In this edition of Head to Head, we compare two IP phones: The Cisco SPA 525G2 and the Polycom VVX 500Polycom and Cisco are two of the biggest names in Information Technology, and VoIP in particular. We compared two color display phones in the $300 price range.

Options/Features Compared Cisco SPA525G2 Polycom VVX 500
A/C Adapter Included Not Included
Available Lines 5 12
Bluetooth Built-in Electronic hook switch capable
Camera Available as Add-on Available as Add-on
Color Screen Display Yes Yes
Comfort Noise Generator No Yes
Connects to PC Yes Yes
Digital Photo Frame Yes Yes
Ethernet Cable Included Yes Yes
Expansion Capability Up to Two SPA500s Expansion modules planned
Hard Keys Voice Mail, Menu, Hold, Volume, Headset, Mute, Speakerphone Home, Headset, Speakerphone, Mute, Volume
HD Voice Yes Yes
Headset included No No
Hearing Aid Compatible Yes Yes
Manufacturer Included Warranty 1 yr 1 yr
Keyboard None Touch Screen
Keypad Hard Keys Hard Keys
Made in China China
MP3 Player Yes Yes
Phonebook Built-in Microsoft Exchange Integration
Power Over Ethernet (PoE) Yes Yes
Screen Size / Resolution 3.2” / 320 x 240 3.5” / 320 x 240
Security WEP & WPA HTTPS
SIP Yes Yes
Soft Keys 9 4
Touch Screen No Yes
USB Ports 1 2
Voice Activity Generation Yes Yes
Wi-Fi Built-in Built-in
Widgets News, Weather News, Weather
Price on Amazon $212.95 $289.45
Price on $249 n/a
Price on VoIP Supply $244.99 $234.99
Highlighted Features

-Call hold, transfer, waiting, pickup, park/unpark
-3-Way Calling
-Advanced Caller ID function, including distinctive ring and call block rules
-Call back on busy
-Music on Hold
-Do Not Disturb
-Local Call Conference/Paging/Intercom
-Shared call/bridge line appearance
-Speed Dial, Redial, Last Call Dial

-Call hold, transfer, waiting, pickup, park/unpark
-3-Way Calling
-Advanced Caller ID function, including distinctive ring and call block rules
-Do Not Disturb
-Flexible line appearance (one or more line keys can be assigned for each line extension)
-Remote missed call notification
-Shared call/bridged line appearance
-Speed Dial, Redial, Last Call Dial

In the Box -SPA 525G2 Console
-Handset with handset cord
-Network LAN cable
-Quick start guide
-Product registration card
-E911 Info
-A/C Adapter

-VVX 500 console
-Handset with handset cord
-Network (LAN) cable
-Quick Start Guide
-Product registration card

The Verdict: I’ve used the Cisco SPA 525G phone, and I haven’t used the Polycom VVX 500. One of the things that bothered me about the Cisco was the minor annoyances, like adding contacts or other information using a keypad. For that reason alone, I’m interested in a phone with a touch screen. Yet, I can’t help but feel that the Android and iOS platforms are the future of VoIP and SIP. But, in practical terms, I’ve yet to see a full-fledged device built around a tablet – so far it’s just videoconferencing software. For the present, I’d like to see what Polycom has to offer. Judging from the feature set, it looks to be easier to use and easier to integrate with cloud and PC applications.

The Polycom’s AC power adapter will run you around $30, or you can use Power over Ethernet. From what I’ve read, PoE can actually cause a lot of infrastructure problems if your system isn’t ready for it, and it isn’t reported to be a big energy saver. The Cisco 525G2 also has built-in WiFi and Bluetooth, which require a USB dongle on the Polycom VVX 500. Despite the slightly higher price tag, I think you’re getting more.

Final Thoughts:
The more comfortable you are with new technology, the more likely the Polycom VVX 500 is for you. If you think touch screens are confusing and would rather have the feedback of real keys, the Cisco 525G2 is the way to go.

Read more on Polycom & Cisco:
VoIP Phone Reviews
PolyCom SoundPoint IP 550
PolyCom HDX 7000 EagleEye Bundle
Cisco SPA525 Hands-on Video
Cisco UC Tools