VoIP Softphones: What They Are and Why You Need Them
When it comes to Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phones, businesses have two choices: softphones and/or deskphones. Both options offer the functionalities companies need to communicate and collaborate effectively. However, there are some cases where one telephony setup may be more suitable than the other. Some businesses find success using deskphones, while others highly value softphones (although it isn’t uncommon to find businesses that deploy a combination of both).
In this post, we’ll discuss more about VoIP softphones and highlight some of their advantages and disadvantages.
What exactly is a softphone?
A VoIP softphone is a program or an application installed on your computer (or any smart device like a laptop computer, cell phone, or tablet) that allows you to make and receive phone calls over the internet. It functions like a traditional phone, but the difference is that any phone-related applications are carried out using your mouse, keyboard, or touch screen. A softphone is usually used with a headset and a microphone, or your device's built-in microphone and speakers.
There are a number of VoIP softphones available today. Leading VoIP providers such as Vonage, Mitel, and Jive offer their own branded business-focused softphones that easily integrate with their VoIP solutions. Other common softphone applications include Skype, XLite, and Twinkle.
Advantages of softphones
Softphones offer many advantages to business users, including:
Low cost - Businesses that are looking to cut costs will find softphones very attractive. Many softphone applications (especially those offered by business VoIP providers) are free of charge. Also, extra physical equipment isn't required, so you can save a tidy sum on maintenance and upgrades.
Complete flexibility - Another advantage of using a softphone is that you can get access to the features of your work phone from your laptop or smartphone regardless of your location (at home, at the coffee shop, or virtually anywhere there’s an internet connection).
Extra desk space - Since no physical device is needed, you can free your office space from clutter. No trailing wires and bulky equipment lurking around every corner.
Disadvantages of softphones
Despite bringing a host of benefits, softphones have a few limitations as well:
Compatibility issues - Because softphones run entirely on your computer or smartphone, it’s important to make sure that they are compatible in order to be functional. Check whether your device complies with the technical and operating system requirements of your chosen softphone.
Supported features - Some features built into your VoIP phone system may not be available on your softphone (although these vary between providers).
Audio quality - Because voice applications share power with other programs, audio quality may be affected.
So, should you switch to softphones?
It truly depends. Factors such as budget, technical requirements, work style, and employee preferences are all important things to consider when making a decision. But regardless of what you choose (whether as a complete replacement or a supplement to your regular business phone), softphones are a great solution for any business. They're inexpensive, convenient, and highly suitable for businesses that value mobility.