The Best Cordless Phones of 2017

Looking for the best of the best when it comes to cordless phones? We bought the top 11 models available today, then spent over 215 hours testing them side-by-side to crown the winners. Throughout our comprehensive testing process, we ranked and scored each product on everything from its maximum range to whether or not it could pair with a smartphone. While you may think cordless phones are on their way to becoming obsolete, these products have some surprising benefits — they could even save your life by sending more accurate information to 911. Check out the full review below to see which products had crystal-clear audio and which ones give you the best value dollar for dollar.

Read the full review below ≫

Test Results and Ratings

Displaying 6 - 10 of 11 ≪ Previous | View All | Next ≫
Rank #6 #7 #8 #9 #10
Product
The AT&T TL86103 cordless phone.
AT&T TL86103
The Panasonic KX-TGE232B cordless phone.
Panasonic KX-TGE232B
The Panasonic KX-TGD222N cordless phone.
Panasonic KX-TGD222N
The AT&T EL52103 cordless phone.
AT&T EL51203
The Vtech CS6729 cordless phone.
VTech CS6719-2
Awards        Best Buy Award  Best Buy Award 
Price $150 List
$107.72 at Amazon
$70 List
$55.63 at Amazon
$60 List
$56.99 at Amazon
$40 List
$37.48 at Amazon
$40 List
$35.79 at Amazon
Overall Score 
100
0
60
100
0
57
100
0
54
100
0
53
100
0
50
Star Rating
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Pros Tons of featuresAbove average battery life, and some good featuresEasier to useInexpensive, great value, alright rangeInexpensive, Good sound quality
Cons Sub par rangeAverage range and sound qualityAverage range and sound quality, average battery lifeBelow average battery lifeFew features, average range and battery life
Ratings by Category AT&T TL86103 Panasonic KX-TGE232B Panasonic KX-TGD222N AT&T EL51203 VTech CS6719-2
Sound Quality - 30%
10
0
7
10
0
5
10
0
5
10
0
6
10
0
7
Range - 25%
10
0
4
10
0
5
10
0
5
10
0
6
10
0
5
Ease Of Use - 20%
10
0
5
10
0
6
10
0
7
10
0
5
10
0
4
Features - 15%
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
5
10
0
4
10
0
3
Battery Life - 10%
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
0
5
10
0
4
10
0
4
Specs AT&T TL86103 Panasonic KX-TGE232B Panasonic KX-TGD222N AT&T EL51203 VTech CS6719-2
Link - to - Cell Yes No No No No
Caller ID Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Caller ID announce Yes Yes Yes No No

Analysis and Award Winners


Review by:
David Wise and Austin Palmer

Last Updated:
Monday
September 25, 2017

Share:
Updated September 2017
After an exceptionally long period of time, we finally found a model of cordless phone that looked to be a worthy contender to add to our review. The AT&T TL96273 earned the second-highest score of the group, particularly notable for all of the smart features that it has. This product is the clear choice for the tech-savvy users who want to pair their cordless phone to their smartphone, but might not be the best pick for someone who wants a bare-bones, easy to use model. Check out the full review below for more details on the performance of the TL96273 and how it stacked up against the rest of the products in our cordless phone sound off.

Best Overall Cordless Phone


AT&T CL84202


The AT&T CL84202 cordless phone. Editors' Choice Award

$90
List Price
See It

Great range
Excellent sound quality
Easy to use
Mediocre battery life
A little pricey

Taking home the top score of the entire pack, the CL84202 by AT&T earned an Editors' Choice award for its performance and took home the undisputed title of Best Overall Cordless Phone. This product offers crystal-clear audio over an exceptional range, with conversations being very easy to understand, without any annoying buzzing or static. In addition, this phone exhibits a good balance of having plenty of useful of features and functions without being excessively difficult to use. One of the only negative aspects of this phone that we found is its somewhat subpar battery life compared to the rest of the group. However, the CL84202 lasted for over 10 hours in our test, which should be plenty of time for most people. For those that want the overall best of the best when it comes to phones without a cord, look no further than the CL84202.

Read full review: AT&T CL84202

Best Easy to Use Phone


AT&T CRL82212


The AT&T CRL82212 cordless phone. Editors' Choice Award

$59.95
at Amazon
See It

Exceptionally easy to use
Fantastic sound quality
Good battery life
Sparse on features

Just barely bested by the previous model, the AT&T CRL82212 so closely followed the top model that we felt it had also earned an Editors' Choice award. While our top choice had unmatched range, this model makes some concessions in range — even though the conversation is still clear with over 200' between the handset and the base — for being substantially less hassle to use. This model also has a battery life to rival the CL84202, making it a better option for someone who doesn't always place the handset back on its charging base. This significantly more intuitive to operate model is a great choice for someone who just wants a phone that is easy to use and isn't planning on having huge distances between the handset and the base.

Read full review: AT&T CRL82212

Best Bang for the Buck


AT&T EL51203


The AT&T EL52103 cordless phone. Best Buy Award

$37.48
at Amazon
See It

Inexpensive
Good range
Decent sound quality
Not a ton of features
Shorter battery life

Want a bare-bones model that won't break the bank? The AT&T EL51203 is a fantastic value, offering a solid performance at a price that is a fraction of our top scoring models. This model delivered a decent performance in both our Sound Quality and Range metrics — the two highest weighted metrics in our test. While this model is a little sparse on features and doesn't have the longest battery life, it will let you make clear calls from a reasonable distance without spending a ton of cash.

Read full review: AT&T EL51203

Best Bang for the Buck


VTech CS6719-2


The Vtech CS6729 cordless phone. Best Buy Award

$35.79
at Amazon
See It

Very inexpensive
Good sound quality
Alright range
Few features

Shopping on the tightest of budgets? The VTech CS6710 isn't the best model by far, doing a moderate to an acceptable job in our test. However, the main selling point for this model is its substantially lower price — the lowest of the entire group. It's got a decent range, though the sound quality does fall off towards the extent of its range. It doesn't have a ton of extra features but this bare-bones phone will get the job done for next to nothing.

Read full review: VTech CS6719

Best for Link-to-Cell


AT&T TL96273


The AT&T TL96273.
$76.92
at Amazon
See It

Fantastic range
Solid sound quality
Decently easy to use
Average battery life

The AT&T TL96273 performed exceptionally well in our testing process, earning one of the top scores overall and just narrowly being edged out of the top spot by the CL84202. While this phone couldn't claim the top prize, this model distinguished itself by being the best at connecting to your mobile device. This allows you to leave your phone charging by the base, with any calls received passed to all of the handsets of the TL96273. This 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. For those that want to combine their mobile and landline telephone service, the TL96273 is a great bet. Even if this isn't the case, the TL96273 still scored very well on its own merits.

Read full review: AT&T TL96273

select up to 5 products
Score Product Price Our Take
69
$90
Editors' Choice Award
Great for those phone talkers who wander, but don't spend a lot of time on the phone
67
$90
Performing exceptionally well overall, the TL96273 distinguishes itself as being the best bet if you want to use Link-to-Cell
65
$60
Editors' Choice Award
Not quite as feature rich as some other models, but excels at being easy to use and having great sound quality
64
$90
Tons of features, but middle of the road performance
62
$100
Sacrifices sound quality for increased battery performance and features
60
$150
An expensive phone packed with features and good sound quality, but falls short on range
57
$70
Good for those that need a better lighted display, middle of the road for everything else
54
$60
An almost foolproof budget model phone
53
$40
Best Buy Award
Great phone for a great price
50
$40
Best Buy Award
Low on features and price tag with decent sound
45
$60
You might almost think it is corded with its long battery life, but the phone does't reach much past that

Analysis and Test Results


Cordless phones can be the only option for residents in rural areas with poor cell phone coverage and may be preferred by some people uncomfortable with transitioning to cell phones. The newest models have additional features, allowing them to pair to a cell phone, or act as a home intercom system. It really comes down to what you want out of your cordless phone, whether you want to utilize the more advanced features, or if you simply just want a phone to make and receive calls.

The top 10 most highly regarded cordless phones that we reviewed  with our award winners in the front.
The top 10 most highly regarded cordless phones that we reviewed, with our award winners in the front.

We split our testing process up into five weighted metrics: Sound Quality, Range, Ease of Use, Battery Life, and Features. We assigned each phone a subscore in each metric, aggregating these into the overall scores, ranging from 0-100. We detail how each phone did in each of our tests, grouped by metric in the following sections.

Sound Quality


The quality of sound is an integral part of a phone and scored the highest weighting in our rating metric. Being able to clearly hear and understand someone who is not in the same location as you is the entire point of a telephone, and being able to accomplish this without being tethered by a wire to the base of the machine is the sole purpose of getting a cordless phone. 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. You can see how we scored the phones in the chart below.


To test the sound quality of each model, we set up the base of each phone and moved the handset a constant 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). Our panel of listeners then rated the quality and characteristics of each message, without knowing the make and model of the handset.

Based on the results of our test, we found the AT&T CRL82212 and the AT&T CL84202 were the top performers in this metric, both earning an 8 out of 10 for their crystal-clear audio coming from the handset. Our panel particularly liked that these phones were clear, were loud enough to comfortably hear, and a noticeable lack of static when compared to many of the other models that we looked at. This pair of top-scoring models were followed closely by the AT&T TL86103, AT&T TL96273, and the VTech CS6719, both earning 7 out of 10. The audio emanating from these phones was clear but our panel noticed there was just a little bit of static and distortion, as well as reduced volume. Next were the AT&T EL51203 and the Motorola L702BT, both scoring a 6 out of 10. This pair of phones were starting to display a noticeable level of static and a little bit of distortion, dropping their score a bit. All of the remaining phones were about average, earning a 5 out of 10, with the majority of our panel noting that they heard static in the background and felt that it was starting to be at a high enough level that it would interfere a small amount with the conversation.

Range


The entire point of having one of these products is that you are no longer tethered to the base module. It would be somewhat silly to have a cordless product, but have to remain close to the base. We wanted to find out just how far you can stand 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 range into 2 distinct tests: an unobstructed, line-of-sight test, and an obstructed test with multiple walls between base and handset. The following chart shows how these products stacked up overall in this metric.


The AT&T CL84202 and the AT&T TL96273 tied for the best overall in this metric, earning an 8 out of 10 for their superior performance in both the line-of-sight and obstructed range test. This pair of top-performing phones beat out the next closest competitors — the Panasonic KX-TGF382M, the AT&T CRL82212, and the AT&T EL51203 — by two points. While some of these models could match the performance of our top-tier phones in the line-of-sight test, they just couldn't keep up in the obstructed range test.

The first test that we conducted was the line-of-sight challenge. To our surprise, we found that with the advances in phone technology, the line of sight range of these phones is insanely long.


We ended up having to cut off our test as we ran out of room. The AT&T CL84202, AT&T CRL82212, AT&T EL51203, AT&T TL96273, and the Panasonic KX-TGF382M all tied for the top score in our unobstructed range test, remaining audible where we cut off the test at 840 ft. However, we did feel that the Panasonic KX-TGF382M sounded the best at the cutoff point.

Our next test was a little more applicable to the majority of homes. We left the base of each phone inside the house, forcing the phone signal to pass through approximately 6 walls. Our tester walked each phone along the test course, with an audiobook playing 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 left ourselves a voicemail with Google Voice for each test, then listened to each one to hear when the audiobook was no longer audible.


As expected, the performance of each phone was significantly reduced, when compared to our earlier test. We did find that our top scorer remained the same, with the CL84202 and the AT&T TL96273 topping out at slightly more than 300', with the next runner-up, to our great surprise, being the Panasonic KX-TGE232B. The TGE232B scored below average in our open range test but appears to be much more adept than its competitors at dealing with an obstructed path. For comparison, the CL84202 went a little over triple the distance of our lowest scoring phone, the Motorola L702BT.

We were thoroughly impressed with the range of all the phones we tested, 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 most homes, but we would recommend the CL84202, scoring an 8 out of 10, beating any other phone by at least 2 points. This phone had the longest line-of-sight range, as well as performed the best when faced with multiple obstructions between the handset and the base.

Ease of Use


Phones are not a new device. While there have been major improvements in the past 140, the core existence of telephones has remained the same: To have a clear conversation with someone who is not physically close to you. These have existed long enough that they should be extremely intuitive and easy to use. This metric, along with range and sound quality make 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 easiness of performing these actions across all the models we tested. You can see which models were the easiest to use and which ones weren't in the following graphic.


One of the first things we looked at is how easy it is to read the display, as well as how easy it is to use in a dark environment. We displayed random numbers on the phone and continued moving the handsets further away, until we could no longer correctly identify the numbers, basing our test on a standard eye test. The handsets that were the easiest for us to read were the AT&T CRL82212, Panasonic KX-TGD222N, Panasonic KX-TGE232B, and the Panasonic KX-TGE272S, remaining clear at 6' away. The hardest was the Vtech CS6719-2, becoming fuzzy at 3' away. Below you can see a comparison of these handsets, at 3' from the camera.

The CRL82212 handset  3" from the camera to evaluate the ease of reading of the display.
The Vtech handset  proving difficult to read at 3' away.
 

We also looked at how easy it was to use each handset when the lights were turned off. There was definitely a distinct difference between what models on the type and amount of backlit illumination they provided. The models that were easiest to see and use in a dark room are the KX-TGE232B and the KX-TGE272S had the most illumination, with only the arrow keypad lacking a backlight. Based on these results, we would recommend the KX-TGE232B and then KX-TGE272S as a good option for someone whose primary concern is ease of reading.

Features


Current cordless phones have a myriad of features — enough that it can be overwhelming when considering which model to buy. We compiled a comprehensive list of features across all models that we tested and then weighted scores based on the features that we felt were the most useful and important to us. You can see the most feature-rich models in the chart below.


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.

The Motorola handset showing its mediocre backlit display.
The TGE272S has an alright backlit display.
 

This test highlighted a standout performer among all models: the Panasonic KX-TGE272S. This model received the top score in our test, earning a perfect 10 and outpacing the runner-up by a full 2 points. To us, the TGE272S had the most useful spread of features and excelled at the ones we thought were critical. We especially appreciated how the buttons lit up and how easy they were to read in a dark environment, as well as being able to add up to 6 handsets.

Battery Life


One downside to having a cordless model when compared to a corded phone is the potential for the handset to have a completely depleted battery, making it unusable. You can see which models had the longest battery life, and which ones would cut your call short in the chart below.


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. Some models that we tested — the AT&T CL84202 and the AT&T TL86103 — have a corded handset on their base, allowing them 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 these phones 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 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.

To test the talk time of these phones  we clustered them around a speaker playing music while leaving a voice message  and continuously monitored them until the batteries depleted.
To test the talk time of these phones, we clustered them around a speaker playing music while leaving a voice message, and continuously monitored them until the batteries depleted.

The top scorer in this category was the Motorola L702BT, earning a 9 out of 10 and lasting 15 hours and 36 minutes, surprising us by exceeding the manufacturer's claimed run time of 12 hours. This model gave an audible beep at 11 hours in that it had a low battery, but held on for the additional 4.5 hours before completely dying. This was followed by the AT&T TL86103 and the Panasonic KX-TGF382M, both earning an 8 out of 10 and lasting a little over 13.5 hours. All 3 of the lowest scoring models in this category were award winners, with the CL84202, the EL51203, and the VTech, earning a 4 out of 10, and lasting between 10 and 11 hours in our talk time test. This metric received the lowest weighting on our scoring system, as all of these phones have a talk time of over 10 hours, more than sufficient for most people. The AT&T TL96273 scored about average, lasting for about 11 hours and 20 minutes before failing.

The top 10 most highly regarded cordless phones that we reviewed  with our award winners in the front.
The top 10 most highly regarded cordless phones that we reviewed, with our award winners in the front.

Conclusion


While many may view this category as a bit of an antiquated one, there are still a huge number of individuals and businesses that rely on a cordless phone and use one 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 poor performing phone to be incredibly frustrating to the point where we would refuse to use it and a constant source of irritation. Hopefully, this review will be able to help you make the perfect choice for your needs 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 and won't break the bank.
David Wise and Austin Palmer

  • Share this article:

Still not sure? Take a look at our buying advice article for more info.
 

Follow Us

Unbiased.

You Might Also Like