Best Cordless Phone
|Price||$65 List||$70 List|
$46.62 at Amazon
$75.05 at Amazon
|$70 List||$65 List|
|Pros||Very easy to use, great sound quality, solid battery life||Exceptional range performance, good sound quality||Exceptional range, great sound quality, best for linking to cell phones||Excellent range, tons of features||Great sound quality, easy to use|
|Cons||Little light on features||Poor results in our battery test, sparse on features||Mediocre battery life, a little pricey||Unimpressive battery life, sound quality could be better||Few features|
|Bottom Line||This phone is a fantastic option if you want a bare-bones product that is easy to use with impressive sound quality and range||Earning one of the top scores overall and particularly impressing us with its range, we highly recommend this VTech phone to anyone who wants the best||Performing exceptionally well overall, the **TL96273** distinguishes itself as being the best bet if you want to use Link-to-Cell||The KX-TGE432 is a great phone but couldn’t quite match the overall performance of our best phones||Not quite as feature rich as some other models, but excels at being easy to use and having great sound quality|
|Rating Categories||AT&T CL82207||VTech DS6621-2||AT&T TL96273||Panasonic KX-TGE432||AT&T CRL82212|
|Sound Quality (30%)|
|Ease Of Use (20%)|
|Battery Life (10%)|
|Specs||AT&T CL82207||VTech DS6621-2||AT&T TL96273||Panasonic KX-TGE432||AT&T CRL82212|
|Link - to - Cell||No||Yes||Yes||No||No|
|Caller ID announce||Yes||No||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Unobstructed Range Test||840 ft.||840 ft.||840 ft.||840 ft.||840 ft.|
|Obstructed Range Test||300 ft.||390 ft.||300 ft.||350 ft.||220 ft.|
|Call block||Smart Call Blocker*||Up to 20 with a subscription||Dial *60||Up to 250||Dial *60|
|Expandable Handsets||Up to 12||Up to 5||Up to 12||Up to 6||Up to 12|
|Corded (phone) Base||No||No||No||No||No|
|Speaker Phone on Base||No||No||Yes||No||No|
|Speaker Phone on Handset||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Phone Book Capacity||50||1000||200 (6000 cell entries)||100||50|
|Redial||Last 10 Numbers||Last 10 Numbers||Last 10 Numbers||Yes||Last 10 Numbers|
|Any Key answer||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Push to talk (PTT)||Yes||No||Yes||No||No|
|HD Audio w/ equalizer||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||Yes|
|Optional Belt Clip||No||No||No||Yes||No|
Best for Ease of Use
The AT&T CL82207 is one of our all-time favorite cordless phones and one of the best we have seen to date. Its interface is exceptionally intuitive and is a great option for anyone who doesn't want to deal with a hassle every time they use their phone. Accompanying its user-friendliness is excellent sound quality and quite an impressive range, as well as a battery life that should last for 10+ hours of talk time.
Unfortunately, compared to some of the other phones we have tested, the AT&T CL82207 is a little short on features, though it does have an integrated phone book and answering machine. Although it can't quite match some of the other top-tier products when it comes to capabilities, we absolutely love how intuitive and user-friendly this phone is. It's a great option for someone who wants a cordless phone without all the fuss — and if you are shopping with cost in mind, the price makes it a reasonable option.
Read Review: AT&T CL82207
Best for Maximum Range
Just narrowly missing out on the top spot, the VTech DS6621-2 was another strong competitor. This model provided static-free and crystal-clear conversations and has a phenomenal range. We could separate the handset from the base by hundreds of feet without any noticeable drop in call quality. This phone is also one of the most user-friendly products in our review fleet.
Unfortunately, we found that the battery life of the VTech DS6621-2 is a little shorter than other models and unable to last more than 10 hours before running out of juice. Its feature set also wasn't the most extensive, but in our opinion, it includes the most critical ones. Overall, this is a great phone and one of our top recommendations if you need a new phone that can go the distance.
Read Review: VTech DS6621-2
Best Bang for the Buck
Are you searching for a reliable phone to fit your budget? If that's the case, then the AT&T EL51203 is an excellent choice for you. The value of this phone is fantastic, offering solid across-the-board performance at a reasonable price. The sound quality and range on the AT&T EL51203 are above-average, all while remaining reasonably easy to use.
However, its mediocre battery life and relatively limited feature set were unimpressive. Despite these drawbacks, they only had a minor impact on this product's overall performance. This is a great pick if you are shopping on a budget and don't want to make too many concessions when it comes to performance.
Read Review: AT&T EL51203
Best on a Tight Budget
Are you hoping to spend as little as possible on a cordless phone? While the VTech CS6710 is not our favorite model by any means, it does a decent job at a price that's hard to beat. Given its bare-bones and bargain nature, this phone has an acceptable range and surprisingly great sound quality.
As part of its low price, the VTech CS6710 has some distinct trade-offs. The most apparent shortcomings were its below-average battery life and less user-friendly interface. We also found this model to be light on built-in features. But if you are on the tightest of budgets and your expectations aren't too high, then we think it's by far the best you can get.
Read Review: VTech CS6719
Best for Link-to-Cell
The AT&T TL96273 performed exceptionally well in our testing process and was narrowly edged out for the top spot by the AT&T CL82207. Although this phone didn't claim the top prize, it distinguished itself by being the best at connecting to a mobile device. This feature allows you to leave your phone charging by the base, with any incoming calls passed to all of the handsets of the AT&T TL96273*. If you don't like carrying your cell phone with you or if you only get good cell service in a certain area of your home, this feature is particularly handy.
Regrettably, the AT&T TL96273 delivered a somewhat lackluster performance in our battery life tests, and we thought its sound quality is slightly inferior to the top-tier phones. We identified this cordless phone as a well rounded and capable option, especially if routing landline calls to a cell phone is a desired feature. Even if you don't plan on using that feature, it still is a great option based solely on its performance in other areas.
Read Review: AT&T TL96273
Why You Should Trust Us
Our cordless phone testing team of Austin Palmer and David Wise have tested hundreds of tech products and over a dozen different cordless phones. They have used their extensive background in reviewing consumer tech products to formulate a testing plan and process that truly highlights the differences in these products. A separate panel of judges was also convened to compare and score the audio recordings created with each phone.
We pushed each phone to their limits, even if that meant walking hundreds and hundreds of feet to determine their maximum range. We also ran dozens of hours of recordings to ascertain how long you can talk on each model. A widespread group of users — including some who weren't the most tech-savvy — came together to evaluate and compare each phone's ease of use and interface.
Related: How We Tested Cordless Phones
Analysis and Test Results
We broke our testing process into five weighted rating metrics — sound quality, range, ease of use, features, and battery life. We aggregated the results from each category to determine the overall score for all cordless phones. To make our ratings as practical and fair as possible, we used a mixture of objective side-by-side assessments, like maximum range and battery life, as well as more subjective tests, like audio quality, using a panel of judges.
Related: Buying Advice for Cordless Phones
If you are shopping for a new phone on a budget, it's hard to go wrong with either the VTech CS6719-2 or the AT&T EL51203. These two models offered acceptable performance and can be purchased for surprisingly low prices. To maintain their approachable prices, however, each made certain compromises. Both models have slightly inferior sound quality and range and are lacking key features like built-in answering machines. For some, this might be a deal-breaker. If so, then you should consider the more expensive AT&T CL82207 or VTech DS6621-2.
Sound quality is an integral part of a phone and received the highest weighting in the overall score. The principal function of a telephone is being able to hear and understand someone in a different area. Cordless phones offer clear conversations without the hassle of a cord. Our test for sound quality may be on the more subjective side, but it is a good analog of what most people will use these products for.
To test each model's sound quality, we set up the base of each phone and moved the handset a consistent distance away. We then left a voicemail on Google Voice with each model and read a passage from a book (Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne). Next, our panel of listeners rated the quality and characteristics of each message without knowing the make or model of the handset.
Our testing revealed the AT&T Duo — the AT&T CL82207 and the AT&T CRL82212 — and the VTech DS6621-2 had the best sound quality. Delivering crystal-clear audio, the AT&T phones sounded practically indistinguishable from one another. Our panel particularly liked that these phones were extremely clear, with a noticeable lack of static compared to many of the other models that we evaluated. Though not the loudest phones of the group, their sound levels were ideal to easily hear a conversation spoken at a normal level.
The VTech DS6621-2 also lacked any static or buzzing. Conversations sounded as if you were almost within the same room. However, we did find it to be on the quiet side — just a touch quieter than the AT&T CL82207 or the AT&T CRL82212.
Following the performance of the top models, the AT&T TL86103, AT&T TL96273, and the VTech CS6719 all came next. The audio emanating from these phones was clear, but a little bit of static and distortion was detectable, accompanied by a reduction in volume.
Next, the Panasonic KX-TGE432 and the AT&T EL51203 both earned a 6 out of 10 for their decent sound quality. For both of these phones, you can usually hear the person on the other end of the line without any difficulty.
Up next, earning a 5 out of 10 was the Panasonic KX-TGF382M, for its mediocre sound quality. We found the volume on this phone to be quite loud, but all of our judges identified a persistent buzzing or static noise that seriously detracted from the overall sound quality.
The entire point of having a cordless phone is that you are no longer tethered to the base module. It would be somewhat silly to have a cordless product that required you to remain close to the base. We wanted to find out just how far you can get from the base and continue to understand the audio coming out of the handset. Since range can vary wildly, depending on the number and type of obstructions, we split our range metric into two distinct tests; an unobstructed line-of-sight test and an obstructed test with multiple walls between the base and handset.
All the phones we tested thoroughly impressed us with their range and it seems clear that with the implementation of the Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications, or DECT 6.0 standard, that the range of all of these phones would be acceptable for almost any home.
However, our second test with multiple walls truly separated the top-tier phones from the rest of the pack. We left each phone's base inside the house, forcing the phone signal to pass through approximately six walls. Our tester walked each phone along the test course and played an audiobook into each handset. Our test course had markers every 40ft, up to the end of the street, and our tester called out the number of each marker over the audiobook as he walked by. We then listened to each voice message to determine the effective obstructed range of each product.
The VTech DS6621-2 received top marks, earning a 9 out of 10 for its unrivaled range. This cordless phone maxed out in the unobstructed test, delivering clear sound with well over 840 feet separating the base from the phone. It also was able to transmit understandable conversation from 390 feet with multiple walls between the phone and main station.
Tying with an earned 8 out of 10 were the AT&T TL9673 and the Panasonic KX-TGE432. Both phones made easy work of the unobstructed range test and effortlessly made a clear and understandable call with 840 feet separating the base from the handset. With 300 feet and numerous walls between the handset and base, these phones continued to perform. Both were able to maintain a conversation during the obstructed range test. However, we did notice that the audio quality of the AT&T TL96273 diminished, eventually degrading to only one or two understandable words per sentence. In contrast, you could still transmit an occasional phrase with the Panasonic KX-TGE432.
The AT&T CL82207 earned a 7 out of 10 for its performance, matching the top scorers in the line-of-sight test but falling a little short in the multiple-obstructions test. While it did match the performance of the AT&T TL96273, the audio wasn't as clear at 300 feet, becoming almost unintelligible.
The AT&T CRL82212, Panasonic KX-TGF382M, and the AT&T EL51203 all merited a 6 out of 10 for their solid range. These three all reached the maximum distance in the unobstructed test, but their effective range dropped quite a bit in the obstructed test, with the audio cutting out 50-80 feet closer to the base than the top products.
The next model, the VTech CS6719, earned a 5 out of 10 for its relatively mediocre performance. Cutting out almost 100 feet before the other models, this handset couldn't match the top models in the line-of-sight test. The same can be said for the obstructed test, where it cut out significantly closer than most of the other competitors.
Finishing at the back of the pack, the AT&T TL86103 earned a 4 out of 10. The performance given from this phone was lackluster on the whole, having a substantially reduced range compared to almost every other phone in the review.
Ease of Use
Phones are not exactly a modern device. Although there have been major improvements in the past 140 years, the core purpose of telephones has remained the same; to transmit a clear conversation with someone who is not physically close to you. They have been around long enough now that they should be extremely intuitive and easy to use. This metric, along with range and sound quality, makes up the majority of our scores. While the addition of all the newer features is great, it is important to still be able to easily make and receive calls and use the core functions of the telephone. We feel that a good cordless phone should be easy to use no matter who is using it, whether they are tech-savvy or not. We looked at what people typically use their telephone for — things like making and receiving a phone call, paging a lost handset, and entering numbers into a phone book — and compared the relative ease of performing these actions across all the models we tested.
The AT&T CRL82212, AT&T CL82207, and the Panasonic KX-TGE432 all earned a 7 out of 10 for being some of the most user-friendly phones that we have tested. Both of the AT&T phones have handsets that are very easy to read. However, the speed dial functions are a little harder to use, and calling back a missed number is less intuitive than it is on some of its rivals. We found the ringer to be a little quiet on the AT&T CL82207, but the pair of handsets have very bright displays, making them incredibly easy to use in a dark room. Much easier than the relatively dim display and keypad of the AT&T CRL82212.
The Panasonic KX-TGE432 is very easy to read and has a fantastic backlight for operating it with the lights out, but we do wish that it would hyphenate a number when you are entering it. It has decent volume, and it is fairly easy to answer calls or call back a missed one, about the same as the AT&T CRL82212 and the AT&T CL82207. Unfortunately, it can be a little more challenging to navigate the menus on the Panasonic KX-TGE432 since it has so many features to sort through and it lacks a quiet or Do Not Disturb mode like the AT&T phones.
The Panasonic KX-TGF382M, VTech DS6621-2, and the AT&T TL96273 followed, each earning a 6 out of 10 for their slightly above average ease of use. It's a little trickier to enter and save numbers in your phone book on the Panasonic KX-TGF382M, but it is much easier to use the speed dial function on this pair of phones than the AT&T TL96273, which only has a speed dial for voicemail. They also are very easy to read and provide more than enough light for use in a dark environment.
The VTech DS6621-2 lacks a speed dial feature, and the numbers on the screen are a little harder to read than we would have liked. However, it provides a decent amount of light to dial a number and isn't too bad to use in the dark if you are familiar with the phone. It's easy enough to make and receive calls, and the menus are very intuitively laid out.
Next, the AT&T EL51203 and the AT&T TL86103 both earned a 5 out of 10 for being about average in terms of ease of use. Due to their more dim backlights, both handsets are hard to read from a distance or at night. The menus on both of these products are fine to navigate, but we penalized the AT&T TL86103 for the absence of speed dial capabilities.
Finally, the VTech CS6719-2 earned a 4 out of 10 for its below-average showing in this metric. This phone is missing an immediately understandable menu layout and is much harder to see and use, especially in a darker room, due to its dim or total lack of a backlight for the keypad. Additionally, it's much harder to do things like program a speed dial slot or save a number to your phonebook. That makes this phone quite a bit less fun to use unless you only ever answer or make a call with it.
Current cordless phones have an assortment of features, enough that it can be overwhelming to consider them all when shopping for a new one. We compiled a comprehensive list of features across all the models that we tested and weighted scores based on the features that we felt were the most useful and important to us.
After extensive use and testing of these phones, we felt that the keypad lighting, whether or not the base had a keypad/speaker, and the ability to add additional handsets were the most important.
Our top phones in this metric, the Panasonic KX-TGF382M and the AT&T TL86103, both earned an 8 out of 10 for having most of the features we think consumers are seeking. This pair was hurt by their relatively small buttons and less than stellar keypad lighting. However, they both have an integrated keypad and speaker on the main base and link-to-cell capabilities, as well as an integrated answering machine, belt clip, and audio jack to connect a headset for hands-free operation.
The Panasonic KX-TGE432 followed, earning a 7 out of 10. This phone shares many of the features with the top two phones, but it was hindered by its lack of a keypad or speaker on its main base and its inability to link to a smartphone. However, it did earn a few points by having particularly large buttons that are much easier to see and use than the Panasonic KX-TGF382M and the AT&T TL86103.
The remainder of the products all delivered a below-average performance, earning a 4 or a 3 out of 10. Many lacked features that we found to be quite critical. The AT&T CRL82212, AT&T EL51203, VTech CS6719, VTech DS6621-2, and the AT&T CL82207 all lack a keypad on the main base, don't have huge capacity when it comes to the phone book, and all lack the ability to link to a cell phone. The VTech DS6621-2 is the exception, having the capacity for 100 entries in its phone book. The VTech CS6719-2 and the AT&T EL51203 also lack a built-in answering machine.
One downside to having a cordless model compared to a corded phone is the handset's potential to have a completely depleted battery, therefore making it unusable.
A corded phone can draw power over the incoming phone line, while a cordless handset has an internal, rechargeable battery that will recharge through the base of the phone. One of the models tested, the AT&T TL86103, has a corded handset on its base, allowing it to operate in a telephone line power mode. This would be something to consider if you lived in a place that commonly had power outages, as this phone will continue to work in the situation where the power is out, but the phone line is still intact. However, it is only possible to use the corded handset at the base when it is in this line power mode, not any of the cordless handsets.
To test the manufacturer's claimed talk time, we set up a handset from each model around a speaker playing music and called our Google Voice number. We timed how long each phone lasted, as well as when the low battery indicator came on.
The Panasonic KX-TGF382M was the top scorer in this category, earning an 8 out of 10 and lasting a little over 13.5 hours. This was followed by the AT&T CL82207 and the AT&T TL86103, which both earned a 7 out of 10 for lasting for over 13.5 hours in the talk time test as well, but each had a shorter claimed standby life and took longer to charge than the Panasonic KX-TGF382M.
The AT&T CRL82212 came next, earning a 6 out of 10. This product lasted for a little more than 12 hours in our test and takes a claimed 10 hours to fully recharge. The AT&T TL96273 scored about average, earning a 5 out of 10 for lasting approximately 11 hours and 20 minutes before failing.
The AT&T EL51203, VTech CS6719-2, and the Panasonic KX-TGE432 scored just below average, each earning a 4 out of 10. The VTech CS6719-2 lasted just shy of 11 hours, while the AT&T EL51203 was able to make it a little over 10. The Panasonic KX-TGE432 did the worst of this group but still lasted for 9 hours and 40 minutes before completely depleting its battery.
The VTech DS6621-2 brought up the rear, receiving a 3 out of 10. It made it about as long as the Panasonic KX-TGE432 but it lost a point for taking longer to recharge.
Many people may view this category as a bit of an antiquated one, but there are a huge number of individuals and businesses that still rely on cordless phones and use them daily. There is an enormous variety of phones on the market today, and while you might not put a lot of initial thought into your purchase decision for this category, we found a poorly performing phone to be incredibly frustrating. With so many impressive options available, there's really no reason for that.Hopefully, this review has given you the info you need to make the perfect choice for your purposes and budget, whether you are looking for the latest and greatest tech to integrate into your home, or a simple phone that delivers great sound while not breaking the bank.
— Austin Palmer and David Wise