The New Standard Features of VoIP Phones

June 7, 2013 by Tom Costelloe

In almost every field that involves technology the standard expectations of what’s included changes with time. Whether by popular demand, to keep up with competitors or by legal requirement, what was once a new shiny feature only available to few will most likely become the standard.

Next time you are in a car take a look around it at some of the features that have become pretty standard: seat belts, airbags, radios, GPSs, power steering, cruise control, and the list could go on for quite some time. If a car manufacturer was to release a new model and not have power steering or cruise control as an option, if not standard, I think people would be taken back and confused.  While the VoIP Phone industry hasn’t been around as long as the car industry it too has certain features that have become standard.

To get a better idea of how the standard features on VoIP phones have changed over the years I took a trip to the VoIP Supply library to pull some older datasheets. If you’re imagining dust covered shelves of datasheets on rolled parchment you couldn’t be further the truth. How we store things has evolved and now within a few clicks I was able to pull up all the information I needed.

With a few datasheets in hand for both old and new VoIP phone models I took a look through to see how the standard features have changed.

IP300 vs VXX300

For my side-by-side testing I looked at the Polycom IP300 vs the . I thought they were two good examples of phones from a manufacturer that had a shared lineage that could be used as an example of an entry level phone for the time they were released.

  • Power over the Ethernet (PoE) – If you want to get an idea of how great support for PoE is in a phone do a quick experiment. Ask all your employees to move their phones from one side of their desk to the other and watch how many power supplies go missing. Like socks in a dryer, power supplies just seem to disappear. In all seriousness the two biggest advantages of PoE are convenience and cost. With a PoE enabled phone you don’t have to worry about being near an outlet or making sure you don’t lose the power adapter. Additionally you don’t have to check the power adapter to see if it will support the voltage coming from the walls when deploying outside the US. The only caveat is to make sure you are using them with a PoE enabled switches. Another huge benefit of PoE phones is the cost savings. If you are deploying 200 phones and you don’t need power supplies that can mean the savings of couple thousand dollars. By my quick back of the napkin math depending on the phone this could be a savings of 8-10%. For our side by side comparison: IP300 – I am going to say no because it required a special cable that still had to be plugged into the wall vs VVX 300 – Yes

I’ll hold my hands up and admit that my findings might not have been derived using the most scientifically accurate processes and that my methods may have been slightly skewed to get the results I wanted . . . isn’t that what all scientist do anyways; but, I think my findings are pretty accurate. In my opinion the features listed make up what I feel should be the minimum requirements for a new VoIP phone.

Now this isn’t the definitive list to end all lists of VoIP phone features that is to be carved in stone and passed down from generation to generation of VoIP phone designers. Far from that it is a small snapshot of where things stand now that is going to change with time. If I was to rewrite this piece in three or five years I am sure the features I’ve listed above would be as standard as a dial pad or handset and I’ll be talking about Gigabit ports, color displays and maybe some features that haven’t been created yet as the new standard features of VoIP phones.

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