Landline Telephones Vs. Cell Phones

By Tom Ianello

An example of a rotary landline telephone.
i Hemera Technologies/ Images

Ever since Alexander Graham Bell patented the telephone in 1876, it has become a major tool in connecting people all over the globe. Telephones connected by a physical landline were standard until the end of the 20th century, when cellular phones began to make an appearance. While they both perform the same basic functions, there are significant differences between landline telephones and cell phones.

Landline Telephones

A landline telephone involves a phone that has a wired connection to the telecommunications grid by way of utility lines. These types of phones can either be corded or cordless. Cordless phones use a battery-operated phone and a base station that acts as a charger and connectivity point for the cordless unit. Corded phones, unlike cordless phones, do not require an external power source in order to place calls, making them ideal for power outages.

Cell Phones

A cell phone works by sending and receiving microwave frequency signals over a wireless cellular network. Unlike a landline phone, which must remain tethered to a telephone line, a cell phone can be used anywhere within range of a microwave telecommunications tower, making them useful for emergency usage and for staying in contact with friends and family wherever you are. Cell phones are more popular than landline phones because of their mobility and advanced functionality.

Hybrid Phone Systems

Some types of cell phones and voice services allow you to forward calls made to your cell phone directly to your landline phone service, and vice versa. This type of functionality gives you the best of both worlds, something that is especially useful if you have poor cell phone reception at home but still want to receive calls on that number, or are away from home and still want to receive calls made to your landline phone.


When deciding between a cell phone or landline phone, evaluate your typical phone usage. Cell phone plans usually have a limited number of allocated minutes for calls, while most landline telephone plans include unlimited minutes at a much lower rate. Also, you should take network coverage into consideration when deciding because you may not have good enough reception in your home to use a cell phone as a primary phone without dealing with poor call quality or dropped calls.