Best phones to use with freepbx

Is there a suggestion for phones that are very easy to update firmware, very reasonable on the used market, and very easy to configure to work with freepbx?
I purchased some cisco 7960 phones this past weekend and I have no idea where to begin to check if the firmware on them will work or not, in attempts to update them, I found I cant download the firmware from cisco as I dont have a service contract with them.
So confused where to go/start.

I would use this as your guide:

Certified for the “easiest” experience.

OPINION: If you are not very experienced with FreePBX in general, it can be nice to have the Sangoma phones.

  1. The phones come with support. One stop (Sangoma) for troubleshooting your whole experience (FreePBX + Endpoints).
  2. Many of the integrated commercial modules are free for the phones (like endpoint manager).

While I know you said used which my suggestion is not, you should check out the Sangoma Phones (and yes I may be a bit biased), which were designed for FreePBX. Feel free to see what they offer at

It always makes me smirk a little when this happens.

Even though @GameGamer43 is from Sangoma and has a vested interest in people using Sangoma phones, his rationale for the suggestion is still solid. The phones are designed to work with FreePBX (and vice versa) and you get a lot of “extra value” for the price.

For a beginner or anyone that doesn’t want to screw around configuring phones, the next best solution is to use something that’s fully supported in Endpoint Manager (EPM).

Heh, this is an extremely loaded question chock-full of subjective areas. We’ve bought and tested a lot of phones with FreePBX (and just got some others in today), and I’ll list some of my subjective and possibly incorrect thoughts (sorry, I will probably offend lots of people with criticisms). In many ways I would prefer to use Sangoma phones first, and then Digium second - compatibility is critical, of course, and it’s good to support the companies that make FreePBX possible. That being said, compatibility and project support is important to us as IT people - end users have a different set of priorities centered on ease of use / task efficiency, aesthetics, etc. Some complaints we frequently get from end-users involve the size of phones (make them as small as the UX will accommodate, please - minimize unused faceplate space) and the lack of a reasonable number of dedicated, integrated BLF keys (integrated sidecar-style; the only good excuse to make a phone wider - 10-12 is a good minimum, not including line and basic XMLAPI functions). Most phones should have good sound quality if they are set up correctly and you don’t have network issues.

Sangoma (tested S400, S700): Fantastic compatibility and feature support, below-average industrial design, average usability (keys are OK), visually poor LCD quality (some of the worst viewing angle issues we’ve found - I’ve got an S700 on my desk and it’s so bad it distracts me every time I look at it). The S700s let you scroll through programmable buttons on the main display, nine at a time - this is a clunky solution to lack of buttons. I really want to like and recommend these phones but I just don’t and can’t.

Polycom (tested VVX505): Below-average FreePBX compatibility and feature support, outstanding industrial design (compact yet functional), very good UX (aside from issues with FreePBX - the buttons are outstanding, there’s no integrated sidecar but you get enough BLF softkeys on the screen to be minimally acceptable in that area and there is obvious room for improvement here), excellent LCD touchscreen. I wish these phones worked better with FreePBX and had integrated sidecars or the ability to scroll more BLFs on the touchscreen - other than that every other phone manufacturer should take design notes from these phones.

Digium (tested D40, D70, D65): Very good FreePBX compatibility and feature support, decent industrial design, solid UX, good LCD screens. Aside from its size (could have been 2-2.5" / 5-6cm narrower) and dated black & white display, the D70 was as close as I’ve seen to a “perfect UX phone” so far - naturally, Digium discontinued it and its spiritual replacement only works with their proprietary PBX). The D65 offers lots of BLF and Speed dial options via dedicated scrolling buttons, but you can only view five at a time. This is a garbage solution to that problem - worse than Sangoma’s.

Yealink (tested SIP-48S and SIP-58V): I just started testing these phones this week, and so far I think they may be the best overall phones available. Industrial design lags Polycom, but is much better than the other options here. The LCD touchscreens are large and beautiful. I haven’t run into any compatibility issues yet, but again it’s still early on. I’ll update this post if I find any. They allow 29 programmable buttons on the main screen - by default, only 10 are visible but if you hit the button to “expand” the view then the view sticks until you collapse it again. This is a solid solution for end-user BLF / speed dial needs. The only really (painfully) stupid thing they did was put the buttons out-of-order in the expanded view; the columns go 1-6, then 12-17, 18-23, 24-29, and finally 7-11 (the last button of the last column is the show/hide middle columns), so it’s awkward to keep your buttons in a sensible order. I would have put a dedicated expand/collapse button in some of the wasted space on the bottom of the UI (giving 30 buttons total) and slid the right-most column over to the second left-most column when the view is expanded, keeping everything in order (and a sliding animation would make functionality obvious). I would have also created a programmatic option to expand the view by default; otherwise the middle of the screen is just your logo image. The EXP40 sidecar for the SIP-4x series uses a very dated LCD screen that contrasts horribly with the fantastic LCD screen on the main phone, the way the entries are stacked makes associating each with its button slightly awkward, and it’s an inch wider than it needs to be (not helping the button-to-entry tracking problem).
The SIP-58V phone is based on Android which gives me some security qualms, but other than that is nicely executed. The video codecs are limited to H.264 and V8, so video call compatibility could be better (especially since there are inexpensive H.265 hardware codecs out there now that save a lot of bandwidth, and older codec support would be nice for compatibility with older phones). Programmable buttons are more or less the same as the SIP-48S. The S50 sidecar has the matching high-res color screen that the S40 sidecar should have had (unfortunately, you can’t use the S50 sidecars with the SIP-4x phones) has a more functional layout, and offers three pages of buttons for 60 total instead of 40. FreePBX doesn’t officially support it yet, but if you lie and say it’s an S40 you can add 40 buttons to it just fine. I’ll put in a request to get that adjusted. For what it’s worth, the SIP58V will probably be my new personal desk phone.

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Use Sangoma or Yealink phones, works best in my opinion.

If you use Sangoma, you get a lot of free features, like zero touch provisioning, endpoint manager, phone apps, etc.

Also, Sangoma support for phones is free of charge, and they are pretty responsive.

Yeah, I really, really wanted to like their phones but it just isn’t happening, and I understand their pain having to support 8 trillion different phone models from vendors who tend to make third-party development accessibility an afterthought at best. That being said, if they wanted to change, say, $500 per year to support one brand (Yealink or whatever) as well as they support their own phones I’d pay that and be happy. I’m not sure if I’m too much of an outlier in the market to make this a sensible option for them. Unfortunately, the commercial modules are closed source so we can’t even patch things ourselves (outside of messing with base files).

I’ve been in this rabbit hole as well…

Very flexible configuration; can lock the phone down, phone is very stable (we havent touched ours for a couple of years).

Couldnt remove unwanted options from the users. This leads to users want to do things they can’t.


Phone was really stable. At the time of testing there are was no support for tones for my country. They released this; then released new phones, that are not supported on FreePBX.

Phone build isnt a polycom or Digium - I put in with Yealink and Grandstream… works well with FreePBX, Sangoma have been responsive to enable us to lock down the phones from a user point of view. I have 150 odd of these; for normal call taking and making, they are fine… I’ve got a couple of issues with the ones in our contact centre areas; known issue, and hopefully resolved within a week or so. People I migrated from Nortal handsets, didnt mind… but people I’m trying to migrate from Polycom handsets… well they are not keen.

Using for 10 years, aastra work, polycom works, aastra slowly but surely losing their lcds polycom, solid as a rock but no cleverness, yealink always a winner when it comes to customer appreciation

This is probably too late, but the following website was very helpful to me in setting up 7940 and 7960 phones.

If you still need assistance with your 7960’s, I can probably help. I’ve set them up with both chan_sccp and sip.


Also, be sure to purchase the Endpoint Manager module for FreePBX.

I’m a big advocate for the Chan-SCCP-B driver, which allows you to use the full capabilities of these phones in a relatively simple way. It avoids having to load the SIP firmware on the phone and the other impediments to success so many people report.

Of all of the phones to use with Asterisk, even with Chan-SCCP-B or Chan_Skinny, the Cisco line is the hardest to get working and, with SIP firmware, among the least capable.

I’m not saying “don’t do it”, but walk into this with your eyes open. There are lots of issues with using the Cisco SCCP (even when SIPified) line of phones. Once set up, they are rock solid, but these are not the right phone for a beginner.

So true! Definitely not a beginner phone.

I’ve used these in both SCCP and SIP configurations. Maintaining the conf files for all the extensions was one of my least favorite jobs. Also, when updating Asterisk on a few occassions, Chan_SCCP would lose its mind and I’d having to compile and reinstall the driver from the source.

The SIP configuration means you’re turning these feature-rich phones into something more basic. This was an acceptable compromise in my organization, but may not be right for others. Being able to administer these phones with Endpoint Manager is great. Having them run on Chan_SIP has resolved strange, one-way audio issues with call transfers. Once a few keys files are in thrown into the tftpboot folder, these phones transfer to SIP firmware on their own.

All that is to say, there are pros and cons to using SCCP or SIP. Either way they are great phones. They’re just not a beginner phone like @cynjut said.

I wrote up some instructions on the Chan-SCCP-B Wiki about that one-way audio problem which makes them work flawlessly on Skinny mode.

For anyone running across this thread wanting to know - Chan-SCCP-B is a “third party” source implementation of the SCCP channel driver that works with the full line of Cisco phones, including the ones that can’t be converted to SIP phones. It’s maintained separately for a few reasons, not the least of them being is works with several other SIP Phone implementations. It is not included in the Sangoma software set for reason’s of creative control over the project.

On the other hand, the author works hard to make sure the channel driver works with all versions of Asterisk (since 1.4) and I’ve worked to make sure it works with FreePBX. At one point, (around 1.8) I wrote a package that would manage the phones, but it wasn’t compatible with the newer data object model. At some point (in my copious spare time) I’ll probably try to take a second run at that.

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