If you’re experiencing hearing loss for the first time or have lived with hearing impairments for a while, you know the frustration of trying to have a productive phone conversation. It’s hard to make out what people are saying, leaving you guessing or asking them to repeat themselves.
Fortunately, there are many phones that seek to remedy these issues for people with hearing impairments. Check out our guide to the best amplified phones to learn more about them and see our top picks!
What is an Amplified Phone?
These phones are designed to help the millions of people who have hearing impairments talk with people over the phone more efficiently, without having to constantly ask people to repeat themselves. They also help people with hearing impairments answer the phone more reliably; not being able to hear the phone ring is a major source of frustration that these phones eliminate.
When you have a hearing impairment, things such as a simple check-in with family can become frustrating and discouraging tasks. Amplified phones make it easier to hear, no matter whether or not you use hearing aids or a personal sound amplifier. These phones are intended to make communication just as simple for people with hearing loss as it was when they still had all their hearing.
How Does an Amplified Phone Work?
Amplified phones look and behave much like standard phones, only louder. Many amplified phones are designed as what the FDA considers “assisted listening devices” and are therefore louder than what standard regulations allow. Today, all phones are also required by the FCC to be compatible with prescription hearing aids, meaning they have a minimum HAC (hearing aid compatibility rating) of M3/T3.
This rating describes, on a scale from 1-4, how well a phone works with hearing aids in both microphone (M-rating) and telecoil (T-rating) modes. M4 and T4 are the best ratings, meaning the phone goes above and beyond to accommodate people who have hearing impairments. If you wear a hearing aid that has a telecoil (about 60% of hearing aids have them), getting an amplified phone with a T4 rating will cut down on noise and signal interference. Also, each phone on our list has an M4/T4 rating, the best overall rating, so you know they are very likely to work for you!
Amplified phones typically include an adjustable volume boost, increasing the phone’s volume by up to 60 decibels. Other models have voice-clarifying features that emphasize the sound of the human voice over background sounds, making it easier to understand what is being said. Finally, amplified phones may also have an extra-loud ringer and (and sometimes, they’re accompanied by flashing lights) that make it easier for people with hearing loss to know when they’ve got an incoming call.
Best Amplified Phones: 9 Top Models
1. Best Amplified Phone (Overall): VTech SN5127 Amplified Phone
This cordless phone has a 50-decibel boost that you can adjust up or down, simply by pressing a button on the side of the handset. It also features a 90-decibel ringer with a light, so you’ll never miss an incoming call again.
The vocal boost on the SN5127 also emphasizes the human voices and reduces background noise, further clarifying the sounds. If you’re ready to start having productive, engaging phone conversations again, this is the amplified phone for you.
One last feature that is worth mentioning is the expansive blocked caller list. Spam calls aren’t going away any time soon, and this phone allows you to block up to 1,000 phone numbers, ensuring that repeat telemarketing calls and spammers won’t be able to call you any time of day!
2. Best Amplified Cordless Phone with Answering Machine: Panasonic Amplified Cordless Phone
This phone has a 40-decibel adjustable audio boost and 6 different tone adjustment settings, helping you to get the exact volume and tone that your ears need. It also has a red light on the handset that flashes when you’re getting a call. These features, combined with Panasonic’s reputation for making durable, high-quality electronics, make it an excellent choice for anyone with a hearing impairment.
One unique feature of this amplified phone is the “slow talk” feature, which slows down people’s voices in real-time, giving you a better chance to hear what they’re saying without asking them to repeat themselves. It’s a phone that was designed top-to-bottom to help people with hearing impairments communicate effectively and efficiently- what more could you ask for?
3. Best Amplified Phone with Speakerphone: Clarity XLC3.4 Amplified Cordless Phone
This phone amplifies voices by up to 50 decibels, has a ringer that can reach volumes of up to 95 decibels, and even boosts the sound of your own voice to help people on the other end understand you better! The only thing it is missing is an answering machine, but you can pick one up for a very low price.
This is one of the few phones where the quality of the speakerphone matches that of the handset. If you like to talk hands-free or have a medical issue that makes holding a phone for extended time periods difficult, this is the amplified cordless phone for you.
4. Best Amplified Phone with Speed Dial: Clarity P300 Amplified Photo Phone
Speed dial is one of those simple luxuries that many of us forget to appreciate. Not so with this phone. The P300 gives you 9 individual buttons that you can assign phone numbers to, and even attach a small photo so that you never forget who is on your speed dial and where! It’s a simple phone that makes it very easy for people with memory issues to keep their important contacts in order.
This phone has only 20 decibels of amplification, so it’s best used by people with light-moderate hearing loss. If you have a hearing impairment that is more on the severe side of the spectrum, you may find that the amplification on this phone is too weak to be effective.
On the plus side, the P300 does have a “clarity power” control, letting you get a clearer sense of each phone call by tuning out background noise and tuning up the sound of human voices. This feature makes up for what the Clarity P300 lacks in amplification power.
5. Amplified Phone with Loudest Ringer: Clarity Alto Amplified Phone
This corded phone has the loudest and most effective ringer on the market- a top volume of 100 decibels and a bright flashing light ensure that no incoming call goes unnoticed. Beyond that, the Alto offers 53 decibels of amplification, controlled by a large knob on the receiver. The amplification is very easy to adjust, so you can dial it up and down from moment to moment as needed.
The Alto doesn’t have a caller ID or a blocked number list, and people looking for these features may want to consider other options. For anyone who needs high volume amplification and an extremely loud ringer, though, the Clarity Alto is the way to go.
6. Best Simple Amplified Phone: Clarity XLC2 Amplified Cordless Phone
This phone is very similar to other cordless amplified phones from Clarity: 50 decibels of amplification, a loud ringer, and oversized buttons. This means that, even without the features we’re about to discuss, it’s a good option for anyone who has a hearing impairment.
The XLC2 uses digital clarity technology to automatically adjust the sounds coming into your phone and make them easier to hear and understand. Rather than continually adjusting the tone control, this phone does the work for you. It’s simple, effective, and easy to use- everything seniors with hearing impairments need, and nothing they don’t.
7. Best Amplified Telephone Ringer: Clarity SR100 Amplified Telephone Ringer
First things first: this is a ringer that attaches to your landline, not a landline by itself. As long as you don’t make that mistake, the value of this product becomes clear. If you have a hard time hearing your phone when it rings, this 95-decibel ringer is a quick and effective fix.
You can even place it somewhere else in the house, connected to the phone jack in the wall, making it easy to hear the phone ring no matter where in the house you are. Purchasing 2-3 of these ringers will ensure that not one square foot of your home is outside your range of hearing!
8. Best Amplified Phone for Hearing and Visual Impairments: Clarity JV35B Amplified Corded Telephone
This phone not only includes features for the hard of hearing; it also has features that are ideal for people with visual impairments! With ultra-large buttons that feature Braille markings, this amplified phone is ideal for anyone struggling to see as well as hear.
The hearing benefits of the phone are similar to other Clarity phone models: 50 decibels of adjustable amplification, tone control, and a simple button layout. It also includes three different “emergency quick-dial” buttons: one for the fire department, one for medical emergencies, and one for safety emergencies. This phone is incredibly valuable to anyone who lives alone and struggles with hearing/sight impairments!
9. Best Trimline Phone: Clarity C200 Amplified Corded Phone
Trimline phones are slim, sleek, and uncomplicated. This phone is much the same: a slim, stylish phone that’ll help anyone with a hearing impairment speak with friends, family, and others over the phone without issue. Instead of a large receiver with a button pad and answering machine, all the buttons on this phone are in the handset itself.
While you won’t be able to enjoy the large buttons, caller ID, and digital screens that other phones offer, you will be able to save a lot of money on this phone and still get a device that helps you hear. The best application of the C200 is not as a standalone phone; rather, it’s best used as an additional phone in your house, with a Caller ID and answering machine-enabled phone as your primary device.
If you need an inexpensive and effective phone to put in your bedroom, office, or family room as a complement to your primary landline set, the C200 is the perfect choice. It’s cheap, easy to use, and just as effective for hearing impairments as other phones!
Buying Guide: How to Find the Right Amplified Phone
Where to Buy Amplified Phones
This may seem obvious, but, just as with many other products, Amazon has an unparalleled selection of amplified phones. No matter what your budget is, there is a phone here that can fit your budget and meet your needs. Amazon is also famous for its fast delivery times, and they are generally lenient with returns and exchanges, making it a great place to shop!
In-Store: Best Buy
Your local Wal-Mart or Target might have a few options, but you have a higher chance of success by looking for an amplified phone at one of Best Buy’s stores. The best part about shopping here is the expert advice you can receive. If you have questions about a product or need help with setup, Best Buy’s trained staff should be able to assist you!
Tips for Buying the Best Amplified Phone for Your Needs
Each of the amplified phones on our list has its own strengths, but they all have one thing in common: they might be exactly what you need to get back to a normal routine with your phone. They make communicating with other people much simpler and more efficient, restoring your ability to talk on the phone without hassle. Have any questions about one of our featured phones, or advice for other readers? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below!