Telephones buying guide

If you're looking for a phone that will look perfect in your home or office, or looking for some extra functions, this guide will advise you on what to look out for when buying a telephone.

Types of telephones

  • Corded telephones

    The traditional phones that have a cord connecting the handset to the receiver have a major advantage over their cordless counterparts. In the event of a power cut, these phones will continue to work whereas cordless phones will shut down, making them a potential lifesaver. This makes a corded telephone a good idea to keep around in case of emergencies.

  • Cordless digital telephones

    Offering greater freedom to walk around while you talk, a cordless digital telephone means you won't have to stay in one place for the duration of your call. Cordless phones are available with up to four handsets in the box, all working off a single telephone socket.

Features to look out for

  • Answering machine: Some telephones are now available with a built-in answering machine function, allowing access with the press of a button.

  • Hands-free and conferencing: Allowing you to hold a conversation without having to hold the phone, telephones with a hands-free function enable other people to then join in the call via the speaker.

  • Design and functionality: Telephones designed for the partially sighted have bigger buttons for ease of use, and others are hearing-aid compatible.

  • Name and number memory: This feature allows you to store important phone numbers in the built-in memory, preventing searching through phone books or accidental misdials. Pressing a couple of buttons will bring up the name and number of the person you wish to call.

  • Last number redial: Pressing the redial button will call back the number you last called, meaning there is no need to enter the full phone number again.

  • Caller display: See who's calling you before you pick the phone up; caller display means as soon as the phone rings, the caller's number will appear on the LCD screen, giving you the choice of whether to answer or not. This is a subscription service and your network provider may charge for these services.

  • Call log: A call log will keep track of your incoming and outgoing calls for you.

  • Ringtones: Many phones now allow you to choose your own ringtone from a selection provided.

  • Remote access: Keeping track of any missed calls while you're out is simple with this feature. Call home, type in the security code and your answering machine will play your messages to you.

  • Talk and standby time: Like mobile phones, cordless telephones also run off a battery, so it's helpful to have an indication as to how long the battery will last in between charges. Talk time refers to the amount of time you can spend on the phone before the battery runs out, while standby refers to the length of time you can leave the phone off charge and not in use. As the base unit charges the phone's battery, it's a good idea to put the phone back after use.