6 best cordless home phones – pick between BT, Panasonic and more
In many ways the tech that time forgot, the world of cordless phones has remained largely unchanged for years. But as long as landlines are bundled with broadband packages, most of us seem happy to keep the humble dog and bone, even if it now plays second fiddle to our smartphones.
Of course, if you’re one of the few that still holds no truck with 4G and Facebook, a high-tech cordless handset is a no-brainer. There’s no shortage of choice, from budget DECT phones to designer statements.
Things to consider
DECT (Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications) is a worldwide standard for digital wireless voice application. It’s the core technology powering wireless home phones.
The feature specification of DECT models is remarkably uniform, and, as you’ll see from our recommendations, the market is now dominated by just a couple of big household brands.
Perennially popular, caller ID and call barring are must-have features to defeat the scourge of nuisance calls. These enable you to see who’s calling, and are a great way to avoid cold calls. You may need to subscribe to a caller ID service offered by your landline provider.
Buying tip: Using a technology called Smartphone Connect, you can integrate your smartphone with your landline. After registering your mobile to your cordless phone base station, you can take, and make, landline calls on your smartphone. This only works with Smartphone Connect-enabled cordless phones.
The main points of difference between most cordless phones are talk time, phonebook size and the style of display used. Remember that speakerphone function isn’t just useful for hands-free calls, it’s also an easy way to have a group family natter.
Cordless home phones are listed in price order.
Best for: A budget buy
Key specs – Type: DECT cordless telephone; Display: 1.6-inch amber LED screen; Caller ID: Yes; Nuisance call block: Yes; Phonebook: 50 contacts; Talk time: 18 hours
Classic design and simple functionality distinguish this single, simple DECT phone from the others here.
While this one isn’t exactly large, there’s a clear display which features all the information you’ll need, from battery life to incoming call details.
The feature spec offers caller ID and nuisance call blocking. The latter can bar up to 30 pre-set numbers, including any head string between two to eight digits. This is useful, as it means you won’t have to block similar numbers individually.
There’s also a built-in alarm, which can function as a wake-up call or reminder. It can be set to ring once, or every day, with the option of three, five and 10-minute snooze intervals.
There’s good support for long-range hands-free calls, too. You can chat up to 100m away from the base station, and as far as 300m away outdoors. So you can wander out to the cabbage patch and back again without dropping a line.
£54.98 (price correct at time of publishing), Amazon
Best for: Older users and those with impaired vision
Key specs – Type: DECT cordless telephone; Display: 1.8-inch amber Dot Matrix screen; Caller ID: Yes; Nuisance call block: Yes; Phonebook: 200 contacts; Talk time: 16 hours
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This thoughtfully designed twin handset features an integrated answering machine and a host of other convenient features. Thanks to its big button design, it’s particularly useful for those with impaired vision. A large, clear 1.8-inch display with an amber backlight is easy to read.
The BT4600 is also supplied with an inductive coupler and earpiece volume control, designed to make it easier for hearing aid users to take and make phone calls. It has an outdoor wireless range of up to 300m too, and an indoor range of up to 50m.
An advanced call blocker feature can bar 100 numbers, and there’s a call display feature, so you can easily see the numbers of any incoming callers. It also comes with BT premium call blocking, which only allows numbers on your contact list to get through. All blocked numbers are bounced.
You won’t miss any important calls though thanks to an integrated answering machine, with a generous 60 minutes of recording time. The phone also boasts an expansive 200-contact phonebook, which should be big enough for friends, family and any other important contacts.
You can also personalise this set. There’s a choice of 10 polyphonic and five monophonic ringtones. Speaker and ringer volume can be managed, so you can adjust it to suit where you’ve installed the phone, for example close at hand or in a hallway. Talk time is 16 hours on full charge, with 180 hours on standby.
£54.95 (price correct at time of publishing), Amazon
Best for: Big families
Key specs – Type: DECT cordless telephone; Display: 1.6-inch amber screen; Caller ID: Yes; Nuisance call block: Yes; Phonebook: 120 contacts; Talk time: 18 hours
If you need multiple cordless phones, to either serve family members or have telephones readily available in a large property, it makes sense to invest in a matched multi-pack, like this low-cost Panasonic set of four.
This is a compact model, with a 1.6-inch amber screen, and eco mode plus allows the base station to remain powered down until a call is received or the handset used.
The main base unit is compact too, so you can site it almost anywhere, and there’s an integrated answering machine with a 30-minute recording capacity. Playback quality is high, thanks to on-board noise reduction.
Standard features include a nuisance call block, which allows you to blacklist up to 50 specific numbers, or entire groups based on the first two to eight digits, while talk time is a healthy 18 hours, and there’s a battery reserve of up to 200 hours. A distinctive polyphonic ringer melody ensures you’ll never miss a call, too.
£59.99, John Lewis & Partners
Best for: Looks
Key specs – Type: DECT cordless telephone; Display: 1.5-inch white screen; Caller ID: Yes; Nuisance call block: Yes; Phonebook: 120 contacts; Talk time: 18 hours
Let’s face it, DECT phones are rarely iconic. They share a cookie cutter design, and mainly vary in size and colour scheme. So any handset with genuine catwalk aspirations must be worth phoning home about. The Panasonic KX-TGK222 is just such a model. Adopting a stylish vertical cylindrical aesthetic, it boasts a striking silver finish (black is also available) and small footprint, which looks more premium than its price tag might imply.
A high contrast 1.5-inch white backlit LCD gives the telephone a clean, modern appearance, while a pulsating blue LED indicator alerts you to in-coming calls. A clever magnet design locks the handset to the upright base unit.
The feature spec includes call blocking for up to 50 numbers, and an integrated answering machine, with 30 minutes of recording, and a noise reduction mode for improved playback clarity.
Our favourite feature is a “do not disturb” mode, which enables you to catch up on your zzzzs without unwanted interruption. You can even program it not to ring during specific periods of time (binge-watch Sunday?), unless the call comes from a specially designated group of contacts in your phone book (so you can prioritise family members or business).
There are 40 polyphonic ringtones, plus an eco mode plus, which ensures the base unit remains off until a call comes in, or the handset lifted. If there was ever a cordless phone to lust over, this is it.
£99.99 (price correct at time of publishing), Amazon
Best for: Premium cordless wannabes
Key specs – Type: DECT cordless telephone; Display: 1.8-inch full-colour screen; Caller ID: Yes; Nuisance call block: Yes; Phonebook: 150 contacts; Talk time: 14 hours
This stylish pack of four handsets boasts an advanced feature specification with plenty of personalisation options when it comes to ringtone, display screensaver and sound profiles.
The two-tone colour scheme keeps the design looking fresh, and unlike so many cordless phones, the display is full colour. There’s also a 150-name phonebook and an integrated answering machine with 30 minutes recording capacity. Helpfully, you can transfer the phonebook between each of the four bundled handsets; individual ringtones can be assigned to selected handsets for internal calls, and you can transfer internal calls between them.
In addition to caller display, there’s anonymous call silencing, and a choice of thirty selectable ringtones. Talk time is set at 14 hours, with stand-by lasting a full 320 hours.
One nice feature is an illuminated keypad to simplify use when the lights are low. The enhanced user interface offers a choice of simple mode and expert mode, so if the phone is going to a technophobic household you can hide any unwanted complexity from view.
£159.99 (price correct at time of publishing), Amazon
Best for: Smartphone addicts
Key specs – Type: DECT cordless telephone; Display: 2.2-inch colour screen; Caller ID: Yes; Nuisance call block: Yes; Phonebook: 500 contacts; Talk time: 11 hours
Smartphones and landlines can co-exist using Smartphone Connect technology. With this Panasonic cordless system, up to four smartphones or tablets can be registered to the base station, over Wi-FI, using the Smartphone Connect app (available for both iOS and Android) on your mobile.
The benefit of Smartphone Connect is that you can make and answer landline calls with your mobile – handy when you don’t have to make a dash to wherever your landline phone is parked. You can even listen to any recorded calls or the system’s answer phone on your smartphone. Clever huh?
The horizontal design is a hybrid mobile/landline. The phone snaps to the base unit using a magnetic adaptor. The horizontal grip makes for a more comfortable telephone experience. Build quality is high, and the large 2.2-inch colour LCD display has a smart user interface, with various display options, including a neat clock graphic.
The feature spec includes caller ID and call barring, with up to 100 numbers blacklistable. There’s also advanced noise reduction, to improve call clarity.
A one-touch eco-mode keeps the phone in standby until a call is received or made. The only caveat is the slightly limited talk time. At just 11 hours (and 150 on standby), this Smartphone Connect will require charging more often than non-smart rivals.
This article has been updated. It was originally published in June 2019.
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