The Best Cordless Phones of 2018

On the hunt for a cordless phone that is superior to all the rest? Wondering if they are even still relevant? We've been reviewing these products for over two years, conducting extensive research and analysis to see which phones are the most promising, then purchasing them to conduct detailed side-by-side testing. We pushed each one to its limits, testing their maximum range and battery life, as well as testing the audio quality of each phone to see which one is truly crystal clear. We also ranked and scored the assorted features, functions, and capabilities of each product. While you may think cordless phones are more of a throwback to '06, they can still be quite relevant today, usually providing superior and more reliable call quality than a mobile device and some newer cordless phones have even been imbued with smart features, allowing them to connect to your smartphone. Check out the full review below to see which model came out on top and which product is the best bet when shopping on a tight budget.

Read the full review below ≫

Test Results and Ratings

Displaying 1 - 5 of 11
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Rank #5 #2 #4 #6 #3
Product
Awards    Editors' Choice Award       
Price $90 List$60 List
$54.97 at Amazon
$60 List
$60 at Amazon
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$84.99 at Amazon
$90 List
$64.89 at Amazon
Overall Score
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64
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69
100
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65
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62
100
0
67
Star Rating
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Pros Lots of features, easy to use, and good battery lifeVery easy to use, great sound quality, solid battery lifeGreat sound quality, easy to useGreat battery life, wired handset on baseExceptional range, great sound quality, best for linking to cell phones
Cons so-so range and sound qualityLittle light on featuresFew featuresExpensive, Average sound qualityMediocre battery life, a little pricey
Bottom Line Average performance on range and sound quality, but is incredibly feature richIf you want a great cordless phone that is simple and easy to use without a lot of fluff, then this is the model for youIt has fantastic sound quality and is extremely easy to use, but it is a little on the weak side when it comes to featuresHas plenty of features and a great battery life, but at the cost of sound qualityIf you are searching for a cordless phone to integrate with your cell phone, then the TL96273 is the clear choice
Ratings by Category KX-TGE272S CL82207 CRL82212 KX-TGF382M TL96273
Sound Quality - 30%
10
0
5
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
5
10
0
7
Range - 25%
10
0
5
10
0
7
10
0
6
10
0
6
10
0
8
Ease Of Use - 20%  Sort Icon
10
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7
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Features - 15%
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8
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6
Battery Life - 10%
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7
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5
Specs KX-TGE272S CL82207 CRL82212 KX-TGF382M TL96273
Link - to - Cell Yes No No Yes Yes
Caller ID Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Caller ID announce Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

Analysis and Award Winners


Review by:
David Wise and Austin Palmer

Last Updated:
Monday
April 23, 2018

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Updated April 2018
Finally, after a decently long drought, we found a new phone that appeared worthy of including in our review, the AT&T CL82207. This new phone has absolutely phenomenal sound quality, excellent battery life, and solid range. It is also extremely easy to use, unburdened by extraneous features and functions. On top of all that, this model is very reasonably priced and won't break the bank. All of this combined to earn the CL82207 an Editors' Choice Award, tying our previous winner, the CL84202 in terms of overall performance. If you want a simple and easy to use cordless phone that gets the job done, look no further than the CL82207.

Best Easy to Use Phone


AT&T CL82207


The AT&T CL82207.
Editors' Choice Award

$54.97
at Amazon
See It

Answering Machine: Yes | Link-To-Cell: No
Great sound quality
Extraordinarily easy to use
Excellent battery life
Feature-sparse

Matching the performance of the CL84202, the CL82207 is another one of our all-time favorite cordless phones. This phone is supremely easy to use, pairing this trait with superior audio quality and a great battery life.

Speaking of features, this product is a little light on them. However, it does have the most critical features that the majority of people use, such as an answering machine or phone book. Despite that, we would wholeheartedly recommend this model without hesitation. We particularly liked how user-friendly this phone is, making it a great option for someone who isn't particularly tech-savvy, or for someone who wants a bare-bones model that simply works, without being burdened by tons of features. On top of all that, it sells at quite a reasonable price for these products, especially when considering its top-notch performance.

Read full review: AT&T CL82207

Exceptional Range and Sound Quality


AT&T CL84202


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

$85.84
at Amazon
See It

Answering Machine: Yes | Link-To-Cell: No
Great range
Excellent sound quality
Easy to use
Mediocre battery life
A little pricey

Meriting one of the highest scores that we have seen for one of these products, the CL84202 by AT&T is one of our favorites when it comes to cordless phones. This product has exceptionally high sound quality and an extraordinarily long range, easily sending clear and understandable audio over 800' in our line-of-sight test and over 300' in our impeded one. It's also absolutely jam-packed with useful features and functions.

However, this phone doesn't have the longest battery life, earning a substandard score in our tests. Despite having a relatively poor performance compared to some of the other phones, it still lacked for at least 10 hours in our tests, which should be more than enough talk time for most people. All in all, if you want the top product when it comes to range and crystal-clear sound quality, the CL84202 is a great bet.

Read full review: AT&T CL84202

Best Bang for the Buck


AT&T EL51203


The AT&T EL52103 cordless phone.
Best Buy Award

$39.92
at Amazon
See It

Answering Machine: No | Link-To-Cell: No
Inexpensive
Good range
Decent sound quality
Not a ton of features
Shorter battery life

Searching for a solid phone but don't want to spend more than $50? If so, then the AT&T EL51203 is a great choice for you. This phone is a fantastic value, offering solid, across-the-board performance at a decent price. The EL51203 has an above-average range and sound quality, all while being reasonably easy to use.

However, the battery life on this product isn't terribly amazing and it doesn't have the most exhaustive set of features. These drawbacks don't detract that much from this model's overall performance and 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 full review: AT&T EL51203

Best on a Tight Budget


VTech CS6719-2


The Vtech CS6729 cordless phone.
Best Buy Award

$34.99
at Amazon
See It

Answering Machine: No | Link-To-Cell: No
Very inexpensive
Good sound quality
Alright range
Few features

Shopping on a super skinny budget? While the VTech CS6710 is quite far from the top when it comes to performance, it does an acceptable job overall. It has surprisingly good sound quality and a decent range, all while usually retailing for less than $30.

Unfortunately, some concessions are made to keep the price down. It isn't the easiest to use and has a reduced battery life. It doesn't have a ton of extra features but this bare-bones phone will get the job done for next to nothing. Despite its shortcomings, if you are shopping for a phone on a tight budget, this is the best you can get.

Read full review: VTech CS6719

Top Pick for Link-to-Cell


AT&T TL96273


The AT&T TL96273.

$64.89
at Amazon
See It

Answering Machine: Yes | Link-To-Cell: Yes
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.

However, this model only has a mediocre battery life and we found the sound quality to be just a tiny bit worse than our top contenders. All in all, we found these to be minor drawbacks and this is an overall excellent phone, especially for those that want to combine their mobile and landline telephone service. 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
69
$60
Editors' Choice Award
This phone is a fantastic option if you want a bare-bones product that is easy to use with impressive sound quality and range
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
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
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 with 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.

Some of the best cordless phones you can get on the market today.
Some of the best cordless phones you can get on the market today.

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.

Value


If you are shopping for a new phone on a budget, it's hard to go wrong with either the VTech or the AT&T EL51203. This pair both did a decent job in our tests and retail at quite a low price. However, there were definitely some concessions made to keep the price low, with these phones having a slightly inferior range and sound quality, as well as lacking some key features, such as a built-in answering machine. If these are deal breakers for you, then you should consider the CL82207 or the CL84202. The 82207 usually costs about $25 less than the CL8402, but the CL84202 has slightly better sound quality and a corded phone on the base — a feature that might be important to you.

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 on 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 a trio of phones from AT&T — the CL82207, the CL84202, and the CRL82212 to have the best sound quality of the group, all earning an 8 out of 10 for their superb performance. These phones all sounded practically indistinguishable from one another, delivering crystal-clear audio. Our panel particularly liked that these phones were extremely clear, with a noticeable lack of static when compared to many of the other models that we looked at. They also had sound levels that were perfect for easily hearing conversation spoken at a normal level, though they weren't the loudest phones of the group.

Cordless phones can usually deliver better sounding audio than a cell phone  especially in rural areas with less than stellar coverage.
Cordless phones can usually deliver better sounding audio than a cell phone, especially in rural areas with less than stellar coverage.

Following the performance of the top models, the AT&T TL86103, AT&T TL96273, and the VTech CS6719 all came next, earning a 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.


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

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. These phones did have some company at the top, with a handful of other phones also reaching our cutoff point in the unobstructed test.


However, it was our second test that truly separated the top-tier phones from the rest of the pack. 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 then listened to each voice message to determine the effective obstructed range of each product.

As expected, the performance of each phone was significantly reduced, with the CL84202 distinguishing itself, topping out at around 315', followed by the TL96273 at 300'.

Next, the 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 obstructed test. While it did match the performance of the TL96273, the audio wasn't at clear at 300', being much more difficult to understand.

The CRL82212, Panasonic KX-TGF382M, and the AT&T EL51203 all merited a 6 out of 10 for their solid range. These three also 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 than the top products.

The next three models, the VTech CS6719, the Panasonic KX-TGE232B, and the Panasonic KX-TGE272S all earned a 5 out of 10 for their relatively mediocre performance. None of this trio matched the top models in the line-of-sight test, cutting out almost 100' before the other ones did in the case of the KX-TGE232B. They didn't fare any better in the obstructed test, cutting out significantly closer than most of the other models did.


Finishing out the back of the pack, the AT&T TL86103 and the Motorola L702BT earned a 4 and a 2 out of 10 respectively. This pair offered quite a lackluster performance on the whole, having a substantially reduced range compared to almost every other phone in the review.

Ease of Use


Phones are not a new device. While there have been major improvements in the past 140 years, 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 CL82207, AT&T CRL82212, 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. This model also can link to a cell phone, has a built-in answering machine, and a keypad and speaker on the main base.

The remaining handsets all had somewhat reduced sets of features, with the KX-TG382M and the TL86103 coming the closest to the TGE272S, both earning an 8 out of 10. This pair both were hurt by their relatively small buttons and less than stellar keypad lighting. The TGE232B followed, lacking link-to-cell features, as well as a keypad on the main base, which dropped its score to a 7 out of 10.

The remainder of the products all delivered a below average performance, earning a 4 or a 3 out of 10. many lacking features that we found to be quite critical. The CRL82212, EL51203, L702BT, VTech CS6719, and the 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, with the exception of the L702BT. The VTech and the EL51203 also lack a built-in answering machine.

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. 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.

Some of the best cordless phones you can get on the market today.
Some of the best cordless phones you can get on the market today.

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

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