The best 3CX affordable alternatives for a small business

If you’re an experienced user of 3CX or just consider it as a possible option for your corporate phone system, it’ll be useful to explore what else the market can offer. Today, we’re going to dive deeper into the pros and cons of 3CX, and meet its main competitors that are more convenient, flexible, and correspond to the requirements of the modern business world. Our team has compiled a list of four popular VoIP services to help you come to the right decision - whether to use 3CX or not.

The best 3CX affordable alternatives for a small business

What is the 3CX Business Phone System?

3CX is a business phone system with call center software. In comparison with its alternatives that represent cloud-based VoIP applications, 3CX is only partially cloud-based, providing a hosted PBX solution.

It’s a true veteran of the industry, being founded in 2005. For all those years it has been praised by users for being well-aware of their needs and demands. Today, the service has transformed into a powerful business collaboration platform with upscale video and audio conferencing features and instant messaging. 

3CX is suitable for not only small businesses but for companies of all sizes. It is reflected in the range of subscription plans, where you can choose from Standard, Pro, and Enterprise. As a nice bonus, 3CX grants all its users a free year of service, enticing a large number of customers. After subscription to the Standard plan, subscribers get another year of free service (this offer is only available for small businesses with teams of up to 12 members). 

Being a quite popular business phone system with more than 250,000 active subscribers, it’s a perfect choice for small businesses. Nevertheless, you may not find it suitable for your company and keep looking for other open-source services similar to 3CX.

Why would you consider 3CX alternatives?

The primary drawback of the platform is its pricing model. 3CX doesn’t offer fixed pricing on its subscription. The final sum depends on the number of users and simultaneous calls at your company. So if you have a large number of customers and a busy contact center, this may lead to huge monthly expenses.

Other cons are:

  • A limited number of integrations

If there is other software your team uses every day and you want it to be integrated with the phone system, you won’t be able to add some of them to 3CX. 


  • On-premise application

This means that an application should be installed on the device to use it. Moreover, it requires an IT specialist to install and maintain it.

  • Separate customer experience and support

3CX demands that its users pay separately for these two services because support is not included as a default feature.

Top 5 3CX alternatives

Actually, there were more than four wonderful candidates but we’ve chosen the most popular and reliable ones, with positive reviews, great customer experience, and an excellent reputation on the market today. 


1. Whoosh

Whoosh is a brand-new app with a beautiful interface for hosting high-quality video and audio conferences. It offers a broad range of outstanding features for keeping in contact with your colleagues, customers, and partners, even being on different continents. 

The major goal of Whoosh is to popularize video meetings that fill the lack of in-person communication people often feel while living through the global pandemic. 


Its key features:


Unlimited Full-HD video and audio calls

Whoosh allows every user to host and participate in high-quality video and audio conferences where they can engage with other participants without any limits, making 24-hour calls. The app presents a unique feature of audio stream splitting that allows dividing a virtual room into groups and keeping them talking without interfering with other participants. Moreover, the audio quality is enhanced by muting background noise. 


Cloud-based AI-powered software

Whoosh can boast of awesome AI-powered tools that make every minute online more engaging and interactive. AI is capable of emotion and gesture recognition, beautification, smart scheduling, and pulse detection. Moreover, the app offers cloud storage where you can keep meeting recordings. Another cool feature of AI is that it can turn each recording into a short mashup with all significant events happening during a call. So that any 1-hour conference can be easily turned into a 1-minute video.


Interactive tools for superb video experience

Companies often organize different kinds of events, like all-staff meetings, workshops, training sessions, webinars, or master classes. With weatherman layouts, whiteboarding, 360° virtual backgrounds, and screen sharing, you can add up interactivity into each virtual event.

The latest web protection based on only proven international certifications

The Whoosh team put all their efforts into developing a professionally secured platform, including end-to-end encryption (E2EE), ISO certification, and two-factor authentication. Furthermore, a host can lock a meeting room, create a unique session ID, and share it with all the participants, so that a person without an invitation won’t be able to enter.


Web, desktop, and mobile apps

With Whoosh, you don’t have to worry about a discharged phone or having no laptop at hand. The app is available on any of your devices - iPhone, Android, Mac, and Windows. You don’t even have to sign in before each online session, just tap on the invitation link and join online meetings in a second.


2. RingCentral

RingCentral is a well-known service provider among small-sized companies. Its history started in 1999 when the idea of VoIP didn’t even exist. Since then it has developed into an “intuitive platform for voice, video meetings, team messaging and collaboration, and contact center”, as its official website claims. Every year RingCentral is rewarded for the outstanding service it provides. In 2021, the platform became a Leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant (a market research report) for UCaaS.


What is so good about it?


Audio and video meetings

Ringcentral provides each user with HD video and flawless audio quality during each call. Moreover, meeting participants can see other people’s presence status, share their screen, notes, and files. The number of attendees depends on the subscription plan you choose and ranges from 20 to 200 during video meetings and up to 1,000 during audio conferences.


Calling and flexibility

The app is compatible with all modern devices and can be easily accessed on desktops, smartphones, and tablets. With RingCentral, you can call any local number for free but only in the USA. You can also make international calls from any other country but a per-minute fee will be charged.


Instant messaging

The platform offers text messaging and live chats for teams to make virtual communication more productive and engaging. In chats, members can share files, assign tasks, and talk in groups.

App integration

RingCentral has a broad range of various integrations starting from popular CRMs, like Zendesk, Salesforce, Agile; calendars, like Outlook, Google Calendar, Zapier; collaboration apps, like Slack, Microsoft Teams, Asana, and many others. 


Inbound and outbound contact centers 

The platform offers an omnichannel contact center to help your support team provide effective customer service, tracking all communication channels - email, phone calls, text messages, social media. Its inbound and outbound contact centers include many useful features such as interactive voice responses via various channels, outbound dialing, personalized omnichannel routing, productivity management, analytics, and performance reports.


7-layer security system

The system uses professional web security to protect every aspect of interaction with the app: physical, host, infrastructure, application, data, each client’s organization level, and business processes. 

As you can see, RingCentral can boast many benefits you can’t find on 3CX. It connects your workforce and customers by audio and video conferencing, instant messaging, effective collaboration, and interactive communication features.


3. Aircall

Aircall is a relatively new business phone system, founded in 2014. It’s also cloud-based, trusted by more than 10,000 companies, and is available in 84 countries. The main goal of the company is to empower every employee to have rich conversations and focus on closing deals and satisfying customer needs. The platform offers 80+ integrations, including HubSpot, Salesforce, Freshdesk, Gmail, and Microsoft Teams. Aircall has desktop and mobile apps, allowing easy access from anywhere. 


Its key features:


Calling capabilities

The service offers toll-free numbers working in your local area or anywhere your business is located. International numbers are also available, allowing keeping in contact with teams, partners, and clients from 100+ countries. Moreover, users can easily host a conference call (but only with up to five members); send voice messages or use SMS Business text messaging.


Call Center

This feature allows access to a virtual call center, where every worker can use the following tools: call queuing, parallel calls, queue callback, ring groups, call recording, pause-resume recording.

Convenient functionality and interface

Aircall app includes desktop notifications sent to a user’s screen when someone wants to talk. The Forward-to-Phone feature allows forwarding incoming calls to a mobile. Moreover, the app’s interface allows custom settings: filters and tags. 

Unfortunately, Aircall doesn’t support video conferencing, but if it’s not an obligatory feature for your work, it’s fine. The app has many other tools, created to make your call center highly productive.

4. Dialpad

Dialpad is another 3CX alternative that offers a professional communication system for connecting remote employees via voice and video conferencing, instant and SMS messaging, and providing advanced features that improve overall team productivity and effectiveness. The service is compatible with all modern devices and is available on desktops and mobiles. These days more than 62,000 businesses use its services and we wanted to figure out why it is so popular. Look what it offers:

Cloud-based contact center

Dialpad’s contact center is integrated with their UCaaS platform, which offers inbound and outbound calling, SMS messaging, and more. This feature grants more flexibility and efficiency, facilitates processing, data, and call handling logic online. Along with a modern remote working place, every employee who uses the service can get detailed analytics and call monitoring, which helps to optimize workforce management. 


AI-based software or Voice Intelligence

It’s capable of transcribing a phone conversation in real time. After turning this feature on, you are given access to “Custom Moments”, which allow picking up and tracking particular keywords and phrases. 


All-in-one workplace

Dialpad offers its clients a remote workplace with all necessary tools: team chat, one-on-one messaging, video and audio calls, screen and file sharing, call recording, customizable notifications, SMS & MMS, company directory, virtual fax, and many more.


With Dialpad, you can easily bring together all the apps you use at work, from CRMs to customer support services, without having to jump between them. The app offers integrations with Slack, Salesforce, Microsoft 365, Zendesk, Outreach, Front, Kustomer, Google Workspace, Azure, Zapier, Hubspot… You got it. There are really a lot of options.


5. 8x8

If you like 3CX functionality and price, you'll certainly like 8x8 as well. It's another popular and reliable VoIP business phone system that has more than a million users all around the world. 8x8 was founded in 1987 and since then has opened offices in Europe, Asia, North America, and even Australia. People love 8x8 for the ease with which everybody gets one's bearings while using the platform. It can boast a super user-friendly interface that provides a smooth experience every time you use the app. Every tool is well-designed and easy to learn, which makes 8x8 one of the best solutions for small businesses.

As for the price tag, the basic version starts at $15 per user/month, which is the lowest price among other alternatives to 3CX on our list. So what do they offer for such an affordable price?


High-end call management

8x8 offers advanced calling features for small business owners, including unlimited domestic calling in the USA and Canada with auto-attendant, business hour handling, personalized greetings, and visual voicemail.

Unlimited video conferencing

What is more, every user can set up video calls but only with up to 100 participants (even in the most expensive plans). Every conference is easily customizable: you can change the background or add your logo. You can also record any video meeting and rewatch it later with a transcript.


Instant messaging

On 8x8, your team is free to communicate in groups or one-on-one. Every member has access to unlimited chat with file sharing and SMS messages.


Upscale web safety

When using 8x8 you can be sure that all your data is 100% protected by the latest web security tools. As their official website claims, they're "securing data at every step". And that's really true. The service relies only on the highest levels of security, global certifications, and compliance policies: CPNI, HIPAA, GDPR, and FISMA compliance, ISO certified, data-in-motion encryption with SIP over TLS and SRTP.

What would your final decision be?

As usual, the wisest choice will be to look through customer reviews on reliable websites and social media. Or just go through our list and try each of the services we offer. 

We’d recommend starting with Whoosh. It’s an exclusive platform with brand-new features that you won’t find on other similar apps. This app is a truly perfect alternative to 3CX if you seek a professional and robust all-in-one app for both communications within a company and with customers.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for a quick and easy service with basic features for making calls, give AirCall a shot.

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