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How we test cordless phones

By Jon Barrow

Find how we test cordless phones, what makes a Best Buy and why our reliability survey is an important factor as well as our thorough lab tests.

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What makes a Best Buy cordless phone?

We put cordless home phones through a battery of tough lab tests so you can buy with confidence and find the best one for you. We'll help you avoid the phones that sound crackly and distorted, or have such short ranges that they won't work upstairs.

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. 

Our tests examine the following key questions:

  • 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?

Head straight to our cordless phone reviews - or read on to find out more about how we test to answer each of these questions.

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 listen to calls on 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 if the buttons are well spaced so pressing the right numbers is simple, and if the names and numbers on the display are easy to read.

What's the phone's range like?

We check the range of each cordless phone by measuring the call quality on different floors within our laboratory and through steel and brick walls.

Our test finds out at exactly what distance the signal drops so you can work out whether the phone will work in every room in your house. We also note whether the phone will warn the user if the signal is getting too weak before cutting off.

How reliable is the brand?

As well as testing cordless phones in our lab we also survey thousands of Which? members to find out which brands are built to last. If our survey reveals that a brand is unreliable then we won't permit any of its phones to be Best Buys, no matter how well they do in our lab assessment.

This unique Which? survey means that you can buy with confidence, knowing that your new phone is unlikely to let you down.

Should I buy it?

We give every home phone we test a Which? test score out of 100 so you can see which are the best and worst and can directly compare between models.

Each of the assessments described above goes part way to making up this test score, though certain assessments are more important than others and so get a heavier weighting in our evaluation. We think the most important job of a phone is to make and receive clear calls and so a large proportion of our test score is based on this. 

The score is broken down as follows:

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

A phone needs to score 75% in our tests to earn our Best Buy recommendation and 45% or below to be a Don't Buy.


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