Updated Oct 2020
We wager you landed on this article for one of two reasons:
You currently use 3CX and think it’s time to look for a new VoIP provider,
You’ve researched 3CX but aren’t sure it’s the right choice for your business.
Whether it’s one of these cases or a mystery third, you’ve come to the right place for alternatives to 3CX. No one beats 3CX on price, so if that’s your main concern, you might want to check them out first. We aren’t exaggerating; at the time of this post, their most expensive plan was under $2 per user per month. For this price, you get some basic communication tools like voicemails and faxes sent to email and team chat with status updates.
But every small business is unique, with different needs when it comes to connecting with their customers. For example, 3CX might be the best bet if your budget is tight and you need to get your cloud phone up and running, but additional features and quality of service are limited. Chances are you’ll outgrow this platform as your business expands, if you haven’t already.
If 3CX isn’t the best fit for your business, that’s okay. There’s good news about the world of VoIP technology today: you have options!
Lots of options.
So many options, in fact, that it’s hard to know where even to start.
Before the cold sweat kicks in: we’ve got you covered. We rounded up and ranked six of the top alternatives to 3CX, with small businesses in mind. These products are affordable options (some more than others) that offer different levels of service and features, depending on your price point and goals.
How we ranked these alternatives to 3CX
These are the criteria we used for this comprehensive ranking of UCaaS products:
- Ease of use. Time is a valuable resource for small businesses, so we looked into customer reviews about each product’s ease of use and customer support.
- Quality of service. In a small business, outages can mean a loss of real customers. How reliable is the cloud phone connection?
- Affordability. Every dollar counts when you run a business. How much will this service impact your bottom line?
- Integrations. How well does the platform sync with your current applications, like your CRM or email client? The less toggling you have to do, the better.
- Customer support. How easy is it to reach them, and how helpful are they in a crisis?
- Overall value. Affordability is important, and what you get for that price determines a product’s true value. A la carte apps might look cheapest on the surface, but add-ons can really add up.
Based on these criteria, here’s our ranking of 3CX alternatives and what they’re best for:
- RingCentral: Best overall quality and features
- 8×8: An affordable alternative to 3CX
- Fuze: Good for on-site teams
- Vonage: A feature-rich option
- Dialpad: Low-cost options for small businesses
- Star2Star: Easy to use
The top 6 alternatives to 3CX, ranked for small businesses
TechRadar named RingCentral the #1 VoIP service provider of 2020, and small businesses love the reasons why.
RingCentral earned top marks for best overall quality of calls, ease of use, and our range of pricing to satisfy any budget. As a small business owner, you’ve probably learned that real value beats the cheapest price every time. RingCentral is both affordable and offers a high-quality VoIP phone system for businesses of all sizes, with toll-free minutes included at every pricing tier. Plus, the app has a clean, beautiful interface:
RingCentral is so much more than a cloud phone. This modern system comes with over 50 robust features that let you turn any mobile device into a powerful business tool, including:
- 99.999% uptime SLA
- Full cloud PBX service in 40+ countries
- Easy-to-use desktop and mobile app
- Business numbers for desk and mobile devices: over 200 area codes available
- HD quality for voice and video
- Unlimited audio conferencing
- Up to 200 video conference participants
- Voicemail transcription for easy reading
- Business SMS and online fax
- Team messaging and collaboration: group chat, file sharing, tasks
- First-rate security across all devices
- 24/7 live support: phone, chat, email
- Deep real-time metrics for monitoring quality of service and productivity
RingCentral has been named a Leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications as a Service for multiple years in a row. Learn more
The RingCentral app
Collaboration is a breeze with the RingCentral app, which offers a place for your whole team to track projects, share files, and keep in touch via text chat, phone calls, and video meetings. Here are just a few of the features in action:
Switch to an audio or video meeting right from the RingCentral team chat
Assign tasks in a snap with the RingCentral app
Drag and drop files in the RingCentral app
You’ll get all of these fun-to-use features plus guaranteed quality and security for an affordable price.
RingCentral app integrations
All of these features add up to time saved on manual tasks and toggling between different tools, which means more time spent on the work that matters most to growing your business. That’s real value.
RingCentral customer engagement
And speaking of growing your business, RingCentral also offers an omnichannel contact center that can take your customer service game to the next level on any platform:
This additional service helps you handle and track all your customer interactions—phone calls, emails, text messages, even social media comments—all from one easy-to-use platform that’s built for collaboration.
RingCentral customer reviews
It’s one thing to brag about our own VoIP service, but how do any of these features work in the real world? Here’s what customers are saying about RingCentral:
“I am totally satisfied with all aspects of RingCentral! – Fairly priced – 99.999% uptime – Excellent tech support. I can offer no higher recommendation. Thank you!” – William Kisse, RingCentral user
“Within the first week, we deployed to hundreds of employees. A few weeks later, thousands. The app works great for users, managers and admins. User adoption rate is impressive. I can’t say enough to promote RingCentral support and professional services. Thank you for bringing so much to a modern, easy to use interface.” – Justin Davidson, RingCentral user
“The system was built so that minor problems can be handled by the end-user, on average. When help is needed it’s available immediately by chat. Most everything is resolved on the first attempt. If not, RingCentral escalated immediately. Having the ability to expand our system and network at the touch of a keyboard is invaluable. Additionally, integrating with Salesforce was a snap. We couldn’t be happier with the choice we’ve made in this technology for our business.” – Ron Joyal, RingCentral user
“I was stressed about changing business phone plans, especially during these challenging times. The staff at RingCentral were absolutely awesome to work with. The implementation team went above and beyond to make sure everything was set up and configured properly as well as making sure that I understood the setting in the Admin console. The mobile app and softphone app work very well. I’ve tried and tested several different plans without too much success. I would highly recommend RingCentral.” – Thomas Cote, RingCentral user
If you’re interested, we’ve compiled all of our online reviews in one place for easy reading. Read more RingCentral customer reviews.
🕹️ Get a hands-on look at how RingCentral works by booking a product tour:
💰 You can also use this calculator to see roughly how much your business could save by using RingCentral to support your team’s communication with each other—and clients.
8×8 is another solid choice for small businesses in need of VoIP services, especially if you liked 3CX for their price point. Upfront, they’re cheaper than RingCentral; they offer competitive quotes, shorter contracts, and deep discounts for similar features.
Buyer beware: 8×8’s attractive prices can be a real study in “you get what you pay for.”
We recently did a deep dive on 8×8, and here’s what we found. Compared with RingCentral, 8×8 falls short on live phone support availability (only certain products qualify) and number of app integrations (a couple dozen versus 200+). They still deliver good service and a user-friendly interface, and they rank well overall as a VoIP service provider.
8×8 might be the right choice if you need to get a basic VoIP service off the ground for your business at the lowest price. Just expect to pay more for additional features over time.
Fuze is a solid unified communications platform. Just like RingCentral, they offer a 99.999% uptime and one central app for all of their capabilities, which makes your life easier.
They’re also in the top 3 of Gartner’s 2019 UCaaS Magic Quadrant for completeness of vision (behind RingCentral, who has been a Magic Quadrant Leader for five years):
There’s a reason RingCentral is so far out in front of Fuze. If your business has distributed teams—either in different office spaces, on the road, or working from home—Fuze might not be the right platform for you.
According to recent customer reviews of Fuze, their main pitfalls are call quality, service reliability, and tech support. People have complained about the app itself freezing or seizing up and taking a long time to get started. They’ve also struggled with the mobile messaging feature crashing and slow or unavailable phone service.
As a small business, these are areas that could really cost your business valuable time and customers. And if your team works from home or on the road, issues with the app could slow down collaboration. Be sure to ask about quality of service and if these kinks have been fixed before buying.
(RingCentral, on the other hand, won PCMag’s Editors’ Choice Award because of our reliable service and easy-to-use app. Just sayin’.)
4. Vonage: A feature-rich option
When it comes to additional features offered beyond VoIP service, Vonage ranks near RingCentral. Plus, Vonage users are happy overall with the app’s ease of use, the depth of features in the team messaging function, and the number of third-party integrations included in their plans. They also have a good-sized base of customers who are small business owners, which means they know what they’re doing when it comes to your unique needs.
With one of the most costly price tags on this list, you might expect a top-notch customer service experience. But there were a few recurring themes in user reviews that make you go, “Hmm…”
Behind the scenes, Vonage seems to run more like a traditional phone company than a cloud communications service. According to some former users, Vonage offers two-year contracts that are hard (and expensive) to break. Others complained of billing errors that customer service took a long time to refund. Still others mention the sales team promising them the right to cancel service without penalty, only to be hit with a huge cancellation fee.
It’s possible that you’ll have a worry-free experience with Vonage, thanks to their feature-rich app that’s user friendly, but make sure you ask lots of questions upfront and get guarantees in writing before signing that contract.
5. Dialpad: Low-cost options for small businesses
Dialpad offers some quality, low-cost options for small businesses. Customers appreciate the easy installation and ease of use, and Dialpad integrates with a few of the big-name apps: Salesforce, Zendesk, Microsoft 365, and a handful of others. Their paid plans include some of the features RingCentral offers: cloud phone, video, and text messaging capabilities, as well as internal group chat in one app.
But just like the other more cost-conscious options on this list, you might notice the difference in quality. While RingCentral guarantees just about the highest level of phone service in the industry, Dialpad customers have complained about spotty calls over Wi-Fi at times.
Also, their video conferencing software is in flux; they recently acquired Highfive for this functionality within the app after outgrowing UberConference. This could mean the video portion of Dialpad improves and becomes more powerful. But there could also be some growing pains that customers feel while the companies merge, especially when it comes to tech support for the new service. Only time will tell.
Star2Star is another top contender for small business VoIP, offering a 99.999% uptime SLA just like RingCentral. Customers seem happy with the ease of use and price, and Star2Star touts being affordable. However, they don’t list their plan prices on the website.
Star2Star has also come out strong on their disaster recovery capabilities: the ability to keep your business up and running no matter what happens, thanks to the cloud and constant monitoring of service.
Star2Star includes the ability for external collaboration through their messaging feature, but it’s limited to, at most, 20 outside contributors at their highest price point. This might not be the best product for your business if you’re any kind of consulting or creative team that collaborates heavily with your clients, sending drafts or other items back and forth for multiple projects at once via the messaging function.
It’s also unclear what the video conferencing capacities are at each pricing tier, so be sure to ask about this if face-to-face remote meetings are important to your business.
And the best alternative to 3CX is…
RingCentral is the clear industry leader and offers some serious bang for your buck, thanks to hundreds of integrations, team collaboration tools, and high-quality phone and video service. But we know every small business is different, and that’s why we pulled together this diverse set of tools for you to investigate as you weigh your options and priorities.
It’s always a good idea to take these products for a test drive with your team, so you can choose with confidence the option that makes their lives easier and increases productivity. Our biggest advice: take advantage of free trials or demos from the tools on this list, or others that you’re researching, before you buy.
Originally published Oct 01, 2020, updated Jan 07, 2021