Future Market Insights (FMI) predicts the VoIP market to reach $354.7 Bn by 2032, and it’s no surprise — an IP-based business phone system is a great way to cut operating costs.
If you are looking for a reliable phone system for your company, FreePBX and 3CX are potential options. Both are popular platforms that offer a range of features, but there are also some critical differences between them. In this 3CX vs FreePBX article, we will compare them in detail to help you choose.
What is 3CX?
Image source: G2
3CX is an open-standards, software-based virtual PBX that you can deploy on-premise or host on any virtual private server. There’s also a 3CX-hosted option.
The system allows you to make and receive calls from your office extension on your desktop, mobile or web client, as well as live chat and video conference with your colleagues and customers.
What is FreePBX?
Image source: FreePBX website
FreePBX is a tool that allows you to manage and customize your IP PBX (Internet Protocol Private Branch Exchange) system. The solution is developed by Sangoma and based on the popular Asterisk technology. It lets you handle the core functions of a phone system, such as call routing, voicemail, conferencing and more, via a graphical user interface (GUI).
3CX vs FreePBX: How they compare
We introduced both IP phones, so let’s see how they compare in various aspects, starting with their feature sets.
3CX offers the following built-in features:
- Built-in video conferencing – High-quality, real-time video conferencing as part of the basic package.
- Call queues and callback – Never miss an important call. Queue to individuals or groups, allow them to answer anywhere and use advanced strategies. Use callback functionality as a last resort option during a busy time.
- Live chat – Set up a website chat widget to communicate with users in real time.
- Single omnichannel platform – A unified communications system lets you handle SMS VoIP texting, WhatsApp and Facebook messages in one place.
- Hosting options – Use the tool however you need. Choose on-premise or cloud hosting, or opt for a system hosted by 3CX.
- Customization options – Personalize chat greetings, colors, responses etc.
- Call recording – Record calls for legal or business purposes.
- Built-in analytics – Monitor agent performance, SLA and callback statistics and other details to optimize your call management process.
FreePBX’s notable features include:
- Calling queues – Route calls to virtual lines based on specific criteria.
- Conference bridge – Conduct remote meetings using your phone system.
- Ring groups – Group phone numbers to allow people to ring them together.
- Follow me / find me calling – Receive calls at any location and any number of phones.
- Fax-to-email – Receive fax in your email inbox.
- Voicemail to email – Forward voicemail messages to email as audio files.
- Call transfer – Transfer ongoing calls to a different number.
- Call waiting – Pause ongoing conversations to answer another call.
- Call screening and blacklisting – Screen calls and blacklist connections you consider untrustworthy.
- Event logging and call recording – Log events and record entire calls when needed.
Both solutions offer similar possibilities and tools – call management features, audio conferencing, call reporting, queues etc. The main difference is the user-friendliness and the approach to system setup. 3CX is much easier to use (even though it has its share of problems that users complain about), which makes it a good choice for smaller companies.
FreePBX is more customizable but requires more from the user – you must define your business needs, know which modules you’ll require and have the technical expertise necessary to set everything up.
You can integrate 3CX with popular ERP or CRM systems such as Zendesk, Freshdesk, Salesforce, HubSpot and Bitrix24. The website mentions other interactions, including Microsoft Teams, Zoho, Microsoft Dynamics, WhatsApp, PMS and hotel software.
FreePBX offers fewer native integration options, but you can connect it to several popular CRM systems such as SugarCRM, Zoho, Connectwise, Salesforce and SuiteCRM. You also have the option to use Zapier to integrate with other systems and tools.
3CX has four pricing plans, but most have several options:
- 3CX Free – Up to 10 users, basic feature set (included in all other plans).
- 3CX SMB – €175/year/system with 10 users or €275/year/system with 20 users. The package includes additional features.
- 3CX Pro – €145/year/system with 10 users, hosted on-premise or €295/year/system with 10 users, hosted by 3CX. You can self-host on the cloud or on-premise and enjoy some of the more advanced features and integrations.
- 3CX Ent – €145/year/system with 10 users, hosted on-premise or €295/year/system with 10 users, hosted by 3CX. The plan offers an option to use a Custom IP Phone Logo, plus some more features.
Moreover, you can increase the number of users for Pro and Ent subscriptions for an additional cost.
Image source: 3CX website
As the name suggests, FreePBX is free of charge – at least in theory. However, in practice, this applies only to the basic PBX system. Many features – even core ones, like video conferencing – are available as additional paid products. The prices are often quite high. The company offers four bundles which, for all intents and purposes, work like paid subscriptions:
- Starter Bundle – $169/year. Basic phone system features.
- Advanced Bundle – $579/year. Some additional features include Appointment Reminders, Call Recording Reports and CRM Link.
- Call Center Bundle – $1,149/year. You also get Caller ID Management, Class of Service, CRM Link, Outbound Call Limit MOdule, PINSet Pro, Queue Reports, Queues Pro, Web CallBack Module and Xact Dialer.
- Everything Bundle – $1,729/year. You get the complete feature set.
Image source: FreePBX website
Because of the unintuitive and confusing pricing model of FreePBX, depending on your needs, it might be the pricier of these two tools.
Both companies offer a documentation/help center and guides detailing various aspects of their products. 3CX has a chat widget on the website, and you can submit tickets through the support portal once you log in. FreePBX customer support works similarly (minus the live chat widget), but you’ll need to pay for support time credits to open a ticket.
|Score on G2
|Score on Capterra
|Score on Trustpilot
|4.4 (441 reviews)
|4.4 (376 reviews)
|3.7 (18 reviews)
|4.4 (14 reviews)
|3.2 (1 review)
Ringblaze: 3CX and FreePBX alternative
Of course, VoIP solutions don’t end with 3CX and FreePBX – you have other options, and some offer more features and better support for less money.
One such case is our Ringblaze – an excellent phone system created first and foremost for small and medium-sized companies that need to optimize their customer support and find an easy-to-use, reliable way to contact their clients and business partners.
Ringblaze allows you to treat calls as tickets that you can assign to specific people. You manage everything through a shared dashboard that allows interactive and dynamic conversations and also get plenty of additional tools to assist your customers, such as a live chat widget on the website.
Why choose Ringblaze over 3CX and FreePBX?
Why choose Ringblaze? Here are some reasons:
- User-friendliness – Setup won’t take you more than 15 minutes.
- Chat support – Ringblaze isn’t just about calls; it also supports chat.
- Platform support – Ringblaze works both on Macs and Windows PCs.
- Software-as-a-Service – Ringblaze is a web-based service you can use on various devices.
- No pricing traps – We believe in transparency. Rinblaze has one pricing option – $15/month when paid annually or $4 more for monthly payments.
3CX vs FreePBX vs Ringblaze: Comparison table
|Create Phone Numbers
Receive and make calls globally
Manage open and resolved issues
Access to Customer History
Access on desktop and mobile
|Starts at $15
|App-free video conferencing
Call queues and callback
On-Premise, cloud or hosted
|Free version, paid variants start at €145 / year
Follow me / find me calling
Voicemail with email support
Call transfer and waiting
Call screening and blacklisting
Event logging and call recording
|Free, but you have to pay for specific functionalities
Image source: Pexels
Both 3CX and FreePBX are solid options for your business’s VoIP messaging and calling needs. Which of them is better? The answer will depend on your needs. For example, if you want a comprehensive but still relatively easy-to-use tool for day-to-day call center management and operations, choose 3CX. It also offers more native CRM integrations. If you value customization, FreePBX will be a good option.
Of course, you can also go a completely different – and potentially much better – route. If you invest in a SaaS like our Ringblaze, you can get the things you need from a VoIP system without the hassle associated with installation, setup, integrations etc. Excellent customer support, one price and one service with a great feature set.
Interested? Sign up and check our platform out for free!
3CX vs FreePBX: FAQs
Here are answers to some common questions regarding FreePBX and 3CX.
No, FreePBX is not objectively better than 3CX, especially if you’re interested in more beginner-friendly PBX tools.
Users complain about customer service, user-friendliness, the system’s responsiveness, glitches and limited features of the mobile application.
FreePBX competes with phone systems such as FusionPBX, FreeSWITCH, Elastix, VitalPBX and Issabel.