Phone.com (which begins at 9.99 per month) is a cloud-based Voice-over-IP (VoIP) and phone services provider designed for small businesses. The majority of the company’s customers are under 20 employees. The platform packages a wide variety of phone, call center, and management features into a simple user interface (UI) and at a low price. While its VoIP feature set doesn’t quite equal that of Editors’ Choice RingCentral Office (for Business) and you don’t get the sort of built-in team collaboration and productivity features of Editors’ Choice Mitel MiCloud Office, Phone.com provides an ideal combination of VoIP functionality and dead-simple usability for the small business that doesn’t need more than that.
Phone.com starts at $9.99 for its Base plan, which allots you 100 included minutes per month. Minutes are essentially the only factor differentiating the pricing tiers. The $19.99-per-month Plus plan includes 500 minutes per month and the $29.99 Pro plan ups that to 1,000 minutes. All plans start with a free 30-day trial.
Unlike products such as Vonage and Microsoft Skype for Business, Phone.com does not reserve any of its core VoIP features for higher tiers. All plans include local and toll free numbers, mobile app access, and unlimited users, as well as features such as call queues, voicemail-to-email, auto attendant call screening and blocking, and access to conferencing and the softphone.
There are some premium features and add-ons but they all come a la carte. You can set up an extra IP desk phone, analog phone, or softphone access (on mobile, tablet, or PC) for $4.99 per line. It’s also an additional $4.99 for an extra phone number. There are also additional minute bundles: 1,000 minutes for $35 per month, 2,200 minutes for $77 per month, and $5,000 minutes for $165 per month. You can also get unlimited minutes for $23.99 per month per extension, though that price lowers with volume pricing the more extensions you add.
In totality, the minutes and extensions can get a bit expensive for larger businesses. This is particularly true if you factor in some of the other premium add-on features, such as call recording ($4.95 per month for 300 minutes) and caller analytics ($2 per month for Basic analytics or $4.99 per month for Premium analytics), the costs can add up. That said, Phone.com doesn’t make you pay for any features you won’t use. The tiered plans and add-on features make for a customizable pricing scheme to fit a small business budget.
Setup and Interface
As with many VoIP providers, Phone.com subscribes to the “plug in a phone and it will work” strategy. The company resells about 25 different desk phone and conference phone models as well as adapters, from vendors including Cisco and Polycom, and ships them pre-configured to customers. Phone.com also has free mobile apps for Android and iOS as well as the Phone.com Communicator desktop app for Windows and Mac. The desktop and mobile apps give you access to the Phone.com softphone as well as features such as SMS, conference calling, inbox and call logs, and your address book.
When you sign up for a Phone.com account, you can choose a custom phone number with local area code, along with options for toll-free or vanity numbers. Phone.com also offers international numbers along with added international dialing rates by country.
The Phone.com dashboard is laid out in a similarly straightforward and clean manner to that of 1-VoIP Residential, but with a bit more account information, feature buttons, and settings available at your fingertips than the more sparse 1-VoIP interface. That said, the Phone.com user interface (UI) is still far less cluttered and more modern than what you’ll find in VoIPstudio.
When you first log in, the first thing you see is the top navigation bar with four basic tabs (My Account, Configure, Call Info, and Support), and below that some key stats on your account usage. The My Usage header gives you quick numbers on minutes used and remaining minutes, plus a button to view call logs, and the My Bill header puts your current account balance handy with options to view and pay.
Below the account info, there’s a dial pad worth of responsive buttons taking you straight to the main features. From here, you can click directly into numbers, queues, call routing presets, caller analytics, greetings, and schedules, as well as manage things like call routing presets and call blocking. Finally, on the top right, there’s a quick drop-down option to set your default extension.
Calling and VoIP Features
The main calling features of Phone.com were easy to set up and intuitive to use, particularly on mobile. I downloaded the Phone.com MobileOffice app for iOS, and upon entering my phone and login info was quickly authenticated via an automated call to my device and a code I had to enter. The softphone itself within the app is laid out the same way as the iPhone phone app: with favorites, recents, keypad, contacts, and voicemail buttons along the bottom. Upon clicking the menu icon on the top left, a much larger navigation menu popped up with additional features including messages, fax, conferencing, blocked numbers, settings, and FAQ. In totality, the app was on par with Vonage in offering the most advanced VoIP and softphone features within a responsive mobile app.
From the desktop interface I went into Configure>Manage Users and Extensions and clicked on the edit button next to my extension to test out a number of the call forwarding, voicemail, and notification settings. I chose what number I wanted to appear when making outbound calls from the softphone, and chose from the list of standard voicemail greetings. Upon entering my email address and choosing SMS text notification options for when I receive voicemails, I began to receive periodic emails and texts with an audio file attached bearing the voicemail recording from the test calls and messages sent through the account.
Phone.com gives you a couple different call recording and voicemail transcription options as well. Free basic call recording and voicemail attachment is included, but for an extra $.95 per month you can get 300 minutes of call recording from your Phone.com account or by specific phone numbers. Transcription-wise, you can pay $0.25 per voicemail for human transcription (an actual person listening to and transcribing your voicemails), $1.50 per month per extension for automated voice-to-text transcription sent to you via email or SMS. There’s also a professional recording option in which voice-over professionals will record prompts, greetings, and hold messages for your business starting at $79.
There’s a lot more you can manage from the web dashboard. I was able to edit my call schedule by toggling a slider for each day to set the hours during which I want to be available via VoIP call. You can set daily, weekend, or custom calling schedules set to time zone, and add schedules for specific holidays as well.
Setting up call queues and call routing presets was similarly easy. Adding a preset is a quick form-based experience; you add rules involving how an incoming call type should be handled. For instance: for calls received during workdays, I was able to add an action sending the call into a queue or menu, or a dial-by-name directory of the company’s employees. I could also set calls from specific numbers to go straight to voicemail or hold music, or even set an automatic disconnect. For salespeople managing client calls and interfacing with a customer relationship management (CRM) system, these call routing rules can come in handy.
You can build these actions atop one another to set up for complex call rules. A call might ring for 20 seconds before you set it to play Bruce Springsteen hold music (one of the premium hold music options that costs $0.99 per month), following which you send the caller into a menu with options to browse the directory, enter a queue, or leave a voicemail. Phone.com doesn’t give you the same kind of interactive dial plan editor as Jive Hosted VoIP but setting up call rules and actions was a breeze.
On the data side of the platform, the base call logging capabilities were solid. In the Call Logs section of the dashboard, you can drill down on minutes usage by number and extension, and total minutes used broken down by included, unlimited, overage, and international minutes. I was also able to filter the call logs by inbound or outbound calls, and had the ability to download the logs as CSV files. There are deeper call analytics that dig into call specifics such as duration, calls per hour, and statistics on caller demographics, social profiles, and mobile carriers. Unfortunately, that’s a premium feature. Caller
Runing Your SMB From a Smartphone
As stated, Phone.com’s mobile apps support Apple iOS and Google Android, each version readily available in its designated app store. The two interfaces aren’t exactly the same, however they are similar and support the same feature set. Chief among these for folks who move through a variety of different networks is the abiltiy to easily choose between calling over default cell networks (3G/4G) or WiFi data networks. Any VoIP-based phone provider can make use of such functionality, but Phone.com’s mobile interface makes swapping between them very easy. Both apps also support enhanced visual voicemail, conference calling using your Phone.com extension not your mobile device’s native phone number, as well as SMS texting and faxing.
Phone.com has everything a small to midsize business (SMB) needs from a VoIP provider, particularly the smallest businesses with entrepreneurs who are largely running their business from a smartphone. The platform can’t support the same kind of usage or capabilities as a business VoIP or cloud PBX service and it’s not designed for that. There is a very capable video conferencing service available within Phone.com, but it costs an extra $20 per month.
Phone.com can’t quite match the built-in collaboration features of Mitel MiCloud Office or the overall feature set and unified communication capabilities of RingCentral Office (for Business), but SMBs don’t need all of that. Phone.com is a well-designed, easy-to-use VoIP service for small businesses that mobile-first users should find quite to their liking.