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9 best home phones that are life savers if you live in a mobile signal black spot

Far from a relic of the past, these reliable landline handsets will keep you connected

David Phelan
Monday 09 November 2020 15:35
<p>We tested for build quality, ease of use, call quality and strength of signal on cordless models</p>

We tested for build quality, ease of use, call quality and strength of signal on cordless models

Corded or cordless? Businesslike or super-cool? There are plenty of choices to be made when you’re deciding on a new landline phone. But why not just use your mobile?

Well, plenty of reasons. In most cases, even if you really only want the broadband, you probably have to subscribe to a landline, too, and since a landline phone is much more affordable than most mobiles, it makes sense to have one.

 Additionally, you may not be blessed with perfect mobile signal throughout your home, so a landline overcomes any notspot you might encounter.

Cordless home phones use a technology called DECT to work without wires. And though the radiation levels from mobile phones is much less than it used to be, a landline has even less. If your mobile has run out of juice and you have an emergency, your landline is ideal, and in some cases even works in a power cut.

Cordless phones have decent range but you can also buy them in packs of two, three or more. Only one has to plug into the phone socket, the others just need mains power.

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There are options for built-in answering machines, though BT customers can dial 1571 and use the message recording there. Some will even block nuisance callers and others can receive text messages from mobiles, too – though almost certainly the people who want to send you a text will use your mobile anyway.

How we tested

We tested for build quality, ease of use, call quality and strength of signal on cordless models. Here’s our pick of the best.

The best home phones for 2021 are:

  • Best overall – Panasonic KX-TGJ422EB: £69.99,
  • Best cordless phone – BT premium phone: £99.99,
  • Best for design – Jacob Jensen telephone 3: £92.75,
  • Best stylish phone – Panasonic KX-TGK222EW: £59.99,
  • Best robust phone – Gigaset E630A: £79.99,
  • Best for easy to press buttons – Punkt DP01: £89,
  • Best for poor eyesight –  BT 200 big button corded telephone: £27.99,
  • Best for ease of use – Panasonic KX-TGE722EB: £59.99,
  • Best for internet calls – Gigaset S850A go: £99.99

Panasonic KX-TGJ422EB

Best: Overall

  • Corded or cordless? Cordless
  • Cordless range: 100m indoors, 300m outdoors
  • Battery life: 15 hours talktime
  • Answering machine? Yes, 40 minutes capacity
  • Call blocker? Yes

Panasonic’s cordless phones are routinely efficient, with strong build quality, simple interface and plenty of features. For instance, with this twin-phone set-up, you can use them as an intercom to talk between handsets. Having two phones also means you can make the most of a baby monitor feature – you can even listen in on the baby from an outside line. You can also set it so that if a message is left on the phone, it can notify your mobile so you can dial in to pick up the message, a feature that is protected by a PIN code. As is usual with multiple handset systems, only the first phone needs to connect to the landline socket, the second one merely needs a mains connection. The phone is a comfortable fit in the hand and the good-sized buttons are easy to use

BT premium phone

Best: Cordless phone

  • Corded or cordless? Cordless
  • Cordless range: 50m indoors, 300m outdoors
  • Battery life: 22 hours talktime
  • Answering machine? Yes, 60 minutes capacity
  • Call blocker? Yes

Well-made and simple to use, the BT premium has a large colour display and the keypad is usefully backlit. It has advanced call blocking features so that with one touch you can banish an unwanted number. You can also sync up to two mobiles and use the landline to make and receive calls in your home, without having to worry about that mobile signal blackspot in the downstairs bathroom, for instance. The option to sync your contacts from your mobile is a great timesaver. A do not disturb function quietens the handset when you don’t want to be bothered, though friends and family can still get through if you’ve tagged them as VIPs in the phone’s address book.

Jacob Jensen telephone 3

Best: For design

  • Corded or cordless? Corded
  • Cordless range: N/A
  • Battery life: N/A
  • Answering machine? No
  • Call blocker? No

This is a classic phone from Danish designer Jacob Jensen, with dazzling looks and great build quality. Press down on the top of the handset and it’s so perfectly balanced that the main part slides up and into your hand. Once it’s there, it’s very comfortable to hold, on even the longest calls. This is a simple phone with limited extras, though it includes memory keys and last number redial. But its design is so appealing, you don’t feel the need for it to do anything else. It sits well on any desk and is wall-mountable, too.

Panasonic KX-TGK222EW

Best: Stylish phone

  • Corded or cordless? Cordless
  • Cordless range: 100m indoors
  • Battery life: 18 hours talktime
  • Answering machine? Yes, 30 minutes
  • Call blocker? Yes

The KX-TGK222EW looks sensational; when the handset is stored on the base, it may not even register that it’s a phone. The display isn’t huge but is very easy to read and the handset flashes to let you know a call’s coming in. There’s also an “eco mode plus” setting which means there is zero transmission until a call comes in. Although this phone is definitely a head-turner, it has useful features such as an answering machine and call blocker. This is a twin-phone set.

Gigaset E630A

Best: Robust phone

  • Corded or cordless? Cordless
  • Cordless range: 50m indoors, 300m outdoors
  • Battery life: 14 hours talktime
  • Answering machine? Yes, 55 minutes capacity
  • Call blocker? Yes

If you’re clumsy, this is a great choice. It’s a ruggedised home phone – a rarity in itself – that’s designed to survive water, shock and dust. Though it’s not fully waterproof so keep it away from the kitchen sink. The second unusual feature is it has a torch built in to the top of the handset, which once you’ve thought about it is the kind of thing you’d like built in to almost every piece of kit. Despite its robust build, it feels good in use.

Punkt DP01

Best: For easy to press buttons

  • Corded or cordless? Cordless
  • Cordless range: 40m indoors, 200m outdoors
  • Battery life: 10 hours talktime
  • Answering machine? Yes, 15 minutes capacity
  • Call blocker? No

This is a dazzlingly designed desk phone that is great to use. Punkt makes gadgets designed to be minimalist, with a clear, simple monochrome display. It’s also cleverly designed so it sits firmly in its cradle whether that’s on the desk or wall-mounted. The buttons are pleasingly tactile and the overall feel of the phone in the hand is smooth and comfortable. The answering machine can store 15 messages of up to a minute’s length each. Choose between black, white and a vibrant red finish.

BT 200 Big Button Corded Telephone

Best: For poor eyesight

  • Corded or cordless? Corded
  • Cordless range: N/A
  • Battery life: N/A
  • Answering machine? 1571
  • Call blocker? No

This phone is basic but effective, and the enormous number buttons are a godsend for anyone with poor eyesight. It has some useful features such as a hands-free facility and a volume control to easily manage how loud your callers are – the speakerphone goes pretty loud. There are speed dials for 13 people and last-number redial, plus three ringtones so you can assign certain rings to particular callers. There’s no tape machine in the phone but a dedicated 1571 button takes you to the BT service.

Panasonic KX-TGE722EB

Best: For ease of use

  • Corded or cordless? Cordless
  • Cordless range: 100m indoors, 300m outdoors
  • Battery life: 16 hours talktime
  • Answering machine? Yes, 40 minutes capacity
  • Call blocker? Yes

This twin-handset cordless phone set is designed to be easy for everyone to use. The buttons are bigger than most, are illuminated and have big, clear numbers on them. It’s compatible with hearing aids and even has talking caller ID, so that the phone will announce who’s calling, while an LED indicator shows a call is coming in. The screen is big and has a high-contrast, with a very clear display. Other features include intercom and baby monitoring, speakerphone and quick volume adjustments.

Gigaset S850A Go

Best: For internet calls

  • Corded or cordless? Cordless
  • Cordless range: Not stated
  • Battery life: 12 hours talktime
  • Answering machine? Yes, up to 55 minutes capacity
  • Call blocker? Yes

This phone has lots of neat features. There’s a second box alongside the phone itself which is designed to boost the range of the signal, which is handy. If you plug that box into your router, it also lets you make free calls over the internet. The handset is decent enough, though the styling is not a level with the best here. Still, the colour screen is easy to read and you can even sync the contacts from a PC, though this isn’t the simplest of processes. Multiple audio profiles mean you can change how the phone sounds with one button press – handy if the kitchen is always noisy and the bedroom always quiet. Or vice versa.

Home phones FAQs

What is the difference between a landline phone and a cordless phone?

One of your options when shopping for home phone is a corded phone. This more classic option connects to your phone provider’s cabling through a wall jack, and the phone base and the handset are connected by a cord. With a cordless landline, the phone base is connected to the cabling through a jack but the handset is connected wirelessly, leaving you free to roam while you talk.

The verdict: Home phones

Panasonic’s phones are sensational and offer a great balance between design, capabilities and value. The Panasonic KX-TGJ422EB is superbly easy to use, while the Panasonic KX-TGK222EW is a real looker. Mind you, that applies to the gorgeous Punkt. DP01, which is a triumph of style without neglecting substance.

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