Do Cordless Phones Need a Phone Jack?

Cordless phones are the new face of landline telephones for homes. While you’d imagine the prevalence of mobile phones should lead to phasing out of these traditional home phones, they remain a popular sight in many households.

The only difference is they are now cordless, so you do not have to remain tethered to a specific spot to take or make a call.

Since these phones provide a wireless user experience yet remain confined to household usage, many wonder how they work. For instance, do cordless phones need a phone jack?

This article answers this question and offers the details you need to know about cordless phones and their working.

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Do cordless phones need a phone jack?

Yes. Despite providing the user a wireless experience, these cordless handsets still require a phone jack on their base units. The base must be connected to the phone line by a cable, which must be plugged in at the mains. 

These two cables are crucial for the telephone’s working. Without them, the cordless phone handset will not work.

Despite technological advances, cordless phones have remained largely the same, and none can operate without this cable connectivity.

However, the continued advancements in wireless technology may make cordless phones completely cordless at some point, but that remains a future possibility, not a current reality. Furthermore, it seems unlikely there is any real need for such devices, given that we already have mobile phones.

How do cordless phones work?

Understanding how cordless phones work can put to rest many questions people have about these handsets.

Each cordless phone has a base unit connected to the mains through cables and a landline phone connection.

The cordless handset uses a specific radio frequency to connect to its base unit, which, in turn, transmits the telephone signals through its system of cables.

In this regard, the cordless phone combines telephone and radio receiver/transmitter in one efficient unit.

When not in use, you typically place the handset in its cradle in the base unit that charges its battery. In some models, the base can also record phone messages when no one is home to answer the phone.

Unlike mobile phones that rely on network signals to transmit and receive calls, cordless handsets can receive calls anywhere on your property. All it requires is to be within range of the base unit.

This makes cordless phones highly advantageous in places with poor reception. They can provide superior voice quality with clear reception, whereas mobile phones would struggle with the reception and audio quality.

Components of a cordless phone

Cordless phones have two main components that you need to know about: the base unit and the handset.

The base

This is the component that receives incoming call signals and transmits outgoing signals. The signals come in electrical form through the phone line and convert to radio signals. The base then broadcasts the converted signal to enable communication to take place.

The unit is attached to the telephone jack on the wall through a standard phone cable connection.

Inside is a phone line interface that sends and receives telephone signals through the telephone line, and radio components amplify signals to and from the phone line interface.

The base unit also has a speakerphone and user controls. The speaker receives, and broadcasts FM radio signals to and from the handset.

It also features power components that supply low-voltage power to the circuits and recharge the battery inside the handset.

The handset

This is the cordless phone you hold and use to speak to your callers. It receives the radio signal from the base unit and converts it to an electrical signal before sending it to the speaker. Once the signal reaches the speaker, it changes into the sound you hear.

The handset also receives sound signals from your speech and broadcasts them to the base unit as a second FM radio signal.

Once the base receives the radio signal from your voice, it converts it to an electrical signal and sends it to the other party through the phone line.

Transmission and reception of signals occur simultaneously in the base and handset because they operate on a duplex frequency. This is a frequency pair that supports talking and listening at the same time.

Do cordless phones need to be plugged in?

Cordless phones comprise two main components: one that must be plugged in and another that does not need to be plugged in.

The cordless handset does not necessarily need to be plugged in. It typically has a rechargeable battery that receives charge from the base station whenever it is not used and docked in the base unit.

However, the base unit must be plugged in for it to work. Otherwise, it will not have the power to transmit and receive telephone signals. As such, it will not operate.

Additionally, you must ensure the base is plugged into your landline to receive and make calls from your home network. The base station will also act as your answering machine if you have that option set up.

If your cordless phone is VoIP enabled and you wish to make VoIP calls, you may also need to plug it into your home internet using an Ethernet cable.

In all cases, the base unit is the only part of your telephone set up to plug into all these services. From there, your handset will receive the signals it needs to operate from this unit without requiring any plugging itself.

Check to ensure you use the handset for the amount of time it can last before needing to be placed in the dock. Most models typically specify how long the handset can last outside its dock in the base station.

If you have a multi-handset setup for your digital enhanced cordless telecommunications (DECT) phones, you will require only one base unit for all your handsets.

However, such multi-handset setups are rare. Most households usually just use the single-handset cordless phone setup.

Can you leave a cordless phone on charge?

A cordless phone is typically charged from its dock in the base station. Leaving these phones in their docks is highly recommended as it ensures the battery in the handset stays full.

Staying full can be an excellent way to prolong the battery’s service life as it prevents it from getting run down. When the battery frequently gets run down, it will deteriorate over time—and this time can vary depending on how often it gets run down.

Keeping the phone plugged into its charger means it does not run out of charge more often than it should. Frequent charging and draining can significantly affect your phone battery’s service life.

Cordless phone buying guide

Advances in telephone technology keep bringing new, useful features into cordless phones. Like other communication devices, cordless phones come in various styles, with different capabilities from one model to another.

With such a variety of features, you can be spoilt for choice. Thankfully, knowing what to look for can simplify your work.

Here is some help on what to consider when shopping for cordless phones.

Consider the frequency

Your phone’s frequency directly influences the quality of your calls. Buying a telephone that transmits signals at a high frequency is recommended because the higher frequency equals a better user experience.

It gives your phone a greater range and better sound quality than phones operating at lower frequencies.

Presence and quality of a speakerphone

Putting a caller on speakerphone can allow you to continue the conversation while doing something else. This ability to multitask can be useful in several instances, making it essential.

Since most homes have only one telephone, the speakerphone can come in handy when you want everyone around to listen to the conversation.

You just need to hit a button to enjoy a hands-free experience or bring everyone into the conversation.

Think about the batteries.

The phone’s batteries can make or break your call experience. Some batteries last only a short while before requiring recharge while taking much longer with a single charge.

When buying a telephone, consider choosing one with a longer-lasting battery. It can save you the trouble of ending a conversation prematurely to get the handset recharged.

Consider headsets

If you like personalizing your phone calls, headsets can help facilitate that experience. Instead of picking the handset to walk around with, you can simply have the conversation on your ears and headsets and enjoy a hands-free, personalized telephone conversation.

Often, you will have the option to choose between behind-the-head or over-the-ear styles for your headsets.

Consider the caller ID feature.

You want to check to ensure the call you buy will show you the caller information. This allows you to know who is calling before you answer. With this feature, you can easily stop an unwanted call.

A good cordless phone will simplify your work further with a display that shows the name and number of the caller, plus the time and date of all calls.

Today, you can find an option with Caller ID Announce, a feature whereby the handset and base unit announce the caller’s name so you do not have to read the display to find out who is calling.

Such advanced features are only available with some phones and models, so you may want to remember them when shopping for a phone.

Frequently Asked Questions -FAQs

What is considered a landline?

A landline telephone, also called a landline, home phone, mainline, wireline, or fixed-line, is a phone that uses a metallic cable or optical fiber telephone line to transmit communication signals as opposed to mobile cellular lines that use radio waves for transmission.

How can you tell if a number is a landline or cell phone?

Using a validator is one of the easiest ways to check if a phone number is from a landline or mobile phone. A validator is a tool capable of checking a phone number’s validity.

Depending on the specific features of the phone number validator, you can use it to send a live ping to the number to confirm if the number is in service.

Phone validators are a free online tool that uses the area code, prefix, and the first number of the last four digits of a phone number to determine whether it is a landline or cell phone. Once you have entered the number, click the search button and wait for the results.

Can a landline be traced?

Yes, a call from a landline can be tracked and traced if necessary. The telephone carrier always knows when someone places a call from a landline and can track and trace its origin if needed.

Is a landline better in an emergency?

A good old-fashioned landline telephone is regarded as the most reliable method of communication in an emergency. Storms can always knock out power, affecting cell towers and high-speed internet connections.

In contrast, landlines use cables to send and receive telephone signals and do not rely on cell towers.

Can you text with a landline phone?

You can use the Text to Landline service to send text messages to a cordless landline telephone and similar phones that use fixed wire connections.

The service converts the messages from text to voice messages. The service is available in the United States, with most White Pages listing phone numbers.

A video showing how to wire a home phone jack


While mobile phones have become ubiquitous and an essential part of human existence today, cordless phones remain kings of extended coverage, better reception, and crisp sound quality.

If you are considering buying a cordless phone for your home, we hope this article helps you approach the decision better.

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