Best Corded Phones

Updated July 2020
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

27 Models Considered
6 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
312 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best corded phones

Last Updated July 2020

Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone back in 1876. Practically overnight, it became an American symbol of progress. Even today, smartphones display the shape of a semi-curved telephone handset as an icon on the screen.

The unmistakable sounds of the original rotary telephone eventually gave way to push-button telephones with the individual tones that are still used today. With the advent of portable telephones, however bulky they were at first, it seemed that the days of the corded telephone were coming to an end. But that didn’t happen.

Instead, nostalgia took root and bloomed. The smarter our telephones became, the more people wanted to return to the phones of the past — at least for a fraction of the time. Today, there are a wide variety of corded telephones to choose from. If you want one, we don’t blame you. Not only do they elicit a bit of nostalgia, they are also quite reliable to have on hand. Keep reading, and we’ll talk you through the decision-making process so you can get a corded phone you love.

Corded telephones are also called landlines because they usually have a physical telephone line coming into the house from the telephone poles.

Key considerations

Connection

Some newly built homes come with telephone jacks for corded telephones, but it’s not guaranteed anymore. When existing homes, condos, and apartments are renovated, those jacks are often covered up. The wires are still in the wall, but the jacks are gone.

Before you get a corded phone, make sure there’s someplace to plug it in. It won’t work without a telephone jack. If your home doesn’t have a telephone jack, or if you can’t find it, you’ll have to have a line installed. Depending on where you live, the cost will be between $100 and $250.

Electrical

Many corded telephones also need electricity to run the answering machine or base unit functions, so make sure there is an electrical outlet close to the jack. If the corded phone you’re looking at doesn’t have any of those features, however, you don’t need to worry about it.

Phone location

Corded telephones are the exact opposite of mobile. In fact, they’re immobile by definition. Therefore, you need to determine where the telephone is going to be located. At home, a central spot that can be easily reached from anywhere in the house is the best idea. Older homes sometimes have a built-in shelf in the hallway specifically meant for the telephone.

In an office setting, you’d probably want the phone on your desk for easy access. Unless you put a long cord between the handset and the base unit, you wouldn’t be able to use the phone anywhere but where it is physically located.

Emergencies

Corded telephones that don’t require electricity from an electrical outlet will often continue to work when there is a blackout. If the blackout is limited in duration, it probably won’t matter. But in areas that experience flooding, hurricanes, or other natural disasters, the electricity may go off for so long that your smartphone battery drains and you cannot recharge it. In that case, you’d be left with no way to communicate with the outside world.

A corded telephone that doesn’t need an electrical outlet can be an excellent backup telephone during emergencies.

Clarity

If you’ve ever seen one of those “Can you hear me now?” commercials, you know it’s a common problem with smartphones. No matter how many “Gs” your network has, inevitably there will be times when you simply can’t understand the person on the other end. Static, dropped calls, and sound cutting in and out are common problems.

None of these problems exist with corded telephones. You always have crystal clear sound. You can talk softly and still be heard. Static and interference don’t exist. Additionally, while a corded phone may not be as smart as a smartphone, it suffers from fewer quality control problems because it’s so much simpler.

Large number pads

It’s a given that corded telephones have larger keypads than smartphones, especially if you’re using a base unit. The buttons are also farther apart, so there is less danger of dialing the wrong number.

The other advantage is the tactile feel of the buttons when you push them. Smartphones try to provide physical feedback so you know when you’ve pushed a button, and they sometimes succeed. Corded phones don’t have to try. There is no mistaking the physical sensation of pushing buttons as you’re dialing a corded phone.

No touchscreen

Have you ever had a smartphone pressed to your ear to hear what’s being said and accidentally launched an app or activated some feature you didn’t intend? Touchscreens are fantastic, but like any other technology, they can malfunction — or function when you don’t want them to. That won’t happen with corded phones because they don’t have touchscreens.

No more pocket calls!

Electromagnetic radiation

Current 4G smartphone networks use electromagnetic radiation. Doctors are already concerned about how this radiation is affecting us, given that we’re holding our smartphones right against our heads. The new 5G smartphones that are planned will use millimeter frequencies that raise even more health concerns.

Corded telephones avoid these concerns.

Cost

One undeniable advantage to using a corded telephone instead of a smartphone is the monthly cost. A monthly smartphone bill is usually $100 or more, depending on the features your plan includes. But a plan for a corded telephone that includes unlimited nationwide calling can be purchased for less than $35 a month from most carriers.

EXPERT TIP

Some corded phones can be mounted on the wall, so they don’t take up any counter space.


Staff  | BestReviews

Features

Color

Depending on the manufacturer, corded phones may be available in a rainbow of colors. Black, white, and shades of gray are the usual defaults, but other colors are common.

Cordless handsets

Even though we’re talking about corded telephones, many of them have a base unit and one or more remote wireless handsets that employ short-range radio signals to transfer the call to them. This gives you the mobility of a smartphone without the cost.

Display screen

Display screens with caller ID and other information displayed on them are common on about half of all corded phones. The displays often show the date and time, messages, number of calls, redial attempts, and other basic information.

Messages

Anywhere from one-third to one-half of all corded phones have built-in message recording ability. They can record an outgoing message and store dozens of incoming messages, all in perfect privacy where the telephone carriers can’t listen to anything.

DID YOU KNOW?

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle once had his famous detective, Sherlock Holmes, reconstruct a telephone number from the remembered sounds of a rotary telephone being dialed.

Corded phone prices

The low price range for corded phones is anything under $20. Phones in this range are generally slimline phones without special features. A few may have caller ID and a date/time display.

The middle range includes phones that cost between $20 and $55. Most will have caller ID, redial, speakers, and time/date functions. A few may have a rechargeable cordless unit that gives you the freedom to move around without buying an actual smartphone.

Above $55, you will find specialty antique phones and those with multiple cordless units, each with their own charging cradle.

EXPERT TIP

Remote handsets on corded phones sometimes have built-in functions allowing them to be used as baby monitors.


Staff  | BestReviews

Tips

  • Some people like corded phones because they’re less “fidgety.” When the phone rings, all you do is pick up the receiver, and you’re instantly talking to the caller. You don’t have swipe or anything.
  • Hanging up is just as simple. When you’re done talking, just put the handset on the base unit and you’re done.
  • Dialing is quick and easy. There is an immediate tactile response to each number you dial.
Corded phones never run out of power, so you can talk for hours on end without ever worrying about draining the battery.

FAQ

Q. Can a corded phone spy on me?
A.
No. Corded phones don’t have any “smarts,” so they can’t be remotely turned on or activated to listen to you.
 

Q. Can a corded phone take pictures?
A.
No. You’d need a camera — or a modern smartphone — if you wanted to record still shots or video.
 

Q. How many messages can a corded phone store?
A.
Manufacturers usually refer to how many minutes of voice recording can be stored. The average is between half an hour and an hour.

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The BestReviews editorial team researches hundreds of products based on consumer reviews, brand quality, and value. We then choose a shorter list for in-depth research and testing before finalizing our top picks. These are the products we considered that ultimately didn't make our top 5.
The team that worked on this review
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    Bronwyn
    Editor
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    Ciera
    Digital Content Producer
  • Kristin
    Kristin
    Writer
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    Web Producer
  • Melissa
    Melissa
    Senior Editor

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