2020 tossed everyone into working from home and made everything an online affair. However, even as we return to normal, businesses have realized the need to be flexible and able to adapt to changing circumstances. To that end, many companies are switching to virtual phone systems and unified communications software. Today we compare two of the most popular options: Ringcentral vs Zoom.
Both of these companies provide similar services for small business owners and enterprise executives alike. Let’s learn a little more about each company’s offerings and how we’re going to evaluate them before we jump into our comparison review.
RingCentral vs Zoom: Meet the Contenders
It might surprise you to learn that RingCentral has been around since 1999! They went public back in 2013 and haven’t looked back since. They became so big that they even had the naming rights to the Oakland Coliseum where the Raiders played in 2019.
2020 was a banner year for the company. They launched their video conferencing software in response to the global pandemic and expanded their marketing to aggressively counter competitors. Today they offer every videophony service you can imagine, from webinars to video conferencing to chat hubs.
A Bit About Zoom
Zoom seems to have appeared out of thin air. It went from being a relatively obscure video conferencing service to being the default app for virtual communications worldwide. Nevertheless, Zoom has been quietly working for over a decade now.
Part of the reason they surged to success in 2020 was that they wisely targeted schools. Their push into the K-12 space made them a household name. Once children had to use Zoom for school, that meant their parents had to use it for conferences with teachers and staff. That meant it was a lot easier for workplaces to justify using Zoom since their employees were already familiar with it.
While RingCentral was originally a VoIP company first, Zoom was always a video conferencing product. As a result, Zoom meetings are seen as the best on the market today. Where others had to play catch up, Zoom was leading the way.
Our Use Case for This Comparison
Today, both of these companies offer essentially the same services. So we want to take a closer look at each of these to determine which company provides the best package and best features for your business. This RingCentral vs Zoom showdown will consider business use exclusively.
Therefore, we’re not going to touch on educational use or which platform is best for a Friday night hangout with your friends. This is about which platform you should pay for as a business customer. While price is a major factor, we first want to examine the specific functions of each platform and put them head to head to see which reigns supreme.
RingCentral Vs Zoom: Which Is the Best Software for Business Use?
Desktop and Mobile App Comparison
Let’s start with the apps. Both companies provide users with three ways to access their features. The first is through your web browser, which requires no installation. This method works best in Chrome or Firefox. RingCentral also has official Safari support, which should please plenty of Mac users.
However, you should avoid using browser-based versions whenever possible since these not only hog lots of system resources, but tend to be slower and have fewer features than the full desktop apps. Both Zoom and RingCentral have apps for Windows, Mac, and Linux systems.
You can download a mobile app for either service from the Android app store or the Apple app store for iOS users. You can use all of the features we are about to cover with the mobile app, however, some advanced features may not be present on mobile devices, especially in video conferencing situations.
The RingCentral Office app, which includes Glip for video, has a very attractive interface. Right away it’s clear who you’re talking to since your most recent conversation loads first. Your entire chat history is saved, along with any files you’ve shared with the person you’re talking to.
If you decide to use RingCentral’s video calls, they’re one click away. However, unlike Zoom, RingCentral typically envisions you starting these video meetings from a conversation you already had started in the application. Of course, you can start a video call and invite anyone you want.
We love how teams are organized on the left, and how everything can be collapsed or expanded to keep the interface clean and organized. Overall, it’s a pleasant app to use on any platform.
If we’re being honest, Zoom’s app is not the nicest looking one we’ve ever used. Aesthetics aren’t the most important, but there’s a clear lack of division between items. It’s hard to tell where one space ends and another begins. There are tabs across the top of the app to take you to different services, but these will only be enabled if you actually configured your account to use them.
For instance, Zoom’s chat feature (which we’ll see more about in a moment) is disabled by default! You have to log into your account and enable this for it to appear in your desktop app. The same is true for Zoom’s phone service. Meanwhile, RingCentral presents all of its options to you automatically.
However, Zoom’s meetings tab is useful. All of your scheduled meetings appear in chronological order, making it easy to use the app as a hub for your daily activity. In practice, however, most Zoom users don’t even open the app and instead start meetings from their Google Calendar or another integrated tool. RingCentral wins this round.
Chat features are not the main selling point of either of these two products, but they can be very useful for keeping your team in touch. Most reviews focus on the video conference exclusively, but we want to consider all of the features of these programs, not just the ones that you have in a meeting.
So, outside of a virtual meeting, what is the chat system like? Real-time chat is available on both RingCentral and Zoom, so let’s compare.
RingCentral has a robust chat system. The browser and desktop versions present the same easy-to-use interface. The mobile version is also very clean and has real-time push notifications so you never miss a message.
You can create teams within the RingCentral app. This is perfect for communicating efficiently between different departments in your office, or for connecting people from various areas to work on a single project. Once you’ve created a team, you can instantly start an audio call or video call with everyone using the same app.
If you’re familiar with other chat applications like Slack or WhatsApp, you’ll find RingCentral very easy to use. We also like that you can invite people from outside your organization to join your teams, even if they don’t pay for RingCentral.
Zoom is a victim of its own virtual meeting success. It’s so good at virtual meetings that people often forget it can do other things. Did you even know that Zoom has a chat feature? It’s available in both desktop and mobile apps and can connect with your Google or Microsoft contacts if you give it access.
However, it’s a little bit clunky. For one thing, it’s hidden in the “chat” tab when you open the desktop application. It’s clear that Zoom wasn’t meant to be a chat program. When you start a new chat, it will ask you to type a name or email for the recipient. However, this only recognizes Zoom users and doesn’t even automatically complete them.
Overall, we have to give the win to RingCentral here. Their solution is far more intuitive and easier to use. Zoom chat feels like an afterthought, and the fact that many people don’t even know it exists is proof.
Video Conferencing Comparison
But hey, you didn’t come here to debate chat apps. Your coworkers can keep in touch a dozen different ways, but when it comes to virtual meetings, you have to choose wisely. This is where important decisions will be made. This is where work happens.
Can anyone topple Zoom from its throne? Many have tried, and so far none of them have succeeded. Zoom’s market share remains strong and steady, but let’s see if RingCentral has what it takes to chip away at Zoom’s leading role.
RingCentral Meetings on Glip
RingCentral’s main app Glip allows you to jump into a video meeting or audio conference call whenever you wish. All you have to do is click one button to fire up the meeting and then you can invite users from your contacts or copy the link and send it through another application.
Since RingCentral Glip puts you in the chat interface first, it’s very easy to go from a text chat to a video conversation. You could be discussing work topics and decide to just start up a video call on a whim. This seamless interface is great for business use.
However, where RingCentral falls a bit short is in the number of participants that can enter a virtual meeting. If you frequently hold big meetings, this may not be the software for you. Even with the most expensive plan, you only get 200 participants at most.
We don’t need to tell you everything Zoom meetings can do. You know already. They’re great. And they just keep getting better.
Oh, your other app does screen share? That’s cute, Zoom’s been doing that forever. And now every participant can make annotations, and these scribbles can fade away after a moment to keep the screen clean. Zoom is constantly adding new features to make its meetings better, and it shows.
Breakout rooms are another area that’s seen improvement in recent months. Your participants can choose their own rooms now and you can write custom labels for each room. Overall, Zoom still wins the video wars.
RingCentral vs Zoom Phone Systems
When it comes to office phone systems, RingCentral has the advantage of experience. They’ve been in the phone business for a long time, and it’s reflected in their name. However, both companies have full-featured phone system solutions.
Whether you need a cloud-based PBX that lets you send calls to IP phones on your desk, or you just want everyone in the office to have a phone number or extension, you can do it all with both of these services. Let’s see how they compare.
RingCentral Phone System
RingCentral was originally a VoIP provider. VoIP, or Voice over Internet Protocol, is how we transmit call data over the internet in real time. In its early days, RingCentral went head to head with companies like Vonage.
RingCentral’s experience shows. You can easily get a toll-free number or vanity number from RingCentral, and their selection of international phone numbers is unparalleled. Every account you pay for gets its own number, which includes unlimited calling. RingCentral phone numbers support SMS and a plethora of calling features.
Call quality is quite good in our experience. While you still need a good internet connection to get the best experience, RingCentral’s network clearly isn’t the culprit for bad call quality.
Zoom Phone: A Poor Experience
We really wanted to like Zoom Phone. Its low price when coupled with a Zoom Pro plan makes it a great deal, if it works the way you hope it does. In our experience, it did not do what we hoped it would.
We decided to get a single phone number to evaluate the product and evaluate the ease of use and customer support. Call quality was fine, and we were able to go into the Zoom web page and activate the phone system in seconds. However, once we had to actually configure the phone number, things got ugly fast.
See, the first number you buy is your “company phone number”. If you dial this number, it absolutely will not connect you directly to a person. Instead, it will ask you to input an extension. It’s impossible to use Zoom’s phone system without an extension, meaning that if you’re just a solopreneur who wants a business phone number, you’ve just wasted your money. Contacting customer support did not resolve the issue, as we’ll explain later on.
Company Account Management
So, that’s about everything we have to say when it comes to features and the tools each platform provides. Now let’s take a look at some of the administrative tools and the support provided by each of our two competitors.
When you run a company, all you care about is that your tools work. They should be easy to set up and use. You don’t want to constantly fiddle with settings. Both RingCentral and Zoom let you control your whole account through their web portal. In addition, RingCentral allows you to make some configuration changes from its apps. Zoom, however, does not have this option.
RingCentral Account Management
With RingCentral, you have access to some account management tools on the application if you are an administrator. However, this is mostly limited to changing other users’ permissions and enabling certain features. The rest will be managed through the web page.
Like the apps themselves, the interface is fairly easy to use and lets you do everything you need to in minutes. You can add a new team member and assign them a phone number in minutes. You can adjust security settings as well, limiting who can listen in on phone calls and who can receive calls on a given number.
If you have lots of users, you can also upload information in an Excel CSV file to quickly add users to your organization. Asking for support is one area where account management could improve, as RingCentral makes you head over to a separate support web page to get information before filing a request.
Zoom’s Account Management
Managing licenses in Zoom’s account management page is pretty simple. You have registered users who, by default, will have a free license. If you pay for more licenses, you can assign these to your users and turn them into paid users. It’s fairly straightforward.
Where it gets complicated is individual configurations. You have to manually configure each account, or ask the user to do their own configurations. This means that features like chat will be disabled until each employee goes into their account and changes the setting. We’d like to see more company control here.
Assigning phone numbers gets more complicated, but it’s not overly difficult. The problem lies in how Zoom has designed its menus. It can be hard to find the exact setting you’re looking to change. We’d say it’s a tie here, since neither company has a single killer feature for management that beats the other.
Customer Support Compared
When something goes wrong, you want an answer fast. We reached out to both companies to ask them to clarify a doubt and resolve a simple issue. RingCentral sent us several tutorials and web links before actually putting us in touch with a person. However, we found that the experience was better in the end with RingCentral.
We got an answer that worked and resolved our issue, and that was the end of the conversation. With Zoom, however, things were quite different. While we understand the company has grown quickly and customer support must be difficult with so many users, some of their practices were just rude.
Zoom also ushers you through several pages of redundant, unrelated information. After this, you’ll finally get a reply from a human, but this reply for us was completely unrelated to the problem and it seemed that nobody had read our initial message at all. After clarification, we were told that the problem we had could not be solved and were then spammed for the next 6 days with messages asking if Zoom had resolved our issue.
If you’ve been keeping score, RingCentral has been racking up wins. However, where Zoom takes the cake is in pricing. Instead of paying month by month, both companies encourage you to pay annually for the best deal. Zoom’s United plan costs $250 per year per user, which includes the phone and pro video service. It doesn’t matter how many users you have in your company. You all get a great price that works out to about $22 a month.
RingCentral’s Standard plan is the only plan that compares, and at $25 per month when paying the year upfront, it commands a higher price tag. And that’s only if you pay for multiple users. A single license will set you back nearly $420 for the year!
So, what’s our verdict? Well, it all comes down to which service is more important for you. If an excellent phone system is your top priority, then RingCentral should be your first choice. But if video calling is more important, Zoom wins. Zoom’s rating in video calls is just so great as to make its other flaws tolerable by comparison.