While ‘landline’ phones aren’t the staple feature they used to be, the best cordless phones still have a place in the modern home. In many ways, cordless phones are more reliable than smartphones. They offer better call quality and never struggle to find a signal, as they’re hooked up to your landline. They’re also a lot cheaper than cell phones too.
Of course the best cordless phones shouldn’t be considered as a replacement for cell phones, but they have their own uses. Landline phones, including cordless phones, are better in an emergency since they’re more reliably connected - they only lose signal when the phone line itself has an issue, which is rare. They have long life batteries that are recharged in the docking stations too, so you won’t have to worry about the phone being dead when you need it.
Cordless phones are ideal for businesses, big and small, with many companies offering models built specifically with businesses in mind. They have headset ports, speakerphone functionality for meetings, along with call screening and answerphones that can be accessed remotely.
We’ve given the top spot in our best cordless phones guide to the Panasonic KX-TGE433B. This multi functional handset is easy to use and comes with a built-in answering machine. It also has large buttons and a backlit screen for quick and easy calling. You also get call blocking and talking caller ID. All the options in our list have a place though, as they all do something better than the others. The VTech CS6719 is a great budget option, while the Panasonic KX-TG7875S is jam packed with extra features but also comes with a premium price. If you’re not sure what you’re looking for and need further advice, check out our tips at the bottom of this guide where we cover everything in more detail.
1. Panasonic KX-TGE433B
The best thing about the Panasonic KX-TGE433B is its blend of useful features and customizable settings, along with its easy-to-use interface. This cordless phone system includes an answering machine and three handsets, which can be expanded up to a total of six.
The handset features a large digital display with a high-contrast, black and white readout. The buttons follow the same color scheme and are backlit for easy dialing, even in the dark. The handset is larger than others we reviewed, so it’s not the sleekest or prettiest option. On the left side is a headset jack for hands-free talking. You can also use the handset speakerphone, but sound quality is better through the wired connection. There’s a dedicated call block button at the bottom right of the keypad for easily evading telemarketers. You can block up to 250 numbers with this feature if you subscribe to a caller ID service from your phone company. With caller ID, the name of the caller is displayed on each handset and you can set up talking caller ID in either English or Spanish, which lets you hear who’s calling without looking at the phone.
Of the phones we tested, the Panasonic KX-TGE433B had one of the best battery performances. It took 5.5 hours to charge from empty to full (compared to the 6.5-hour average charge time) and was among the longest-lasting handsets in our standby timing tests.
But aside from the phone’s regular performance, it also has a great emergency power backup feature. If there’s a power outage, it can draw power from a charged handset to let you make a call. While it isn’t the prettiest cordless phone we reviewed, the KX-TGE433B is easily the best cordless phone we tested overall. It's the perfect choice for anyone looking for a more-than-basic home phone.
- Read our Panasonic KX-TGE433B review.
2. VTech CS6719
The VTech CS6719 is a simple, unobtrusive and easy-to-use basic cordless phone that’s perfect if you want to set up quickly and start talking. While not as feature-rich as other products we tested, the VTech CS6719 has all the basic functionality you need from a phone.
It’s a great choice if you don’t plan on reading the user manual, as you can figure out all the features on your own. It displays caller ID numbers if you subscribe to that service from your phone company, and it supports call waiting so you’ll never miss a call. You can store up to 50 names and numbers in the phone’s directory, and view your recent calls with the 10-number redial and 50-number caller ID history. 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 CS6719 is one of the best cordless phones you can choose.
- Read the VTech CS6719 review.
3. Panasonic KX-TG7875S
The Panasonic KX-TG7875S 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.
The KX-TG7875S cordless phone system comes with five handsets and can be expanded up to six. 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 250 numbers. While the LCD screen is easy-to read, the buttons aren’t designed for low lit environments.
What sets this phone apart from other cordless phones we reviewed is its cell phone integration. Panasonic’s Link2Cell feature allows you to connect two cell phones to the system via Bluetooth. This allows you to make and answer cellular calls on your cordless handsets, which can be useful if, for example, you’re charging your smartphone in another room. The base of this Panasonic phone also has a USB port so you can charge your mobile phone too. You can set up text message alerts so your handsets let you know when you’ve received a message, and the cordless phone can forward your messages to a registered phone number to check your answering machine on the go.
If you want a cordless phone that keeps you connected, the Panasonic KX-TG7875S 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.
- Read the Panasonic KX-TG7875S review.
4. AT&T CRL32102
You can have a handset in every room of your house with the AT&T CRL-32102. 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-32102 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.
- Read the AT&T CRL32102 review.
5. AT&T EL52113
The AT&T EL52113 is an excellent budget cordless phone and answering machine system. Its white and metallic finish gives it a sleek, modern appearance. Unlike many of the phones we evaluated, the EL52113 doesn’t look outdated or too utilitarian, but its included wall mounting bracket is too big and sticks out around the mounted phone base. 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. The base displays the number of new messages, and the play, delete and skip forward/backward buttons are arranged in a ring around the display. This looks nice, but it’s easy to accidentally press delete instead of play, as the button labels are small and difficult to read. Nevertheless, the AT&T EL52113 is one of the best cordless phone and answering machine systems for anyone on a budget.
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.
- Read the AT&T EL52113 review.
How to choose the best cordless phone
There’s a wide range of possibilities when it comes to choosing a cordless phone. There are simple phones that are great for emergencies, and complex systems that can make a great addition to a small business. Whatever you’re shopping for, these are some things to keep in mind.
A basic cordless phone can cost as little as $20, but features like an answering machine, talking caller ID and emergency backup power increase the price. For simply making and receiving calls, an inexpensive phone like the VTech CS6719 works perfectly. But if you want something nicer with ease-of-use features like a headset jack or Bluetooth connectivity, expect to pay more than $50.
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.
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. If you have frequent power outages or if you don’t have a charged cell phone as a backup option in case of emergency, look for a phone that has an emergency backup battery.
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-TG7875S 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.
How do cordless phones work?
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 base acts as a transmitter/receiver and translator, sending and receiving signals send back and forth between the base, the handset and the phone line.
Most cordless phones, including all the ones we tested, now run on DECT (Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications) 6.0 technology. The differences between this type of phone and others (2.4 GHz and 5.8 GHz phones) include better range, better sound quality and less interference, as it uses a frequency band specifically set aside for cordless phone use.
Landlines vs cell phones
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. These are great features if you don’t want to carry your smartphone with you when you’re home.