Fed up with a dodgy DECT connection or endless nuisance calls? Fix both these issues and more with our pick of the top cordless phones
You might make most of your calls on your mobile, but that doesn’t mean the end of landline phones. Some people still like making and taking calls the old-fashioned way, while there are still situations where your landline phone might be cheaper or more convenient, particularly if your phone and broadband package bundles in some inclusive calls.
What’s more, the landline phone is evolving, albeit slowly. Today’s cordless phones are getting easier to set up and easier to use, with better features for handling voicemail, contacts and nuisance calls. They’re taking some tips from smartphones on usability, and they’re also adjusting to changes in communications tech, as the copper-based analogue lines switch over to IP-based networks. This is happening now and due to finish rolling out by the end of 2025. However, most existing DECT phones should work with the new system, including those tried and tested here.
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Best cordless phone: At a glance
How to choose the best cordless phone for you
What should I look for in a cordless phone?
Every cordless phone these days offers a basic set of features: a clear DECT connection between the handset and base station, an address book, caller display and a list of recent calls. Pay a little more and you can get various extras such as a built-in answerphone and/or call-blocking facilities.
Beyond that, there are some practical upgrades that might be worth investing in, such as longer battery life, extended wireless range or water resistance for use outdoors. More superficial extras might include a wide selection of ringtones or a colour screen.
When choosing a phone, it’s also worth thinking about whether you might want a second or third handset. You can normally buy additional handsets to connect to an existing base station, but it’s often cheaper to buy a two-pack or three-pack straight away. It might also be worth paying the extra if the single handset version of your preferred phone is out of stock.
How do I block nuisance calls?
On certain phones, you can simply press a button while you’re in a call to add the number to your blacklist. You might also be able to manually enter numbers (or parts of numbers) to prevent specific callers from getting through. Either way, when blacklisted numbers call, your phone won’t ring: you can send them straight to answerphone, or reject them entirely.
Some BT phones also offer a screening feature, which asks unknown callers to give their name before you accept their call, giving you more control over who you talk to. Just be aware that all these features rely on your having a caller ID service from your home phone provider.
Are DECT phones compatible with new IP-based landlines?
The UK’s analogue PSTN telephone network is due to get switched off in 2025, at which point all phone lines in the UK are going to be digital, running over an IP (Internet Protocol) connection. For most of us, this is going to mean our broadband connection. You’ll plug your DECT phone into a socket on your router or a new socket in the wall. Most existing DECT phones will work fine with the new technology, though a few older models may have issues.
What other features should I look out for?
For a while there was a trend for cordless phones to mimic smartphones, but manufacturers are increasingly going back to more traditional designs and useful features over touchscreens and app-related gimmicks. There are still some cordless phones with colour screens and photo backgrounds, while a few have sync features that enable you to copy contacts from your mobile to your home or office phone, or make and take mobile calls through your landline. The latter can be surprisingly useful if you struggle with mobile dead spots in some rooms or find your smartphone uncomfortable to hold over longer periods.
Finally, some phones have been designed to work over longer distances, or been ruggedised for outdoor use. Want to be reachable even when you’re down at the bottom of the garden? Do you spend a lot of time working in a yard or workshop? You might have to put up with a larger, uglier phone, but it will hold up to more abuse and you won’t miss a call wherever you are.
How we test cordless phones
We tested the cordless phones in, and around, a three-bedroom detached house, making calls to check the quality of the connection at different distances and looking for any sign of interference or poor range. We also took the phones outside, into a long back garden, to check whether the connection still held up over longer distances and through external walls.
Beyond this, we used the phones as a main landline phone over several days, looking for issues with call quality and checking the usability of any directory or answerphone features. We tried out different ringtones for clarity, volume, and how likely they are to annoy. We also checked out any call-blocking features, to see whether these are effective and easy to use.
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The best cordless phones you can buy in 2024
1. BT Everyday Cordless Home Phone: Best cordless phone under £30
Price when reviewed: £23 single, £34 twin | Check price at AmazonBT’s Everyday Cordless is priced like a basic home phone but manages to pack in some extra features. It’s easy to use, with good-sized buttons and simple menus, including a multi-function rocker that scrolls through lists and options and controls the volume. It’s also very comfortable to hold. However, it’s got built-in controls for 1571 answerphone services, a 50-number contacts list that syncs between handsets and – best of all – call blocking for up to 20 numbers and a Do Not Disturb mode, where only numbers tagged as VIP contacts can get through. Call quality is good, although the default ring volume will be too quiet for some, and the only real issue is the lack of speakerphone. If you don’t want to spend much on your landline phone, this is the one to buy.
Key specs – Type: DECT phone with mono screen; Phonebook: 50 entries; Answerphone: No; Speakerphone: No; Nuisance call blocking: Yes; Talk time: 10 hours; Standby time: 100 hours
2. Gigaset A270A: Best entry-level phone with answering machine
Price when reviewed: £31 single, £39 twin | Check price at AmazonThe Gigaset A270A keeps things simple, with a relatively basic set of features and a design that focuses on ease-of-use. There’s an 80-entry phonebook and basic intercom features if you have two or more handsets, plus the built-in answering machine, but otherwise very little else to think about. It’s a well-built phone with responsive keys and a well-designed menu system, and the button for hands-free calling is illuminated, which makes it easier to pick out in a hurry. The chunky answering machine controls on the base station also help when you’re going through your messages, and while 25 minutes isn’t a huge amount of recording time, it should be just enough for most people.
There are louder cordless phones out there, but unlike some budget phones the Gigaset is hearing-aid compatible. It also uses Gigaset’s Eco DECT technology, which auto-adjusts the power of the wireless signal to keep energy usage low. Look elsewhere if you want nuisance call blocking or other mod cons, but this is a good, solid cordless phone that just happens to be cheap as chips.
Key specs – Type: DECT phone with mono screen; Phonebook: 80 entries; Answerphone: 25 minutes; Speakerphone: Yes; Nuisance call blocking: No; Talk time: 16 hours; Standby time: 200 hours
3. Gigaset CL390 Hello: Best everyday cordless phone
Price when reviewed: £39 single | Check price at AmazonWhile it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of some previous Gigaset phones, the Gigaset CL390 Hello excels as a simple cordless option. It’s a nicely designed handset, slim and light, with a large, clear illuminated display and easy menus and controls. It’s not short of essential features, either, with a call-blocker for blocking anonymous calls or up to 32 specific numbers, along with a 150 contact phone book, clock and alarm features and room and baby monitoring functions. It also comes in a choice of five different colours, although not all are widely available.
There are models with and without a built-in answering machine, and clear alerts for missed calls and new messages. And while the separate handset charger and base station mean it takes up two power sockets, this does give you more flexibility in terms of where you place your phone. Throw in Gigaset’s usual excellent sound quality, both in standard and speakerphone modes, and you’ve got a great phone for everyday calling.
Key specs – Type: DECT phone with mono screen; Phonebook: 150 entries; Answerphone: 20 minutes (answerphone models only); Speakerphone: Yes; Nuisance call blocking: Yes; Talk time: 12 hours; Standby time: 180 hours
4. Panasonic KX-TGE820EB: Best big-button phone
Price when reviewed: £38 single, £65 twin | Check price at AmazonThe Panasonic KX-TGE820 isn’t a huge change from the KX-TGE720 it replaces. Physically it’s virtually identical, and the main new features are a larger phonebook and a longer 18 hour talktime, although standby time goes down from 300 hours to 250. Luckily, more of the same is probably what everybody wanted; with its big, clearly-labelled buttons and straightforward menus, this is still an easy-to-use and very practical handset. It’s also louder than your average DECT handset – good news for those with impaired hearing – and the same goes when you’re on speakerphone. It’s hearing aid compatible, as well.
The features for blocking automated calls and nuisance calls are some of the best in the business; unknown callers are hit with an access code which automated systems can’t recognise and use. Meanwhile, callers in your phonebook will be let through unaffected, with the phone announcing who’s calling when they ring. You can block whole groups of numbers by their prefix, or block a number at a press of the dedicated button. You’ll struggle to find a phone that makes it easier to make or take calls, while keeping unwanted calls at bay.
Key specs – Type: DECT phone with mono screen; Phonebook: 200 entries; Answerphone: 40 minutes; Speakerphone: Yes; Nuisance call blocking: Yes; Talk time: 18 hours; Standby time: 250 hours
5. BT Premium Cordless Home Phone: Best cordless phone for blocking nuisance calls
Price when reviewed: £69 single, £95 twin | Check price at AmazonPlagued by unwanted calls? BT has the answer. Its trueCall virtual assistant asks unknown callers for their name before it puts them through, leaving you to decide whether to accept the call, block it or send it to the answering machine. Specific numbers can be blocked permanently, and you can set the phone to ignore anonymous or international calls. Meanwhile, built-in parental controls let you block outgoing calls to mobile, international and premium-rate numbers.
The Premium Cordless Home Phone also features clever mobile sync capabilities, enabling you to copy contacts across from your smartphone or receive calls coming to your mobile through the bigger cordless handset. The latest version even includes Voice Control features, although you might not want to get too excited. Instead of enabling you to make landline calls or retrieve voicemails via voice commands, this just means that pressing and holding the OK key will put you in touch with Google Assistant or Siri on your smartphone. Still, you can always place a call via your voice assistant and use your call allowance on your mobile contract.
Call quality is excellent, the 1.5in colour LCD screen looks good and even the speakerphone doesn’t sound bad. This is a superb phone for anyone who values their privacy – or who just likes having access to the latest features.
Key specs – Type: DECT phone with colour display; Phonebook: 1,000 entries; Answerphone: 60 minutes; Speakerphone: Yes; Nuisance call blocking: Yes; Talk time: 21 hours; Standby time: 240 hours
6. Panasonic KX-TGK220E: Best stylish cordless phone
Price when reviewed: £45 single | Check price at Amazon Panasonic’s cordless phone is so elegantly stylised that you might not even recognise it as a phone. The handset sits upright in its matching cradle to look like one smooth tapered cylinder, with only the blue LED on the rear to alert you when there’s a message or a call. Lift it out and it’s just like a regular DECT phone, with a simple keyboard layout and a nice, crisp monochrome screen.
Beyond the design there are plenty of great features, including a 30-minute answerphone, speakerphone and a nuisance call blocker, which can be set to block specific numbers, withheld numbers or numbers with a certain string of digits. On top of that there’s a useful Do Not Disturb mode that only allows calls from your nearest and dearest – or maybe crucial work calls – through. Call quality is great and there’s even an Eco mode to cut the radiation and minimise power consumption. Both inside and out, it’s an exceptional phone.
Key specs – Type: DECT phone with mono screen; Phonebook: 120 entries; Answerphone: 30 minutes; Speakerphone: Yes; Nuisance call blocking: Yes; Talk time: 18 hours; Standby time: 200 hours
7. BT Elements: Best cordless phone for the garden
Price when reviewed: £90 single, £119 twin | Check price at AmazonIf you spend a lot of time outdoors or need a phone for the workshop/warehouse, this hardy handset will be just what you’re looking for. A high-power base station and sensitive external antenna give you a range of up to 150m indoors and up to a kilometre outside – although your actual mileage will naturally depend on walls and other obstacles. It’s IP67-rated for protection from water and dust, and with 13 hours of talk time and 160 hours of standby, it’ll keep going for days on end. Features are fairly limited, but you get a 200-number phonebook, a 30-minute answerphone and basic nuisance call-blocking. It’s a bit more expensive than other phones, but if you need the range and rugged build it’s an excellent choice.
Key specs – Type: Ruggedised DECT phone with mono screen; Phonebook: 200 entries; Answerphone: 30 minutes; Speakerphone: Yes; Nuisance call blocking: Yes; Talk time: 13 hours; Standby time: 160 hours