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Cordless phones are ugly, clunky, often frustrating anachronisms that can seem like ancient additions to modern homes. And most cordless phones are made by the same two manufacturers, with very few differences between many average models. However, cordless phones remain popular and can be extremely useful in emergencies or in homes with poor cell reception. After testing 12 top contenders, we’re convinced that AT&T’s DL72210 is the ultimate old-fashioned phone. This two-phone package has respectable range and sounds better than any other phone we’ve tested. It also offers premium features like smart call blocking and Bluetooth mobile phone connectivity at a non-premium price.
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If you have mild to moderate hearing loss, we also have a wireless phone with amplified sound to choose from.
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The DL72210 from AT&T offers a wide range, excellent sound quality and a full list of modern features. In our tests, we were able to drive seven houses down the street (over 250 feet) before the connection started to drop; this should be more than enough distance for most people. Our test panel rated the DL72210’s voice quality as the highest of any model we tested, beating even an iPhone used for Wi-Fi calling. And this two-phone bundle includes features like smart call blocking and Bluetooth connectivity to your cell phone that are usually only available on higher-end models.
The KX-TGM420W’s higher volume levels can help people with mild to moderate hearing loss, and the tone adjustment can make the speakers easier to understand.
Panasonic’s KX-TGM420W is the first phone that most hard of hearing people should consider. Retired audiologist Lisa Devlin, who has hearing loss herself, tested three amplified phones and found the KX-TGM420W to offer a substantial volume range and adequate tone adjustment options – both important features for those with hearing loss. . While you can find phones that get louder, their extra volume isn’t necessary for everyone and they cost about twice as much. Our recommended receiver is hearing aid compatible and includes an optional headphone jack or neck loop. Like our other options, this one offers good range and clear voice quality among the phone’s standard features. “I think I would recommend the 420 if I were still a clinician and had a client looking for a landline,” Devlin said after his evaluation. However, there may be better options depending on your individual hearing needs.
This model is great if you just need a clear phone without ringers. It is an ideal candidate to keep in case of emergency.
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If you’re looking for a barebones cordless phone that lets you make calls from a landline VoIP or cable company—and this is it—choose the VTech CS6114. For the price of a regular smartphone case, you get a basic phone with reasonable range and clear voice, but without call barring, speakerphone and answering machine. The CS6114 is as simple as cordless phones go, but it can be the perfect choice if you just want to have your home phone handy in case of an emergency.
This phone has all the features you could want, as well as the longest range of any model we’ve tested.
VTech’s IS8151-4 is a cordless phone for those who want plenty of features and don’t need a powerful phone. It offers all the same features as AT&T’s DL72210, plus a dial pad and a basic speakerphone, and the package contains four phones. This phone also stayed connected longer than any other model we tested, only starting to disconnect after 450 feet (or the length of a football field and a half).
We’ve been reviewing cell phones and accessories since 2011 and covering them for Wirecutter since 2015. That includes researching hundreds of wireless phones and testing dozens over the past five years. To better understand the technology that makes these phones work, we reached out to experts, including Ruth Wilson, marketing president of the DECT Forum, the semiconductor group behind DECT technology, the wireless communication standard used by all cordless phones today.
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Retired audiologist Lisa Devlin tested the sound-amplified phones in this guide. Devlin has a non-syndromic, bilateral, congenital, mild to moderate hearing loss. He uses two Oticon Opn S hearing aids and has previous experience with amplified sound phones. “In the past, I’ve relied on amplified phones with volume controls,” she told me, though she now uses her iPhone and a Bluetooth connection to her hearing aids.
“Home phones” aren’t nearly as ubiquitous as they once were. A 2019 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (PDF) states that 61.3% of adults and 70.3% of children live in a household that does not have a landline, but does have a cordless (cell) phone. That still means tens of millions of American households still have landlines.
As a childless person who rarely makes voice calls and lives in an apartment with decent cell phone reception, I was surprised to discover how many of my fellow Wirecutters own and regularly use cordless phones. Some of my colleagues want an emergency phone: something that is always in the same place (as long as the handset reaches back to the base), doesn’t need to be unlocked with a password, is simple enough even for a small child. to use and (if you have an old-school copper phone line) can work even during an outage. Other colleagues have poor cell reception at their homes and simply need something that can reliably make and receive calls. Finally, many cable companies offer Voice over Internet Protocol (aka VoIP or “digital”) phone service bundled with Internet or cable TV service, so a phone line is often less expensive than not. If you have a line anyway, why not get a phone to use?
If you have hearing loss, amplified phone volume and tone adjustment can make communication easier. “Everyone’s hearing loss is different,” Lise Hamlin, director of communications for the Hearing Loss Association of America, told us. “And the key here is not so much volume as sound quality.” Some people benefit more from louder calls, others may need high or low amplification of the caller’s voice, and some may need both.
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Since we all live in the golden age of smartphones now, cordless phones don’t get much attention anymore. When we published the previous version of this guide in 2016, we noticed that there were relatively few independent and reliable reviews of cordless phones. Now, more than four years later, it is nearly impossible to find updated thoughts from reputable sources. Because of this, we had a hard time narrowing down the final list of test models, as wireless phone manufacturers release dozens of similar models with slightly different features.
So in an effort to focus on the specific values and features you should be looking for, we reached out to groups whose members would likely be interested in these devices, looking for hobbyists and enthusiasts. Unfortunately, we hit a wall here as well: we just couldn’t find anyone with experience talking about what makes a great cordless phone. We were able to find people who could explain the technology that makes these phones work, but when we reached out to public interest groups, including AARP, who we thought might have some insight into what people want from wireless phone, they had nothing. to share. The same thing happened when I submitted a request to SciLine, a resource for connecting journalists with science resources. Heck, there isn’t even a subreddit about the category.
Then we turned to the phone manufacturers themselves. Our research revealed that there are only two major wireless phone manufacturers: Panasonic and VTech, the latter of which also makes AT&T-branded phones. There are smaller brands, but we’ve turned to the bigger brands for support and warranty.
We began our research by compiling a spreadsheet containing the specifications of more than 100 phones we found on the three brands’ websites—a seemingly endless list of confusing alphanumeric product names, easily distinguishable feature sets, and nonessential designs. the difference between them. . These companies seem to introduce and discontinue models on a whim; almost every phone we recommended in a previous version of this guide has been discontinued within two years. To make matters even more complicated, many models are only available at certain retailers (Amazon, Target, Walmart, etc.). Finding phones that fit our desired specs and were actually available for purchase was frustrating for us, and that’s the kind of stuff we do for a living!
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To find out which features and specs are most important, we gathered a group of Wirecutter employees who owned cordless phones and asked them why they use them and which features they found most useful. We’ve combined this feedback with our own
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