Need a cordless phone for your home or office? After carefully considering over 70 models, we bought the 13 best cordless phones available today and comprehensively tested them side-by-side in our quest to find the best phone of them all. Hours are spent evaluating each model, and we use a rigorous set of performance metrics to ensure we provide you with an accurate look at each of their performances. Sound quality, range, ease of use, features, and battery life are all examined, and we test each phone side-by-side to draw the most accurate data. We hope this review helps you find a new cordless phone that best fits your needs and budget.
If you are searching for the absolute best cordless phone, we highly recommend the Panasonic KX-TGM420W + KX-TGMA44W. This model is one of the easiest to use and boasts crystal-clear sound quality and impressively long range. This versatile phone offers plenty of features, like an integrated answering machine and the ability to expand the system with additional handsets. It also has a very long battery life, lasting for more than 14 hours in our talk time test.
Unfortunately, this exceptional performance comes at a price; this phone is one of the most expensive in our test fleet. It also can't link to a smartphone via Bluetooth, so you'll have to consider an alternative model if that is your preferred use. All in all, we highly recommend this product to anyone looking for a top-tier cordless phone; it's one of the all-time favorite models we have tested to date.
If you're searching for a reliable phone to fit your budget, the AT&T EL51203 is an excellent choice. The value of this phone is fantastic, offering solid across-the-board performance at a reasonable price. The sound quality and range on the EL51203 are above average and 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 regarding performance.
The AT&T TL96273 performed remarkably 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 TL96273. This feature is particularly handy 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.
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, particularly 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.
GearLab has been testing cordless phones since 2017. We push each phone to its limits, performing range tests by walking hundreds of feet away from the base to determine its 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 came together to evaluate and compare each phone's ease of use and interface.
Our testing of cordless phones is divided across five rating metrics:
Sound Quality (30% of overall score weighting)
Range (25% weighting)
Ease of Use (20% weighting)
Features (15% weighting)
Battery Life (10% weighting)
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.
Analysis and Test Results
To help you determine the right model for your needs, 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.
If you are shopping for a new phone on a budget, it is hard to go wrong with either the AT&T EL51203. This model offers acceptable performance and can be purchased for a surprisingly low price. However, to maintain its approachable price, there are a few compromises. It has a slightly inferior sound quality and range and lacks key features like built-in answering machines. For some, this might be a deal-breaker. If so, you should consider the more expensive Panasonic KX-TGM420W + KX-TGMA44W or AT&T CL82207. The AT&T DL72219 can also be a good budget option, with a price point and performance that usually falls right in the middle between the top-tier and the budget-friendly options.
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 sound quality test may be more subjective, 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 each message's quality and characteristics without knowing the handset's make or model.
The AT&T CL82207 performed best in our sound quality metric, sharing the top spot in this performance metric. The CL82207 leaves extremely clear messages, with a noticeable lack of static compared to many of the other models. Though not the loudest phone in the group, its sound levels are suitable.
The Panasonic KX-TGM420W + KX-TGMA44W, AT&T TL86103, AT&T TL96273, the AT&T DL72219, the VTech VS112-2, the VTech CS6719 and the AT&T BL102 offer good sound quality, though listeners can detect some very slight distortion and a noticeable reduction in volume.
These second-tier phones all do a good job of keeping conversation sounding fairly close to face-to-face conversations but just a bit worse than the top-tier models. One thing we appreciate about all of these phones is the limited to nonexistent background buzzing or hissing.
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 AT&T TL96273 received top marks in this metric for its stellar 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 300 feet with multiple walls between the phone and main station.
The Panasonic KX-TGE432 and the Panasonic KX-TGD532W 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 successfully carried on a conversation with more than 300 feet 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, Panasonic KX-TGM420W + KX-TGMA44W, and the AT&T DL72219 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 of the CL82207 wasn't as clear at 300 feet, making it nearly unintelligible.
The AT&T DL72219 did a bit better than the CL82207 in the obstructed range test, peaking at close to 390'. However, one interesting thing that we noticed about this phone is that it only seems to do well at the furthest extents of its range if you were standing still. The call quality would plummet the moment we started moving but then resume whenever we stopped.
The Panasonic KX-TGM420W + KX-TGMA44W did very well in the unobstructed test, matching the performance of the best phones overall. It only made it about 280' in the obstructed test before the call quality started to suffer, with it entirely dropping around 390 feet.
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.
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-TGM420W + KX-TGMA44W, the Panasonic KX-TGD532W, and the AT&T DL72219 all tied for the top spot overall. The Panasonic KX-TGM420W + KX-TGMA44W has a very large display that makes it easy to read the number as you enter it, somewhat making up for the lack of hyphenation. The find-a-phone feature makes it easy to locate a lost handset and the menu layout is very intuitive for things like saving a phone number or calling back a missed call.
The KX-TGD532W has an ample backlight and a very easy to read display. The page function makes it easy to locate a misplaced handset, and it has one of the loudest ringers in 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 DL72219 has a solid backlight and illuminated keys that make it easy to read in a dark environment. It has a decently loud page function that makes it easy to locate a misplaced headset, beeping about every 1.5 seconds for a full minute when activated. The text on the screen is large enough for most people to easily read at a distance of 6' — made even easier by the fact that this phone hyphenates the numbers.
It has a solidly loud ringer, and it's easy to make calls or quickly call back a missed call, though we did notice that this phone is missing a speed dial or a "Hold" function. The DL72219 also makes it very convenient and easy to use some of the more advanced functions.
Inputting names and numbers into the directory is nothing especially user-friendly, but we do like how easy it is to block calls with this cordless phone. Unfortunately, this does require a CallerID subscription to function. The menus are intuitive and easy to navigate through, and the quiet mode is easy to set for when you don't want to be disturbed.
The AT&T CL82207, the VTech VS112, and the Panasonic KX-TGE432 all followed. The CL82207 is very easy to read, but the speed dial function is harder to use, and calling back a missed number is less intuitive than it is on some of its rivals. The ringer is also a bit quiet on the AT&T CL82207, but it has a very bright display, making it 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 wish that it would hyphenate a number when you enter it. It has decent volume and is fairly easy to answer calls or call back a missed one, about the same as 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 CL82207.
The VTech VS112 has a decent backlight and one of the group's loudest page/find-a-phone features. 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, AT&T BL102, 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 are also very easy to read and provide more than enough light for a dark environment.
Current cordless phones have an assortment of features, so 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.
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, speaker on the main base, link-to-cell capabilities, and an integrated answering machine, belt clip, and audio jack to connect a headset for hands-free operation.
The Panasonic KX-TGM420W + KX-TGMA44W and the Panasonic KX-TGE432 both closely followed. The KX-TGE432 phone shares many features with the top two phones, but it lacks 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-TGM420W + KX-TGMA44W also doesn't have a keypad on its main base but does have a speaker. It can be used as an intercom system and has an integrated answering machine. We also liked that you could expand the system with additional handsets, which have both headphone jacks and belt clips. It has a phonebook with a capacity of 100 entries but can't be linked to a smartphone.
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.
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 a 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 and when the low battery indicator came on.
The Panasonic KX-TGF382M and the Panasonic KX-TGM420W + KX-TGMA44W are some of the top scorers in this category, lasting 13.5+ hours before dying. 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 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.
Some may view this category as antiquated, 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 no reason for that. Hopefully, this review has given you the information 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.