The 10 Best Corded Phones

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This wiki has been updated 29 times since it was first published in December of 2015. If you prefer having something more substantial than a smartphone to hold while you chat, or if you just don't have cellular service, one of these old-fashioned corded phones may be the perfect solution for you. They will keep you connected with colleagues, clients, friends, and family, even if you're technologically-impaired, the power goes out, or the local cell towers fail. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.

1. AT&T 210M

2. TelPal Lips

3. EC Vision Old Fashion

Editor's Notes

January 22, 2021:

A traditional corded phone doesn't require a power supply, making them a good back up option during power outages, and especially useful in an emergency situation, as they will also provide the emergency services with your exact location. They are also useful for seniors who perhaps find a mobile phone too small or difficult to use easily.

In this update, we added the Future Call FC-1007, which, although similar in design to the Geemarc Ultra with its extra-large buttons and loud ring tone, offers an even simpler method of dialing with one-inch pictures on each memory button, making it a good choice for aging relatives or ones with cognitive impairment. The AT&T CL2940 and the Panasonic System are also suitable for seniors, thanks to their large screens that show the incoming caller's ID.

January 03, 2020:

If you're paying for a landline, you may as well invest in a quality corded phone that complements your decor and can stand up to hours-long chats with family and friends. In this list, we've included options that feature funky designs in addition to models crafted for the elderly and those who are hard of hearing and/or vision impaired. You'll notice several entries with larger-than-average, easy-to-read buttons, along with clear digital caller ID displays and other similarly useful features. Unlike some old school corded phones, many of these have enough memory to save dozens of numbers for your convenience.

The Emerson EM300WH Big Button and Polycom VVX-310 have been removed due to issues concerning sound quality and reliability. By contrast, the EC Vision Rotary and TelPal Lips are new additions to the list, and they've been awarded the second and third spots. These two were chosen for their playful, yet intuitive designs. If none of the aforementioned models speak to you, there are, of course, plenty of cordless phones out there to choose from.

Special Honors

Clarity C200 This no-frills option has a large visual ring indicator that makes it easier for older individuals and those who are hard of hearing to tell when a call is coming in. It has a backlit keypad for additional convenience and is also quite reasonably priced.

Crosley 302 Folks who prefer a more old-school appearance may be interested in this cherry-red, wall-mounted model. It has a classic mid-century shape and a rotary dial that glides smoothly with every spin. It's available in black, too, if you're looking for something more understated.

AT&T TR1909 Trimline Social butterflies, rejoice! The TR1909 has enough memory to store 50 phone numbers, so you can finally get rid of that old phone book. It has a simple, low-profile shape and an easy-to-read digital caller ID display.

4. Panasonic System

5. AT&T CL2940

6. Future Call FC-1007

7. Wild and Wolf Retro

8. Geemarc Ultra

9. Crosley CR59-PI

10. Cortelco 2500

Two Cans And A String

One of the coolest things about corded telephones is that they can work on next to no power.

One of the coolest things about corded telephones is that they can work on next to no power. It's such a small amount of power, in fact, that it's supplied to you by your phone company.

Do they bill you for it? Probably, but their systems have so many battery generated fail safes that in the event that the power went out for days in your neighborhood, you'd still be able to reach out and touch someone.

This is all related to the fact that a telephone is an utterly simple device. Without over-simplifying it, it really is just two cans and a string.

Modern phones have incorporated everything from caller ID to video conferencing technologies, and the line between these older corded designs and the more futuristic applications is daily blurring.

But a phone still takes your voice, translates its vibration into a digital signal, sends it across a long stretch of copper wire (adult string), and translates it back into vibration through a small speaker.

These Are The Phones Of The 1990s

I am what you might call an early millennial. Some people define members of Generation X as kids born from the loins of baby boomers, and I technically fit that description, as well.

I guess you could say that I'm on the cusp.

That means that, unlike the stereotypical millennial, I spent most of my childhood playing outside, allowed to roam the town and the parks without a cellular leash tied around my neck.

So, I have fond and storied memories of my youth and teen years spent talking on corded phones.

When I finally did get a cell phone, it was in conjunction with the acquisition of my driver's license. That way, if I ran into trouble on the road, I could more easily seek help.

So, I have fond and storied memories of my youth and teen years spent talking on corded phones.

The first phone I remember growing up with was an old orange rotary phone in the shape of a propeller driven airplane. Its numbers and rotary dial were built into where the propeller would turn.

And, of course, I became a master at picking up the handset without being heard when my sister was already on the phone (sometimes with boys!). I was that kind of awesome brother. Such eavesdropping is impossible with the state of modern technology. Unless you're the NSA, that is.

It's that kind of memorable physical interaction with the world that I fear is disappearing from the lives of the next generation, as the consolidation of services for entertainment and communication reduces the variety of ways in which we experience life.

Grabbing one of these corded phones for your home isn't just about clinging to older technologies or riding the wave of a fad; it's about experiencing and investing in a mode of communication that will sorely be missed once it's gone for good.

Phoning It In For Over A Century

While it's assumed that the lover's telephone, made by stretching a length of string taut between two tin cans, dates back even further, the first known example of it comes to us from a British physicist in 1667.

It took more than 200 years from that time for the telephone as we know it today to be developed. Let that sink in for a moment: 200 years.

200 year ago today, James Madison was the president of the United States.

200 year ago today, James Madison was the president of the United States. That year–1816–was known for the Summer that never was, an agricultural disaster that resulted in great poverty and hunger.

What I'm getting at is that a lot has changed in 200 years, and even more will change in the next 200. Yet, somewhere nestled among all that change there came about this method of communication that laid the groundwork for the revolution of the Internet, which is liable to be remembered as a great turning point for our species.

Could Alexander Graham Bell have foreseen any of this when he first spoke those famous words to his assistant? -- "Mr. Watson–come here–I want to see you."

Well, in 1906 he also said, "The day will come when the man at the telephone will be able to see the distant person to whom he is speaking."

Not bad, Alex. Not bad at all.

Chris Gillespie
Last updated by Chris Gillespie

Starting his career in the building industry, Chris built and managed a plumbing and heating company in northern England. After 13 years, seeking a more fulfilling lifestyle, he moved to southeast Asia, eventually settling in Vietnam, where he teaches writing and comprehension at a number of international universities. Drawing on his previous experience, and his passion for kitesurfing and windsurfing, Chris is knowledgeable in all things water related both recreationally and within the construction industry.

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