Last Updated on November 10, 2020

Going on a trekking trip and need walkie talkie to stay connected? Working on a construction site and need efficient communication? Whatever the reason might be, BaoFeng radios are some of the best and inexpensive ham radios out there. These radios are extremely portable and come with many valuable features. They become very handy in emergency situations or crowded areas when your phone stops working. Picking out the best BaoFeng radio from a plethora of them can be quite a task, but if we had to pick it’d be BaoFeng BF F8HP. We not only help you in selecting some of the best but also shed light by explaining:

  • A quick glance at our recommendations
  • A detailed section about why each radio was selected and what the buyer gets
  • An informative list of all the features to keep in mind while buying

Whether you are an amateur user or looking for a bunch of them to buy for your workplace, we have got it all for you!

Quick Summary: 7 Best BaoFeng Radio

Our editors go through and research, test and qualify our recommended products. We receive commissions on purchases from certain links.

  1. Best Overall 1. BaoFeng BF F8HP Dual Band Two Way Radio 
    Best BaoFeng Radio because of its user-friendly design yet highly functional features and durability.
  2. Runner-Up: 2. BaoFeng UV-82HP High Power Dual Band Two-Way Radio
    Ideal for long-range transmissions and has dual PPT allowing you to contact two groups at a time.
  3. Best Transmission: 3. BaoFeng UV-5RE+ 8Watt Ham Radio
    Excellent for transmitting low-frequency signals over a long-range.
  4. Best Affordable:  4. Baofeng UV-5R w/ Upgrade Version 3800mah Battery
    Compact, economical, and great if you are looking for a two-way radio.
  5. Best for Beginners:  5. BaoFeng UV-5R Dual Band Two Way Radio
    Economic, compact, and suitable for amateurs, but newer models with better features are available.
  6. Best No-nonsense:  6. Baofeng UV5RA Ham Two Way Radio
    Inexpensive and great for rookies and small range use. However, it doesn’t have many fancy features.
  7. Best to Use:  7. Baofeng BF-888S Two Way Radio
    This radio is simple to use, cheap and has all the necessary features.

Number of Channels: 128 channels
Frequency Range: 136 to 174 MHz for VHF and 400 to 520 MHz for UHF
Power Output: 8, 4, and 1 Watt
Battery: 2000mAh

Our Pick

BaoFeng BF-F8HP is, what we think, the best BaoFeng radio on the market today. It has high performance, is user-friendly, and is designed for people who are not experts in technology. The hard radio shell casing makes it sturdy and durable.

Highlights

It is a 3rd-gen BaoFeng radio with a maximum output of 8 Watts, making the radio potent for long ranges. There are two more power settings—4 Watt and 1 Watt outputs. They are for medium and low ranges, respectively, and they act as power-saving. Depending upon your choice of output, the transmitted power will change.

This BaoFeng radio is equipped with a 7-inch, high gain V-85 antenna that complements the radio’s cranked-up 8-Watt power output. Additionally, the radio supports a frequency range of 136 – 174 MHz for VHF (Very High Frequency) and a frequency range of 400 – 520 MHz for UHF (Ultra High Frequency). The notable thing is that for the UHF 70 centimeters band, the allowed range of frequency is 430-440 MHz. Since this BaoFeng radio comes with a range much broader than this, you’ll have to program it before using it, or it can land you in trouble.

The radio uses a semi-duplex or simple transmission mode, which means that you can’t transmit and receive frequency signals simultaneously. Another fantastic thing about this BaoFeng radio is that it comes with a 110 Volt desktop charger and a 2000mAh Li-ion battery. It gives you a good 24 hours at 5 Watt power output and 20 hours at 8 Watts power output.

It weighs 8.3 ounces and has a built-in LED flashlight, making it portable and convenient for long outdoor sessions. The packet comes with a hand strap, an earpiece, and a belt clip, making it the perfect choice for hunting and the workplace.

The best part about this BaoFeng radio is that it has good money value and comes with one-year warranty service.

WHAT WE LIKED

  • Good money value
  • 1-year warranty support
  • Built-in flashlight
  • Can get FM radio from 65-108 MHz
  • Customizable tri-color display
  • Very long battery life

WHAT WE DIDN’T LIKE

  • 700mW sound output can make it unsuitable for loud areas
  • Flimsy charger
  • Comes without a programming cable

Number of Channels: 128 channels
Frequency Range: 136 to 174 MHz for VHF and 400 to 520 MHz for UHF
Power Output: 7/8, 4, and 1 Watt
Battery: 1800mAh

Runner Up

After BF-F8HP, UV-82HP High Power Dual Band Two-Way Radio is another high-power output radio from BaoFeng. The price is almost the same for both of them, but there are a few differences.

Highlights

This model has a remarkable dual/single Push to Talk feature, which allows the user to transmit two frequencies from a single device by merely flipping the switch up or down. For those who need a single frequency, this versatile radio can be reconfigured to work as a single PPT button. Another unique feature is that one can disable VFO.

This BaoFeng radio has a mighty 7/8 Watt peak power and a V-85 high gain antenna, making it ideal for long-range transmissions. 8 Watt power setting is recommended for the VHF range and 7 for UHF. There are two more power settings available—1 Watt and 4 Watt—for battery saving.

The frequency range is 136 – 174 MHz for VHF and 400 – 520 MHz for UHF. If you plan to use UHF, you’ll have to program the range down to 430-440 MHz using either the keypad or a laptop or computer.

This BaoFeng radio includes an in-built flashlight, an emergency alarm, external accessory capabilities, and a built-in receiver that monitors both receiving frequencies and prioritizes incoming calls.

WHAT WE LIKED

  • Has dual PTT (Push to Talk) key
  • High-power output with V-85 antenna gives optimal performance
  • Excellent battery
  • 1 Watt speaker output
  • 80-page, in-depth user manual

WHAT WE DIDN’T LIKE

  • No programming cable. You’ll have to buy it separately
  • Cheap earpiece
  • The rounded base prevents it from standing on flat surfaces

Number of Channels: 128 channels
Frequency Range: 136 to 174 MHz for VHF and 400 to 520 MHz for UHF
Power Output: 8, 5, and 1 Watt
Battery: 2800mAh

Best Transmission

Another one of the UV-5R variants, BaoFeng UV-82HP High Power Dual Band Two-Way Radio, is one of the best BaoFeng Radios.

Highlights

It has a cranked-up output power of 8-Watts with a Gamtaai NA-771 high gain retractable antenna. This combination calls for excellent long-range transmissions, even for low-frequency signals. The two antennas boost the weak signals so that they can cover large distances. Apart from the 8-Watt power output, this BaoFeng radio also features 5-Watt and 1-Watt power settings.

This BaoFeng radio comes with a 2800mAh, which is sure to run for days. It offers an acoustic tube earpiece for improved sound. Though the overall sound- quality isn’t that great. It has a VOX function for hands-free operation, LED light, emergency, and low-battery alerts, and keypad lock. It also has a belt clip and hand strap, which are very handy for trips.

This ham radio has the typical BaoFeng radio frequency range—136 – 174 MHz for VHF and 400 – 520 MHz for UHF. It also features the 65 – 108 MHz spectrum for FM radio operation. Needless to say, like every other BaoFeng radio, this one also needs programming. This radio works on semi-duplex or simple transmission mode, meaning that it can either send or receive signals at one time.

WHAT WE LIKED

  • Increased range because of Gamtaai high gain antenna
  • Excellent battery allows extended operations
  • Has VOX for hand-free use
  • 128 programmable channels

WHAT WE DIDN’T LIKE

  • No programming cable. You’ll have to buy it separately
  • The absence of voice command features reduces the sound quality

Number of Channels: 128 channels
Frequency Range: 136 to 174 MHz for VHF and 400 to 480 MHz for UHF
Power Output:  1 and 4 Watt
Battery: 3800mAh

 Best Affordable

BaoFeng UV 5R Dual Band is another model in the UV 5R series. It is an economic and is great for those looking for a compact two-way radio. It comes with a Dual Band, Dual Frequency, and Dual standby display. 

 Highlights

The BaoFeng radio has a 17.4 V 3800MAh Li-ion battery included in it. It is beefy and lasts for ages. It has a frequency range of 136 – 174MHz for VHF and 400 – 480 MHz for UHF. It also has the frequency range from 65 – 108 MHz for FM radio, which many people appreciate. The device has an output power of 4W, but it can also be set to 1 Watt, which is the power-saving mode.

There is a built-in VOX in this BaoFeng radio that enables hand-free operations. It also has an Ani code, flashlight, LCD display, time-out timer, and keypad lock. It also has alerts for emergencies and low battery alerts. It features 128 group channels, which can be stored in its memory and has a 1750 Hz Burst tone. The radio comes with a belt clip, desktop charger, PPT earpiece, and a user-manual.

WHAT WE LIKED

  • Easy to use
  • Compact in size
  • Has VOX for hand-free use
  • Auto keypad lock for safety

WHAT WE DIDN’T LIKE

  • The material is not sturdy, might break after a sharp fall
  • Doesn’t come with a programming cable

Number of Channels: 128 channels
Frequency Range: 136 to 174 MHz for VHF and 400 to 520 MHz for UHF
Power Output: 4 and 1 Watt
Battery: 1800mAh

Best for Beginners

One of the most popular choices of its time, BaoFeng UV-5R Dual Band Two Way Radio is still well-liked by many amateur users. Compactness, high channel frequency, and easy programming make it an excellent choice for those who are looking for an inexpensive radio.

Highlights

This 2nd generation handheld BaoFeng radio comes with a 1800mAh Li-ion battery that can run for 12-18 hours. The battery life can be a bit of a drawback, especially when you are taking it for hiking or trekking. This inexpensive radio has a semi-duplex or simple transmission mode, which allows you to either send or receive messages at a given time. You cannot do both simultaneously.

This BaoFeng radio has two power modes that are 4 watts and 1 watt. You can switch between them depending upon the distance between the receiver and the sender. You can save battery by using it at 1 Watt mode. However, the low power rating can be inept for long ranges. The antenna isn’t very potent either, restricting this BaoFeng radio to short ranges.

The frequency range for this BaoFeng radio is 136 – 174MHz for VHF and 400 – 520 MHz for UHF. It also has a range from 65 – 108 MHz to tune in to FM radio. Again, you’ll have to program it before using it to avoid the higher frequency ranges.

WHAT WE LIKED

  • Secure with keypad lock
  • Lightweight, cheap, and easy to use
  • Emergency and low-battery alerts
  • Built-in LED flashlight
  • VOX (Voice Operated Exchange) function allows hand-free operation
  • Tri-color LCD

WHAT WE DIDN’T LIKE

  • Weak antenna
  • Less output power
  • Disappointing battery life

Number of Channels: 128 channels
Frequency Range: 136 to 174 MHz for VHF and 400 to 480 MHz for UHF
Power Output: 4 and 1 Watt
Battery: 1800mAh

Best No-nonsense

BaoFeng UV5RA is a rather good yet inexpensive radio that is great to get started with your ham radio experience. If you are looking for fancy features and broad range coverage, this is not the product for you.

Highlights

Since it belongs to the UV-5R series, it has many similar features to the earlier mentioned models in this list. It has a frequency range of 136 – 175 MHz for VHF and 400 – 480 MHz for UHF. It also has FM radio frequency from 65 – 108 MHz. It also has functions that can be programmed by connecting to the PC with the cable provided.

This portable two-way radio offers a maximum output power of 4 Watts and one other setting of 1 Watt. You can switch to 1 Watt if you want to save battery or are communicating over a short distance. It is powered by a Li-ion 1800mAh battery that has a running time of 10 to 12 hours.

It also has a built-in flashlight, VOX, scan mode, and keypad lock. The LCD display comes with a dual-watch system, earpiece, belt clip, desktop charger, and emergency alarm. You can also get NOAA weather alerts.

WHAT WE LIKED

  • Easy to use and affordable
  • Has dual PTT (Push to Talk) keys
  • VOX function allows hand-free operation
  • Two power settings

WHAT WE DIDN’T LIKE

  • The manual isn’t much detailed.
  • The material used isn’t sturdy, can break after a sharp fall
  • Disappointing battery
  • Weak antenna and low power output

Number of Channels: 16 channels
Frequency Range: 400 to 470 MHz
Power Output: 3 and 5 Watt
Battery: 1500mAh

Best to Use

BF-888S Two Way Radio is designed for personal as well as professional use. It is ideal for first time users, children, security guards, police officers, construction site workers, office, retail sectors, restaurant employees, hiking, etc.

Highlights

It is highly cost-effective and is reasonably simple to use. Each ham radio comes with its own earpiece, desktop charger, battery, antenna, and belt clip.

This BaoFeng radio works in the frequency range of 400 to 470 MHz, which lies in the UHF range since this the range used by most professionals. FM and VHF aren’t accessible by this BaoFeng radio. It enables you to talk up to a distance of 4 miles and comes with an output power of 3 and 5 Watts. You can opt for either depending upon distance.

There are two knobs on top of the BaoFeng radio, one for choosing one channel from the 16 channels available. The other lets you turn on the radio. The radio has 105 CDCSS and 50 CTCSS that gives you the room to have private conversations. It has a 1500mAh battery and the feature of intelligent charging.

The BF-888S BaoFeng radio has an in-built flashlight, an antenna, and VOX functionality, which allows you to operate the radio in a hands-free way. It also has an emergency alarm feature for emergencies.

WHAT WE LIKED

  • Easy to use
  • Long Range
  • Intelligent charging
  • Has VOX for hand-free use
  • Power saving mode

WHAT WE DIDN’T LIKE

  • The material is not sturdy, might break after a sharp fall
  • Poor sound quality
  • Only for UHF

Our Pick Again

We have loved testing this emergency weather radio! Truly an all-in-one device, FosPower comes with a 2000mAh power bank to charge your electrical gadgets and doubles as a reading light that allows you to curl up with a good book in nature’s lap.

Features to Look For?

If you are new to ham radios, then you might need to know what to look for and what you need. Here are a few features that’ll help you get the right pick.

Frequency Range 

This the first thing you must note when buying a ham radio. There are three frequency bands that radio can have: FM (for FM radio), VHF (best for outdoor long distance and emergency communications), UHF (performs better in an indoor setting, since these waves can go through obstacles. Most of the BaoFeng radios mentioned have all three of these frequency bands. Understand your requirements, and select the model accordingly. (1, 2)

Power

Output power plays an essential role in long-range communication. The more the power, the longer is the range, and the stronger is the signal. The most power you can get on the latest BaoFeng models is 8 Watt. You must make sure to get a radio with a multi-power setting, to save battery life. (3)

Antenna

A high power output won’t do much good without a bigger and better antenna. The type and size of the antenna determine the effectiveness of communication. 

Number of Channels

The total frequency range gets divided for specific usage. Each channel features a specific range. For example, in a hotel, you can have one channel for housekeeping, accounts, kitchen, waiters, management, reception, etc. The number of channels must be as per your need. Too many or too few can cause inconvenience.

Final Verdict

After testing our recommendations through every possible situation and against many vital factors, BaoFeng BF F8HP has got to be our top pick! It has various additional features that many others do not have, like dual/single Push to Talk, three power modes.  It also allows you to disable VFO.

That being said, you will not go wrong by picking any of the above BaoFeng radios reviewed.

We have also other product radio guide which you can check. Some of these are; Best DMR Radio, Best Handheld Ham Radio, Best Shortwave Radio. You may also want to check our learning articles and individual product review.

References

(1) VHF – https://www.britannica.com/technology/VHF
(2) UHF -https://www.britannica.com/technology/UHF
(3) long-range communication – https://www.hq.nasa.gov/office/pao/History/SP-4026/noord40.html

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