In a mobile age, you might feel you don’t need a cordless phone at all – and the 15% of mobile-only homes would probably agree. But if you want the internet you’ll need a landline, and the free weekend and evening calls bundled in by many providers help make home phones more appealing.
Whether you need all the bells and whistles on some cordless models is another matter. Many add needless expense, so we’ve rounded-up the features you don’t need on your cordless phone so you don’t spend extra needlessly.
1) Text messaging service
Home and mobile phones are different products with different purposes, but manufacturers seem to think the gap between them needs bridging.
Not only do you not need a text messaging service on a home phone, the feature can also be a pain to use and cost more than texting from your mobile.
You have to sign up to your network provider’s ‘Caller Display’ service before you can send texts, but this can carry a subscription fee (depending on your call package). There are other annoyances: text you’re writing will usually disappear if you receive a call.
An SMS service isn’t a common feature but tends to be on more expensive models like the £100 Siemens Gigaset SL785. If this is the only thing swaying you towards a more expensive model, go for the cheaper option.
2) Adjustable display contrast
Most cordless phones have illuminated displays, and if they’re decent quality you shouldn’t need to boost the contrast.
It’s also unlikely you’d ever want to dim the display; looking at a bright computer screen for ages can risk damaging your vision, but you’d rarely look at a cordless phone screen for long.
This feature’s more common on phones with matrix screens, which are higher quality than the 14-segment displays that look like calculator screens.
It’s worth looking out for whether the display and buttons light up as this makes the phone much easier to use in dim (or no) light, but adjustable contrast is a feature you can do without.
3) Polyphonic ringtones
If you like listening to music – as in more than one note at a time – then you might be better off putting the radio on than waiting for your phone to ring. Wide ranges of polyphonic ringtones are at best pointless and at worse very irritating – particularly if you’re listening to someone scrolling through the options.
This is perhaps another symptom of trying to make cordless phones feel more like mobiles. Some cordless phones have around 30 different polyphonic tones to choose from.
While a choice of ringtones is a nice luxury, a small selection of standard monophonic options is all you need. Visit a high street shop to listen to the ringer before you buy; some tones can be annoying, but you can avoid them without paying more for 30 polyphonic options.
4) Voice dialling
Available on Gigaset’s SL565, this isn’t a common feature on cordless phones (for a reason). While voice recognition usefully enables hands-free use in places like the car, you won’t be driving while you make calls on your cordless phone.
It’s great to talk without holding the handset; the beauty of a cordless phone is being able to get on with other things while you talk, so features like a speakerphone on the base station are useful.
But voice dialling is only useful at the start of a call, and you’d rarely decide to ring someone without being able to use your hands. In many cases you’d need to press the ‘on’ button first anyway, and if speed dialling’s available (which it usually is on modern cordless phones), you only need to press one more button to call a stored or emergency number.
Come across any other pointless features on your cordless phone? Post your comments and share your thoughts.