How do you choose the right IP phone for your business? To help you answer that, we offer the following broad, third-party review of IP phones from Aastra, Grandstream, Polycom and Snom. We also explore the question, "What makes a good IP phone?"
To find a quality IP phone, start by looking at Polycom IP phones. On their Website, Polycom states they provide "best in class voice, video and telepresence." Many would agree that Polycom is indeed the global leader in Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) phone manufacturing. What gives Polycom IP phones an edge over the others?
As some background, Polycom has an edge over their competitors because they were one of the first manufacturers to ship IP phones, debuting their SoundPoint IP 500 in 2001. At the time, Snom had the Snom 100 model on the market but Grandstream wouldn't deploy their first phone until 2003. Aastra didn't arrive on scene until 2006 with their 480i. These early years were critical for Polycom because their phones reflect the extra development time in their maturity.
First advantage of Polycom IP phones: design
What is it about Polycom phones that make them so much more reliable than those from Aastra, Grandstream and Snom? The first noticeable advantage presented by the Polycom phones is that they simply look like modern IP phones-not analog PBX throwbacks. Polycom phones have a large screen with a clear, readable display, and their overall design is modern and sleek. In comparison, Snom phones have only a two-line screen with fewer contrast options. Likewise, using a Snom phone feels similar to using a phone that's still hard-wired into a PBX in the server closet.
Aastra phones also do not maintain a modern feel and usability. For example, while Aastra phones have an excellent feature where the user can program hard keys to predefined functions, most models require that the user have a pen and paper to record which function he has assigned to each key.
In summary, the Aastra and Snom phones function on par with Polycom phones, but design details such as these make them much less inviting and friendly to users. Does appearance really make such a big difference for a desk phone? Just ask Apple stockholders what they think about the importance of sleek design.