Best Cordless Phone of 2021
$51.12 at Amazon
$46.99 at Amazon
$86.23 at Amazon
$69.95 at Amazon
$94.08 at Amazon
|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 battery life, wired handset on base|
|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||Expensive, Average sound quality|
|Bottom Line||If you want a great cordless phone that is simple and easy to use without a lot of fluff, then this is the model for you||If you need a cordless phone with top-tier range, this is a great choice||If you are searching for a cordless phone to integrate with your cell phone, this model is the clear choice||While the KX-TGE432 came close to scoring an award, it was held back by its less than stellar sound quality and battery life||Has plenty of features and a great battery life, but at the cost of sound quality|
|Rating Categories||AT&T CL82207||VTech DS6621-2||AT&T TL96273||Panasonic KX-TGE432||Panasonic KX-TGF382M|
|Sound Quality (30%)|
|Ease Of Use (20%)|
|Battery Life (10%)|
|Specs||AT&T CL82207||VTech DS6621-2||AT&T TL96273||Panasonic KX-TGE432||Panasonic KX-TGF382M|
|Link - to - Cell||No||Yes||Yes||No||Yes|
|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.||260 ft.|
|Call block||Smart Call Blocker*||Up to 20 with a subscription||Dial *60||Up to 250||Up to 250|
|Expandable Handsets||Up to 12||Up to 5||Up to 12||Up to 6||Up to 6|
|Corded (phone) Base||No||No||No||No||Yes|
|Speaker Phone on Base||No||No||Yes||No||Yes|
|Speaker Phone on Handset||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Phone Book Capacity||50||1000||200 (6000 cell entries)||100||3000|
|Redial||Last 10 Numbers||Last 10 Numbers||Last 10 Numbers||Yes||Yes; 5|
|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||No|
|Optional Belt Clip||No||No||No||Yes||Yes|
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 VTech DS6621-2's battery life 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
If you're searching for a reliable phone to fit your budget, 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, and it is relatively easy to use.
Though its mediocre battery life and somewhat limited feature set were unimpressive, these drawbacks 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 Smartphone Integration
The AT&T TL96273 performed exceptionally well in our testing process, narrowly missing out on the top spot overall. 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 was 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 rate the audio recordings created with each phone.
We pushed each phone to their limits, even if that meant walking 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 performance 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 a 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. 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.
We felt that the AT&T CL82207 and the VTech DS6621-2 did the best in our sound quality metric, claiming the top spot. The CL82207 left extremely clear messages, with a noticeable lack of static compared to many of the other models that we evaluated. Though not the loudest phone of the group, we think its sound levels are close to ideal.
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 just a touch quieter than the AT&T CL82207.
The AT&T TL86103, AT&T TL96273, the VTech VS112-2, and the VTech CS6719 all came next in sound quality scores. 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 above-average scores 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, but the sound is far from the crystal-clear audio of the top models. We noticed a bit of static with both phones and thought voices sounded like they were coming from far away, with a much flatter tone.
The Panasonic KX-TGF382M and the Panasonic KX-TGD532W only had so-so sound quality performances in our tests. We found the volume on these phones to be plenty loud, but voices sounded much more hollow. We also identified an excess of buzzing and static that detracted from the overall sound quality.
Our next metric rated and scored the effective range of each of these products. 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 unobstructed range, which we would guess would be more than enough for just about any application.
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 in this metric for its unparalleled performance. 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.
The AT&T TL9673, the Panasonic KX-TGE432, and the Panasonic KX-TGD532W all followed. These all made easy work of the unobstructed range test, making a clear and understandable call with over 840 feet separating the base from the handset.
These phones all continued to perform very well in the obstructed tests as well. We were able to successfully carry on a conversation with more than 300' separating the base and the handset. There were tiny bits of static, and the call quality was diminished, but you could still easily carry on a conversation at this distance.
The AT&T CL82207 followed, 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 VTech VS112, the Panasonic KX-TGF382M, and the AT&T EL51203 all received above-average results in our range test. 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 VTech CS6719 delivered a 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.
The AT&T TL86103 finished at the back of the group. We think 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
Our next set of tests rated and scored the user-friendliness and ease of operating each cordless phone. We looked at what people typically use their telephone for — making and receiving a phone call, paging a lost handset, and entering numbers into a phone book — as well as some of the more advanced functions of each product.
When it comes to ease of use, the Panasonic KX-TGD532W narrowly claims the top spot. It has an ample backlight and a display that is very easy to read. The page function makes it easy to locate a misplaced handset, and it has one of the loudest ringers of the group. This phone also has an integrated answering machine and makes easy work of answering calls, adjusting basic settings, and muting calls. We did wish that it hyphenated phone numbers when entered, though.
The more advanced menus are intuitive to navigate, and it isn't a huge hassle to block calls or save numbers to your phonebook.
The AT&T CL82207, the VTech VS112, and the Panasonic KX-TGE432 all followed. The CL82207 is very easy to read, but we thought the speed dial function was a bit harder to use, and calling back a missed number was less intuitive than it is on some of its rivals. We also found the ringer was a bit quiet on the AT&T CL82207, but it has a very bright display, making it incredibly easy to use in a dark room.
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 theAT&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 CL82207.
The VTech VS112 has a decent backlight and one of the loudest page/find-a-phone features of the group. It also has a very large and easy to read font on its display, with hyphenated numbers when dialing. It's about average to make and answer calls but does lack a speed dial feature.
The Panasonic KX-TGF382M, VTech DS6621-2, and the AT&T TL96273 followed, with their slightly above average ease of use. It's a little trickier to enter and save numbers in your phonebook 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 are 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 merited a below-average score for its 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 most important features were keypad lighting, whether or not the base had a keypad/speaker, and the ability to add additional handsets.
Our top phones in this metric, the Panasonic KX-TGF382M and the AT&T TL86103, both earned top marks 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 closely followed. This phone shares many features with the top two phones, but it lacked a keypad or speaker on its main base and is unable 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 Panasonic KX-TGD532W delivered average results in this metric. You can expand the system to up to 6 handsets and it has a modest phonebook with up to 100 entries. The handsets don't have a belt clip or headphone jack, and the main base doesn't have a speaker or keypad, but we do like the larger buttons and the bright keypad lighting. You can also use this phone as an in-home intercom.
The remainder of the products all delivered a somewhat disappointing performance, with some lacking features that we deemed to be critical. The AT&T EL51203, the VTech CS6719, the 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. The VTech VS112 also lacks a keypad or speaker on the main base but does have a phonebook with the capacity for up to 1000 entries and is capable of link-to-cell. However, its handsets lack both a belt clip and a headset jack.
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, lasting a little over 13.5 hours. This was followed by the AT&T CL82207 and the AT&T TL86103, which both lasted for about the same length in our talk time test, but each had a shorter claimed standby life and took longer to charge than the Panasonic KX-TGF382M.
The AT&T TL96273 scored about average, lasting for approximately 11 hours and 20 minutes before its battery was depleted.
The AT&T EL51203, the VTech CS6719-2, and the Panasonic KX-TGE432 scored just below average. 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, the Panasonic KX-TGD532W, and the VTech VS112-2 brought up the rear of the group. The DS6621 lasted for the longest of this group, making it around 9 hours and 22 minutes before quitting, while the VS112-2 and the KX-TGD532W lasted for around 8 hours each. These phones all have a claimed standby time of around five days, and the DS6621-2 and the VS112-2 state they should take around 12 hours to charge. The KX-TGD532W should charge a little faster, with a claimed charge time of around 7 hours.
Many people may view this category as a bit of an antiquated one, but plenty of individuals and businesses 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 just a simple phone that delivers great sound without breaking the bank.
— Austin Palmer and David Wise