Many business managers find selecting the perfect IP Phone a daunting task. Cisco, Polycom, Avaya, Shoretel, Nortel, Mitel, etc… The list goes on and on. At SoundLine Communications our favorite phone manufacture for standard desk phones (as in not cordless or conference phones, I’ll save those for more articles.) has got to be Yealink.

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Who?

Yealink! Yealink is a chinese manufacture of high quality IP Phones that can be used with a range of cloud based & IP phone systems. They provide the best value on the market today. And no, I have no affiliation with Yealink but I really do like their products. When I say value, what I really mean is that they have the biggest screens, the most programmable keys, are the easiest to use, have great looks, and… they are among the least expensive IP Phones!

Big Screen

Big screens on IP Phones make a bigger, no pun intended, difference than a lot of managers realize. Perhaps this is due to many companies still using old analog phones with tiny screens, or, *gasp*, no screen at all! Not only do bigger screens make the phone look much, much cooler, they also can display more information than their smaller screened counterparts. All screens can display caller ID of the current caller, but a bigger screen allows you to see the caller ID of the second caller and depending on the size, the third, fourth, fifth, and sixth callers! Scrolling between lines becomes much easier as you can see the who is on each line without guessing. Also, managing conference calls is much easier when you can see exactly who is on each line. And caller history… be just like on a smartphone. Depending on the model of the phone, programmable keys will often use the screen as an alternative to a paper insert label. And, you guessed it, the bigger the IP Phone screen the more programmable keys with digital labels! So, in conclusion, bigger screens really just make the phone easier to use and Yealink IP Phones provide the largest screens.

Programmable Keys with BLF (Blinking Lamp Field)

Programmable keys on IP Phones are probably the biggest factor to consider when purchasing. Programmable keys are most commonly used for call presence, call parking, speed dialing, showing line keys, and, with good phone systems, initiating features of your choice. For programmable keys to provide the most value, your phone system needs to support BLF. BLF allows for the keys to light up or blink red or green depending on what the system tells it. Without BLF, the programmable keys on your IP Phone are only good for speed dials. Call presence on your phone is when programmable keys are set to show if another phone is in use or on Do Not Disturb. It can do this with a red light, a flashing red light, or if the person is available, a green light. Call parking is an essential feature which when paired with programmable keys can allow you to press the key where you want to park the call, watch it light up red, and then press the same key, which should be lit up red, on any other phone to retrieve the call. Without using programmable keys to help you do this you would have to dial an extension to park the call then an extension plus the parking spot code to retrieve it… Or of course you may just be thinking, why wouldn’t I just use hold? Well, most IP Phone systems, and analog systems for that matter, do not support traditional holding to send calls from one phone to another and require either parking or flat out transferring. (This again is material for another article to explain why parking exists and why you can’t just use hold like you are used to.) On top of the features that you would think programmable keys would be good for, they are also needed on most phones to be used as line keys. Line keys on IP Phones are really only good for answering more than one call on the same phone. For example, the receptionist would need the most. (More on this in another article.) So, if you would ever answer two calls or more at once, you would need two line keys to do it. With newer models, like the latest Yealink series, you do not need line keys and can answer as many lines as the phone supports. Some IP Phones have line keys that are hard coded and are not considered programmable keys. Finally programmable keys can be used to execute and show the status of popular features such as cell phone forwarding, night/day mode, and more. Essentially, a rule of thumb would say you would want at least 2 line keys per phone person (or ideally a phone that does not need line keys), 3 parking spots for every 10 lines, and a key for each phone you would like to see the status of. The receptionist phone may want a key for each phone, an executive may only need to see a few key people, a phone in the breakroom only needs park buttons and the phone in the waiting room may not have any programmable keys at all. It is needless to say that the more programmable keys, the more functional the phone becomes and Yealink IP Phones have the most programmable keys.

Ease of Use

While most phones are in fact easy to use,Yealink IP Phones are as easy to use as they come as well. While having the obvious benefits of larger screens and more programmable keys on most models, the phones are actually very intuitive to use by themselves. They have large buttons with clear descriptions. The manual is very simple as well. The best thing about them is how easy they are for the service provider to program. All of the buttons can be remotely programmed and so can remote phone books which allow all phones to view one shared contact list. It is also easy for the end user to login to the phone via a web browser and program their designated speed dial keys. While, this may not sound that interesting, other phones are much more difficult to program, do not support remote phone book, and have misleading menus and hard to read buttons. It is easy to say Yealink is the winner here.

Looks

Let’s face it. A lot of phones look really bad because most managers do not really want to spend extra on a fancier phone. Yealink took that to heart and made all of their phones look “elegant” so there is no reason not to have a sleek looking phone.

Price

Finally! Everyone wants a fair priced IP Phone but everyone wants to pay for quality, functionality, ease of use, and reliability. In the past, managers were forced to spend a lot of time researching, usually to end up with the most expensive product, to ensure that it had all these qualities. Nowadays, managers look to the legacy brands first and assume that their high cost still carries the same meaning. Well, since IP Phones are really all the same with the only major differences being the size of the screen and the amount of programmable keys, it would make most sense to buy the one with the biggest screen and the most amount of keys that you can afford. If one goes bad, you just replace it with another. And keep in mind, phones don’t just go bad. The only way phones die is if they get surged or they come from the factory dead in the first place. So, by this logic, Yealink, which produces IP Phones for close to HALF the price of Cisco or Polycom (when comparing models with similar keys and screens), easily provide the best value on the market today, hands down.