8 best home phones
Living in a mobile black spot? Hearing trouble? A landline phone could help
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The recent decline in landline use among UK households has been gentler than you might think. Between the start of 2014 and 2018, the percentage of households with a working home phone slid by 5 per cent, from 81 per cent to 76 per cent.
Sure, some of us have a home phone mainly because we need a phone line anyway for our internet connection – but there are additional benefits.
Landlines can offer a reliable reception and good call quality in geographical locations where some mobile networks can’t. They’re a godsend for those living in mobile black spots.
Some models may also prove easier to use for people who haven’t got on very well with mobiles – especially the visually or hearing impaired, who might prefer our pick of specialised landline handsets.
Plus, a landline could save you some minutes or phone credit, as some networks offer free landline calls on evenings and/or weekends with your broadband package.
Any of this reaching you? If so, read on, as we review a selection of the best new landlines you can buy online today.
We’ve tested a variety of models, from the most technologically advanced, to pared-down retro models emulating classic telephone designs. We also tried a couple of accessible models: one for the hard of hearing emulating, and another for the hard of sight.
Panasonic KX-PRW120EW Smart Cordless Phone with Answering Machine: £79.99, Currys
Ahoy ahoy! Here's a home phone that looks and functions just as a home phone should in 2018.
The KX-PRW120EW’s handset looks like the hybrid offspring of a mid-Noughties mobile and a gents’ electric shaver – which oddly turns out to be no bad thing.
But what’s really great about this phone is how it can help get the most out of your smartphones at home. You can connect up to four Android smartphones to it via Wi-Fi, and then use it to take mobile calls or make calls to numbers from a mobile phonebook.
This functionality is perfectly easy to use via the Smartphone Connect app, and could prove incredibly handy for families living in areas with poor mobile reception.
It’s worth noting that this phone and its base should be carried around separately, as the magnetic adaptor that connects the two is not powerful enough to hold the handset in place while being moved.
Panasonic KX-TGJ32EB Digital Cordless Telephone: £39.99, John Lewis
You may be noticing a theme emerging.
Panasonic currently manufacturers many of the best home phones available in the UK – so we had to include a few of their products. If you’re after clean, contemporary design, the KX-TGJ32EB is the one for you.
Pleasingly simple in design and function, it achieves excellent call quality with its onboard Digital Enhanced Cordless Technology (DECT) – the radio tech used in most of the best cordless landlines.
Panasonic hasn’t been able to resist adding a few bells and whistles, and these are only to the phone’s benefit: nuisance call blocking, an answering machine, and a choice of 40 ringtones (great fun!)
Another selling point of the KX-TGJ32EB is its “Eco Mode Plus”, which shuts off the phone’s transmitting power while it’s on standby. We couldn’t physically feel the difference this made – but we expect this function would nonetheless be very comforting to the radiation-wary.
Wild and Wolf Retro 746 Telephone: £44.99, Amazon
It’d be fair to say manufacturers were investing a bigger share of their budgets in making home phones look lovely back in the sixties – and the fruits of their labours included models closely resembling the Wild and Wolf Retro 746. We think it’s pretty snazzy – an ideal companion to a dark wooden table top, for instance.
The downside is that what the Retro 746 has in style, it lacks in contemporary function. There’s no answer machine, and it’s corded. Still, it’s one of the best new-vintage options out there.
Though this may look like an old rotary phone, it turns out to be button-operated, which is clearly a more convenient mechanism, but perhaps not as satisfying to the forefinger.
BT Big Button 200 Corded Telephone: £24.99, John Lewis
The BT Big Button 200 has one job and one job alone: to be user-friendly, with a special focus on those with near-sightedness or impaired manual dexterity.
And on that score, it does very well indeed. No photograph can convey the sheer bigness of its buttons, which stand out clearly in contrasting dark blue. Its “call hands free” and “loud” buttons make easy, comfortable use accessible for even more people.
Frankly, the Big Button 200 is not winning any beauty pageants – but then again, nor is any other BT home phone.
Panasonic KX-TGH220EB Digital Telephone and Answering Machine: £50, John Lewis
Simple, lightweight, smart-looking and available at a reasonable price, the KX-TGH220EB is the ideal few-frills landline.
It performs excellently, with an indoor range of up to 100m. That would be sufficient to provide good call quality to the whole of Buckingham Palace, Your Majesty, assuming you’re reading this.
Its answer machine is pretty beefy too, with up to 40 minutes recording time. Its phone book stores up to 200 names and numbers, and it also features nuisance call control.
The KX-TGH220EB may not be particularly flash, but we find it both impressive and affordable. We can see it strongly appealing to those seeking a simple, sensible solution.
BT Essential Phone Y Trio Telephone Answering Machine: £89.99, John Lewis
For chatty or generously housed families, a solitary phone handset simply won’t do. The fabulously functional BT Essential Phone Y comes in sets with two, three or four handsets to meet this need.
And it does its job very well. The answering machine, operated primarily by the “master” base that connects to your phone line, is especially easy to use, with clear playback buttons to skip forward and back, play/stop and toggle the volume up or down.
The individual handsets are nifty, too.
Their sound quality is outstanding, they can block numbers at the press of a button, and they can jointly store up to 100 contacts.
Doro Magna 4000 Extra Loud Phone: £69.99, HearingDirect.com
This smart-looking, office-style phone is designed especially for the hard of hearing, with a simple dial enabling the user to turn the volume up and down.
It’s certainly loud, with a max voice volume of 60dB, which is about the same as a normal conversation, and a max ringer volume of 90dB, which is roughly on par with an arc welder – five times the volume of a normal ringer.
About one-in-six Brits has hearing loss, so we reckon this is all just as well.
Aside from its high-volume features, the Magna 4000 boasts caller ID, a phonebook with support for up to 50 entries, and a high contrast keys to make dialling easier.
GPO Carrington Classic Corded Phone: £39.99, Currys
Manchester-based GPO has made quite a name for itself as a maker of retro household electronics – and the Carrington Classic Corded Phone looks sure to cement that reputation.
Stout, stylish and true to vintage telephone form, it would arguably make a far more attractive addition to your home than any contemporary-style model.
Like Wolf and Wild’s retro phone, the Carrington’s sole function is to make and receive calls. If you need an answer phone or a digital address book, look elsewhere. It does, however, have space for a good, old-fashioned paper phone book, courtesy of its pull-out note tray.
Please note: the Carrington is push-button-operated, rather than a genuine rotary model.
The Verdict: Best home phones
With excellent performance either as a standalone landline or as an auxiliary to your smartphones, the Panasonic KX-PRW120EW is comfortably our Best Buy.
Plus, it’s actually pretty nice-looking – no mean feat for a landline!
If you prefer the retro look and are nonplussed by cutting-edge features, go for the Wild and Wolf Retro 746 instead.
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