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Given that we're all so accustomed to our cell phones, being tethered in place by a landline phone can be frustrating, but cordless phones give you freedom to roam.
Better yet, today's cordless phones aren't plagued by the signal problems and interference that models from 10 or 20 years ago were, so you can enjoy a crystal-clear phone call from anywhere in your home.
But how do you sort the wheat from the chaff, and pick out the perfect cordless phone that's going to give you the features and call quality you desire? We at BestReviews are here to help!
Our mission is to give you all the information necessary to select the perfect products to suit your needs. We test items in our labs, consult experts, analyze data, and sift through customer reviews, so we can bring you the most fair and thorough reviews around. What's more, to avoid bias, we never accept free products from manufacturers.
Check out the guide below to learn more about cordless phones and how to select your ideal model. When you're ready to buy, take a look at the product matrix above to see our top five picks.
In the past, many people had issues with interference on their cordless phones. Signals from domestic radios, baby monitors, WiFi, Bluetooth, and other sources are all flying around all the time. They can interfere with a cordless phone, resulting in poor signal, issues with clarity, or literally picking up a radio station, or even someone else's phone conversation through your handset.
However, the latest cordless phones use Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications Technology (DECT) 6.0.
DECT 6.0 provides excellent security — so you shouldn't get any interference from other signals — plus great sound quality and range.
Some cordless phones on the market still use older technology, but we recommend avoiding any models that don't use DECT 6.0.
Here are some of the factors you should consider when picking out the perfect cordless phone to fit your requirements.
Think about how many handsets you need. If you live in a small house or apartment, a single handset will probably suffice. However, many people like to have at least two, especially in a home with more than one story, so they don't have to run up or down the stairs when they hear the phone ringing. Some cordless phones come with five or more handsets, which is great if you have an extremely large home, or if multiple family members want a handset in their room.
Product in Depth
Product in Depth
Panasonic Link2Cell, Bluetooth Enabled
Considering all that you get with this package, the Panasonic Link2Cell Bluetooth-Enabled Phone represents a fantastic economic value. It also leads its class in terms of functionality. The huge feature set includes caller ID, speakerphones, transfers, intercom and conferencing, call blocking, a phone book of up to 3,000 numbers, an amazing talk time ceiling of 13 hours, and standby for up to 11 days. The quality that truly separates this phone from the rest of the crowd, however, is the Panasonic's Link2Cell function. This technology allows you to integrate two cell phones into the system. When you integrate a cell phone with your cordless, you get the convenience of a cell with the security of a land line.
In this day and age, who actually memorizes phone numbers?
All but the most basic cordless phones have a number directory, allowing you to store important contact information in your phone for easy access. Most models can store between about 30 and 50 numbers, but some models can handle 70 or more.
Try to avoid cordless phones with specialty batteries. Plenty of models use regular batteries, which are less expensive and easier to find.
If you want to be able to screen your calls — so you avoid telemarketers or unknown numbers — look for a model that has caller ID.
If you've stored a number in your phone's directory, the caller ID will flash up with their name, so you don't have to worry about recognizing all your contacts' numbers.
Some cordless phones have a call waiting function with their caller ID, so you can tell who's trying to reach you when you're already on the phone.
Nobody likes nuisance calls, and often there's nothing you can do about them.
However, if you choose a cordless phone that offers call blocking, you can program in nuisance numbers and your phone will automatically block them when they call. Problem solved.
Product in Depth
Product in Depth
AT&T DECT 6.0 Expandable w/Answering Machine
Three phones are enough for the majority of households, and we really like the fact that the AT&T Expandable Cordless Phone with answering system provides three handsets. The AT&T offers all the features you would expect: caller ID, call waiting (depending on your line provider), conferencing, a 50-number directory, hearing aid compatibility, and the ability to digitally record up to 14 minutes of calls. In short, it offers everything the vast majority of consumers could want in a cordless phone system. If you're on a budget and you can get a quality system like this ⸺ along with an answering machine ⸺ for a steal, why pay more?
A cordless phone's signal range determines how far you can go from the base/docking station before you start to lose signal. A long signal range is important if you have a large house or if you want to be able to use your cordless phone out in the yard.
Few manufacturers give a concrete distance measurement for range — perhaps because multiple variables can affect it — but our research has found that some phones have a range of as little as 60 to 80 feet, whereas others work perfectly 300 feet from their base.
Cordless phones have a much longer range outdoors, because fewer obstacles are around to block the signal.
Some cordless phones work with an additional "range extender" that boosts the distance you can travel from the base with your handset.
Cordless phones run on rechargeable batteries or battery packs, that charge while the handset rests on the base. This means cordless phones can only be used for a limited time before they run out of battery. Luckily, most cordless phones last somewhere between 5 and 15 hours of talk time before they have to be recharged, which should be more than sufficient.
Even rechargeable batteries have a finite lifespan, and most will stop holding their change adequately after a couple of years. Due to this, we prefer cordless phones that run on regular rechargeable batteries rather than proprietary battery packs, as they're cheaper and easier to replace.
Look for cordless phones with backup batteries in the base. Without them, you won't be able to make any calls if your power goes out, which could be a problem in an emergency situation.
Unless you opt for a basic model, most cordless phones come with a built-in answering machine, with most able to store roughly 10 to 15 minutes of messages.
While not everybody wants or needs an answering service, others find it an extremely useful feature to have.
Product in Depth
Product in Depth
Plantronics Cordless Headset
The Plantronics Cordless Headset Phone has all the functionality you could want. In fact, the 70-number phonebook is greater capacity than many competitors. Ten hours of talk time is also very competitive and appealing. The big question, of course, is whether you want the hands-free facility that a cordless headset phone like this offers. For some, it's indispensable. While the device has garnered the usual smattering of complaints about battery life and call quality, the majority of owners consider it an excellent product.
A less common, but rather interesting, feature some cordless phones offer is linking your cell phone to your landline phone via Bluetooth.
This lets you receive cell phone calls straight to your cordless phone handset, so you don't have to carry your cell phone with you at home.
Some cordless phones integrate with your cellular phone, which means you can answer cell phone calls on any of the cordless handsets in your house.
Let's examine the average cost of a cordless phone and what you get for your money.
A basic cordless phone that comes with just one handset and has few extra features should cost somewhere between $15 and $30.
For a mid-range cordless phone, which has two or three handsets, plus some extra features (such as a answering machine and caller ID) expect to pay somewhere between $30 and $70.
A top of the line cordless phone with all kinds of extra features — like cell phone integration and voice paging — that comes with three or more handsets can cost anywhere between $70 and $200, depending on how many handsets and what kinds of features it includes.
Q. What kinds of extra features can cordless phones offer?
A. You might be surprised about some of the features available on high-end cordless phones. Besides those we've already covered in depth, we've found phones with built-in baby monitors, with optional key detectors, and phones that let you voice page another cordless phone handset anywhere in the house, so you don't have to yell for your family members when you need them. Some users may find these extras to be overkill, but they can be extremely handy for others.
Q. Can you buy large button cordless phones?
A. Cordless phone handsets are often fairly small, which is problematic for people with poor eyesight, or issues with dexterity or hand-eye coordination. However, you can find large button cordless phones, making dialling easier for everyone.
Q. Are cordless phones compatible with multiple phone lines?
A. Some, but not all, cordless phones can support two separate lines. This is useful if you're running a small business or you have a particularly chatty teenager at home. Often, these phones ring at two distinctive pitches so you can tell which line is receiving a call.
Q. Can I use a cordless phone if I wear a hearing aid?
A. Historically, cordless phones have been a bit useless for those who wear a hearing aid — hearing aids can be affected by interference from cordless phones, causing feedback and background noise. However, it's possible to find phones compatible with hearing aids. These use inductive couplers that give a clearer sound by working with your hearing aid directly. Just make sure you switch your hearing aid to the “telecoil” setting.
At BestReviews, we purchase every product we review with our own funds. We never accept anything from product manufacturers. Our goal is to be 100% objective in our analysis, and we do not want to run the risk of being swayed by products provided at no cost.