The cellular phone and cordless phone both share a common ancestry. They both served to allow humankind to get up and move while talking on the phone, and both were developed in the 1970s. From that point, however, the two have evolved perpendicularly, each finding a niche in the domestic market. The main difference is that cordless phones use standard telephone lines to transmit signals, while cell phones use a cellular radio network.
Cellular or mobile phones were invented to be used outside the home, and as such, companies that provide service to them divide their service area into "cells," with each containing its own tower. That way, calls can travel easily through a cell, or from cell to cell if necessary, sometimes traveling great distances to reach their destinations. Cordless phones, provide a smaller range of mobility, and most customers can only get a clear phone call within a range of about 328 to 656 feet (100 to 200 meters) of the base. Since cordless phones are typically used close to home anyway, this limitation is usually not a concern.
The available features of the cellular phone and cordless phone differ as well. Cell phones, which have become the new virtual assistant for many people, often offer users the ability to send text messages, record video and music, surf the Internet, and check their e-mail, all while traveling in between work and school. Cordless phones, since they are connected to a landline telephone system, don't offer much more than standard phone features, such as caller ID, call forwarding, and speed dialing. As cordless phones attempt to compete with other portable communicators, manufacturers are adding voicemail and other answering services, and some newer model phones also provide paging and intercom services.
It may seem that technology favors the cell phone over the practical uses of the modern cordless phone, but as different styles of phones compete for consumer attention, manufacturers continue to widen the scope of use. Mobile phones clearly reign supreme in regards to "extras," they are also typically more expensive — both in terms of the phone itself, when not subsidized by the service provider, and the cost of monthly service. They can also be more easily stolen or lost.