Confused about whether to get a radio for commercial or amateur use?
You’re at the right place because we are reviewing the best Baofeng radios out there.
Our extensive review will not only help you to decide whether you want it but also to decide which device you want.
Moreover, if you’re already a ham enthusiast, you won’t find a better place to know about all the latest devices.
Therefore, we are doing a completely impartial Baofeng radio review as Baofeng has some of the best radios for both amateur use and commercial use.
Here, we use the word amateur to describe authorized use of radios for personal recreation, and not any commercial purpose.
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
4 out of 5
5 out of 5
4.5 out of 5
What is Baofeng Radio and What are the Advantages of Using It?
Baofeng Tech is one of the best and renowned Chinese radio tech companies out there. They are not only known for their radios but also for the amount of research and work that go into each of these devices.
The radios, following the footsteps of the company, are popular because of their affordable and versatile designs.
Their designs are not only for amateur use but also for commercial use like schools, hospitals or municipalities.
To amateur users, there isn't a better option. It is just so much you can explore with these radios, making it extremely fun for the radio enthusiast.
For one thing, the radios are customizable and flexible. You can send and receive tones in real-time. You can even send remote radio commands.
Ham users maybe don’t want to spend a whole lot on this, which is another reason you should buy Baofeng. They come with affordable prices while transmitting up to 8 watts of power.
Commercial users are also benefitted by the company's reputation, making their products safe and legal. While amateur users are flexible, business users can lockout the features that they do not wish to have.
They also follow all the legal rules. For example, the radios can communicate on narrowband as required by the FCC. Therefore, Baofeng is advantageous, as well as reliable.
Our Top 15 Picks for the Best Baofeng Radio
For this list, we have not only looked at the features but also at their tested merit.
Some of them make it to our list for their variety of features while others due to their reliability.
1. Baofeng UV-5R Dual Band Two-Way Radio (Black)
This 2nd generation device is one of the most economical yet compact methods, known for its channel capacity. You can directly program it with the keypad or use an optional cable to process it using a laptop or a computer.
It has a multiband FM transceiver. The frequency coverage of the transceiver is massive. With its dual-band UHF/VHF, it has a capacity of 128 channels. Alongside that, you can also scan priority channels, and there’s also an option for the dual watch.
Some other features include 1750Hz burst tone, which helps to ascertain frequencies you want, while 50 CTCSS and 104 DCS codes make the connection privacy settings robust and keep your communications private.
This one has a Baofeng frequency range from 65-108 MHz (FM radios), 136-174 MHz (VHF) and 400-520 MHz (UHF). That’s why radio transmission covers more comprehensively.
Further, the UV-5R has voice-operated transmit for hands-free use when you’re travelling in a car. It also displays a large LED screen along with an LED flashlight.
Now, device reliability depends on its battery life, and this one has it. With a Baofeng battery life of 1800mAH, this will last up to 12hrs. Therefore, it's the perfect device to go hiking with your friends. Besides, there is also a power-saving mode to conserve battery.
Along with the battery, the output power of this device is also commendable with a consistent output of 5 watts. Also, it's high and low power features let you select between 1w and 4w depending on your activity.
Overall, this product has a multitude of options for you to explore but might make it a bit complex for people who want more straightforward output out of their radio. Nevertheless, it has all the usual functions and more.
So, when you want to start exploring radios and its many features, we will surely recommend this Baofeng ham radio to you since it’s one of the best Baofeng communications out there.
2. Baofeng BF-F8HP (UV-5R 3rd Gen) 8-Watt Dual-Band Two-Way Radio
It’s an upgraded version of our previous review. This is the most potent ham radio of these generations of radios, with a power of 8 watts (twice the power of the 2nd generation).
What make this upgrade better are the three selectable power levels. You can select low (1 watt), medium (4 watts), and high (8 watts) power outputs.
Compared to the UV-5R this has the upgraded version of most of its features. We will get into the features in details now.
This dual-band radio has UHF and VHF with frequency ranges of 65-108 MHz (FM), 136-174 MHz (VHF), and 400-520 MHz (UHF). With higher frequencies, this device has a more extended range with better transmissions within the field.
Further, it has a 7-inch rubber duck antenna for higher reaching longer ranges. Also, the call button has different functions, like switching on radio channels and loud alarms.
For non-ham users, you can program the GM RS and FRS frequencies up to channel 22 legally. Ham radio operators can get in touch with repeaters through this.
This device comes with a 2000mAh battery, V-85 antenna, battery charger, earpiece belt clip, power adapter, user manual, and hand strap.
Its battery is an upgraded version that lasts up to 24 hours at the standard 5-watt power level. Programming the radio with the cable is easy and saves a lot of time.
One thing where this device falls behind is its speaker, with a 700mw sound this is not something you go to loud zones with.
3. Baofeng BF-888S Two-Way Radio (Pack of 6pcs radios) - Customize Package
The BF-888S Baofeng walkie-talkie radio is one of our favorites because of its simplicity. It is effortless to use. Even you can give it to kids when they are playing outside and call them back in with the device.
You can communicate in real-time and use this to talk to your team members when you’re working on a construction site. Alternatively, when you’re in a car you can speak to others in a different vehicle. Handier than a phone as you don't have to hold it all the time.
This thing has excellent value for money, and if you’re not satisfied with the specifications, you can also change it up a bit. It comes with a 1500 mAh Li-ion Battery, which you can replace with a more powerful battery if you wish.
Output power of the radio is 2.5 watts, not as powerful as other Baofeng radios but still good enough for communications. Also, when it's low on energy, it has a low voltage alert.
This radio has two knobs on the top. One knob is for the power. When it’s on, you hear a voice, and you know it’s on.
The other knob is for changing the channels. It has a total of 16 channels. To speak to someone, you need to be on the same channel.
However, make sure you're not using someone else's channel. You can communicate with anyone who has the device and is on your channel.
This radio receives UHF waves between ranges 400-470 MHz. That means no FM or VHF signals.
4. Baofeng Walkie-Talkie UV-5R Dual-Band Two-Way Radio
We have already reviewed the UV-5R radio, and this is the walkie-talkie edition of it. Like the other UV-5R devices, this needs to be programmed using the keypad or a computer.
Also, since it’s a Dual-Band radio, you can access UHF and VHF signals for higher frequency and range.
This has a higher range of 520 MHz, much higher than most radios. The power output is also standard (4 watts).
What makes this Baofeng walkie-talkie worth your time is the exclusive TIDRADIO NA-771 antenna, which increases your tracking range substantially.
For walkie-talkies, audio quality is essential to interpret words accurately, which is why this is such a great product. The audio quality is clear and has a crisp sound along with noise cancellation features.
On top of that, the squelch circuitry in this walkie-talkie is advanced and made to cancel noise during adverse conditions. Which is why this is just the product you need if you're going to a place with sketchy reception.
50 CTCSS and 105 DCS codes also make the privacy features on this radio top-notch to ensure you don’t get unnecessary calls and can communicate in private.
To further ensure proper communication, this has a capacity of 128 channels, which you can name for finding quickly.
This package includes 1800mAh batteries, Tidradio NA-771 antenna, earpiece, speaker mic, desktop charger, belt clip, a sling, English user's manual and a programming cable.
The product includes two batteries. Therefore, when one is in use, you can charge the other. Therefore, you don’t have to worry about the battery voltage.
Finally, unlike other devices, the display on this is very detailed, giving you multiple options and directions. It displays the battery voltage as well. All of that is described in the manual.
5. Baofeng Black UV-5R V2+ Plus (USA Warranty) Dual-Band 145-148/420-450 MHz
Being one of the best Baofeng ham radios, this one doesn't disappoint. In addition, on the back of Amcrest Direct, an authorized distributor of Baofeng, this product is trustworthy.
This radio is one of the many UV-5R brand variants, and stands out for its many features including exclusive frequency coverage, unmatched monitoring capability, and a secure reception two-way amateur communication.
People who are ready to invest in an advanced and reasonably expensive ham radio, this is for them. As many complain about Chinese radios breaking easily after one fall, they will not have to worry about this product's durability.
As this gadget comes with a metallic upgrade and durable housing, it is very sturdy.
This latest Baofeng radio version also has an updated bright and easy to read LED display. To complement that, it can connect to extended batteries of Baofeng 7.4V 3600 and 3800 mAh power.
These features build on the product's good and lasting design.
However, if there is anything to criticize about this model, then it is the speakers. With a 700mw watt, this isn’t all that loud as you can get better speakers for this price.
Nevertheless, many people have had issues with programming their radios, but you're not likely to face such problems with this as you can use a cable and a free chirp software to start processing it.
Once you fiddle with it a little, it becomes super easy to program the radio, and you can set a name for channels by replacing their frequency.
Other features include extensive frequency range, LED flashlight, VOX feature, and CTSS and DCS encoding.
6. Baofeng UV5RA Ham Two-Way Radio 136-174/400-480 MHz
The Baofeng UV-5RA radio is a compact device that has all the functions of best baofeng radio for a reasonable price.
It supports FM radio, UHF and VHF frequencies. Adding to that attribute, the antenna is a high gain aerial with a decent range. Programming this radio is also easy and user-friendly. Unfortunately, you need to buy an additional cable to program it using a PC.
Nevertheless, you can program it with Dual PTT keys, which is one of the main upgrades on the hardware.
But, if you buy the cable, it will undoubtedly save you time.
To work on your privacy, you can incorporate 105 codes DCS and 50 privacy codes CTCSS using the programming functions. This may sound daunting, but with the manual and some YouTube assistance, it’s easy.
Adding on the privacy, you can also set a built-in key lock right away. Further, you also have options for emergency alarms and LED flashlight.
The voice prompt on the radio has two languages, much like most Baofeng radios, Chinese and English. The manual is in English, and it is effortless to understand.
The battery is a 7.4V 1800mAH Li-ion Battery, which you can replace with an extendable battery of higher voltage.
Much like the UV-5R, this also has some mentionable features like 128 channels to select from, VOX feature for hand-free use, and 1750Hz Burst Tone for better frequency and direction.
The output power is 4 watts but can function on low and high modes that are on 1 watt and 4 watts respectively.
Overall, this is much like the UV-5R series but comes with certain benefits and a lower price. Certainly, recommended for new ham enthusiasts who want from their device than simple amateur features.
Therefore, before spending on an expensive device, if you want to fiddle with all the features for a lower price, this is your device without a shred of doubt.
But, if you buy this, be aware of dropping it, as it might not withstand sharp falls.
7. Baofeng UV-82HP High Power Dual-Band Radio
UV-82HP is the 2nd generation of Baofeng’s most commercialized UV-82 models. It has the background, and it walks on its predecessor’s achievements.
It has a high output that surely pleases most ham users, as you don't usually get more than 5-watt standard production.
However, this one goes up to 8 watts with three selectable powers. These three selectable powers are low - 1 watt, medium - 5 watts, and high – 7 or 8 watts.
VFO and MR frequency modes are lockable through the software provided, which lets you explore different frequencies. You can switch between the two methods.
The programming is also very simplified and has additional functions. For instance, the push-to-talk option has been simplified with the use of the software.
As this is an upgraded version, this has the addition of features, power levels, and an updated chipset revision that supports the High Power it bears.
Where this gadget stands out is its multiple selectable tone bursts on a new user menu, letting you select options like 1000 Hz, 1450 Hz, 1750 Hz, and 2100 Hz.
One of the best features of this radio is its audio clarity and loudness. You won’t be disappointed with it. This is only further succeeded by its solidity. It is not your everyday cheap Chinese product. This one feels great and sturdy when you hold it.
8. Baofeng UV-82 VHF UHF FM Transceiver Dual-Band Two-Way Radio
This is a fantastic starter handheld for the newly licensed ham.
However, this is not a radio you should purchase if you are looking for FRS or VHF radio. If you are looking for both and tons of flexibility, this is the device for you.
Now, you must keep in mind that programing the radio for FRS, VHF, and GMRS frequencies is time-consuming and complex enough to confuse many. Luckily, you will find multiple guides on YouTube taking you through the process.
It becomes easier to program with the optional programming cable that doesn’t cost much and CHIRP software is available for free online.
The 82 is designed to feel great when you hold it. This thing will withstand minor scratches, but it’s not 100% protected against water.
All buttons, including PTT and FM, are rubberized on the 82 and will feel right.
This radio can be programmed with or without a PC, and the best thing is that it also works on private repeater systems.
The audio is excellent with loud, clear audio section and speaker, and gives outstanding RF performance.
This also has a high-performance version with enhanced transmitting power, so consider your uses when getting your device.
Lastly, in terms of quality, the price that you're getting this at is impressive. Further, it is well built with excellent sound quality and reception. Moreover, it has a built-in flashlight too. Among all the features this is another best baofeng radio which you can buy.
9. Baofeng UV-5R UHF VHF Dual Band Two-Way Radio Walkie-Talkie with 5 Earpieces + 1 Programming Cable, 5 Pack
This pack is everything that it promises. To start with, it’s a decently long-range radio.
The only thing that may bump you about the 5R is its programming. So, you may have to put in some extra hours to program it according to your needs.
If you have used other radios, then you will notice how this one is strikingly stronger, more transparent, and covers longer ranges.
Since you have to program this device yourself, you can set them to match any frequency you wish.
This order will include the cable and software as described. The cable works fine, but it’s recommended to use the freeware that is available online.
Sadly, the same is true for the manual that comes with the radios. There are tons of useful resources on the internet for getting you set up.
The stock antenna will get the job done for most people, but if you are planning to use this in a crowded urban setup with a lot of interference, you can easily add an upgraded antenna.
You can get an upgrade on the batteries if you are planning on heavy use.
The 5R will support most other mic and sound extension and make any interference and brass noise more bearable.
10. Baofeng UV-5R 65-108 MHz Dual-Band Ham Radio (Black)
The 5R radio has been priced in a way to make for good competition in the market. Therefore, the value for money that it delivers is something to consider.
This is undoubtedly one of the best value for money devices you can get shipped to you at the moment.
The durable material used in the making of its body makes it perfect for harsh environment.
This device somehow manages to achieve this durability at a surprisingly lightweight package while maintaining an aesthetic design. It will feel just right in your hand.
Audibility of this device is loud and clear in all kinds of weather.
The battery is designed to last upwards of two days on moderate use, but with an upgrade it can last you much longer.
Besides, one of the reasons why amateur operators need this device is because it’s small and fits well in your hand. Further, it has a moderate range as well. It is also known for its stability, so it will last you a while and is an excellent product to invest in.
Its display is also decent with a top-notch LED display and is equally good in terms of its loudness.
The 5R is highly compatible with additional software and hardware for updating it into a more equipped device. This helps the device to cover both HAM and LMS.
Another new trait that it has is the 2-line display backlighting, which will light up in three colors, and you get to choose which to keep.
11. Two-Way Radio, Baofeng Walkie-Talkie UV-5R5 5W Dual-Band Two-Way Ham Radio Transceiver
Before we start this Baofeng walkie-talkie review, we would kindly like to remind everyone to get the original cable program for the radio. Then use the PC to install the program and set up the frequency.
One of the first things we noticed on this radio that it has a software update. It is resulting in more stability and clarity in terms of its core functionalities.
This also has a high/low power setting at 5w and 1w. All three Frequency waves, namely FM, UHF, and VHF, are available to use at suitable ranges.
Like the other models of the UV-5R series, this one also has similar attributes like 128 channels, 50 CTCSS and 104 DCS codes, and 38 privacy codes.
The 5W walkie-talkie is a sure winner in terms of the range it covers. It covers almost 2-3 miles in the city, 5-7 miles in low land where there isn’t much interruption, and if you're in the high area, it will cover up to 25 miles even.
You can make the range even higher by purchasing a good antenna from your radio shop.
Another eye-catching feature of it is the waterproof dual-band display. This sturdy radio is exactly what you need when you go out into the wild. You can depend on this.
12. Baofeng UV-5R Upgrade Version UV-5XP Extended Battery VHF UHF Two-Way Radio
This is a stunning Chinese radio, and you would have a hard time identifying that unless you were told so.
If you are currently using a low power only device like the UV-5R walkie-talkie, this will be a fantastic upgrade at a reasonable price. Not only for the features, but it is also a more fashionable and stylish walkie-talkie to own.
You can also use the charger and battery of the UV-5R on this. In addition, the reliability of the transmitter only adds to its durability.
The battery life is perfect and goes up to 8 watts of power. The 3000mAh Li-ion Battery is designed to handle heavy use.
Other features are similar to the UV-5R model. However, this is a sturdier model that feels good in your hand.
The casing is new and trendy. Moreover, the front is curvier with an excellent display to go with it. However, the LCD is squarer, making up for a unique combined look.
Only downside of this device is the belt clip. Many have complained about it breaking too quickly.
13. Baofeng UV-5RE+ 8-Watt Ham Radio Handheld Rechargeable
Now, this radio is for those who want the most extended range. It has the antennas to go the distance and the power to make it resilient.
This 8-watt high power device can work in three settings, that is, at 8 watts, 5 watts, and 1 watt, but it will give you maximum output for whichever environment you may choose.
The best thing about this device is the antenna. Two antennas to be specific. Yes, this includes the Baofeng high gain antenna.
You’ll also be getting Gamtaii high gain antenna, and you can use his thing to extend the radio range significantly.
As you know, if the antenna is long, then the range will be okay.
That is not all, this walkie-talkie comes with an acoustic tube earplug. Most operators are unsatisfied with the earpieces that come with radios, but that is something they can avoid as the soft earpiece not only gives clear sound but also keeps the conversation private.
Nevertheless, the feature that hooked us to this device is the increased battery life. A thirty percent bigger battery capacity than the 5RE makes this perfect for the long tours.
14. Baofeng UV-5R Dual-Band UHF/VHF Radio Transceiver W/Upgrade Version 3800mAh Battery with Earpiece
A direct upgrade of the UV-5R, this will not disappoint you. For those who don't like purchasing additional parts with their radio, like batteries and antenna, they will prefer this gadget.
It comes with an upgrade of all the 5R features and looks stylish as well. With a considerable battery upgrade, this one has a 3800mAh battery to show off.
Another thing that we like about it is the weight, with the antenna and battery loaded it weighs only 250 grams. But, it has all the features of the UV-5R radios.
However, the antenna is still the standard antenna, which will serve you well if you live close to a repeater.
It functions at high and low powers and has built-in VOX function as well as the flashlight.
This has retained all the functionalities of the UV-5R and upgraded it to be more reliable. Also, you’ll like the price tag it comes with. This thing is highly affordable and won’t make your pocket very light. So, if you are looking for something within the budget, you should give this guy a shot.
Another thing I like about this item is its durability. I will give it top marks in terms of sustainability as it's bound to last long.
15. Baofeng UV-5R Plus Dual-Band 136-174/400-480 MHz FM Ham Two-Way Radio (Black)
If you speak with local ham users, you'd often notice their concern with the radios. They usually fall and break, then become unusable.
Therefore, a sturdy body is a vital property of ham radio. This 5R plus surpasses its predecessors at that. The well-built metal shell has higher durability than the 5R and 5RA and is the tool for outdoor activities.
For road trips, car racing, emergency rescue, and many other events, the 5R plus are guaranteed to survive with you in your hardest times. Its other features complement its outdoor use ability. This thing is lightweight and versatile.
Unlike some other devices, this thing allows simple programming using the keypad and the PC. It is also compatible with CHIRP and CPS software to further ease the programming. All you need is the cable, and you’re good to go.
The design of the device is a classic UV-5R, but it supports extended batteries. Furthermore, the display is upgraded with LED display, giving you exquisite clarity.
Things to Consider before Buying Baofeng Radio
Now, if you're confused on which features to focus on to buy the best Baofeng radio, and if all the technicalities are hard to understand, then our recommendation for you is to check the followings before you buy.
Frequencies and Modes
The most commonly used modes for Radio frequencies are FM, UHF, and VHF. UHF and VHF bands above 30 MHz are licensed for ham uses.
Radios that support these frequencies have different ranges. You should select the field based on your requirements.
Popular radios usually have dual-band. Higher-end radios let you work on multiple bands. Even you can hear from one group and speak in another band.
Battery life, performance, and all are related to power output. When you’re using radios outside these features, become vital.
For consistent coverage, a handheld ham radio should have 3-5 watts of output power. Contact the local ham users to know the necessary energy for your needs.
Some radios even have 7-8 watts of power, and of course, more control is better.
Squelch and Tones
Squelch are the circuitry in radios that prevent unnecessary noise and glitches. Check how well the squelch control knob works before you buy your radio.
To ham radios, speaker power is pretty vital.
Depending on the type of environment you will be using the device in, you should select the speaker power.
Our recommendation is selecting a device above 700mW.
Coverage depends on your antennas. Therefore, if you want longer distances, having a good antenna is indispensable.
For effective communication, ham radios come with a rubber-duck antenna. However, for more efficiency, you can buy the mobile whip antenna with an adaptor for your radio.
You need a sturdy and robust device if you want it to go the mile. A strong structure usually means it's a suitable device that will last.
Tips for Communication with Baofeng Radio
Now if you have scrolled down to this part of the Baofeng radio review, you probably already have a radio in mind.
Therefore, one thing you must remember after buying is to follow the manual. Although there are plenty of YouTube videos to help you, you should go through the manual at first.
Once you’re done programming, remember, for effective communication you can always upgrade your Baofeng with better antennas, batteries and audio devices.
Yes, you will incur extra expenditure, but it will give you great value for money. To know which antenna to buy, contact your local ham community. They know best which frequencies you will need and can recommend accordingly.
Frequently Asked Questions About ham radios
1. Are ham radios legal?
Yes, they are legal if you aren’t transmitting without a license.
2. To buy a ham radio, do I have to have a permit?
You can buy a radio without owning a license, and you can even monitor frequencies on it, but you won’t be able to transmit on it.
3. What is a good starter radio if I were to get a license?
Anything that serves your purpose is functional. You can start with cheaper ones too, they are not necessarily bad just not very durable and may break easily.
4. What is the average range of the radio with an ordinary antenna?
The range depends on your area and terrain. However, you won’t get under 2 Miles for sure.
5. What do I have to study to get a license?
Get a license study guide. Read it once, and then start taking the practice tests online. Study the concepts, not the exact test questions. When you consistently score 90% or higher on the practice tests, you're ready.
Final tip before you buy your radio is, know your environment. You may have the best device at your display, but if it doesn’t suit your location, you will get disappointed.
So now, you’re all set. Have fun exploring the world of frequencies and radios.
Also, don’t forget to let us know if our reviews helped you to find the best Baofeng radio.