Cordless Phones: Do you need one?

Whether you just want a reliable alternative to your mobile phone, you have no need for a mobile, or you just want something convenient for the home, a cordless phone can be a great – and cheap – way to call friends and family. Canstar Blue reviews the top cordless phone brands, and what home phone plans are out there.

Even with the popularity of mobile phones and cheap unlimited phone plans these days, there is still a significant market for cordless phones and home calling. Often, internet providers still like to charge extra for line rental – $20 or more in some cases – with their phone plans, so why not try to make use of the extra cost? This is especially the case for old ADSL plans, but NBN plans may also be bundled with an NBN phone plan, which is a similar type of deal. There are still a number of cordless phones available from multiple providers, but what should you be looking out for? Canstar Blue investigates.

Why you might still want a cordless phone

Man talking on cordless phone

While mobile phones are far more common these days, there are still some solid reasons for choosing a cordless landline phone instead. 

Reasons why you might still want a cordless phone:

  • Home business set up: Businesses with landlines appear more legitimate and established, and the cost can be kept as a separate business expense.
  • Signal strength: Cordless phones provide better signal for people in regional areas where mobile data service is patchy.
  • Reliability: Cordless phones are reliable in an emergency, as they don’t run out of battery. However, depending on your plan, if the internet goes out, you may also be without a phone line, so it’s always handy to have a backup option. 
  • Audio quality: Cordless phones generally have better audio quality than a mobile phone due to its design and line reliability.
  • Cost: Cordless phone plans can be far more cost effective than a mobile plan.
  • Convenience: Older people may already have the landline system in place and it would be a greater nuisance to alter it.

What to consider when choosing a cordless home phone

Cordless home phones will come with a range of features and accessories, but it’s important that you choose a handset phone that suits you. While some accompaniments may sound enticing, the added price tag might not be what you’re looking for. We’ve outlined a few key areas that you should consider before handing over your hard-earned dollars, as you don’t want to be left with a dial tone on a bad purchase. 

  • Audio Controls: A main area for phones, if you can’t hear what’s coming through the receiver, you’re left with a pretty big problem. Most models come with audio controls to help you not only set the speaker volume, but ringtone and microphone as well, allowing you to hear the phone go off as well as be all ears for whoever is on the other end of the line. 
  • Display Screen Size: Seeing who’s calling can be a handy tool to see when to pick up or when to let it go to voicemail. As a result, the display screen is an underrated area for phones – as we generally focus on the hearing rather than the looking – with larger screens also particularly useful for those who have vision impairments. 
  • Button Size: With most phones getting smaller, it can be easy to accidentally hit the wrong button, so having buttons that fit your fingers can be a crucial element to user friendliness. After all, there’s nothing worse than calling the wrong number! 
  • Talk Time: The phrase given to the period of time you can use the phone away from the charging cradle before the battery gives out, having a longer battery life can ensure that you don’t get cut off mid-sentence. 
  • Accessories: Additional options such as a Power Talk Failure System (which allows phones to work during a blackout) and a headset jack for hands-free talking can make a world of difference, but you’ll have to make sure your model and brand have compatible options. 
  • Cost: As with any purchase, how much money you’re willing to part with will influence which model you go with. However, just because something is expensive doesn’t mean it’ll offer good value, as you may find a cheaper model does everything you need it to do, or that you may find that shelling out extra for additional functions and features will be well-worth the price tag. 

Cordless Phone Reviews

Cordless phones are pretty cheap, but not all brands are made equal, meaning it’s best to see what each brand has to offer before ringing up at the till. Below are the major cordless phone brands available in Australia.

Uniden Cordless Phones

Uniden produces a fairly large range of cordless phones, in addition to Bluetooth Phones and Extended Long Range Phones, with its range of cordless phones costing around $50 for a single handset, in addition to a number of kits for multiple handsets. Uniden also produces a waterproof handset (8305WP) for about $100 that would be an ideal fit for the garage or next to the sink while washing up so you don’t have to worry about water and spills.

Uniden’s most expensive kit – the XDECT 8355 + 3WPR – which includes three phones, one ‘home base’ dock and an Optional Repeater Station for extended range and coverage. It costs over $250, and features Bluetooth connectivity and USB charging ports, as well as the Call Block PRO function, which cuts down on unwanted phone calls. Uniden is available to purchase directly online, or through electronic retailers and select third-party phone retailers.
 

Oricom Cordless Phones

Oricom Cordless Phone

Oricom claims to be the world leader of ‘phone tech’, alongside other products such as baby monitors. While landline phones may be a bit of an ageing technology, Oricom still makes a fairly concise range of cordless phones, with prices starting from about the $70 mark. The entry level model is the CARE620 model, which features a one-touch volume boost, two one-touch memory buttons for easy use, 100-entry phone book, instant call blocking and nbn compatibility. 

The top of the line model – the PRO610-1 model – is compatible with up to five additional handsets on the same system, allowing you to spread out your phones across multiple rooms of the house. Additionally, the PRO610 also includes a talking voice menu function for those with low vision, with a one-touch earpiece volume, loud ringer, one-touch redial for up to three numbers as well as hearing aid compatibility. Oricom models can be purchased directly from Oricom, or through electronics retailers or phone retailers. 

Panasonic Cordless Phones

No stranger to electronics, Panasonic offers a number of cordless phones to choose from, including individual handsets and kits for those looking to cover multiple rooms. With a starting price of around $40, the Panasonic range is an affordable option to investigate, with the staring model – the KX-TGB110ALB – including a 1.4inch LCD display, handset locator for when you accidentally don’t return it to the cradle, long standby time and an Eco mode to reduce energy consumption of the base. 

If you’re after something with a bit more substance, the KX-TGM420AZB model includes a digital answering machine within the base, alongside voice volume and speech volume to help you get the message across. You can even slow down fast talkers with a one-touch Slow Talk control, with a Nuisance Call Block feature and memory dial buttons for those you regularly talk to. Panasonic also offer a number of kits with multiple handsets and answering machine to help you spread out around the house, offering additional convenience. Panasonic can be purchased directly through the brand itself, or through electronic retailers or third-party retailers.


VTech Cordless Phones

VTech Cordless Phone

A brand that also offers a number of baby monitors and home monitoring system, VTech’s range of cordless phones includes handset, kits and accessories to help ensure you get to the phone in time. Base models such as the CareLine 20450E model include big buttons and an extra loud ringer for easy use, as well as a handsfree speakerphone, SOS help button on the handset and up to 10 hours of talk time. 

More advanced models include the VTech 17850 model, which includes two handsets and a long range extender for when you need to step away from the cradle for a call. Also featured is a Power Fail Back-up for when the power goes out, as well as a USB charging port for smartphones. The answering machine can record for up 45 minutes of messages, with Call Guard also installed to help block unwanted calls. VTech cordless phones can be purchased online through the VTech website, or through electronics retailers or third-party phone retailers.

Telstra Cordless Phones

Telstra Cordless Phone

Telstra is Australia’s largest telco and claims to be the “network without equal”. As such, it produces a range of cordless phones to enable you to experience said network. There are two ways you can go about acquiring a Telstra handset – either buy outright, or pay a small fee per month over 24 months. For example, the cheapest phone is the Easy Control model, which features One Touch Do Not Disturb, blocks up to 50 numbers and has an outdoor range of up to 300m with the DECT headset. 

Other Telstra cordless phone models include the Telstra Voice Control model, which includes an Alexa built in as a virtual assistant, helping to answer your questions about the weather, traffic, updating shopping lists or to play music at your command. Alternatively, you can opt for the Telstra Smart Handset Desktop model, which may be suitable for home businesses, with features such as Call Transfer and Conference Calling available. 

Seeing as Telstra is a telco, it also produces a range of home phone plans, which may also be bundled in with an internet plan. So let’s see what home phone plans are on offer, including internet bundles.

Home Phone Plans

A number of internet service providers also offer home phone plans, either by themselves or as part of an internet bundle. While standalone home phone plans may look good, chances are you could probably find better value if you bundle it. It’s also worth seeing if your current provider offers a home phone package, which can cost as little as $10 extra per month. Providers to watch out for are:

How to connect a cordless phone

Plugging in a cordless phone is a simple process, as long as you already have the right set up. To connect your cordless phone, you will need five things: a cordless phone, the charging cradle it came with, the cord for the phone line port, the cord for the charging port and a phone line wall socket. Even though cordless home phones are less common these days, most homes will still be built with phone line wall sockets, as they can be swapped out for Ethernet cables. Shapes and sizes of sockets do differ so make sure you check that your cord for the phone line port matches your wall socket. If it doesn’t, you can easily pick up a telephone adapter at electronic retailers or supply stores. 

To connect your cordless phone:

  • Step One: Connect the phone line by inserting the square clip into the base of the phone charging cradle and the other square clip into the corresponding wall port.
  • Step Two: Connect the phone to power by plugging in one end of the power cord into the base of the phone charging cradle and the other end into a regular power point in your home.
  • Step Three: Place your phone into the charging cradle. If the lights come on, your phone is connected and ready for calls.

Do cordless phones interfere with the WiFi?

Couple on computer using cordless phone

Wireless appliances, including cordless phones, can interfere with your WiFi, and vice versa, meaning you may not be just hearing things, as you may be hearing static interference. But just as you can live with a microwave and the WiFi, you can also have a cordless phone and WiFi without the nuisance of interference.

Tips for reducing interference on your cordless phone:

  • Move the phone away from the WiFi router box
  • Make sure your WiFi and your cordless phone are operating on separate frequencies, although this may not be possible with every model.
  • Upgrade your cordless phone to one that operates on Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications (DECT) 6.0 technology. These phones operate on an entirely different frequency to your WiFi so there’s no chance they will run into each other.

The best cordless phone for seniors

The best technology should be simple and easy to use, which is why cordless phones make such an excellent choice for people who require extra auditory and visual assistance. The finicky nature of mobile phones means that they can be difficult to navigate, while the ‘all in one’ approach often means sacrificing audio quality. With so many cordless phone options to choose from, it’s important to make the right choice, which is why Canstar Blue has prepared an in-depth guide on the best phones for seniors and pensioners to help with the decision-making process. 

Can you recycle cordless phones?

As times change, so does technology, meaning you wouldn’t be alone if you have a collection of old phones laying around the house. The good news is that they don’t have to collect dust around your house anymore, and can be recycled, although the process is a little bit different to recycling your mobile phone. 

Cordless phones can be recycled alongside other electronics like TVs, radios, DVDs and alarm clocks, but you’ll have to go through either an e-waste box and individual retailers. E-waste recycling boxes can be purchased from retailers such as Storage King, filled with your electrical waste and returned for recycling. Alternatively, you can use a website like Planet Ark to locate your nearest retailer who can recycle your electrical waste for you. At one point in time telcos would accept old cordless phones for recycling, but most have since partnered up with a range of recycling schemes and now no longer offer this option.

The final word on Cordless Phones

Cordless phones and home phone plans may seem like a bit of a redundant product or service these days, especially with the advent of cheap unlimited mobile plans. However, there is still a significant market for them out there. Elderly people in particular may still get great benefit from the old landline telephone, where some are still operational even in blackouts.

However, where many people put a foot wrong is not bundling an internet service in with their home phone plan. While this is understandable if you don’t have an internet connection, you are probably paying too much by keeping internet and phone separate. In fact, with some providers you can even save money by just buying an internet plan with home phone calls included. Prices for internet and a home phone service start from as little as around $40, with big data inclusions and international call packs coming as standard for a lot of plans in the $70-$100 a month range. When home phone plans by themselves can cost around $80, you probably now know what sounds like a better deal.

Either way, cordless phones are the easy bit, especially when they cost as little as $30 – finding a suitable home phone and internet bundle can be a bit harder.

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Photo Credit: stockfour/shutterstock.com

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