Zoom Review – The Good and Bad

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Zoom has become a household name in the communications and collaboration space. It’s video conferencing and collaboration suite is what most people know Zoom for.

But it also offers a business phone system, contact center software, events and webinar management, full conference room solutions, developer SDKs, and professional IT services.

Use the links above to jump ahead or scroll down for a high-level look at how it compares in the market before we dive into the details.

How Zoom Compares to its Closest Competitors: Is It Right for You?

Nextiva is our favorite business communication provider. It offers more comprehensive phone systems and contact center solutions for businesses of all sizes.

It also has an incredibly simple and affordable standalone video conferencing solution if that’s all you need. Compared to Zoom, Nextiva’s a stronger choice for voice systems all around, as long as all of your users are in the United States. It’s also the superior choice for reputation management, SIP trunking, and faxing as Zoom doesn’t offer these capabilities.

On the other hand, Zoom offers communication tools for global businesses, has very cheap phone plans (including a pay-as-you-go option), and events plus webinar management. You won’t find any of these things with Nextiva.

RingCentral can work well for midsize or large businesses around the world that already have an established carrier, thanks to its PSTN options.

If you don’t have an established carrier, Zoom is likely the easier way to build out a new global phone system. Overall, RingCentral’s very similar to Zoom—they offer most of the same products. The main difference? RingCentral’s more established and offers significantly more features across the board. It’s voice products tend to be more expensive because of that. However, it’s notably rigid when it comes to contracts and fine print, making it a better fit for larger businesses.

GoTo is very similar to both RingCentral and Zoom, too. It offers all of the same products, but tends to be the better choice for larger, more formal events and meetings.

With it’s phone plans, GoTo Connect includes unlimited international calling in 50 countries without purchasing an add-on (whereas Zoom charges extra for unlimited calling to 19 countries). GoTo doesn’t publish pricing for its phone plans, though, so it’s hard to tell which is the better value.

Check out our detailed head-to-head comparisons for more details on how Zoom’s specific products stack up against its closest competitors:

Head over to our full list of Zoom alternatives if you want to learn more about all of your options.

Zoom Workplace (Formerly Zoom One): A Five-Star Video Conferencing and Internal Collaboration Suite

At its core, Zoom’s video conferencing and collaboration suite is very strong. Users can share their screens, chat with each other, set virtual backgrounds, dial in, and annotate together in real time.

You’ll also get fully-featured team messaging with file sharing and advanced search capabilities, no matter the plan you choose. There are dozens of similar products out there, many of which cost less. However, it’s evolved into a more robust collaboration suite and the gold standard for video meetings, making it a great choice for businesses that need reliable communication options.

We use it for video calls and lightweight scheduling, so we can personally attest to its quality.

Zoom Workplace lets businesses reimagine teamwork with an all-in-one, AI-powered collaboration platform.

Zoom Video and Collaboration: The Good

Strong free plan: Zoom’s free plan is more than adequate for personal use and for business users who don’t host meetings that are longer than 40 minutes. Even if they do occasionally need more time, they can open up a new Zoom bridge to restart the clock. We have many users who have to do this every once in a while, but it’s not enough of a pain to upgrade them to a paid plan.

Incredibly easy to use: All you have to do invite someone to a meeting is share the link with them. They’ll be able to join in a few clicks, all without creating an account. While more advanced features take time to get used to, hosting and joining meetings is very intuitive.

You can have free and paid users: You don’t have to upgrade everyone within your company to a paid plan—most of our team uses the free tier as it’s more than enough for them. When they need to start hosting longer or larger meetings, we upgrade them. This flexibility is nice and helps keep costs low as the needs of your team change.

High attendee and duration limits: The free plan limits you to 40 minutes with up to 100 attendees. Premium plans extend the duration to 30 hours, which is more than sufficient. Organizers can host up to 100, 300, or 500 participants, depending on the plan.

Whiteboards and recording on every plan: Nextiva and GoTo Meeting don’t have whiteboarding at all. GoTo Meeting and Nextiva don’t let you record meetings on its entry-level plans. Zoom includes both across the board, even if you’re using the free plan.

Automated captions and translations: Captions are another feature Zoom includes in every tier. You have to be on the Business Plus plan to translate them into other languages, but Nextiva and GoTo don’t offer either and RingCentral doesn’t have translations. With that said, Zoom’s captions and translations are powered by AI, so it probably won’t be the most accurate.

An AI assistant for every user: All of Zoom’s paid plans include an AI companion that can create searchable transcripts, identify themes, highlight next steps, provide summaries, and help users rewrite text. You can even ask it about what you missed if you’re late or miss a meeting.

Advanced video features on select plans: Depending on the plan, you’ll be able to create polls & quizzes, stream to multiple platforms, get transcriptions, add your logo and colors to the interface, designate translators, and even assign someone to schedule meetings on your behalf. Nextiva’s solution doesn’t support any of these features. RingCentral and GoTo Meeting offer some of them, but not all.

Email services and an email client: Every plan comes with a built-in email client and calendar directly within the Zoom app. You’ll be able to bring in your existing Gmail or Microsoft emails, centralizing all of your communications so you don’t have to jump between apps to schedule meetings or manage your inbox. On higher tiers, you can use the Zoom scheduler to view others’ availability for easier scheduling.

Paid plans also include complete email services with end-to-end encryption and the ability to create an email address, too.

Lightweight video editor: One of Zoom’s newest features is Clips Plus, which lets you record and edit videos without leaving the platform. You’ll be able to record your screen and video plus trim unnecessary parts and overlay transcripts if needed. From onboarding and training new team mates to sharing valuable conversations with others or on social media, it’s a cool feature we haven’t seen from other providers.

A document editor (similar to a lightweight Google Doc): Zoom Notes is a collaborative document builder that lets user work together both in and out of meetings. It works well for agendas, meeting minutes, or anything else your team needs to work on together. Note creators can also choose whether to allow anytime access or access only during meetings.

While it’s not as robust as something like Google Docs, you’ll still be able to add lists, change font colors, choose different fonts, add images, embed links, and more.

Zoom Phone is included with Business Plus: If you need a phone system too, the Business Plus plan is an affordable way to get just about every communication channel in one. This plan is similar in price and functionality to entry-level phone systems offered by its close competitors, including Nextiva, RingCentral, and Dialpad (jump ahead to learn more about it).

Visitor management and workspace reservations: On top of a phone system, you’ll also be able to manage invites and access to in-person meetings as well as reserve conference rooms or flex spaces within your office. While these features are limited to the Business Plus plan, it’s yet another area where Zoom’s ahead of its competitors.

Customizable add-ons: Zoom reserves its most powerful features for higher tiers, but you can purchase many of them as add-ons if you’re on the free plan or a lower tier that doesn’t offer what you need. It’s an affordable way to customize your plan so you only have to pay for the things you’re going to use. The scheduler, Clips Plus, whiteboarding, and translations are all available if you need them. Aside from those, you can also purchase advanced analytics, the ability to use your own encryption keys, global audio conferencing, or higher attendee limits, too.

Potential Drawbacks of Zoom Workplace

40 minute limit on the free plan: RingCentral gives you 10 more minutes than Zoom on the free plan and Nextiva doesn’t limit duration but only allows five attendees for free. Overall, Zoom’s a much stronger video conferencing solution than both of those, but its free plan is more suitable for shorter meetings and personal use.

Frequent updates may be frustrating: Everyone on our team has fallen victim to running late and having to wait for Zoom to update before they can join a meeting. It’s not that big of a deal, but it does get annoying. We wish there was a way to schedule updates or know ahead of time rather than it starting automatically when you try to join a call.

Support is limited on lower tiers: The free plan doesn’t include any live support—only the knowledgebase, community, and AI chatbot. The cheapest plan gives you the option to submit tickets, live chat if you spend more than $50 per month, and phone support if you pay more than $200. All the higher tiers include live chat and phone, no matter how much you pay.

While most people will likely never need support at all, not being able to get it when you need it can be incredibly frustrating.

Paid plans are expensive: Zoom’s cheapest plan starts at $13.33 per user per month—it’s nearly 2x the price of Nextiva, $3 more than RingCentral, and around $1 more than GoTo. If you don’t need all the tools that Zoom has but need to host larger or longer meetings, there are more affordable options.

Many Zoom apps cost extra: Zoom apps are basically integrations and third-party tools that give you more functionality and let you customize the platform. Paid plans get free access to premium apps for one year, but you’ll have to pay for them after that. Once our year is up, you could have a large jump in price to continue using the apps you’ve already set up and grown accustomed to.

How Much Does Zoom Cost?

Many people can use Zoom for free forever.

You can host as many meetings or calls as you’d like, with the only limitations being a 40 minute cap and up to 100 attendees. If you get kicked off at the end of 40 minutes, you can have everyone join again—you can do this as many times as you need to.

If you get tired of that, you can upgrade to the Pro plan, which is $13.33 per user per month if you pay for a year or $15.99 per user per month with no contract.

It’s more expensive than most Zoom alternatives, but comes with a lot more functionality.

The Business Plus plan includes Zoom Phone, making it more comparable to Nextiva, RingCentral, and Dialpad’s entry-level phone and collaboration platforms. Zoom’s on the more expensive end for these plans as well, starting at $22.49 per month per user.

Head to our list of the best video conferencing solutions for a more in-depth comparison.

Zoom Phone: Refreshingly Simple Systems, Unlimited International Calling Options, and Global Plans in 48 Countries

Zoom Phone is an affordable cloud-based phone system for businesses that don’t need extra collaboration tools. Its pay-as-you-go plan is a solid option for infrequent, lightweight usage.

It can also work well for businesses with offices in multiple countries or those that regularly handle calls outside of North America.

If none of those situations apply to you, something like Nextiva is probably a better choice as it has been around for significantly longer, includes more collaboration tools at a lower price, focuses heavily on improving its voice products, and offers a superior user experience. You can always supplement Nextiva’s phone service with Zoom’s free video conferencing plan if you prefer it over Nextiva’s video functionality.

Zoom Phone lets small businesses set up their own phone systems

Zoom’s Phone System: The Good

Very affordable plans: All of Zoom’s phone plans are way cheaper than other options on the market. It’s able to keep its costs so low because it doesn’t offer any additional collaboration tools, like video, faxing, or team messaging. The system itself is refreshingly simple compared to its closest competitors.

You can pay monthly: Many phone providers lock you into long contracts. With Zoom, you can pay monthly or enter into a one, two, or three year contract. The best part is that you don’t have to sign up for years at a time to get the best rates. No matter how long you sign up for, you’ll pay the same amount.

Three unlimited regional calling options: If you’re in the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, The United Kingdom, or Ireland, you can purchase an unlimited regional calling plan. Rather than paying for usage, you’ll pay a flat rate per user with unlimited calling in your region. Most other providers only offer this type of package to businesses in North America.

Global plans in 48 countries: Not in one of those six countries? No problem. Zoom’s Global Select plan is a bit more expensive than it’s regional calling option, but provides the same phone system to a wide range of other locations around the world. Each country will get a direct dial number, too. If you already have a carrier you like, you can layer Zoom Phone features on top of it with the Zoom Phone Pro plan—this also lets you manage all of your phone systems from one interface.

Unlimited international calling add-on: While Zoom’s regional and global plans include unlimited domestic calling within your country, you’ll be charged per minute for calls to other countries. Alternatively, you can purchase an add-on for unlimited international calling to 19 countries. At $10 per user per month, it may be more cost-effective than paying per minute.

You can mix and match plans: Like Zoom Workplace, you can have users on different plans, depending on what they need. The same is true for add-ons—you don’t have to purchase them for your whole business, only for the people that are going to use them.

SMS and team chat are also included: While Zoom Phone doesn’t include video or faxing, it does provide texting, messaging, and file sharing capabilities.

Includes advanced features: Zoom includes standard features, like business hours, holiday routing, call blocking, the ability to switch devices, and call parking. It also includes several advanced features—IVR, ACD, queuing, monitoring tools, hot desking, elevating calls to video, and real-time dashboards. All of these are included no matter what plan you’re on.

Strong Slack integration: Slack and Zoom are two of the most powerful collaboration tools. When used together, you can initiate calls or video meetings directly within Slack. You can also use slash commands for a wide range of actions, including sharing your personal link, logout, open a whiteboard, generate meeting summaries, and more. It’s a powerful combination—we use both and the deep integration saves us a ton of time.

Supports VoIP and analog devices if you need them: Many people use Zoom’s softphone functionality, but you can also set it up with a wide range of VoIP devices, including phones, headsets, and conference room tools. If you already have hardware you want to keep using, you can purchase adapters to bring analog devices into your new system.

Optional bring your own carrier: If you already have a carrier you like or a long-term contract you can’t break, you can layer Zoom’s interface and functionality on top of it. You’ll maintain the same calling rates and contract, but with the added benefit of Zoom’s administration and collaboration features. You can also have some users on the old carrier but provision new users directly with Zoom to create a hybrid environment or slowly migrate your team.

Full developer platform for customization: Despite Zoom Phone’s simplicity, you can leverage SDKs, webhooks, and APIs to create custom integrations or complete systems. From video and audio to screen sharing and chat, you get everything you need to make the platform work how you do.

Potential Drawbacks of Zoom’s Phone Services

Fewer features compared to other alternatives: Zoom Phone is a simple and straightforward system—you won’t find a ton of bells and whistles. There aren’t a ton of AI features, faxing isn’t available, and premium collaboration tools aren’t included. You can use Zoom Workplace’s free plan or purchase paid Workplace plans, but other phone solutions include more comprehensive collaboration capabilities. However, this is how Zoom keeps costs low.

Interface can feel clunky: There’s nothing particularly wrong with Zoom’s interface, but it doesn’t feel as modern or clean as other solutions.

It’s a relatively new product: Zoom’s bread and butter is video conferencing—it’s where they started and its what made them one of the most popular business tools. Compared to other providers with decades in the business phone space, Zoom Phone has only been around since 2019. It’s had less time to gather feedback, implement updates, and perfect its systems.

Zoom has millions of users and support suffers as a result: Many current and previous users say Zoom’s customer service went downhill during Covid—right when its usage skyrocketed. Because Zoom has such a large user base, it’s a challenge for the company to keep up with service and technical support for its phone users.

Zoom Phone Pricing

Zoom’s pay-as-you-go plans are $10 per user per month plus per-minute rates, which vary depending on the country you’re calling. It’s the cheapest phone plan we’ve seen- and is a great choice for users who don’t spend a lot of time on the phone.

Compared to Nextiva, RingCentral, Ooma, and Dialpad, Zoom’s metered plan is half the price.

For $5 more per month, you’ll get unlimited regional calling if you’re in the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, The United Kingdom, or Ireland. This is a better deal for users with higher call volume.

For users outside of those six locations, the Global Select plan is $20 per user per month.

Zoom’s most expensive plan is more on par pricewise to what you’d pay at the cheapest level with other phone systems.

Check out our full guide to the best business phone systems to learn more about how it stacks up.

Additional Zoom Products and Services

Aside from its flagship products, Zoom offers additional communications tools for business users. You can buy them separately or use them together with Zoom Phone and Zoom Workplace.

Zoom Contact Center

Zoom offers omnichannel contact center software for voice, video, SMS, and chat. On higher tiers, it also supports social media, email, and outbound dialers. The highest plan includes features for larger businesses, like workforce management, quality management, and an AI coach.

No matter how much you pay, you’ll get IVR for chat and voice, automatic transcriptions, surveys, and basic AI tools for summaries, task creation, and text generation.

Overall, it centralizes customer service and sales communication in one, simplified interface with full interaction history for every contact.

Zoom offers an omnichannel contact center to help businesses deliver prompt, accurate, and highly personalized customer experiences

Like Zoom’s business phone system, it’s call center software is very new—it just came out in 2021. It has a much shorter track record in comparison to more established solutions. But its users find that it offers all the right features and very high reliability.

There are three plans to choose from, starting at $69 per agent per month. Compared to other contact center solutions, it lands somewhere in the middle.

There are more entry-level options, like Aircall and Cloudtalk. There are also more comprehensive options, including Nextiva (our favorite call center platform) and RingCentral.

Check out our full guide to the best contact center software for more information.

Conference Room Solutions

If you have conference rooms that require video capabilities, Zoom Rooms can help you equip them with all the hardware and software you need. Starting at $499 per room per year, you’ll be able to host meetings with up to 1,000 participants with recordings, transcriptions, and whiteboarding included.

It also includes multisharing, which allows multiple attendees to share their screens at the same time on as many as three screens.

Zoom Rooms is a complete conference room solution, including digital signage, schedule displays, lighting control, and full room management capabilities.

The only thing it doesn’t include is hardware.

Zoom offers fully-featured conference room solutions with intelligent director, workspace reservations, smart gallery, kiosk mode with a virtual receptionist, ability to control zoom rooms from a phone or computer, scheduling display, enhanced voice commands, and digital signage

Events and Webinar Management

Zoom’s event and webinar management solution is an add-on to Zoom Workplace (which starts around $160 per year). The webinar platform lets you host single session webinars with reactions, polls, quizzes, breakout rooms, and custom branding.

On top of having to pay for two products, it’s webinar tool is on the more expensive side—it starts at more than 2x the price of RingCentral and $30 per month more than GoTo Webinar.

However, it has a much higher attendee limit of 500.

For full event management, Zoom’s priced right in the middle. This product lets you host one live event at a time and includes all the same features at every level, including advanced ticket and tax management, attendee profiles, polls, a lobby chat room, and a backstage area.

Zoom Webinar lets users host events and webinars to train their workforce, grow their audience, showcase products, and build customer relationships

Alternatively, you can choose to pay per attendee if you want to host multiple live events at the same time. This pricing structure is far cheaper, but can incur overage fees if too many people show up to your events at the same time.

Check out our favorite webinar platforms to see more alternatives.

Developer Tools

If you’re a developer or have one in-house, Zoom offers pay as you go video-only and universal monthly SDK credits. The video-only option includes 10,000 monthly minutes for free, with any overages being $0.0035 per minute.

You can add recordings for  $0.015 per minute and cloud storage for $0.50 per GB. Audio conferencing SDKs are available starting at $100 per month.

Universal credits can be purchased in bundles of 100 or 500 (saves you 10%) credits per month—each credit is worth $1. You can use these credits for any of Zoom’s SDKs, including video, recording, storage, translations, transcriptions, room connectors, and quality of service.

Zoom Professional Services

Zoom offers premium services for businesses needing extra help with system implementation, conference room deployments, strategy, and ongoing monitoring. No matter what you need, the Zoom team can help.

Try Zoom for free to explore the platform and see if it’s right for you!

Cait is a banjo player, snowboarder, climber, cat mom, and (former) engineer who lives in Olympia, WA. She's been a professional writer for more than five years, specializing in B2B software with a technical yet empathetic approach that puts data and hands-on experience at the heart of every review.

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