SIP Phones Features, Definitions, and Terminology

When deciding which phones would work best for your business you will have to weight many features and prioritize them within your budget.

Here are definitions of some of the most common phones features:

  • HD call quality: Phones can come with standard or HD call quality. Standard quality is what you have in traditional phones and have been accustomed to hearing for years. HD stands for High Definition, and you may be familiar with the term in connection to televisions. In phones we are only dealing with audio quality, but the concept is similar to televisions. HD delivers much better audio quality which sounds much closer to the natural sound of human voice.

    In technical terms, HD call quality sounds has  twice as much audio details (samples) as standard sounds. It also captures audio frequencies in a much wider spectrum than standard audio, which also contributes to its more natural sounding qualities.

    You should get HD phones if you prefer that your employees and clients communicate with better more natural sounding voice quality.
  • G - Gigabit: You may notice that some phones have the letter G in their model number which stands for Gigabit. This indicated that they support a one gigabit data rate. The term refers to gigabit per seconds and in telecommunication and computer networking is a measurement of the amount of data that is transferred in one second between two points.

    Most phones have two data jacks, one two connect it to the network and one to connect it to a personal computer. In many office environments there is a limited amount of available data ports and hence the phone jacks are used to wire computers. So Unless a personal computer is plugged directly into an Ethernet port, the maximum network speed available to it will depend on the phone’s specification. For example if you have a one gigabit computer network, but your office computers are connected to this network via 0.5 gigabit phones, than your computers will only perform in a 0.5 gigabit network rate.

    You should get gigabit phones if you want to maximize the performance of your office computer network. But you should do so only if you actually have at least a gigabit network that you want to run through your phones.  

  • Soft Keys and Line keys: Soft keys are buttons that can be programmed to perform any number of functions instead of having one fixed operations. In telephones the programmable function depends on a context and interaction that is displayed on the screen of the phone and therefore soft keys are usually located directly adjacent to the screen.

    Example: You are editing a contact to the phone’s memory. You have the options to “Save” or “Cancel” associated with two soft keys. If you select to cancel the screen will prompt “Are you sure you want to discard changes” with the same two soft keys now associated with “Yes” and “No”.

    Line keys are buttons that simply are used to select different phone lines. If they are adjacent to the screen they can also function as soft keys and interact with the context on it.

    More advanced phones will have extra Line and Soft keys that are not connected to the basic operation of the phone but instead can be customized to perform various phone and PBX functions. For example a user can program an available line key to open the company’s directory. He can program a different soft key to forward a call to a specific call queue.

    Touch screen phones usually don't have physical softkeys, but offer similar functionality with context that can be directly pressed on the screen itself.

    You should get phones with more Soft and Line keys if you want to have the flexibility to perform more functions directly from the phone itself.

  • Touch screen: Is a telephone display that allows direct interaction with context, very much like your smart-phone or tablet. Touch screens essentially replace the function of soft keys, making any soft keys on a phone available to be user customized.


    You should get phones with touch screen if you want users to have easier and more intuitive operation. 

  • Color or Black and White: Self explanatory. This is an indication of the display being color or black and white. Color displays allows for more details and visual cues (for example active calls can be green and calls on hold can be red). Color displays are inherently more advanced and therefore usually also have more pixel count, which makes them sharper with easier to read icons.
  • Screen size: Self explanatory. This is the size of telephone’s screen measured in inches. Bigger screen allow for more details to be displayed on them. For example a larger screen will be able to show five calls on hold at once while on a smaller screen you will only be able to see three (but you can still scroll up and down to see the other two.)

  • Screen resolution: This is a count of the total number of pixels on a phone's display measured as by multiplying the number of horizontal and vertical pixels. A higher pixel count means the phone can display more details with sharper quality.

    You should get colored larger screen with more pixel count if the communication volume suggests that users require access to more details. For example a sales agent making one call at a time would be fine with a smaller simpler screen, but the office's receptionist, who handles multiple calls, will benefit from a larger colored screen. 

  • WiFi: Indicates if a phone supports WiFi communication, that is if it can be connected to a network without any cables using a WiFi connection. Such phones can be easily moved around. They will always also have regular data jacks should you decide to plug them to the network using cables after all.  

    You should get a WiFi phones if you would like to reduce cable clutter or if you have users sitting in points far from physical Ethernet jacks.

  • Bluetooth: Bluetooth connectivity allows a telephone to connect to either wireless heas or any other Bluetooth capable device (for example you can step away from your desk and send a call to your smartphone over a Bluetooth connection)

    This is about convenience. Some users prefer the freedom of being able to walk around when talking to clients. If you have such users in your company they would benefit from Bluetooth capable telephones. 

  • Voltage / POE: POE stands for Power Over Ethernet and is a technology that lets network cables carry electrical power, hence your IP phone can function with one cable that provides both power and date.

    All Telebroad's recommended  phones are POE compatible. The question however is if your network infrastructure supports the technology. If not you will simply have to buy a power adapter with your phone. The voltage for this adapter is given in our phones' comparison tables. 

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