The best answering machine

Office Supplies

The first answering machine dates all the way back to 1935, but it was a three-foot-tall machine, so it wasn’t a practical device. Answering machines weren’t marketed to the general public in the United States until 1960.

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Which answering machines are best?

Talk to the younger generation today, and they might not even know what an answering machine even is, but this device isn’t obsolete quite yet. If you have a landline at home or use one for your business, you could benefit from an answering machine. 

Technology has changed over the years. There are a lot of new features in modern answering machines. The right answering machine for you will depend on your specific needs, but a top pick is the AT&T Corded/Cordless Phone System With Answering Machine because it’s convenient and ideal for everyday use. 

What to know before you buy an answering machine

Standalone answering machines

These are the type of answering machines that don’t have a telephone built-in, so if you already have a landline phone you use — either a corded phone or cordless phone — you may want to purchase a standalone answering machine. The benefit tends to be more storage capacity and more features. Since they are two separate machines, you don’t need your phone to listen to the messages.

Built-in answering machines 

Think of these as an answering machine and phone combo that comes as one unit. This option can save you the trouble of having to purchase two separate devices. Some models come with multiple handsets, so the same machine can work for multiple phones.

What to look for when buying an answering machine

Storage capacity

Most digital answering machines can record and save 20 minutes’ worth of messages. If you are a frequent traveler and away for longer periods of time, you might want to look into an answering machine with more message storage capacity. 

Individual message time

Some answering machines have a limit on how long each caller can leave an individual message. Take this into consideration when selecting a device. 

Volume Control

It’s important to hear messages clearly, so you want a volume control on your answering machine to fit your specific needs.


Many answering machines will have a digital display screen that indicates your message status without you having to check using the phone. Make sure you select a model that is easy to view and provides you with all the information you need. 

Playback speed

Nothing is worse than someone leaving an indecipherable message, which is why some machines have different playback speeds that allow you to slow down or speed up a message to better understand what a caller has said. 

How much you can expect to spend on an answering machine?

The price of answering machines can vary greatly depending on the features. Basic models can cost between $15-$30, and these work very well if you only expect to get the occasional message. Built-in answering machines and devices with more features, storage capacity and headsets can cost as much as $250. These are the models best suited for an office or a business. 

Answering machine FAQ 

Will my answering machine allow me to screen calls?

A. The ability to screen calls is a common feature on most answering machines. If you’re home and see a number you want to answer, you can usually just pick up a call mid-message. Just keep in mind that some of the lower-priced models may not have this feature.

Am I able to record active calls with my answering machine? 

A. No. Once you pick up the phone, the recording feature will turn off and connect you directly to the caller.

What’s the best answering machine to buy?

Top answering machine

AT&T Corded/Cordless Phone System With Answering Machine

AT&T Corded/Cordless Phone System With Answering Machine
What you need to know: A perfect system for an office or small business, this is loaded with multi-phone capabilities and great features.

What you’ll love: This phone and answering machine combo features caller ID, high-quality sound and a clear display screen. The directory can store up to 50 names and numbers, has 14 minutes of storage time and is expandable up to 12 handsets. 

What you should consider: This is a more expensive model because of the features, so it might not be the best selection if you’re looking for a simple answering machine to use at home. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top answering machine for the money

VTech DECT 6.0 Cordless Phone with Answering System

VTech DECT 6.0 Cordless Phone with Answering System
What you need to know: What it lacks in bells and whistles, it makes up for when it comes to quality and basic functions, while still available for a budget-friendly price.

What you’ll love: This answering system is simple to set up and use. Since it’s small, you can easily find a place for it in the house. Backed with 14 minutes of recording time, this system comes available with a cordless phone with a caller ID.

What you should consider: The answering machine works well, but some customers reported issues with the sound on the phone.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Motorola Corded Telephone with Answering Machine Machine

Motorola Corded Telephone with Answering Machine Machine
What you need to know: Corded phones with answering machines tend to be the most difficult to hunt down, but if that’s what you’re looking for, this might be your best bet. 

What you’ll love: This allows you to record up to 30 minutes of messages and has the ability to block up to 1000 calls, so you don’t have to worry about getting spam.

What you should consider: This system can be a little more difficult to set up, so be sure to keep your user manual handy.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


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Ryan Dempsey writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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