8 best home phones that are life savers if you live in a mobile signal black spot
Models now include nuisance call blockers and the ability to receive calls to your mobile on it
To some, the landline seems remarkably quaint. But while mobile notspots mean there can be places in your home that your smartphone’s signal doesn’t reach, they continue to be essential.
There are other benefits over relying on your mobile. First, almost all broadband tariffs still require a landline rental as well, so you might as well have a phone attached to it, right?
Then there’s the fact that the battery on a cordless home phone lasts longer than that smartphone you’ve been using all day long when you weren’t at home.
Even if your mobile signal is good in the upstairs bedroom, it may not reach to the below-ground rooms, and a cordless landline can often deliver great range.
The radiation levels from a mobile phone are less of an issue than they used to be, but a cordless landline certainly still offers an even lower health risk. Corded phones have no radiation at all, of course.
If you choose a pack with multiple handsets, the first has to be plugged in to the landline socket but the rest connect by cable to the electrical socket but wirelessly to the first phone.
There are two dominant brands in this category of gadget: BT which is solid and dependable, and Panasonic which has the edge when it comes to being chic and innovative.
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Panasonic KX-PRW120EW: £99.99. Panasonic
Panasonic’s landline looks like it wants to be a mobile, and its design works very well. It’s chunkier than a smartphone but still feels good in the hand. It fits satisfyingly on the charging station with magnets ensuring it’s in the right place to charge. If the phone is downstairs and you’re in another room with your mobile, you can set it up so the smartphone can answer the landline’s call, or use the smartphone to make calls through the landline connection – which could be a godsend if mobile reception in some parts of your home is poor. This connectivity works with Android and Apple phones though there are additional features for Android phones such as matching the smartphone ringtone on the Panasonic phone. Slick and effective.
Jacob Jensen telephone 3: £90.90, Amazon
This handsomely designed model from Jacob Jensen is a real pleasure to use and is beautifully made with great build quality. Touch the upper part of the handset and it almost floats into your hand. Of course, regular features are there, such as memory keys and last number redial. And that funny cord that goes into the wall? That means the call quality is consistently excellent, something that varies on even the best cordless.
BT premium phone: From £69.99, BT
The Premium looks great and has an attractive, bright colour display. It has a 3,000 name-and-number directory and, usefully, you can sync the address book from your mobile, connecting the mobile to the landline wirelessly by Bluetooth. The Premium has higher specs than many phones here, including 60 minutes of recordings on the answering machine, advanced and easily customised call blocker settings and – like the Panasonic KX-PRW120EW – the ability to receive calls for your mobile on your landline, so if your mobile signal is just fine by the front door but hopeless in the basement, this helps to make sure you don’t miss a call.
Gigaset E550A: £99.99, Gigaset
The Gigaset has a distinctive design and its upright orientation means the phone is easy to grab off its stand. The answering machine has up to 25 minutes of recording. It has a decent-sized screen that also includes it has a “jumbo mode”, which makes it good for those with less sharp sight. There’s also a flashing light to indicate an incoming call, if that helps – you can turn it off if not. If you get a second handset, you can use one as a baby monitor. It can store up to 150 phone numbers, but you do have to enter each one yourself – you can’t transfer them en masse from your mobile, for instance.
iDect loop twin: £39.99, Argos
This is a very good value phone, especially in this twin combination which means you can have landline phones in two rooms: the larger phone is the one that includes the answering machine, which records for up to 15 minutes. A nuisance call blocker is designed to prevent endless unwanted calls – like several similar systems it works reasonably well but is far from flawless. It can be used to block specific numbers as well as types of numbers such as withheld number calls or international calls. Simple to use and distinctively styled.
Panasonic KX-PRS120EW: £69.99, Panasonic
This handset, like the Panasonic KX-PRW120EW above, is attractive and stylish. It feels good and is very easy to use. The bright colour screen has useful extras like an analogue clock screen saver. You can block up to 100 numbers – calls from these numbers will be silently dropped if they ring. You need to be a subscriber to your phone provider’s Call ID feature for this to work. You can buy an optional key finder tag which you can attach to frequently mislaid items so that when you press a button on the phone, the tag beeps.
BT essential phone: From £44.98, BT
This is a simple and well-priced phone with an answering machine that records up to 30 minutes of messages – you can access these messages remotely by calling home and entering a PIN code. It has a nuisance call blocker for up to 100 numbers, though not all nuisance calls by type. You can also choose to block all calls, or only let calls through from numbers you’ve chosen as important. The black and white screen is clear but basic. Also available with extra handsets if you prefer.
Panasonic KX-TGC410EB: £24.99, Panasonic
This entry-level handset is great value. The black-and-white screen is easy to read thanks to its yellow backlight and although it’s highly affordable, it’s still well-built and has features such as a call blocker, though only for up to 30 entries. A built-in phone book is similarly basic, though it can hold 50 names and numbers which may be enough for many people. There’s also a dedicated eco button which reduces power consumption to eke out battery life.
The verdict: Home phones
The Panasonic KX-PRW120EW offers great features, striking design and a decent price, though the company’s cheapest phone, the Panasonic KX-TGC410EB, is also worth considering if you don’t need an answering machine. BT’s range is wide, with something for everyone, though the BT premium phone is the company’s standout.
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