Cordless Phone Buying Guide

Cordless Phone Buying Guide
Do you need a 5.8 GHz cordless phone or will 900 MHz suffice? Should you go digital or stay with analog? And what does that mean anyway? The right phone can help you catch important calls, ensure privacy, and manage multiple lines. And with the growing number of expandable models--four, eight, or more handsets--you can create your own multistation phone system within your home.


The first cordless phones came out around 1980 and used the 27 MHz (megahertz) band. As the frequencies become crowded, the FCC (US government) assigned more bands – 46-49 MHz, 900 MHz, 2.4 GHz (gigahertz), and recently the 5.8 GHz. In general, cordless phones will have better sound quality with the newer, higher frequency phones, however there are always exceptions. Most people are just as happy with the sound quality of a 900 MHz and 2.4 GHz cordless phones. The 5.8 GHz phones were introduced in late 2002. Previously 5.8 GHz was used for commercial broadband wireless applications because of its ability to carry high-speed data.


The best way to select the right phone for you is to pick the transmission technology and frequency technology of your phone based on your budget. Each category will offer similar features such as answering machines, caller ID, etc. to meet your specific needs.View our models here


Cordless Phones use radio waves to communicate between the base unit and the handset – like Walkie-Talkies. The base unit converts the radio waves to the standard analog telephone company signal that is sent through your telephone wires to the telephone company. Cordless Phones use different types of radio waves for communicating between the base and handset. Each type has its advantages and disadvantages.

There are three basic types of cordless phones – analog, digital and digital spread spectrum.

The lowest price cordless phones are analog phones. These were the original format for cordless phones. The sound quality of these phones will be acceptable if you stay in the same room or a neighboring room with the base. Analog reception may be affected by electrical appliances, such as microwaves, and by going to a different floor within the location. Scanners will be able to pick up phone conversations on analog phones. View our models here

Digital phones are mid-priced. The sound quality and reception range will be better than analog phones because they are less susceptible to interference. Normal scanners cannot pick up digital phone signals. View our models here

Digital Spread Spectrum (DSS) phones are higher priced because they have the capability to randomly change frequencies many times during a conversation. Any interference on a particular frequency will trigger the DSS phone to quickly change to a new frequency. DSS phones will have longer range because they are allowed to operate at a higher power. They are least susceptible to eavesdropping because they are digital and they randomly switch frequencies.View our models here


This is the original method of signal transmission that selects the clearest available frequency. The quality of sound may be low and the signal may be more prone to interference than digital phones.

Many cordless phones have LED displays to show the name and number of the phone calling you. This service requires a subscription to the service from your local phone provider at an extra fee. Caller ID also has a memory to store names and numbers of those who called. This convenient feature lets you decide if you want to answer the call and allows you to use the memory feature of Caller ID to return the call, even if they did not leave a message.

Conference Calling is common on multi-line phones which allows you to set up a three way conversation. The volume is often low for the conversations between the two connected callers.

With digital answering, messages are recorded on a computer chip instead of a tape. Digital recording has better sound quality than tape and allows features such as selective message deleting or message skip and repeat.

Phones with this technology broadcast over a number of frequencies and they automatically select the clearest signal.

Digital is more advanced than analog technology and is less prone to interference. It is also more secure because commonly available scanners are not able to listen to digital signals.

When this button is pushed, the user gets a fresh dial tone or can switch between callers if you subscribe to call waiting.

Phones with this feature, allow you to plug in a headset for hands free operation. Cordless phones use headseats with a 2.5 cm plug.

A button on the base causes the handset to beep allowing the handset to be found.

This allows the user to put the caller on hold to answer another phone or the door, etc. This feature is common on multi-line phones, but not on single line phones.

The intercom feature allows you to talk between the base and handset without making a phone call.

Many cordless phones have displays to show information such as Caller ID, number called, call timer, clock, battery charge level, etc. These displays can be on the base, handset or both.

The keypads and displays are internally lighted for operating in the dark.

Some cordless phones allow the use of up to 8 handsets on one base. The handsets can be used as intercoms and they do not have to be plugged into a phone jack. This gives the user more options on where the handsets can be placed. Only the base unit is plugged into a phone jack.

Some cordless phones are designed to work with 2 or more phone lines. You must subscribe to extra phone lines from your phone company.

This feature allows you to temporarily prevent the person on the other phone from hearing you.

This sends a tone signal from the base to the handset. This is helpful if you can not locate the handset.

This feature redials the last number by pushing a single button.

This allows the user to adjust the volume of the ring. The volume options are usually High, Low and Off.

Speakerphones allow the user to have a conversation without picking up the handset. Most cordless phones have the speakerphone in the base, not the handset. If the base does not have buttons, then the phone must be dialed with the handset. Speaker phones are very convenient when waiting on hold.

This is the analog version of DSS and is a bit more secure than traditional analog phones.

This feature allows you to store frequently called numbers in your phone and dial them by pushing only one, two or three buttons. Some phones will display the names and numbers and allow you to scroll through them.