VoIP/SIP phones – What are they?

When searching for ways to reduce your business telephony costs, you have probably come across the terms VoIP phones and SIP phones. 

VoIP/SIP phones connect to the internet via a Local Area Connection rather than a Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN). Most IP phones you see in the workplace use SIP (Session Initiation Protocol), an open standard signaling protocol, which establishes connections between two or more participants. In addition to voice, SIP can be used for: 

  • Instant Messaging
  • Live Chat
  • Video Conferencing
  • Caller ID and many more. 

There are two types of VoIP/SIP phones, Hard Phones and Softphones. 

Hard phones

Hard phones look very similar to landline phones, however, they connect to the internet rather than a PSTN. Standard Hard phones features include traditional call functions such as:

  • Answering
  • Dialling
  • Conference Calling
  • Voicemail

More advanced Hard phones such as the Yealink SIP-T48S features modern capabilities, which include:

  • LED Touch Screens
  • WiFi
  • USB Recording
  • Optima HD Voice Technology


Softphones are software applications installed on your mobile device or workstation, which mimics all the features of a Hard phone. Any computing device such as smartphones, tablets and desktop computers can run softphone applications. As long as you have a microphone and speaker, you will be able to connect remotely from wherever you are. Softphone applications such as the 3CX platform, feature more advanced functions such as:

  • Video Conferencing
  • Instant Messaging
  • Live Chat
  • Client Call History
  • Call Centre Integration
  • Social Media Messaging

Choosing between a Hard phone or a Softphone

There are a few things to consider when choosing between a Hard phone or a Softphone application. First, you have to look at what tools do your customers and employees rely on? For example, would your customers like to speak to your customer’s support team via video conferencing and screen share? Can you boost efficiency in the workplace by giving your employees the proper tools to collaborate better on projects? Does your business operate remotely? 

Most businesses find a combination of both Hard phones and Softphones to be sufficient. Softphone applications are also more cost-effective as most platform providers offer licensing fees as to Hard phones which requires initial capital investment for hardware.  

Be transparent about your business needs and make use of the information to generate your specifications for an IP Telephony setup that will work for your business. 

Simply request a callback, and one of our friendly advisors will be in contact with you for a free assessment and answer any questions you might have.