The world may be going cellular at a rapid clip, but the humble cordless phone still has a place in many homes. We recently rated dozens...

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The world may be going cellular at a rapid clip, but the humble cordless phone still has a place in many homes.

We recently rated dozens of cordless phones, including several very good performers. Before you pick one, however, decide on what kind of cordless phone meets your needs. There are several considerations:

Analog or digital. Phones using analog transmission are a little less expensive and usually have better voice quality, but they can be susceptible to eavesdropping, and their range is shorter. Digital phones are more secure, can support more handsets from one base and allow conferencing of handsets.

Select a frequency. Phones using the 2.4-gigahertz (GHz) band come in a wide selection and are less expensive. However, they are more prone to interference problems with other wireless devices than 5.8-GHz models or those using the new Digitally Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications (DECT) technology on the 1.9-GHz band.

Plan for extensions. A single-handset model is best suited to smaller homes where you’re never far from the phone. If your home is too large for that, consider a multiple-handset phone. They support several handsets from one base: Each sits in its own charging cradle without need of a phone jack.

Assess an answerer. Many people still want an answerer with their cordless phone, despite the ubiquity of cellphones with voicemail capability. Both single- and multiple-handset phones come in versions with a built-in answerer.


Our tests of dozens of cordless phones — with and without answerers — revealed several that would suit most users.

• If your needs can be met with a single-handset model minus an answerer, consider the top-rated Uniden EXI 4246 ($25), the AT&T E2116 ($30), the GE 27831GE1 ($20) — each a CR Best Buy — and two VTech models, the V Mix gz2335 ($30) and the ia5823 ($30). All these phones are analog, operating on dual frequencies, transmitting between the base and handset in one band and receiving in another. The VTech ia5823 is a 5.8-GHz/900-megahertz (MHz) model; the others are 2.4-GHz/900-MHz phones.

• Want an answerer? We like two analog models: the 2.4-GHz/900-MHz AT&T E2126 (at just $40, it’s a CR Best Buy) and the 5.8-GHz/900-MHz AT&T E5908 ($80).

• Among multiple-handset phones sans answerer, the digital 5.8-GHz Uniden TRU 9465 ($60) scored highest. It comes with one handset but accepts up to nine more — at $40 each. Other top performers — both analog models — are the 5.8-GHz/900-MHz GE 25841GE3 ($50, including two handsets) and the 2.4-GHz/900-MHz AT&T E2718B (at $60, including three handsets, it’s a CR Best Buy).

Our top-scoring multiple-handset phone with an answerer was the digital AT&T E5947B, a 5.8-GHz/2.4-GHz model that costs $160 and includes four handsets. Other fine phone/answerer combos include the digital VTech i6765 (a 5.8-GHz/2.4-GHz model costing $80 and including two handsets) and the analog AT&T E2727B. At $60, including two handsets, this 2.4-GHz/900-MHz model is also a CR Best Buy.

Stay corded for safety

Don’t buy a cordless phone unless you’re sure you can return it. (You may encounter problems at home, such as wireless interference.) Also, hang on to your corded model: It’s a good idea to have at least one, if only for emergencies. That’s because most cordless phones won’t work if you lose electrical power, and a cellphone is useless if you can’t get a signal or if circuits are full.