We might all have mobiles in our pockets these days, but the traditional cordless phone still has its place. For individuals, it’s often cheaper and more comfortable than a mobile when chatting to family and friends, or calling customer services with a problem. And businesses with existing landline infrastructures may not be ready to switch to mobiles or VoIP systems.
And the good news is that today’s cordless handsets are more versatile than ever, taking on some of the style and features we associate with smartphones. That includes measures for dealing with nuisance callers: you can whitelist trusted numbers so you’ll always get their calls, while blacklisting others so they’ll never bother you again.
How to buy 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 or call-blocking facilities.
Beyond that, there are some practical upgrades that might be worth investing in, such as longer battery life or extended wireless range. 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.
How do I block nuisance calls?
On some 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 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.
What other features should I look out for?
Many cordless phones are taking design cues from smartphones. Push-button handsets are still the norm, but the interfaces have grown brighter and more intuitive, with colour screens, photo backgrounds and smartphone-style address books. Some can sync your contacts directly from your mobile, but bear in mind that this list will be available to other family members who use your cordless phone.
Some phones even let you pair with your smartphone over Bluetooth and take mobile calls through your cordless handset – not a bad idea if you have patchy mobile reception at home, or if your cordless phone’s more comfortable to hold with clearer sound. In some cases, you can even use your smartphone’s voice assistant through the handset. Conversely, some cordless phones let you install an app on your smartphone and take landline calls on your mobile, effectively turning your smartphone into a second handset.
Finally, some phones have been ruggedised for outdoor use or work over longer distances. Want to be reachable even when you’re down 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’ll get a working signal.
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The best cordless phones you can buy
BT Everyday Cordless Home Phone: The best cordless phone under £20
Price: £19 single, £35 twin, £50 three pack | Buy now from Amazon
BT’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 refuse to spend more than £20 on your landline, this is the cordless phone 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
Panasonic KX-TGC220EB: Best entry-level phone with answering machine
Price: £25.50 single, £36 twin, £46 three-pack | Buy now from Amazon
The Panasonic KX-TGC220EB is cheap yet well-featured. It includes a simple answering machine with an 18-minute memory, a 50-entry phonebook and speakerphone features – and if you buy more than one handset, you also get intercom and conference-call capabilities. What we like most, however, is its nuisance call-blocking features, which can silence specific numbers, withheld calls or even numbers that contain a particular series of digits – handy when you keep getting harassed by the same bunch of PPI-claims callers. It’s not the best-looking phone, and the audio quality didn’t blow us away, but it does a lot for a great price.
Key specs – Type: DECT phone with mono screen; Phonebook: 50 entries; Answerphone: 18 minutes; Speakerphone: Yes; Nuisance call blocking: Yes; Talk time: 20 hours; Standby time: 170 hours
Gigaset C430A: Best everyday cordless phone
Price: £27.49 single, £45 twin, £59 three-pack | Buy now from Amazon
With its 1.8in colour TFT display and mobile phone-like style, the Gigaset C430A looks like a high-end phone – and has a feature set to match. There’s room for 200 entries in the phonebook (which you can easily share between handsets) and different callers can be assigned their own ringtones. You can also blacklist specific numbers, and block withheld or international numbers; at bedtime, a switch mutes the ringer altogether. There’s a speakerphone mode too, a 30-minute answerphone and even a baby monitor feature for those with more than one handset. Sound quality is excellent, and battery life is helped along by the same eco features as the cheaper A120. Good-looking and easy to use, this cordless phone ticks all the boxes.
Key specs – Type: DECT phone with colour display; Phonebook: 200 entries; Answerphone: 30 mins; Speakerphone: Yes; Nuisance call blocking: Yes; Talk time: 14 hours; Standby time: 320 hours
BT Premium Cordless Home Phone with Voice Control: The best cordless phone for blocking nuisance calls
Price: £62 single, £84 twin, £91 three pack | Buy now from Amazon
Plagued 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, though 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 through 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 mins; Speakerphone: Yes; Nuisance call blocking: Yes; Talk time: 21 hours; Standby time: 240 hours
Gigaset Premium C570A: The best cordless phone for call quality
Price: £65 single, £100 twin, £135 three-pack, £160 four-pack | Buy now from Amazon
The Gigaset Premium C570A has just one black mark against it. For some reason the handset cradle and cordless base station are separate modules, meaning extra clutter and a power supply for each, though at least you don’t have to keep the cradle near the phone socket. Otherwise, this is every inch a premium phone, with a large 2.2in colour LCD display that’s easy to read, a great user-interface and a handy jumbo mode, with extra-large numbers when you’re dialling out.
This one doesn’t have any fancy Bluetooth or smartphone-pairing features, but it has something that some will find 100% more useful. Call quality is absolutely excellent, with speech about as clear as your landline will allow – and you can even switch between two acoustic profiles to boost bass or treble for the hard of hearing. The hands-free speakerphone is also better than the average, and you can switch one handset into a baby monitor mode, where noise over a certain volume will result in a call to another handset. BT has the better nuisance call protection, but otherwise the Gigaset has a brilliant set of features without getting into the complexities of smartphone pairing. It’s just a great cordless phone.
Key specs – Type: Ruggedised DECT phone with 2.2in colour screen; Phonebook: 200 entries; Answerphone: 30 mins; Speakerphone: Yes; Nuisance call blocking: Yes; Talk time: 17 hours; Standby time: 320 hours
BT Elements: Best cordless phone for the garden
Price: £65 single, £99 twin | Buy now from Amazon
If you spend a lot of time outdoors, or need a phone for the workshop or 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 mins; Speakerphone: Yes; Nuisance call blocking: Yes; Talk time: 13 hours; Standby time: 160 hours
Panasonic KX-PRW120: Best high-end cordless phone
Price: £88 single, £160 twin | Buy now from Amazon
The uninspiringly named KX-PRW120 offers probably the best combination of style and features that money can buy. The handset is a little reminiscent of an old Nokia mobile, if slightly larger, and it hooks neatly onto the elegant base unit and charger, with magnets to hold it in place. It’s easy to use, with an intuitive interface and a bright 2.2in TFT colour screen, and connects not just to your landline but to your Wi-Fi network too – which makes it easy to share numbers with a smartphone, and lets you take home phone calls on your smartphone via the Panasonic app, which can be installed on up to four Android or iOS smartphones. Be warned, this tends to drain your smartphone’s battery, but it’s great when you’re roaming around the house. Throw in nuisance call-blocking features and a 40-minute answerphone, and it adds up to the best high-end cordless phone money can buy.
Key specs – Type: DECT phone with colour screen; Phonebook: 500 entries (single-number) or 250 entries (two numbers); Answerphone: 40 mins; Speakerphone: Yes; Nuisance call blocking: Yes; Talk time: 11 hours; Standby time: 150 hours