Phone Recommendations

Hoping I might get some opinions from the folks here on IP phone options. Don’t do a huge amount of voice so I’ve only had experience with Aastra/Mitel, and Yealink myself with FreePBX.

I have have a client with an existing FreePBX system running Aastra/Mitel 6869i phones with M685i Expansion modules. They are opening up a 2nd branch so we’re planning to essentially duplicate their existing FreePBX setup but they thought they would at least like to explore alternates for the phones. Obviously we can still get the Mitel stuff so that’ll be the goto if we don’t find anything else they like better. They do use both Endpoint Manager and Phone Apps so that’s important.

Here are what they have looked at thusfar and their comments or issues we’ve noted…

Sangoma S705 with EXP100 (shown physical phone, expansion module literature only)… phone ok, a bit shy of physical buttons but this could be overcome by equipping all with expansion modules, users commented display quality didn’t seem to be the best, poor viewing angle I think. Expansion module, design is nice but yuck why a monochrome display. Our blocker issue, only 6 line registrations… that’s only going to work for about half of their users.

Sangoma D65 with EXP150 (shown literature only)… phone design not great, definitely not enough buttons. Expansion module, nice design, nice color display “why didn’t they put this expansion module on the other phone (S705)”. Our blocker issue, again only 6 line registrations.

Yealink T48/T46, T5 series, EXP40/EXP50 (physical T48, T46 T5series & EXP40/EXP50 lit only)… Loved the T48/T46 phone styling and displays, boo to the mono LCD on the EXP40 expansion module again. T5 series phones, thumbs down to the “floating screen” design but thumbs up to the EXP50 color expanders.

Any other brands that we could show them that might tickle their fancy and be FreePBX friendly? I think its clear from their comments that the displays need to be at least 4"ish on the phones and anything monochrome on either the phone or the sidecar is going to be a hard no. They lean toward all users having same phone model. Ideally we’re going to have 8-10 buttons (6 would be absolute minimum leaving no expandability) with indicators by the LCD on the phone or everybody needs to get a sidecar. The button descriptions on the LCD’s (both phone and sidecar) need to be able to display minimum 10 letters/digits or it’s a hard no. Absolute minimum of 8 line registrations, I’d prefer to see 12 for expandability (please don’t hate on them needing that many registrations, that was just the way the system was set up for them originally and it works in their environment far better than any way I’ve been able to envision to replace that setup… customer likes it, don’t touch it kind of thing).

I’ve glanced at but not mentioned to the client the Fanvil X210. It physically would check off everything the client would like in a phone aesthetically. On the FreePBX end of things we don’t have EPM or Phone Apps as far as I can see which would be a blocker.

Anyway, appreciate any comments on anyone’s experiences with phones that might be a fit for these guys. I’m not going to be hurt by “stick with the Mitel” suggestions either… they do still meet both the aesthetic and technical requirements of the installation.


The Sangoma D65 is actually a Digium D65. Digium was bought by Sangoma. Thats the reason why the D-Series phones are different.
The D-Series phones have way better audio than the S-series. The line buttons can be virtually multiplied to more than 100 (on the D65 use the grey bar underneath the line keys to scroll), I think.
The design is great!
Yet the phones work best with freePBX when you use the freePBX Digium phone module. If you need it, you can configure them using the advanced DPMA configuration mode.
I think they are actually the best freePBX phones :slight_smile:
Dont use the EPM or the phone apps, the D-series phones have their own apps.
You can use the freePBX contact manager, but you need a cron job and a conversion script, when you dont use EPM.

I never liked EPM & phone apps…they are supposed to work with many phones…in reality EPM works just with a few brands…it’s a never-ending construction site…on most phones you only get basic functionality…and the phone apps are just too slow to load…and are badly designed :wink:

on the other hand, the freePBX Digium phone module is the GUI for the Asterisk DPMA, so it is a built-in Asterisk phone module…I can tell the difference…clearly :wink:

You wrote “phone design not great…”, well I do not agree…

If it was closer to the first of April, I’d recommend going with the used gray market Cisco 7940 and 7960 phones after installing the Chan-SCCP-B channel driver.

It’s doable and the phones are cheap, but it’s a solution best left for people that are way behind the power and money curves and have to use them.

On the other hand, the combo works pretty well for me, but stay away from the SIP loads for those phones.

Charles, thanks for your comments on the Sangoma D phones. The scrollable line buttons is good to know about, though I find buttons that aren’t constantly visible are really only practical for speeddials (as opposed to line appearances and BLF).

I was not aware of these phones having their own apps, I’ll have to look into that… vendor specific apps do still make me a bit nervous though, lost a pretty big system that was pretty much a done deal wayyyy back in the day when Aastra had their own apps when I quoted, and then all of a sudden didn’t anymore… that turned into a big fiasco.

As far as the aesthetics, that was the customer’s comment and not mine :slight_smile: I would not immediately ban a D65 from my own desk, until something with more buttons and blinkylights came along :slight_smile:

What you want to look for in phones for FreePBX is full compatibility - this usually means ability to run Phone Apps on the phones themselves. Phones such as Polycoms and Ciscos are good solid phones, and they will have basic calling features, perhaps BLF keys, but none of the bells and whistles that make users happy (and more efficient).

Sangoma phones can use the Phone Apps and are very configurable in Endpoint Manager - Yealink phones can use the Phone Apps as well, but are less configurable via EPM.

I haven’t seen anyone mention the ClearlyIP phones though - they have their own Clearly Devices module (no need for Endpoint Manager), and their own suite of phone apps that can be set as buttons on the phones such as FollowMe, Parking, Presence, Login/Logout for queue agents, etc.

If you’re installing FreePBX for your business, or if you’re reselling phone systems to customers, not having these features will greatly handicap the power of the PBX and its usability for your users.

Another plus in the ClearlyIP phone column is that they’re doing some really innovative things to comply with the Kari’s Law / Ray Baum act regulations that I have not seen any other brands doing. For instance, their phones have an app that lets your users (permissable of course) pick their own e911 location - so, if they move their desk phone to a new location, or if they bring it back and forth between home and work, they can remain in compliance. Same with hotdesking - users can pick their e911 location. Also, speaking of hotdesking, the ClearlyIP phones are the only phones that I’m aware of that still allow for 911 emergency dialing even when logged out.

For full transparency, I am pretty biased since we sell ClearlyIP phones to customers and in our web store - but I’m biased because I’ve used them, and understand these features. We only sell ClearlyIP, Sangoma, and Yealink phones to customers because of these reasons that I’ve listed above.


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I’m going to be partial in my recommendation as I’m one of the founders of ClearlyIP, but you should check out the ClearlyIP 270, I believe it will check off most of your boxes from above, and I don’t believe it runs into any of your “Blockers”. The 270 has a 4.3 Inch (480 x 272 Pixels) color display, and enables 16 registrations. I’m trying not to “hate” on the fact they need 12+ registrations, after all the “Free” in FreePBX stands for Freedom, but 12 ? That must be a pain to configure.

The Available Expansion module also has a color screen. CIP phones include a 2-year warranty, and you can purchase an additional three-year warranty (Total of Five Years.)

CIP Phone Applications include the following integrations with your PBX

  • Follow Me
    • Lets you manage your Follow Me Settings such as what numbers to call and how long to ring them.
    • Toggle your Follow Me on and off
  • Presence
    • Change your Status
    • Change dial behavior depending on the presence status
  • Parked Calls
    • View all parked calls on the system with Caller ID information
    • Pick up any parked caller
  • Call Park
    • Park active call
  • DND
    • Toggle on and off server-side DND (Do Not Disturb)
  • Transfer to Voicemail
    • Transfer active callers directly to another users voicemail box
  • Hot Desking
    • Login
    • Logout
  • e911
    • Allow users to select with e911 location they are logged into and calling from (Requires SIP Trunking or Standalone e911 services from ClearlyIP).

The desktop stand/bracket can be flipped around and it becomes a wall mounting bracket.

You can easilty configure the phones with the Clearly Devices Module for FreePBX, which integrates into our Cloud Device Management Platform allowing you to do Zero Touch Configuration of your phones.

• 4.3" 480 x 272-pixel color display with backlight (adjust)
• 16 SIP accounts, 8 feature keys,10 line keys
• Support paperless up to 36 keys
• SIP (RFC3261)/SIP v1 (RFC2543), v2 (RFC3261)
• Auto provision via HTTP/HTTPS FTP/TFTP
• 802.1X/OpenVPN/DHCP/Vlan/QoS/LLDP
• Support Opus Codec
• HD Voice: HD Codec, HD Speaker, HD Handset
• EHS with Plantronics and Jabra headsets
• Dual-port Gigabit Ethernet, PoE support
• Stand with 2 adjustable angles
• Support USB
• 5 Way Conference Calling
• Support WiFi & Bluetooth
• Support USB
• Supports expansion modules
• Brandable Front Faceplate for Reseller Brand awareness
• MSRP $179.00 Extended Warranty +3 Yr $32.00

• color display with backlight
• 20 Programmable LED Buttons
• Support paperless up to 40 keys
• Support with CIP 270 Phones
• Daisy Chain up to 4 of EXPs together connected to a single phone.
• Brandable Front Faceplate for Reseller Brand awareness
• MSRP $179.00 Extended Warranty +3 Yr $32.00

The Clearly Devices Module

  • Provides quick and easy management
  • Visually configure, and set up templates and settings applied to groups of phones.
  • Has a built-in provisioning server
  • Includes a Suite of Phone Apps
  • Hooks into UCP to allow End Users to override their Phone buttons.

Documentation on installing and using the module can be found here.

If you have the budget ( about $300) look at the Grandstream GXV3380, its a 7 inch android device with 16 supported SIP accounts, POE for neatness, but WIFI for when you take it to grannies house :slight_smile: and you can add anything from google’s playstore ,

Thusly you can add alexa or google home, play games, watch CNN (or Fox) join jitsi/zoom/googlemeet (it has an HDMI out) or listen to Pandora or keep an eye on your sleeping baby, all the while having 16 VOIP lines which overlay all the above on an incoming. Add DroidCam for your Home Assistant or ‘motion’ , for that matter add home assistant :wink:

If you don’t have that budget you can get an old Yealink for less than $60 bucks on ebay. that will work just fine.

Generally this forum frowns on self promotion of services or hardware, I am not promoting anything just saying for me it’s ‘FA’

I just know Sangomas D and S series phones and Cisco 7975 and 8961 phones (patched Asterisk)…and used them with freePBX. I once had a Snom phone…forgot which one it was…

The Grandstream sounds interesting. What about the integration with freePBX? Does it fully support the contact manager? Status display (away etc)? Visual voicemail? Does BLF work? Parking?

The clearlyIP phones I would only buy, if I could test them in situ. As far as I know, many of the clearlyIP guys were at Sangoma and developed the Sangoma S series phones and the EPM and the phone apps…I am sorry to say but none of these products (HW & SW) work very well…last time I tested them…a year ago…

The 3380 being a android device has many screens that you can swipe left and right, there is a home screen that is basic, you can add BLF’s or many other things either from the phone or better with the built in HTTPS server.

Personally , over the years I have denigrated everything Grandstream, with this particular phone, I stand corrected, It beats all other android voip hardware by a mile, just a basic android 7 device with playstore abilities, If you are comfortable with your android phone, It can do most of all that all that and still be your goto desk phone.

If I had any bitch , it would be that the loudspeaker is a little soft out of tyhe box, but there are any number of apps to allow you to crank up the volume.

But what about the integration with freePBX? Do you use the EPM & phone apps?

It provisions nicely from my server (FusionPBX) but being intrinsically multi-homed probably not from the propriatory FreePBX EPM which can only chew gum while standing still on a propriatory OS :wink:

What do “phone apps” do for you?

I currently use mostly Digium/ Sangoma D65 phones, which have their own apps (visual voicemail etc). They perfectly work with Asterisk/freePBX.

With phone apps I mean the commercial module, all other phones are supposed to use with freePBX.

otherwise there is no central phone book etc

You would have to ask Sangoma ( and they presumably Grandstream) to add that device to their ecosystem.
There would be no reason that after doing that it would not work.

I think you should give Poly another try!

They are very much still in the running for the best sounding and most reliable SIP phones on the market for Asterisk generally – see: G722 and Siren7/14 codecs because you don’t need OPUS on the LAN – with tons of bells and whistles beyond BLF, such as Enhanced Feature Keys / soft keys that you can configure as Park/FollowMe/Presence/etc., ability to push URLs to the minibrowser for doing things like showing a list of users waiting in the help desk Queue or letting you steal a Buddy’s calls if they aren’t right at their desk or just dynamically updating background “wallpaper” with $ of sales made that day, connected line updates (for reverse Caller ID), multiple server registrations with failover server options per-registration, separate emergency routing server registrations matched by dial patterns, easy to download firmware upgrades, HTTPS provisioning, easy VLAN’ing at boot, ample documentation (some admin PDFs are over 600 pages of well-written English) – and they’ve been doing that (as Polycom) for well over a decade with models like the SoundPointIPs and now VVXs (not enough buttons on some VVXs tho IMO.) Although they keep getting it right with the circular, concave dialpad buttons 0-9*# – such a joy to press vs. the rectangular un-finger-tip-like offerings from other manufacturers (or the sticky dirty touch screen keep-tapping-until-it-registers-a-digit options.)

Anyhow, the resale market for EOL’d gray-scale SPIP 550s at $50/phone puts many other competitors’ newest models to shame.

You might consider the new sub-$200 Poly VVX 450 12-Line color model instead – TONS of hard buttons they brought back from the SPIP days as compared to earlier VVXs.

We also fall into this category:
they lean toward all users having same phone model. Ideally we’re going to have 8-10 buttons

I am new to FreePBX coming from a Toshiba CIX 670 that was no longer going to be Supported and a switch in SIP truck Carriers was going to happen anyway. Put Covid on top of that and the requirment to work for home more often, other changes in my business we have migrated over to a Host FreePBX solution and I recently went with ClearlyIP 270 phones.

We did this for a number of reasons that @Crosstalk Said above and have found what @reconwireless
has said to be true as well.

DND, Hot Desk, Follow Me, Presence, Call park, e911, and the Flexiablity of mounting have all proven true.

I Have setup over 35 of these phones in my office and so far they work very well.

I still need to find out how we get Pictures like this:
on the sidecar… @reconwireless any tips here?

@ErikGun Currently the Images are not integrated into our Clearly Device Management Module for FreePBX (We support several PBX platforms with these phones) It is on the roadmap to have that integration built. In the meantime you can add this functionality yourself from the phone Config GUI.

You would navigate to the Directory Tab, and add contacts (note you have to save the contacts first, and then you can upload a jpg or bmp image file and associate it with that contact.)

Once you have one phone setup you can export the phonebook.xml file, and import it into other devices. You will still need to upload the individual photos, but the XML file should map the images for you.

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Thanks, That Works for me. we only have 3 Units with side cars This is more than Manageable!

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I’ve recently been going all polycom, they are tough, professional looking, highly customizable and users really like them. I stay away from the obihai polycom models though because while they look just like a normal polycom the internals seem cheap (speaker and screen specifically), and the software feels the same. I used to be all about the DIgium D series phones until they pulled support/development for the Digium phone module which is by far superior to EPM when using Digium phones as @Charles_Darwin has already explained.

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