectional or directional microphone based on the room layout and position of participants.
Finally, pay attention to the speaker quality of the conference phone. Look for devices with speakers capable of producing loud and clear sound without distortion so that all participants can hear each other well. You should also consider whether your phone should have wired or wireless connectivity options so they can connect to various devices.
3. Some SIP phone features are not universal
Before purchasing a SIP phone, it’s important to identify the key features and functionalities that are essential for your business. SIP phones can serve many purposes, so they don’t all do the exact same things when it comes to standard features like call forwarding, call waiting, conference calling, and leaving voicemails.
Next, pay attention to the audio quality of the phone. Look for noise cancellation, wideband audio, and echo cancellation to ensure clear and crisp voice calls with minimal background interference.
Finally, choose a phone with a user-friendly interface with intuitive navigation and easy-to-use controls to minimize the learning curve for your employees. Consider the display size, button layout, and menu organization for the best user experience.
4. You need a reliable internet connection
SIP phones depend on a stable and reliable connection because they use VoIP technology to send voice data over the internet. If your internet connection is finicky, it can cause annoying issues like dropped calls, garbled audio, and delays in speech.
A solid connection ensures clear and uninterrupted calls, keeping your conversations, chats, and videos in sync. It’s also required for other features like video conferencing and instant messaging to work as intended. Check your upload and download speeds, and contact your provider to make sure your connection is suitable for SIP phones.
5. You need a power backup
While we won’t go out of our way to endorse working in the dark, it’s not unheard of these days for city power grids to go down. And while traditional phone lines might continue to operate during a power outage, your SIP phone system won’t—unless you have a power backup.
That’s because SIP phones rely on a continuous electricity supply to stay online and work properly. Thus, a power backup—such as a generator or an uninterruptible power supply (UPS)—is essential, especially for businesses in areas without reliable power. A UPS or generator can ensure that you can keep making and receiving calls on your network, even during a power outage.
6. SIP phones are vulnerable to security breaches
SIP phones, unfortunately, are not immune to security issues. Like other devices that rely on the internet, they can be susceptible to threats like eavesdropping, identity theft, call spoofing, and denial-of-service (DoS) attacks. It’s also possible for attackers to exploit vulnerabilities in the SIP protocol or gain unauthorized access to SIP phone systems, potentially compromising sensitive information or disrupting communications.
To reduce these risks, your organization should adopt tight security measures, including using strong passwords, regularly updating software, and applying encryption technologies. Additionally, network firewalls and intrusion detection systems can provide an extra layer of protection that will help you safeguard your SIP phone systems from threats.
7. You might need IT help for getting started
Setting up SIP phones can be a technical process that’s best left to a professional who knows what they’re doing. IT experts can help configure network settings, integrate multiple phone lines, set up voicemail, and ensure that all systems interact seamlessly, both online and off.
Plus, IT professionals can provide ongoing support and troubleshooting so your phones spend the maximum time working for you, with minimum downtime. It’s also helpful to keep tech staff or your SIP provider’s number on hand in case any questions or issues arise.
8. You may need to provide training and support
SIP phones often have advanced features that you or your staff will need technical training to learn how to use. If the instruction manual is too dry, an IT professional could teach your team how to set up accounts, adjust call settings, access voicemail, and use features like call forwarding or conference calling.
By investing in one-off training sessions and support for SIP phones, you can ensure your team is well-equipped to get the most power out of their communication tools and be more productive in the process.
9. Keep flexibility in mind
A SIP phone is a wise investment because it allows your business to scale and save money by making calls over the internet—but your needs may change as your company grows. Keeping this in mind, it’s important to look for a SIP phone setup that can scale and grow with you.
This might mean investing in higher-quality phones with more features so they’re there when you need them—or allocating additional room in the budget for upgrades, training, and support. You can also look ahead at your options to add more devices or lines so your communication system can accommodate future expansions without requiring significant upgrades or replacements.