Cordless phones: How we test cordless phones

How we test cordless home phones

Which? puts cordless home phones through a battery of tough lab tests so you can buy with confidence and find the best one for you, whether you're looking for a phone with a built-in answerphone or one without, we cover everything. We'll help you avoid phones that sound crackly and distorted or which have such short ranges that they won't work in parts of your house.

We put every phone through the same tests - a mixture of hands on assessments from independent experts and technical lab testing - so we can answer the important, no-nonsense questions with confidence and give you a verdict you can trust. Read on to find out how we can answer key questions such as:

  • How clear are calls to and from the phone?
  • How easy is it to use the phone and read the screen?
  • What's the phone's range like?
  • And most importantly, should I buy it?

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How clear are calls to and from the phone?

We make a series of calls from each phone while an expert panel checks the sound quality at both ends of the line. Our experts also rate the call clarity when using the speakerphone and assess the sound quality of incoming and outgoing messages left on the answering machine.

How easy is the phone to use?

We use ergonomic experts who assess how easy it is to set up the phone, add contacts to the phone book and make and receive calls. We rate the general handling, including the positioning of the buttons and the clarity of the display, and even check how easy it is to hold.

If the phone has a built-in answering machine we assess how difficult it is to record and replay your messages and note whether it's possible to remotely access the device.

To see our round-up of the highest-scoring cordless phones that also excel in our ease of use tests, check out our guide to easy-to-use cordless phones.

What's the phone's range like?

We check the range of each cordless phone by making yet more calls and then measuring the call quality on different floors within our laboratory and through steel and brick walls. We determine the point at which we start to experience interference and record when the signal is completely lost and the call terminated. We also note whether any of phones warn the user if the signal is getting too weak.

Should I buy it?

We give every home phone we test a Which? test score so you can see which are the best and worst, as well as exactly how each compares to other models. So what does it mean? Well, the phone score ignores price and is based on our detailed analysed results broken down into the following:

  • Sound quality 40%
  • Ease of use 30%
  • Features 20%
  • Signal coverage 10%

How we test cordless home phones

We buy and test around 50 phones a year including those with answer machines, multiple handsets and advanced features such as call blocking and SMS messaging.

Which? doesn't only tell you about the Best Buys that we recommend, we also tell you which models to avoid with our Don't Buy's. And, if we find a phone with a problem we deal with it. If a phone has an issue we feel is so bad it must be a fault then we will buy a new version and retest it. We'll also speak to the manufacturer to find out what it plans to do about the problem.

Testing updates

Due to improvements in our testing procedures to account for new features and developments, please note that scores of cordless phones tested after May 2013, are not exactly comparable with those tested before this date.

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