What is a Softphone and Who Should Utilise One? | NBC

What is a Softphone and Who Should Use One?

July 25, 2023

what is a softphone

Our helpful guide features information on what softphones are, their benefits, who should use them, and more. Read on to see how you can take advantage of a softphone system.

What is a softphone?

A softphone is an internet-based phone system that allows users to make calls without the need for dedicated hardware. Softphone systems use the internet to make calls and can be used on any connected device.

A softphone system consists of two key parts:

VoIP providers often deliver softphone systems to allow users to access familiar features like call hold and call waiting, remote call forwarding, instant chat messaging, and so on. Softphones work on a range of devices and are popular with businesses all over the world.

How does a softphone work?

First, VoIP-based softphone systems send voice data to the recipient; this data is compartmentalised and converted into binary code. The recipient device will then decipher this message and convert it back to the initial voice data and its associated sound. 

Softphone systems work with real telephone numbers and landline phones, giving users plenty of flexibility. While cloud-based systems are generally the most flexible – particularly for remote working – browser-based systems are reliable too. Both depend on a strong internet connection and bandwidth; learn more about why your internet connection may be slow.

Softphones run on most devices and platforms, including Apple, Windows, and Linux devices, as well as desktops, laptops, smartphones, and more. Since most softphones can run from a web browser, all you’ll likely need is an internet connection, a microphone, and a speaker.

Softphone software mimics the functionality of deskphones on your device, and utilises VoIP technology. The phone’s functionalities are integrated into the software, ensuring a user-friendly and intuitive calling experience. Softphone software offers a simple drag-and-drop interface on your laptop, making it effortless to connect customers to associates, place calls on hold, or send a call to voicemail while you’re busy. Plus, it eliminates the need to memorise specific button combinations.

Embracing a cloud-based system provides users with the advantage of breaking free from reliance on physical devices like on-site servers and traditional phones. Cloud-based softphone systems significantly improve call routing and recording, streamlining important processes within any company.

What are the benefits of softphones?

There are plenty of benefits of softphones for both businesses and individuals, including:


Softphones are highly flexible, allowing you to make a call on almost any device with an internet connection. Ideal for remote or mobile staff, softphone systems enable businesses to communicate quickly and easily.


Softphone systems allow you to provide staff with new numbers so they don’t have to use their personal number at work.

Range of devices

Use your softphone systems with almost any device – perfect for staying connected.

Functionality and features

Softphones come with a range of features that aid communication, such as contact integration, voicemail, and so on.

Cost-efficient and environmentally friendly

Cloud-based systems limit the need for hardware, saving businesses money on equipment and maintenance, and reducing the environmental impact of making and utilising these.

Increased efficiency

Helpful interfaces and features like voicemail transcription, voicemail-to-email services, and more make communications more efficient.

What are the features of a softphone?

Common features of softphone systems include:

User presence

Enable real-time user status updates across your whole team to improve collaboration.

Call hold and call waiting

Get alerts when another inbound caller is on the line and never miss a priority call again. Take advantage of features like call transfers and automated customer callbacks to limit wait times and improve customer service.

Chat messaging

Communicate in real-time with instant chat features – a quick and easy way to collaborate.

Audio conferencing

Seamlessly start audio conferences with large groups to communicate messages to your whole team, wherever they are.

Video calls and screen sharing

Take advantage of video call features for more interactive calls. Share your screen with participants to clearly make your point, use break-out rooms for group work, and more.

Call recording and transcription

Easily record calls for future reference – particularly handy for training sessions and workshops.

Remote call forwarding

Easily forward calls between devices to increase conversion rates and improve customer service.

Call routing

A great way to ensure callers get through to the right person, call routing improves efficiency and increases the likelihood that customers get an answer quickly.

Caller ID

See who’s calling to prioritise work and avoid spam.

Visual voicemail

Save time from listening to voicemail messages with a helpful feature that converts them into text.

CRM integration

Integrate your softphone system with your CRM so all key information is stored in a single interface.

Call monitoring

Listen in on calls between employees and customers – ideal for training and support purposes.

Automated dialling modes

Automatic outbound dialers mean employees lose less time between outbound calls.

Call transfer

Send calls between your workforce with a single click, limiting the time callers spend on hold and improving customer service.

Who should use a softphone?

Softphone systems are beneficial for a range of individuals and organisations. Let’s look at a few specific examples:

Ultimately, anyone looking for a more flexible, feature-rich, and cost-effective alternative to traditional phone systems should consider using a softphone. They’re ideal for a range of users and industries, and offer enhanced communication capabilities through software-based technology.

What challenges come with using softphones?

Some potential challenges associated with softphones include:

What will you need to install a softphone?

Setting up a softphone system is simple; the key requirements are:

Does my business need to upgrade phone lines?

The system you upgrade to will depend on the needs of your business. With a range of features and benefits to each, it’s a good idea to speak to an expert who will be able to give you more information.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact us on 0330 311 1133 – a member of our team will be happy to help. You can also view which phone line is best for your business in our guide.

NBC broadband services

We offer a range of impressive broadband services at NBC, including:

We also offer a range of VoIP phone system packages and business phone and broadband packages, so you’re sure to find what you’re looking for. Learn more about why to choose NBC today. 

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Frequently asked questions

What’s the difference between a VoIP hardphone and a VoIP softphone?

The main difference between a VoIP hardphone and a VoIP softphone is in their physicality and connectivity. Both use VoIP technology to establish calls, but hardphones are physical devices connected to the internet through ethernet cables, while softphones rely on the software installed on devices, like laptops or smartphones, allowing them to make and receive calls using Wi-Fi connections. In essence, both technologies achieve the same goal of enabling voice communication over the internet, but do so differently.

What’s the difference between VoIP and a softphone?

VoIP is a technology that enables voice communication over the internet by converting analogue voice signals into digital data. A softphone is a software application that uses VoIP to function as a virtual phone, allowing users to make and receive calls on their computers or smartphones using internet connectivity. In essence, VoIP is the technology behind internet-based voice communication, while softphones are specific applications that utilise VoIP to provide a virtual phone experience on devices.

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