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The BAOFENG UV-5R was released in 2012 as a dual-band radio that was marketed as a low-cost alternative compared to its competitors.
We tested it out to see how well it would perform in different terrain as well as different weather conditions.
In this post, we’ll highlight what this radio excels at and what it lacks. We’ll also provide some alternatives for you to choose from.
This radio can be utilized at three different power output levels and is also easily programmable. Even at lower power levels, we found its performance to be very impressive. You also get a variety of accessories with this radio as well to make its operation even more streamlined.
Quick Summary of the Main Product
With a large dual-band LCD display and a straightforward button layout, we found this two-way radio to be super easy to use. The buttons are very responsive and feel nice to press. Furthermore, we hardly ever noticed any delays or mis-inputs. It’s highly accurate.
For such a low-cost radio, we were surprised to see how easily programmable it is with a PC and any programming cable. It boasts a memory bank of 128 channels which means it’s great for people that work with a ton of different bands.
It’s highly sturdy while being portable at the same time.
This boosts its versatility by quite a bit since you can use it as a camping radio, a marine radio, and more.
Features and Benefits
High and Low Power Setting
The radio features two different power modes that it can operate at. The high-power setting allows the radio to operate at 4 watts while the low-power setting allows it to operate at 1 watts.
|Important note: The legal limit for power output for FRS is 0.5 watts. |
Hence, if you want to use this two-way radio, you’ll need a technician’s license.
The low-power setting can be utilized to save battery in emergency situations and the high-power setting can be utilized to communicate over longer distances.
Large Dual-Band LCD Display
We really appreciate the large LCD display that this two-way radio comes equipped with.
It allows two bands to be displayed on the screen which indicates the two channels that the radio is currently connected to.
The font can be customized to ensure that you can read it no matter what the external lighting conditions are. Speaking of lighting conditions…
Tri-Color Selectable Background Light
You can program the background light to be many different colors according to whatever your preference is.
This may seem like a trivial feature but it can actually be extremely useful in certain circumstances.
When testing this two-way radio in different conditions, we found that changing the background light made the font more legible in certain scenarios.
Built-in LED Flashlight
The two-way radio comes equipped with a built-in LED flashlight that you can use whenever you want.
This can be very useful during power outages and other emergency situations. It’s also a great thing to have on you when you go camping at night.
Factors to Consider Before you Decide to Buy the BAOFENG UV-5R
Range and Reception
The reception and sound quality of this particular radio are incredibly impressive. We experienced little to no static noise while testing it under a variety of different conditions with different radio signals.
Furthermore, the range is fairly impressive as well since it can receive and transmit signals up to 5 miles on its high-power setting.
Ease of Use
This radio is super straightforward to use with the button layout being as self-explanatory as possible. The user interface is also quite intuitive to use with all of the popular functions being easily accessible.
It’s a great radio to go for if you’re just starting out as a licensed ham radio operator.
The radio is fairly sturdy and the exterior ensures that it stays protected from minor drops and impacts.
However, it’s important to note that the radio is not water-resistant. Hence, if you intend to use it as a marine radio or in a rainy environment, then you’ll need to keep it protected.
The battery life is extremely impressive with it lasting up to 24 hours even on the highest power setting.
If you buy the extended battery accessory, this can be pushed even higher.
The product is quite lightweight and also small in size. Hence, you can easily fit it into your pocket and move about with ease.
Pros and Cons
- Incredible reception quality
- Can be programmed
- Simple to use
- High and low power modes
- Not waterproof
We wanted to check out what other users thought of the BAOFENG UV-5R so we decided to check out some Amazon user reviews for it.
Most people are just in love with how many features it provides them, despite being so cheap compared to most of its competitors.
Here’s what some reviews had to say:
Check out the complete tested review of BAOFENG BF-F8HP.
Similar to the BAOFENG UV-5R (Recommendations)
#1: Best Easily Programmable Alternative – BAOFENG UV-82HP Review
With three different power output level settings, this radio can be used for a multitude of purposes.
If you want to save power and extend its battery life while working at smaller distances, you can use its low-power mode (1 watt). If you want to communicate over longer distances, you can switch to higher power modes (4 watts or 7 watts) however, this will drain the battery more.
During our testing, we found that while the battery did drain faster on higher output levels, it still wasn’t drastic enough to be considered too much of a disadvantage.
The radio also comes with a privacy setting that ensures no one else can listen in on your transmission without the appropriate code.
Furthermore, you get a wide range of accessories alongside the radio as well that help makes its operation easier. These accessories include
- A dual-band antenna
- A CH-8 charger
- A 110-V adapter
- An earpiece kit
- A wrist strap
- A belt clip
- An instruction manual
Factors to Consider Before you Decide to Buy BAOFENG UV-82HP
Range and reception: The radio has exceptional reception quality and is able to communicate up to 6 miles away on its highest power output setting.
Ease of use: All of its functions are easy to use and you’ll only need to sift through the instruction manual for 5 minutes to get acquainted with all of its features.
Sturdiness: The radio comes with a fairly durable exterior that can withstand most harsh weather conditions. That being said, it’s not fully waterproof so you should definitely keep it safe from moisture.
- Three different power output modes
- Easy to program
- Great build quality
- Not waterproof
Best Easily Programmable Alternative
The best easily programmable alternative is the BAOFENG UV-82HP thanks to its user-friendliness, simple interface, and durability.
#2: Best Rugged Alternative – BAOFENG UV-82C Review
The BAOFENG UV-82C really impressed us with how well it was able to transmit and receive signals in different terrains. We expected it not to work as well as in the city but it performed surprisingly well compared to its competitors.
Not only were we able to receive crystal-clear audio in the city, but we were also able to achieve the same performance in the countryside as well.
The radio is FCC Part 90 Certified and in order to operate it, you’ll need a technician’s license.
Its outer exterior is quite sturdy and protects the radio from harsh weather elements and also, makes it resistant to drops and general impact.
Factors to Consider Before you Decide to Buy BAOFENG UV-82C
Range and reception: As mentioned above, the reception quality for this particular two-way radio is incredibly impressive. Its range is about 6 miles on the highest output power setting but it performs incredibly well in cityscapes.
Ease of use: The radio features a similar button layout to most mainstream two-way radios so it shouldn’t be too difficult to use for anyone who’s used one before.
Even if you’re using a two-way radio for the first time, the functions are not all that difficult to use and get acquainted with.
Sturdiness: As mentioned earlier, the radio features an incredibly rugged exterior that protects it from harsh weather conditions, moisture, and drops.
- Impressive sound quality
- High (5 watts) and low (1 watt) power settings
- Reasonable pricing
- Easy to use
- Its display is too small
Best Rugged Alternative
The best-rugged alternative is the BAOFENG UV-82C thanks to its durable body, its resistance to drops, and its ease of use.
Guide to Buy
When you’re looking to buy a two-way radio, it’s important not to jump into the shopping process straight away. If you don’t know what your needs are, you won’t even know what you’re looking for when browsing different two-way radios online.
Some examples of questions you must ask yourself include:
- How much range do you need your radio to have?
- What types of environments will the radio be exposed to? Does it need to be waterproof or weatherproof?
- Do you need to have large sets of radio channels saved? Will you require your radio to store a large number of radio channels?
These are just some, not all, questions that you should ask yourself to find a suitable two-way radio.
Some more factors to consider when you shop for a two-way radio include:
Range and Reception
Naturally, you want the reception quality as well as the sound quality of the radio to be as clear as possible. When we talk about reception quality, we’re talking about how clear the audio is when the radio signals are received without any interference.
You want the reception quality to be free from any static noise and/or distortion. A good way to check if the reception quality of a particular radio is satisfactory is to read its online reviews.
When it comes to the range, you must consider what types of applications you actually need the radio for. Are you a licensed radio operator that needs the radio to communicate over long distances? Or are you just a hobbyist that wants to communicate over a couple of miles?
Remember that the higher the range of two-way radio is, the more expensive it will be.
Hence, you don’t want to waste money on a radio that has a high range when you’re not even utilizing that range.
You should carefully consider the typical range that you’ll be operating in and then, buy a radio that suits that particular range.
Ease of Use
There are many high-end radios available in the market that come with a variety of unique and esoteric features. However, those features aren’t typically required for everyday radio communication and in most cases, they just make the operation of the radio more convoluted.
If you want a standard two-way radio for regular communication, then you should keep an eye out for radios with relatively simple designs. Radios with minimalistic designs typically allow you to easily get used to them and utilize them intuitively.
You want a radio that’s easy to get into even as a beginner.
It’s something that you should not have to pause and think about.
|For example, if you want to use the Scan function of your radio, it should be easily accessible within a couple of button clicks. If you have to go through a bunch of needlessly convoluted menus to use the Scan function, then it can affect your job’s efficiency and waste time.|
The button layout for a two-way radio is also important to consider. Not every button layout is ideal for every job type. Depending on what you need the radio for, you might be using certain functions more than others.
Hence, it’s a good idea to inspect the button layout of a radio you’re considering to ensure that the functions you use regularly are easily accessible.
Your two-way radio needs to be robust and should be able to withstand harsh weather conditions as well.
After all, an all-purpose two-way radio is something that you depend on in emergency situations. It can be the device that makes the difference during power outages and other mechanical failures.
Hence, you want the device to be as rugged as possible so that it does not break down over time.
The types of durability features you may require from your radio will depend on the types of environments in which you’ll use it in.
|For example, if you live in a very cold region where it snows regularly, then you’ll want a radio that’s cold and snow-resistant. |
On the other hand, if you live in a tropical region where temperatures soar with occasional heavy rains, then you’ll need a waterproof radio. It’ll also need to be resistant to high temperatures.
These are all important factors to consider and will ensure that your radio works despite harsh external conditions.
Once again, you must consider what the requirements of your job are and what exactly you will use the radio for.
- How long are you usually away from power sources where the radio could be recharged?
- Will the radio’s battery life be able to sustain it until you’re able to get somewhere where you can recharge it?
- What power sources does the radio use? Can its battery be recharged by portable power sources such as a laptop? Does it use AA or AAA batteries which could be replaced?
These are all some important questions that you must ask yourself regarding battery life. If your job or hobby necessitates you to be away from power outlets for a long time, then it’s a good idea to get a radio with high battery life.
Either that or you want to get one that can be powered by AA or AAA batteries. That way, you can bring some extra ones with you and replace them once the power for your radio gets low.
Portability is a super important factor to consider but once again, it depends on what type of job or purpose you need the radio for.
If you’re just sitting at a stationary place while communicating with other radio operators, then you don’t necessarily need it to be portable. It could be heavy and bulky but you could still just have it on your table and not move it.
On the other hand, if you need to have a radio that you can easily carry around while you perform other tasks, then a lightweight radio is essential. You want a radio that does not weigh a lot and can easily fit into your pocket or backpack.
Be careful when you shop for lightweight radios since these can oftentimes be very fragile as well. You want to look for a radio that is durable but also lightweight at the same time.
That’s why it’s important to buy from reputable manufacturers that use high-quality materials to construct their two-way radios. These high-quality materials are typically highly sturdy but lightweight too.
Wrapping Things Up…
That’s our BAOFENG UV-5R review.
We hope you’re able to make the decision on whether or not this radio is right for you.
The only downside it has is the fact that it’s not waterproof. Other than that, it’s a solid two-way radio with a decent range, great reception quality, a user-friendly interface, and a decent price tag.
What do you think of the BAOFENG UV-5R? Let us know in the comments section below.
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