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What Is a Softphone – Your Guide To Everything About Softphones

What Is A Softphone App
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Unified communications may be the default standard for communications experiences today, but few technologies have made UCaaS more accessible than softphones.

But what are softphones exactly?

Simply put, they are software-based phones that play an integral part in any UCaaS platform, providing the backbone for voice, video conference calls, meetings, messaging, and innovation.

Before diving into all-things softphones. Let’s start by addressing common questions related to them.

What is a Softphone?

A softphone is a piece of software that creates a virtual phone in the form of an app, enabling any device with an internet connection to make and receive calls.

This means that not only a smartphone can be a one, but also your tablet, desk computer and your regular laptop can suddenly become a softphone.

What Is A Softphone Explained

What Does a Softphone Do?

A softphone is an app that enables making and receiving calls over the internet without traditional phone hardware, using a device’s internet connection for both voice calls, video calls, and MMS through a VoIP service.

Softphones have the functionality of a physical phone without a dedicated infrastructure to provide services. An Internet connection allows the app to access the VoIP provider’s network to make and receive incoming calls, plus more modernized features you would expect, like video calls, instant messaging, and MMS.

Note: Apps like WhatsApp or Telegram are consumer-level softphones that create an alternative to traditional cell phone services.

How Do Softphones Work?

Softphones function by connecting to a VoIP service via the internet, allowing calls, video call chats, and messaging on digital devices without traditional phone hardware.

Above all else, softphones are designed to be user-friendly. Developers of these apps know that they’re going to be used throughout different organizations, operating systems, and by users with all levels of technical expertise.

As such, special care is paid to crafting software that anyone can pick up and use on a computer or mobile device.

How To Use A Softphone

How Do Softphones Look?

A softphone is a piece of software, so it looks quite similar to any other app that can make phone calls now. Additionally, early softphones were designed to mimic hardware phones, so there is plenty of overlap between how they look and feel — even if one is software and the other isn’t.

Softphones for businesses work similarly, but they’re intended to be put to work for the organization; they’re designed for efficient and streamlined business communications from any modern smartphone, tablet, or computer.

Are Softphones Free?

Softphones can be either free or paid depending on the features and services needed. Free softphones typically offer basic functionalities suitable for personal or limited professional use.

They are a cost-effective solution for individuals or businesses looking to use VoIP technology without significant investment. However, advanced features such as enhanced security, greater scalability, integration capabilities, call recording, and specialized support usually come with paid versions.

Logic Behind Softphones

Will I Need a Softphone Service?

One thing worth noticing is that free softphone dialers might be out there, but that does not mean using this softphone system is free. Most free apps still need a connection to VoIP service providers for the minutes and the phone number, which comes with a cost.

Premium softphone applications cater to businesses seeking robust, comprehensive communication solutions. The choice between free and paid softphones depends on specific requirements, such as usage scale, desired features, and the level of support required.

Free vs. Paid Softphones

Pros Cons
Free softphones allow individuals to access calling features and infrastructure without having to pay. Free wifi calling apps almost always have worse call quality and reliability.
Access calling and phone numbers without the need for a physical sim. Even though you aren’t paying them, you should be aware of data breaches and poor encryption.
Some may offer free international calling. It’s usual to see paid promotions and ads interrupting workflow and usability.
Very easy to set up and start using. Some free products come with poor usability, both in the UX and UI of the softphone applications.

There is no concrete list of differences between free and paid softphones, but lesser services are almost always the most noticeable difference.

What is a White Label Softphone?

A white-label softphone is a communications app developed by one company and offered to other companies to rebrand and resell as their own. This is done by allowing UCaaS resellers to customize, add features, and allow businesses to create custom platforms tailored to their specific needs.

Can you Customize a Softphone?

Yes, you can! Some softphones do allow you to pick and choose the features and design you want. Cloud Softphone is one example of a customizable, white-label softphone that allows you to pick your feature set, with over 300 different types of customizations available.

Other options on the market come with a pre-defined feature set that doesn’t allow you to change anything, or only a few things.

Are you interested in seeing how further you can customize and tailor an app to your needs? Book a free demo today so you can see your ideas in action.

Breaking Down Softphone Pricing

Cost Of Softphones

Average Softphone Pricing

User Type Average Monthly Price Included Features
Individuals $10 – $20 Basic VoIP features, Single device support.
Freelancers $20 – $40 Enhanced VoIP features, Multi-device support, and Basic CRM integrations.
Small Businesses $40 – $80 Advanced VoIP features, Multi-user support, and Comprehensive CRM integrations.
Corporations $80 – $150+ Enterprise-level features, Custom integrations, Dedicated support, VoIP Analytics, Multi-user Support, CRM Integrations, and more.

Cost Comparison: Softphone vs Deskphone

Cost Type Deskphone Softphone (VoIP)
Monthly Cost per User Average $15-$83, depending on the system and size of business (source, source) $10 to $30 (source)
Initial Setup (per user) $300 to $1000 (source) Low to none; setup for on-premise devices around $50 per extension.
Start-Up Costs for Teams of 20 Varies, but a PBX system can average $800 to $1000 per user. Approx $14,500.
Installation Costs $500 to $2500 per device (source) Approx $50 per extension.
Monthly Internet Service $50 to $350, depending on required speed and quality. $50 to $350, depending on required speed and quality.
Hardware Costs $50 to $700 per phone. Softphones may require a headset ($15 to $350) or optional VoIP desk phones starting at around $50 (source)
Operational Costs Fixed (independent of usage) Scalable (depends on the number of users)
Cost Reduction Potential Low High (up to 50% for established companies, 90% for startups)

What Are the Most Important Softphone Features?

Understanding Softphone Key Features

The best softphone apps do much more than place calls. Look for features like:

  • CRM integrations
  • Voicemail
  • Call quality
  • Caller ID
  • Calling line information
  • Video conferencing
  • Call logs
  • Call monitoring
  • Transfers (voicemail messages, warm, and blind)
  • Call waiting
  • One-click calling
  • Full volume control
  • Call routing
  • Text messaging
  • Rich messaging
  • 3-way phone calling
  • File sharing

You may find some of these features with a hardwired phone system, but it’s important to remember a softphone is designed to give users more control.

Softphone vs Deskphone: Which is Best for your Business?

Looking for a direct comparison between softphones and deskphones?

We’ve covered this topic in detail here: Hardphone vs Softphone: Key Differences, Benefits, Use Cases, & More

Business Benefits of Softphones

How Does A Softphone Look

There are many benefits of unified communications technology in the workplace. Some of the top ones include:

Benefits

Why This Matters

Save Ongoing Costs by Using a Softphone App Companies can reduce their phone costs by up to 50% after switching to VoIP softphones. Startups benefit by reducing phone costs by 90% by avoiding in-house infrastructure as softphones are typically billed per user.
Maintain Work-Life Balance on the Same Device Softphones create a way for employees to make and receive calls on their mobile devices, without using their personal phone numbers. This allows employees to balance between their normal phone and company-specific phone.
Softphones Don’t Need a Dedicated Connection Hardware phones work on dedicated connections to ensure voice quality, such as a phone line. Softphones do not require any additional infrastructure and are designed to operate efficiently over an internet connection. VoIP softphone calls also consume less bandwidth than traditional telephone lines.
Eliminate Additional Hardware No more desk phones and multiple lines, no more in-house infrastructure for telephony — all you need is a quality softphone solution. You won’t need to worry about installing and maintaining your PBX server anymore, either. Softphones make all calls over a standard internet connection.
Support Integrated Video Conferencing and Calling A top-tier softphone solution will have video calling integrated. Video calls are quickly gaining popularity. Ensure that your business is ready with the right softphone that already has integrated video calling.
Add New Lines As Needed Adding new lines is easy. Anyone with the right access level can create a new line. New employees should never be stuck waiting for their phones.
Increase Work Efficiency with User-Friendly Improvements Softphones also improve your workflows with powerful features like call transfers, visual voicemail, notifications, file sharing, and more. These set of improvements are essential for call centers and businesses that heavily rely on making calls on a day-to-day basis.
Enhance Business Flexibility Businesses wishing to reduce operating expenses, become increasingly agile, and embrace a hybrid workplace can use softphones. Building and maintaining an in-house telephonic system is going to keep your expenses high. Conversely, softphones are billed based on real usage and the infrastructure is built elsewhere.

Top Softphone Providers You Might Already Know

Softphone Features Flexibility Business

Softphones are everywhere. You may have even used one before in your personal life. Some notable consumer-level softphones are:

  • Microsoft Teams (Previously Skype)
  • WhatsApp
  • Signal

Any other app that allows users to make calls over the Internet regardless of the presence of cell service can be considered a softphone.

Top Business Softphone Providers

What about providers for businesses? There are quite a few big players to explore:

  • Nextiva
  • Bria
  • Groundwire
  • Acrobits Softphone
  • Microsoft Teams
  • Grasshopper
  • Bitrix24

Unified Communications and Softphones Go Hand in Hand

how to use softphone

Softphones can be considered the tip of the unified communications platform iceberg. Take the time to thoroughly understand every feature offered by the softphone and make sure that it has all of the softphone app features that your business is looking for.

Are you ready to finally dive into unified communications? Watch our demo today to discover how we can help your organization thrive.

Frequently Asked Questions

Softphone FAQs

  • What is the disadvantage of using a softphone?

  • A primary disadvantage of softphones is their dependency on a stable internet connection.

    Softphone applications cannot function without internet access, limiting communication capability, particularly in areas with poor connectivity.

    This reliance poses a challenge for users when consistent, high-quality internet service is not guaranteed.

  • Is a softphone the same as VoIP?

  • A softphone is a software-based component of VoIP technology, allowing users to make calls over the Internet from a computer or mobile.

    While VoIP is the broader system that also includes hardphones, a softphone specifically refers to the application that enables VoIP calls.

  • Why is it called a softphone?

  • It is called a “softphone” because it is software-based rather than a tangible (‘hard’) device like a traditional phone.

    “Soft,” short for “software,” signifies that the phone functions are provided through an application running on a computer or mobile device, utilizing internet protocol (IP) for communication.

  • Are Softphones Difficult to Configure?

  • No, softphones are no more complicated to install than any other application, both in desktop and mobile.

  • What Are the Basic Requirements for Using Softphones?

  • Fortunately, the requirements and limitations are quite minimal:

    • A computer or mobile phone.
    • A VoIP headset (or any speaker and microphone).
    • A VoIP (voice over internet protocol) service provider.
  • What is a softphone setup?

  • A softphone setup involves installing software on your computer or mobile device that enables voice communication over the internet (VoIP).

    It replaces traditional phones by using your device’s microphone and speakers, or a headset, to make and receive calls. This setup is ideal for remote work and cost-saving telephony solutions.

  • What does it take to get started using a softphone?

  • You can get softphones for Android and iOS, as well as desktops. To get started with softphones then, you’ll need the softphone app, the hardware to effectuate the connection, and the VoIP SIP account.

    Once this is done, users can start making telephone calls over the internet protocol, enjoy instant messaging, and integrate both computer and cell phone into one account.

  • How Can I Get the Best Quality when Using Softphones?

  • Headsets are recommended for softphone usage to guarantee the highest quality telephone calls. You can also use speakers and a microphone as alternatives, but that can result in the microphone picking up the voice coming out of the speakers.

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Managing Director
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Rafael Torreblanca
Managing Director
Rafael Torreblanca is the co-founder of Acrobits and has served as the Managing Director since the acquisition by SINCH. With over 25 years of experience in the telecoms and VoIP industries, Rafael is a pioneer in the global adoption of Mobile VoIP. With his leadership, Acrobits has continued to thrive and innovate, maintaining its position as a leader in the telecommunications sector.
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