The AT&T EL52100 offers what most people want from a basic cordless phone: great sound quality and an impressive signal range. However, a slew of recent negative reviews on Amazon.com indicate there may be a manufacturing problem. Many state that the phone never charged or died quickly.
Mixed reviews from owners. The AT&T EL52100's sound quality, signal range and $30 price tag make it an appealing option, but there are numerous complaints that have affected its overall ratings. On the positive side, users say it's simple, user-friendly and works well as a handset and on speakerphone. However, over a dozen Amazon.com reviews say the phone stopped working or complain about the phone's quality, with some calling it "cheap." (The reviews vary widely: nearly 60 users give it a 5-star rating, while about 30 give it just 1 star.) The battery packs that come standard in the handset of the AT&T EL52100 are subpar, leading some users to swap them out immediately and others to complain about the relatively short talk time. Some consumer complaints about static or sound quality appear to correlate with waning battery life.
Questionable battery, phone life. There are many positive (albeit short) comments on the AT&T EL52100 reporting few or no issues with durability. For all of the good reviews, however, there are stinging critiques of the phone's not charging or outright dying after a few months. One of the main issues seems to be with the batteries draining. As with many other phones, this one relies on AAA batteries; one customer upgraded to 1,000 mAh AAA batteries, which extended the battery life. The phone's small design is attractive and practical, owners say.
Competitive features for a low price. Given the phone's price, the AT&T EL52100 has a robust set of features including a speakerphone, answering machine, intercom and even a wall mount. Unlike many models in this report, the AT&T EL52100 is not expandable with additional handsets, so you'll want to choose carefully when you buy. As with all AT&T series, the model number indicates the number of handsets: the AT&T EL52100 has one handset, the identical EL52200 has two, the EL52300 has three, and so on. If you know you want extra handsets, you will need to buy the set that includes them, since the EL52100 is not expandable.
Review Credibility: Excellent Experts test the AT&T EL52100 and rate its ease of use, range, voice quality and more in an undated but recent comparison test of 44 cordless phone models. Results are displayed in a handy chart, making it easy to see which phones are the best. However, the information is only available to paid subscribers.
Review: Cordless Phone Ratings, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, As of November 2012
Review Credibility: Very Good More than 150 owners of the AT&T EL52100 and its sibling models (the EL52200, etc.), which differ only in numbers of handsets, weigh in on several Amazon.com product pages. They award an average of 4 out of 5 stars to all models. Users praise the phone's clarity and range, though they find the effective talk time per charge a little short. Some users have problems with the phone's included battery, leading them in some cases to replace the battery pack with a better unit.
Review: AT&T EL52100 DECT 6.0 Digital Cordless Answering System, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of November 2012
Review Credibility: Very Good Over 250 Walmart.com customers review the AT&T EL52200 (sister to the EL52100 with one additional handset), awarding an average score of 4.3 out of 5 stars. Owners praise the phone's clarity, intercom and loud ring tones. Complaints center around the handsets' battery life.
Review: EL52200 AT&T Dual Handset Answer System, Contributors to Walmart.com, As of November 2012
Review Credibility: Very Good More than 100 users award an average of 4 out of 5 stars to the AT&T EL52100. About 85 percent of customers, most of whom characterize themselves as budget shoppers, say they would recommend the unit to a friend. They cite its ease of use, compact design and comfortable handsets. Common complaints include sound quality, static and battery life.
Review: AT&T EL52100 DECT 6.0 Cordless Telephone, Contributors to Staples.com, As of November 2012