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Top cordless phone brands

Most reliable cordless phone brands

By Alison Potter

Article 1 of 5

Don’t pick up a cordless phone from a fault-prone brand. Buy one you can rely on with our pick of the most trustworthy cordless phone brands.

Put us to the test

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Until you take your cordless phone home and get hands-on with it, it’s impossible to know precisely how well it will work. That's why as well as our regular in-depth lab tests, we surveyed 2,499 Which? members in 2017 to find out about their cordless phone experiences.

From handsets that won’t charge or quickly lose their charge, to decreasing range and background crackling, we found out the key faults for each cordless phone brand. This enables us to estimate how long you can expect your cordless phone to last, and we can reveal which manufacturers make cordless phones that will stand the test of time, along with those that are liable to malfunction in a matter of months.

The best cordless phone brand has an outstanding reliability score of 92%, while the worst garners just 84%. If you purchase a handset from the least reliable brand, there’s nearly a one in five chance it will develop a fault within five years.

Below you can see reliability results from top cordless phone brands including BT, Gigaset and Panasonic. Once you’ve got the information you need, head straight to our Best Buy cordless phone reviews to find the best landline phone for your home.

Only logged-in Which? members can view our exclusive reliability ratings in the table below. Join Which? to get instant access.

Brand Reliability rating Reliability score
Table Logged out 92%
Table Logged out 85%
Table Logged out 84%
Table notes
Reliability scores are based on a June 2017 survey of 2,499 Which? members who own cordless phones. This table is correct as of August 2017.

Can’t see the brands you’re interested in? We couldn’t report on some brands, as we didn’t get enough responses from owners, but for reviews of cordless phones from Binatone, iDect and Philips, head to our independent cordless phone reviews.

Which cordless phone brand stays fault-free the longest?

The reliability graph below shows how the brand that stays fault-free for longest compares to the most disappointing brand and the average. Which? members can see how brands compare for faults and which are the best and worst in the table underneath.

Brand % Faults after one year % Faults after five years
Table Logged out 5% 10%
Table Logged out 5% 19%
Table Logged out 9% 19%
Table notes
Reliability scores are based on a June 2017 survey of 2,499 Which? members who own cordless phones. This table is correct as of August 2017.

How cordless phone brands compare

If a cordless phone is going to fail or if something does go wrong, it’s usually within the first year or two. Around 13% of faults happen during this time, but then the problems seem to peter out. In comparison, just 4% of issues occur in the third, fourth and fifth year of ownership combined.

The best brand for reliability has 90% of its cordless phones still in good working order after five years. It also has just 1% of faults which could be considered catastrophic.

In contrast, the most unreliable brand had 81% of its cordless phones reach the six-year mark, with 15% of faults proving major or catastrophic.

Unsurprisingly, the most reliable brand in our survey is also one of the most successful in our product testing, so there’s a clear winner when it comes to which you should opt for. But there are some brands with high reliability with inconsistent test scores, which is why it’s vital to check individual reviews before you buy.

The reliability scores in the first table don't exactly match the percentages of faulty products in the second table because we don’t just take the raw number of faults into account when we calculate our brand scores. We also find out how severe the faults were and how long after purchasing they occurred. Major or catastrophic issues are judged more harshly than minor annoyances, and we also penalise faults that occur when the cordless phone is relatively new and hasn’t had much use.

We ask our respondents to describe their faults as minor, major or catastrophic based on the following guidelines:

  • Minor - a fault that doesn’t affect the product’s performance significantly or a fault that only occurs occasionally with minimal impact. This issue may be irritating or annoying but it isn’t frequently problematic and you can easily work around it. For example, the recorded message sound quality deteriorating or the range getting smaller.
  • Major - a fault that has a noticeable effect on the product’s performance. This fault affects how you use the product and can be problematic. For example, if the handset stops charging properly or particular buttons stop working.
  • Catastrophic - a fault that renders the product unusable, with the fault needing to be repaired or parts replaced before it can be used again. For example, if the handset will no longer turn on.

We think it’s vital to consider reliability alongside our product testing, and asking owners to tell us about their experiences is the best way of judging a product’s real-world performance. Because of this, we’ll strip products of Best Buy awards if they get less than three stars for reliability. The most reliable brand is often not the best overall but buying a product from a good brand increases your chances of getting one that will serve you well for many years.

Common cordless phone problems

As part of our survey, we asked Which? members who own cordless phones to tell us about the particular problems they had experienced. An unlucky few reported difficulties with sticky buttons or a display screen failure, but the biggest issue is clearly with the rechargeable batteries found inside cordless phones. It’s also the fault that most owners experienced first across all cordless phone brands. 

Of those who reported a fault, the most common glitches that topped the list in this year’s survey were:

  • 32% - Handset won't charge or quickly loses its charge
  • 22% - A reduction in sound quality on calls
  • 11% - A deterioration of the range

Cordless phones rarely break, but if yours does it can sometimes be better to get a replacement rather than try to fix it, especially if the handset is sealed and there isn't a way of getting into it without breaking it.

However, some issues are easily remedied and won’t require the purchase of a new phone. For example, if the rechargeable battery becomes too weak to hold a charge then it’s worth investing in a replacement battery. Make sure you get one that says it will fit your exact phone model and is the correct voltage and size.

If you’re experiencing background noise or rough-sounding calls, you could have a problem with the range of your cordless phone’s handset. Try moving closer to the base unit when you want to use it, and if it’s compatible with one, consider investing in a range booster to increase the distance it will cover. Our cordless phone reviews state whether it’s possible to buy a range coverage extender if poor signal is an issue.