Panasonic KX-TGF382M
Panasonic KX-TGF382M

Best cordless phone

Experts and users laud the Panasonic KX-TGF382M as a great all-around cordless phone system. It's a hybrid system with a corded base (and battery backup), so it will keep working even during a power outage. The system is feature packed, including a solid answering system and the ability to link up with your cell phone to make and receive calls. Sound quality is very good and, despite the healthy roster of extras, the system is surprisingly easy to use -- at least once it's initially set up.
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$84.69
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Panasonic KX-TGF382M DECT 2-Handset Landline Telephone
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New: $99.95   
In Stock.
Average Customer Review:  
Panasonic KX-TGE272S
Panasonic KX-TGE272S

Cordless phone with answering system

It has fewer bells and whistles than the Panasonic KX-TGF382M, and lacks that system's corded base, but reviews say that the Panasonic KX-TGE272S is an able performer and a good value. You still get a good answering machine with the KX-TGE272S, as well as the ability to link with up to two smartphones. The extra-large buttons can be a help for some users. This is the base configuration and has two handsets (including the one in the base). Versions with up to 5 handsets are available as well.

$79.99
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VTech CS6649
VTech CS6649

Cheap cordless phone with answering system

Though it lacks many high-end features, the VTech CS6649 delivers what many users want most: good performance and great value. This is a hybrid corded/cordless system that can keep phone service going even in a power outage. Only one cordless handset is included, but extras (up to 5 altogether) are relatively cheap at $14 each. The VTech CS6649 is competitive with more-expensive options when it comes to call and message quality, and is relatively easy to use, though testing indicates that its cordless range is just a tad shorter than some pricier systems.

$43.50
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Panasonic KX-TGE212B
Panasonic KX-TGE212B

Best basic cordless phone

If you don't need or want the extra complexity and cost of a built-in answering machine, the Panasonic KX-TGE212B shakes out as one of the best performers and best values among basic cordless phones. Features are few, and there's no cell phone compatibility, but you'll find a few nice touches, such as a 250-number call block to keep nuisance calls at bay and battery backup for continuing operation during a power outage. This system includes two handsets, but extras are available separately.
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$77.50
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Panasonic KX-TGE212B dect_6.0 2-Handset Landline Telephone (Discontinued By Manufacturer)
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New: $59.95   
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Clarity XLC3.4
Clarity XLC3.4

Best amplified cordless phone

The Clarity XLC3.4 Amplified Cordless Phone offers features specifically geared toward those with hearing or sight loss, including talking caller ID, large buttons and extra-loud ringer. It also speaks the numbers as you dial. The Clarity XLC3.4 does not come with an answering machine, and it's a bit pricey, but the cordless phone is a top choice among users who need its capabilities.
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$97.14
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Cordless phones work better and do more than ever

A cordless phone might seem like a simple purchase in comparison to a cellphone, but that's not what our research has found. Rather, many are sophisticated devices with built in technology that enable  them to perform more reliably than ever before, as well as to better integrate with the way many people use their phones -- including their cell phones.

A cordless phone uses radio frequencies (RF) to communicate between the handset(s) and the base (the part of the cordless phone system that connects to a standard landline. However, earlier generations of cordless phones used frequencies that are also used by, or are prone to interference from, lots of other devices, including microwave ovens, Wi-Fi networks, game controllers, and more. In the U.S., modern cordless phones comply with the DECT 6.0 standard. Dect, which stands for Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications (DECT), moves communications to 1.9 MHz, a frequency band that's reserved for voice communications, which eliminates most of the interference issues that were once common. It's also more secure; the neighbors won't overhear your conversation on their baby monitor. Once a special feature that commanded higher prices, DECT is now standard on cordless phones, including cheap cordless phones. All of the cordless phone recommendations in this report are DECT 6.0 compliant.

But the parade of technology doesn't stop there. Some cordless phones have the ability to link to your cellular phone via Bluetooth. That lets you leave your cell phone in a convenient spot in your home (presumably where cell reception is best) and place and answer cellular calls, along with landline calls, using any of your cordless phone handsets.

Built in telephone answering devices (TAD) are now commonplace in cordless phones, though if that's not a must, you can save a few dollars by opting for a cordless phone without one. TAD's vary from basic digital answering machines to more sophisticated models with multiple greetings and the ability to alert you to a message while you are away from home, along with options to play it back remotely. Caller ID is, of course, standard, but some models will spare you the effort of getting up to look at a display by announcing the caller with talking caller ID.

Some cordless phones/answerers include a corded phone on the base unit. This is especially handy for prolonged power outages, since corded phones don't need a power source other than the phone line. Other phones have a back-battery that can keep you talking for at least a little while when the lights go out.

The price of cordless phones has dropped even as the technology improves; they now run from as low as $20 to about $100 for single-handset models. Cordless phone/answering machine combos often come with two or more cordless handsets, plus the ability to buy additional handsets that can be linked to the system (extra handsets can cost $10 to $40 each). Depending on the phone, you can expand the number of handsets, but expect to pay more. (It's generally cheaper to purchase the handsets as a package when you buy the original phone.) Most let you use the handsets as walkie-talkies as well as transfer calls from one handset to another and hold handset conferences.

The number of companies making cordless phones for sale in the U.S. is shrinking. Philips departed the cordless phone market in 2010, and Uniden looks to be following suit; we spotted no cordless phones on the Uniden web site, and we no expert reviews and relatively few user reviews for any still available models. That leaves Panasonic and VTech (which also makes AT&T models) as the primary suppliers of cordless phones. In addition, Plantronics, under the Clarity brand, makes amplified cordless phones that are marketed toward seniors, but that could be a good choice for anyone with some hearing loss.

Finding the best cordless phones

For this report, we found a few good, current expert reviews. ConsumerReports.org has the most comprehensive coverage. TheWireCutter.com also tests, though the site looks at fewer models. The review at Techlicious.com is more limited still, but provides a few additional insights. User reviews, especially at sites like Amazon.com and BestBuy.com are plentiful, however. Many models earn hundreds of comments, and sometimes well over a thousand. Our editors analyze these reviews to find the best cordless phones. We judge available models based on their performance, durability and features. While top choices earn Best Reviewed status, we also name some cordless phones that fall just short and could be worth considering by many users, and for many situations.

Elsewhere in this report:

Best Cordless Phones with Answering Machines | Best Basic Cordless Phones | Best Amplified Cordless Phones | Buying Guide | Our Sources

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