The CS is as basic as cordless phones get, but it could be the perfect choice if you just want to have a home phone available in case of emergencies. This phone has every feature you could want, as well as the longest range of any model we tested. Also, this phone stayed connected over a longer distance than any other model we tested, starting to cut out only after feet or the length of one and a half football fields.
This includes researching hundreds of cordless phones and testing dozens over the past five years. To better understand the technology that makes these phones work, I sought out experts including Ruth Wilson, marketing chair of the DECT Forum , the semiconductor group behind DECT technology, the wireless communication standard that all modern cordless phones use.
Retired audiologist Lisa Devlin tested the amplified phones in this guide. Devlin has non-syndromic, bilateral, congenital, mild-to-moderate sensorineural hearing loss. She uses two Oticon Opn S hearing aids and has prior experience with amplified phones.
That means tens of millions of American households still have landlines, however. As a childless man who rarely makes voice calls of any kind and lives in an apartment that has decent cell phone reception, I was surprised to discover just how many of my Wirecutter co-workers own and regularly use cordless phones.
Other colleagues have poor cell reception in their homes and simply need something that can reliably make and receive calls. If you have a line anyway, why not get a phone to use with it? When we published a previous version of this guide, in , we noted that there were relatively few independent, trustworthy reviews of cordless phones. This made it tricky for us to narrow our latest list of test models, since the manufacturers that make cordless phones release dozens of similar models with only slightly different features.
So in an effort to zero in on the specific metrics and features we should look for, we reached out to groups whose members would likely have an interest in these devices, and we searched for hobbyists and enthusiasts. The same was true when I put in a request with SciLine , a resource for journalists to connect with scientific sources.
Next, we turned to the phone makers themselves. There are smaller brands, but for support and warranty purposes, we hewed closely to the larger brands. Complicating things further, many models are available only through certain retailers Amazon, Target, Walmart, and so on. Finding phones that fit our desired specifications and were actually available to buy was frustrating for us, and we do this sort of thing for a living! To figure out which features and specifications were the most important, we gathered a group of Wirecutter staffers who had cordless phones and asked why they used them and what features they found most useful.
We combined that feedback with our research to arrive at a list of criteria:. Armed with the above criteria, we asked representatives from VTech and Panasonic which of their respective phones best fit the bill. After cross-referencing the suggestions against our own research, we called in 12 models:. We used the same criteria to research amplified phones, with additional qualifications specific to their intended purpose. Once we had the phones in hand, we installed an Ooma Telo VoIP system—one of the more popular brands of boxes that turn your internet connection into a phone line—and began testing.
Some aspects were obvious from the start, such as how similar the hardware was across many of the models; other features, including range and voice quality, required us to evaluate them more thoroughly. We walked down the stairs, out of the house, and west down the street, continuing to listen until the call started to break up.
Thankfully, even the worst-performing phones made it several houses down the street about feet before the signal weakened. We then shared the voicemail recordings with three Wirecutter writers and editors and asked them to evaluate and rank the four clips the test phones were not identified to the panel. Having verified that all three phones had good-enough voice quality, we simply navigated around each phone and played with its respective features to see how well they were implemented.
Were the menus easy to navigate? None of them were particularly great, but some were worse. How did the handsets and their buttons feel? How easy was it to read the screen? Retired audiologist Lisa Devlin performed similar tests with the amplified phones, allowing us to evaluate range and outgoing audio quality.
Additionally, she made calls using each phone and toggled through the various settings intended to aid hearing, including the volume-adjustment options, tone control, slow-speech and noise-reduction functions, and any audio assist or boost buttons. The package comes with two handsets, so you can have phones in different parts of your home.
And this model includes features normally found only on more expensive phones, such as automated call screening and a Bluetooth cell phone connection. We were able to get about feet away from the base station before the audio on the other end of the call began to cut in and out. To put that number in perspective, we were able to get seven houses down the street with the DL before our test call began to break up. What the DL lacks in extended range, it makes up for in call quality. And audio expert Lauren Dragan, a Wirecutter senior staff writer, told us that the DL actually sounded clearer through her iPhone's earpiece than another iPhone did.
Many phones at this price, including this one, offer details such as a button on the base station that pings the handset so you can find it , a digital answering system an answering machine without the tape , a full-duplex handset speakerphone, and one-touch call blocking which lets you automatically add robocall numbers to your block list. But two features in particular help the DL stand out compared with others in the same price range: smart call blocking and a Bluetooth cell phone connection.
It works by comparing the numbers from incoming callers against those in your phone book, which you can add manually or from your cell phone over Bluetooth. If they do so, their message is then played out loud, and you can choose to answer the call, answer and allow the number going forward, block the number, or send it to your answering system.
When paired, your cordless phone can then serve as an extension of your smartphone, allowing you to leave your mobile phone by the base and then wander around with the DL handset. It will also ring when your cell phone gets a call. Each phone runs on a rechargeable mAh CR battery, which you can replace for just a few dollars. If you know you need extra range and are willing to give up the Bluetooth connection, consider going with the CL The 2-inch screen measured diagonally is monochrome, and the white backlighting glows for only a few seconds after you stop pressing buttons.
The labyrinthine menu system made us long for the swiping and tapping of our smartphones. However, we appreciated that the number keys glowed a soft blue, making them easy to see in the dark. It has all the features a great phone should have, amplified or not, and when retired audiologist Lisa Devlin tested our amplified finalists, it was her favorite—the one she would tell her clients to get.
The volume adjustments should be suitable for many people who need boosted voice levels, and the six levels of tone adjustment plus custom tones provide a greater range of voice qualities than you can find on phones from any other company. The phone meets the TIA standard, so it offers compatibility with hearing aids without causing interference, and it works with headsets and neck loops. Devlin also found the tone adjustment to be satisfactory.
A button on the side of the handset, above the volume rocker, allows you to cycle through six preset tones with different adjustments to the high-end, midrange, and low-end qualities of the voice on the other end. If you use a headset or induction neck loop, you can plug it into the jack on the side of the handset. The KX-TGMW also offers the standard features we look for in any cordless phone, including a base speakerphone and handset speakerphone, call blocking, and a button on the base station to help you find the handset.
In the end, she found it was more effective to just ask the person she was conversing with to step out of the noisy environment. Otherwise, it lacks any sort of call blocking, speakerphone, or digital answering system, and it has no ability to connect to your cell phone.
The hardware itself is light and plasticky, and the screen is small. But we like that the entirety of each number key glows, rather than just the perimeter. The VTech IS offers impressive range, good-enough voice quality, four handsets, and every other feature we can think of. A speakerphone and dial pad on the base station? The Motorola CD is an ideal option for anyone that is either hearing or visually impaired.
Thanks to a combination of loud ringer options, large and bright lit display and an LED alert light this works well for grabbing attention. Support for hearing aids is also included with easy one button access and the ability to listen to the recorded answering machine messages through that headset connection. The base ringer may be a little loud for some but there are few other gripes. This remains affordable yet offers a solid build quality and can be paired with up to four handsets if you need.
The ability to block numbers using the phone is another nice option on this well priced cordless phone. The Panasonic KX-TGS has more features than any other cordless phone we tested, and though these features require a more involved set-up than others, it can be worth it so you never miss an important call. It has all the standard features: answering machine, phonebook directory, LCD backlit handset, handset intercom and call log.
It also adds premium functions like talking caller ID, headset jacks on each handset, excellent battery life, backup battery function and call block up to numbers. What sets this phone apart from other cordless phones we reviewed is its cell phone integration. The base of this Panasonic phone also has a USB port so you can charge your mobile phone too. If you want a cordless phone that keeps you connected, the Panasonic KX-TGS is one of the best feature-rich phones there is.
However, this cordless phone is more complicated to use than other models. For example, most other phones with call blocking features have a dedicated button for that function, but this model requires a code to do the same thing. Still, it's a brilliant option if you're looking for cell phone integration, and a great cordless phone for business. The cordless phone and answering machine system comes with one handset — but can support up to 12, which is more than any other phone we reviewed.
Aside from being usefully expandable, the CRL also has great features for people with visual or hearing impairments. It features a large, backlit display and easy-to-read dial buttons. It also includes talking number buttons, four audio profile options, talking caller ID and Audio Assist, which temporarily adjusts the volume to make it easier to hear the other end of the line. The phone base houses a shiny black panel with the answering machine controls. This part can get dusty and easily collects fingerprints and smudges, but the buttons are all clearly labeled and easy to maneuver.
The answering machine holds up to 14 minutes of digital audio, and the phone stores 50 phonebook entries and the last 50 caller ID entries. This is the best cordless phone we tested for people who needs a lot of handsets. Its white and metallic finish gives it a sleek, modern appearance. The two-toned handset is small and lightweight with a medium-sized display and backlit buttons.
It features caller ID, speed dial, a phonebook, handset locator, quiet mode, multiple ring styles and several volume levels. The digital answering machine stores up to 14 minutes of audio. You can access messages through the handset or base controls. While not as feature-rich as other products we tested, the VTech CS has all the basic functionality you need from a phone.
Two features you might miss, however, are an answering machine and backup power. Though landline phones can work during a power outage, this model does not have a backup battery that allows the base to transmit calls to the cordless receiver. The VTech handset is on the small side and feels a bit more like a remote than a phone.
It features a digital display and backlit buttons, but we noticed that the green backlight on the screen makes it difficult to read the display in some lighting conditions. We liked the handset and found all the buttons easy to press and intuitively laid out. If you're looking for a budget option that's brilliant at the basics, the VTech CS is one of the best cordless phones you can choose. You can pick up a new cordless phone from most major electronics retailers, and if you visit the stores they will often have display models that you can test to see how you like the feel, if the buttons are big enough etc.
If you're looking for a new smartphone to supplement your cordless handset, take a look at our guide to the best cell phone providers. If you're worried about the coverage you'll get, make sure you checkout our cell phone coverage map of the US where you can find out who delivers the best coverage for you. There are simple phones that are great for emergencies, and complex systems that can make a great addition to a small business. For simply making and receiving calls, an inexpensive phone like the VTech CS works perfectly.
Number of Handsets Most cordless phone systems are expandable, so you can have multiple handsets on a single line by connecting just the main base via telephone jack. Handsets come with your initial purchase, but you can buy individual accessory handsets to expand your system.
The products we tested can have five to 12 total handsets. If you wanted, you can keep one in every room of your house. Extra handsets usually come with their own charging cradle. Backup Power Phone lines still work when the power goes out, but many cordless phones lack any backup power features, making it impossible for you to make calls. Features and Settings Features like handset location, handset-to-handset intercom function, caller ID, backlit displays and speakerphone are standard across all the phones we tested.
Other features, like a built-in answering machine, headset jack or talking caller ID can also be extremely useful, particularly for home offices. Phones like the Panasonic KX-TGS are packed with customizable features and settings, including cell phone integration and call blocking.
These phones are great for business, but may be a bit too much for a humble home phone. Cordless phone systems all follow a similar form factor: one main base connected to your telephone socket and one or more handsets that connect to the base wirelessly. Basically, cordless phones combine traditional telephone and radio technologies. The differences between this type of phone and others 2. Most people in the United States do not have landlines, according to this survey by the National Center for Health Statistics.
Mobile phones have replaced landlines over the past decade, and the trend continues, with more Americans living in mobile-only households each year. Cell phones have a few advantages over landlines, including mobility and accessibility. Most people who have landlines have cell phones as well, making the landline an added, unnecessary expense for many people. Even with cordless setups, landline phones are locked to their locations. Most people carry their cell phones with them so they don't miss important calls, messages, emails or news.
And because smartphones continue to offer new conveniences, it often makes more sense to choose a smartphone over a landline. Landlines, however, can offer better reliability, especially in rural areas where cell service can be spotty. This reliability is especially important in emergency situations, as cellular location may not be accurate. Landline handsets can also be more comfortable for long calls. Many landline phones, including some of the products we reviewed, have features that play nicely with cell phones, including Bluetooth interfacing and message forwarding.
Luke is a veteran tech journalist with decades of experience covering everything from TVs, power tools, science and health tech to VPNs, space, gaming and cars. You may recognize him from appearances on plenty of news channels or have read his words which have been published in most tech titles over the years. In his spare time of which he has little as a father of two Luke likes yoga, surfing, meditation, DIY and consuming all the books, comics and movies he can find.
Jump to: Best cordless phones Buying advice. Best cordless phones 1. Our best cordless phone in , with loads of features and power backup. Specifications Type: Dect. Handsets: 3 expandable to 6.
The Panasonic Bluetooth Cordless appx. Available in black or silver, they each have large LCDs, so it's easy to see who's calling with just a quick glance. This cordless model provides up to 13 hours of talk time and is available in flat black or a striking black and white.
If callers sometimes speak too quickly for you, try the Panasonic Amplified appx. Other useful features include a talking keypad and the ability to block up to phone numbers. Each handset can also be used as an intercom and a baby monitor, making them versatile for busy families. It provides 30 minutes of recording time and instant playback, while the digital display shows how many messages are in the queue. It comes with both a corded and cordless handset, both with extra-bright screens.
It's also more difficult to fill up digital machine memory since physical storage tape has been removed from the equation. When you're not home to take a call and you don't feel like being tied to your cell phone at every minute, a physical answering machine can be a great asset. Such a device both prevents you from being glued to technology while being certain that you don't miss important calls from people with whom you'll later need to get in touch.
In the traditional sense, an answering machine is a physical telephone answering device or TAD connected to a landline phone that is dedicated to recording a voice message from an incoming caller for playback at a later time. After a certain number of rings, the machine automatically answers the phone with a pre-recorded message or greeting to the caller alerting them to your absence.
Typically, this pre-recorded greeting can be customized so that a caller hears your own voice instead of an automatic one. Once the pre-recorded message has completed, the caller is then allowed to leave their own message for future playback. It can then be deleted or recorded over, depending on the type of machine being used. The telephone answering device is slightly different from the concept of voicemail , given that voicemail represents a centralized and networked solution for recording messages, whereas the telephone answering device is connected through an actual phone line.
That being said, the underlying concept of both voicemail and answering machines is the same, to inform a caller of your absence and allow them to leave you a detailed message in return. Machine and voicemail services can be applied to both professional and personal situations. However, voicemail systems are typically set up for smartphone users and large businesses with a high influx of inquiries by phone and dedicated customer service staff to respond to messages being left.
Answering machines fall into two major categories: digital and tape-based. The tape-style answering machine is the oldest of the two and leverages a two-sided cassette tape onto which messages may be recorded, erased, and re-recorded. The tape is often incorporated into the phone housing itself. Because the tape machine uses physical media to record messages, there is a finite amount of audio data that can be stored. To play back or repeat messages, the landline owner must manually play , pause , and rewind the tape in order to hear the message content.
If the user no longer needs to retain the messages, the tape can be rewound back to the beginning and used again to record a new set of messages. Tape-based machines can be equipped with either one or two cassettes. On a double-cassette machine, one of the cassettes is dedicated to playing an outgoing greeting message that a caller hears after a certain number of rings, while the second tape is used to record incoming messages once the outgoing greeting has completed.
With a single-cassette machine, both the greeting and incoming messages are stored on the same tape. Digital answering machines also knows as digital answering services are electronic devices connected to a landline telephone with the ability to store recorded messages to an internal memory chip. The chip keeps track of the exact date and time of the calls as well as the messages themselves, removing the need for tape and providing a more reliable message storage service.
Finding the best answering machine for your needs really comes down to a matter of context and communication. For example, if you're a business owner with the necessity to refer back to messages without having to worry about rewinding tape over and over, then a digital machine is clearly the right choice.
Not only are many digital machines integrated into a charging station attached to a cordless phone, but they offer greater storage capacity along with more bells and whistles that you won't find on older tape machines. Random-access memory RAM is a large advantage when choosing a digital answering machine, so one must be sure to find a model with enough storage to accommodate as many incoming messages as possible.
Some of the best digital machines can save up to 50 numbers in their recent call histories or up to 60 minutes of voice message space with their internal memory. The digital machine takes a caller's message and converts it into a stream of bytes while its micro-controller digitizes the caller's voice using an analog-to-digital converter and then stores the message in the machine's low-power RAM.
Many of these machines also allow for remote access to saved messages, which is especially convenient when traveling or running a business that requires checking on missed calls when you aren't in your office. For large families, digital answering machines offer an additional advantage of having separate mailboxes that can be accessed by the caller with voice prompts. This way, each member of the family can access their own voice messages without having to listen to others, so this is definitely an important feature to consider when making a purchase.
The earliest telephone answering machines leveraged magnetic recording technology, which was first utilized by Danish inventor and engineer Valdemar Poulsen in By , Poulsen patented the telegraphone , which was a device used to record sound on a steel wire or tape. He later designed a model to answer the telephone automatically and record a message. In , Thomas Edison invented the telescribe machine, which combined the use of a telephone with the dictating phonograph , thus allowing for the recording of both sides of a telephone conversation using wax cylinders.
By , the first commercially successful answering machine was the Electronic Secretary , which was invented by Joseph Zimmerman and businessman George W. Danner , founders of Electronic Secretary Industries in Wisconsin. Although this pairing includes two standard cordless phones, options include up to four additional handsets. To use the answering machine, users record their own custom message. When a new message is available, the counter flashes the number of new messages; if there are no new messages, the message counter displays the number of old messages.
Switch the answering system on and off as desired, and—when turned on—new messages appear on the base as bright LED numbers. Listening to new messages is as simple as pressing the Play button. This answering machine stores up to 30 minutes of recorded messages for future retrieval.
The system records messages on a microchip that can be accessed even if the power is out. Instead, it connects between an existing landline phone and a home phone jack. Users can see how many new messages they have at a glance, scroll through messages quickly with a Skip feature, adjust listening volume, and record memos if desired, all without spending a lot of money.
Fast-talkers have met their match with this digital answering machine from Panasonic, which allows users to slow down a message to hear it more clearly. Two Ni-MH built-in rechargeable batteries power the answering machine for up to three hours if the power goes out four hours on standby , so users can listen to messages and make and receive calls from the base unit. Users may add up to five additional handsets to the system sold separately , and messages can be retrieved at the base, from a handset, or remotely by calling their home number and entering a key code.
This answering system will store up to 17 minutes of messages. Users can opt for a preprogrammed outgoing message that greets callers or record their own unique message at the push of a button. The Repeat and Skip buttons enable users to listen to a message twice or skip a message and go to the next one.
The large keys on the handset are conveniently backlit for easy viewing. The answering machine may be turned on or off from the base unit, and the message volume is adjustable. This system is expandable to accommodate up to four additional handsets sold separately. This answering machine will record up to 14 minutes of incoming messages, and it allows for remote access to listen to messages and change outgoing announcements.
The VTech expandable office phone system offers customizable message recording for small offices or large families , and it accommodates up to four individual users. Keep phone calls and messages private with the base console that accommodates four separate landlines so each worker or family member can make calls and receive messages via a personal corded phone base. Each user may also have an additional handset that syncs to their base phone bases and handsets sell separately.
This answering system can be configured to auto-answer calls and route them to individual phones via extension numbers. Each intended user can access private messages from their base or remotely, and the system will store up to combined minutes of messages. Individual users may also record their own outgoing messages, and the system features enhanced protection against wiretapping for added privacy and message security. Straightforward operating features and a battery backup in case of no power make this answering machine well suited to seniors or anyone who may be vision- or tech-challenged.
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C1 Opens in a new window or tab Pre-Owned. It's important to know how versatile your phone system can get. We touched on this a little earlier, but we have a full explainer of the technology as well. Essentially, it's a standard in cordless phones that ensure that a phone has great range and call clarity.
Plus, DECT phones can intercom with each other and use VOIP, or internet telephony, services like Vonage or Ooma that will send your calls over the internet rather than via the traditional phone network. Cordless phones require a battery to function, which is why they require base stations to charge. It's important to consider your phone habits when choosing a cordless phone system. It's also important to consider the layout of your home and places where a charging cradle would be convenient.
Patrick Hyde lives in Seattle where he works as a digital marketer and freelance copywriter in addition to writing about technology for Lifewire. His areas of expertise include Android devices and consumer technology, such as cordless phones for your home. Adam Doud has been writing in the technology space for almost a decade. When he's not hosting the Benefit of the Doud podcast, he's playing with the latest phones, tablets, and laptops.
When not working, he's a cyclist, geocacher, and spends as much time outside as he can. By Patrick Hyde Patrick Hyde. Fact checked by Stephen Slaybaugh. Stephen Slaybaugh is a fact checker and music writer with with more than 20 years experience writing about internet retail and consumer tech. Tweet Share Email. The Rundown. Best Overall:. Best Budget:. Best Call Quality:. Best System for Two Phone Lines:.
Best Motorola:. Best Panasonic:. Our Picks. In a hurry? Here's our verdict. What to Look for in a Cordless Phone. About Our Trusted Experts. What We Like Connects to your smartphone Automatic call blocking Assistant access Get notifications from your smartphone. What We Don't Like No answering machine. What We Like Two lines Up to 12 handsets. What We Don't Like Pricey. What We Like Volume boost 30 min answering machine. Do you still need a cordless phone? What's the advantage of owning a cordless phone?
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Panasonic DECT Expandable Cordless Phone with Answering Machine and Smart Call Block - 2 Cordless Handsets - KX-TGDW (White/Silver). VTech CS DECT Cordless Phone for Home with Answering System, Caller ID/Call Waiting, Backlit Keypad and Display,Expandable to 5 HS,Silver and Black,1. Cordless Answering Machines - basictutorialonline.com · Panasonic KX-TGDM Expandable Cordless Phone with Call Block & Answering Machine (Single Handset) · VTech CS