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Best Baofeng Radio

Today’s Popular Picks

BaoFeng BF-F8HP Dual Band Two-Way Radio

If you are an amateur or it is just your first time using a Baofeng radio. BF-F8HP could be a perfect choice for you. As an improved version of the UV-5R model, it becomes better and offers various advantages that you will find useful. So this one is considered by many users as the best BaoFeng radio for amateurs.

Baofeng UV5RA Dual Band Ham Two-Way Radio

People are always wanting to buy things of good quality and inexpensive. Baofeng UV-5R is an economical dual-band Baofeng radio that is still functional enough. Plus, it is a compact one that is convenient to carry. So this would be a good pick for you.

Baofeng UV-82HP Dual Band Ham Two-Way Radio

For anyone who wants a hand-held radio that has optional transmitting power, UV-82HP is the right one. When you use this model, you can choose to set it with a 1-watt speaker, also, if you like, it has a powerful 5-watt speaker too.

BAOFENG GT-3 Mark-II Two Way Radio

BAOFENG GT-3 Mark-II is affordable and easy to use the radio. If you are new ham who doesn’t know where to start, then get this radio and program it for your local repeaters then listen for weekly nets. It is perfect for you to stay in contact with other local Hams.

Baofeng BF-888S UHF Two-Way Radio

BF-888S UHF is for both commercial and personal use. It can be used for security guards, policemen, construction site workers, office, and retail sector and restaurant employees, hiking for cost-effective and better communication. So if you want to go hiking with friends in the woods, this is super suitable.

Best Baofeng Radio

Baofeng radios are inexpensive hand-held two-way radios that look like walkie talkies but use licensed frequencies, and therefore require a license to operate. Over time the term “Baofeng” has come to encompass just about any inexpensive two-way handheld device that uses FRS or GMRS frequencies. Below are our picks for the best Baofeng radios of 2021.

BaoFeng BF-F8HP Dual Band Two-Way Radio

This radio comes with high output power, along with a 2000mAh battery, which has three power modes, including 8W high, 4W medium, and 1W low.

Having a maximum power output of 8W, the BF-F8HP works great at higher ranges while medium and low settings are considered as power-saving. This is to say you can work with the radio for a long time and won’t be bothered by running out of battery.

Something else we like about this radio is the antenna. The antenna is the key component that affects the clearness of signals received. BF-F8HP radio features a 7-inch antenna that is sufficiently powerful to capture and transmit frequencies. This boosts its overall performance index and guarantees highly clear signals.


Pros

  • 3 power levels– can set to your preference
  • 7-inch HGA antenna– helps ensure clear signals
  • Large 2000mAh Li-ion Battery– for long time work
  • User-friendly interface– easy to operate and program
  • Sturdy materials– durable

Cons

  • Not waterproof– needs special protect
  • NoFTDI programming cable – you may need to buy one separately

Baofeng UV5RA Dual Band Ham Two-Way Radio

Another worth-mentioning feature is considerable channels. It has a capacity of 128 channels. So you can store up to 128 channels on this radio, choosing from them with ±2.5ppm of frequency stability. Apart from that, you can also scan priority channels, and there’s also an option for the dual watch.

Besides, the UV-5R has a voice-operated transmit for hands-free use when you have something to do in your hand. Also, it displays a large LED screen along with an LED flashlight, which can offer you big help when you are outdoor at night.

In terms of its battery life, with a Baofeng battery life of 1800mAH, this will last up to 12 hours. Thus, it is a perfect choice to go far outdoors, like hiking with your friends. Also, there is also a power-saving mode with alert notifications for low-battery, time-out, and emergency to conserve battery to provide safety.

Pros

  • Compact package– portable to carry
  • Powerful range of frequency– perfect radio transmission
  • 128 channels– more choices
  • LED screen and flashlight– easy to operate
  • Long battery life– durable

Cons

  • Less-powerful antenna– signals might be affected

Baofeng UV-82HP Dual Band Ham Two-Way Radio

This radio features a 1800mAh rechargeable Li-ion battery. And there is a charger and an adapter coming with the package. With this radio, you can get it charged conveniently, which means you don’t have to buy new batteries all the time, wasting a lot of money. Plus, there are battery condition alerts, helping you to know the amount of power left in the battery.

Another feature is that this radio provides you up to 128 channels. It allows you to program these settings and channels freely before initial use. That is to say, you have many more choices in selecting favorable channels as much as possible.

Besides, the radio comes with a built-in and powerful flashlight that can light up your way as you walk in the dark or just stay in a dark room. Namely, a bright large display that allows you to fix the darkness so that you don’t need to have a separate flashlight.

Pros

  • Battery condition alerts– allow you to know the power amount
  • 2 scanning modes– enhance privacy
  • Built-in flashlight– easy to work at night
  • Powerful radio 5-watt– louder and clearer
  • 128 programmable channels– choose free

Cons

  • Need program cable and software– spend extra money

BAOFENG GT-3 Mark-II Two Way Radio

This is a very sturdy radio since it comes with upgrade durable housing. You will love it because the strong housing will protect the radio to make it suitable for withstanding those harsh outdoor conditions. Therefore, this helps to assure you of a durable radio that would serve you for a long time.

Furthermore, the radio features a bright two-color LED display which helps you read easily. Plus, you don’t have to worry about the battery running out because it can connect to the car by AD-10 car charger. So you can use it for a long time.

Additionally, it is a micro-mini multi-band FM receiver that can focus on you solely. With an intensive receive frequency coverage, this radio can provide supervision when offering local-area two-way amateur communication.

Pros

  • Updated LED display– helps read easily
  • Monitoring capabilities– secure communication
  • User-friendly– easy to operate and program
  • Metallic upgrade and sturdy body– durable
  • Car charger– can use for a long time

Cons

  • Interior speaker–not loud enough
  • Flaky microphone jack– easy to be broken

Baofeng BF-888S UHF Two-Way Radio

This portable radio is powered by a 1500MAh Li-ion rechargeable battery with an operating voltage of 3.7V. It has a power-saving mode that works well with the low voltage alert to extend battery life. Furthermore, it comes with an intelligent charging function that will stop charging when the radio finishes charging.

Additionally, there are 16 memory channels with programmable 105 CDCSS and 50 CTCSS tones. And you can change the channels conveniently by pressing the knob on the top.

BF-888S also is equipped with Voice Prompt and VOX function, which offer you a hands-free experience. So it is convenient to do something else while operating it with voice.

Pros

  • Intelligent charging and battery saving– extend battery life
  • Voice prompt and VOX function– set hands free
  • Emergency and low voltage alert– provide security
  • 16 different channels– more options
  • Compact design– high portability

Cons

  • Difficult programming– not easy for beginners
  • Talk limitations– not flexible enough

FAQs

What Is a Baofeng Radio?

A Baofeng radio is a handheld radio used to facilitate communication over both short and long distances often using licensed frequencies. Baofeng radios get their name from the Chinese company that first made them. Although these days, just about any comparable handheld radio device is categorized as a Baofeng radio.

If you spend any time in ham radio forums you’ll discover that opinion is divided when it comes to Baofeng radios between those who say they are a great, cost-effective way to enjoy the power of ham radio, and those who say Baofengs are unreliable and don’t live up to their output power claims.

Our experience tells us they’re much more the former than the latter. Are there some Baofengs out there that aren’t worth the money? Sure. But the ones on our list are all dependable and easy to use. Just keep in mind that you will need a license to use most of them.

Is This Type of Radio Legal?

Of course. You can purchase a Baofeng or comparable GMRS (General Mobile Radio Service) radio without a license or any special permission, and you can use it to listen in on various frequencies. However, if you actually want to carry on two-way communications with your Baofeng radio you will need to obtain a license (1). You can always try and operate without the license, but we strongly urge you to resist that temptation. If you need an incentive to get a license just keep in mind that the FCC does not take kindly to people operating this type of radio without a license and may fine you up to $20,000.

How do I Get a GMRS License?

To obtain a GMRS license to legally transmit using a Baofeng radio you must meet the following requirements:

  • You must be at least 18 years of age.
  • You must not be a representative of any foreign government.
  • You must pay a license fee of $35 which is good for 10 years.
  • License extends to your immediate family but that’s it.
  • You must disclose if you have any previous felony convictions.
  • You must agree to adhere to all FCC rules regarding GMFS radio.
  • The FCC does not issue company licenses, only individual ones.

And What Are Those FCC Rules?

  • You may not use the radio in connection with any activity that’s against Federal, State or local law.
  • You are forbidden from sending false or misleading messages via your Baofeng radio.
  • If an FCC representative wants to inspect your device you must allow them to.
  • You cannot use a GMRS device to send coded messages.
  • You may not use the device as a marketing platform.
  • You cannot use your GMRS device to broadcast political messages.
  • You cannot transmit music or sound effects using your device.
  • No communication is allowed with foreign radio stations or stations in the Amateur Radio Service (2).
  • You cannot carry on long uninterrupted transmissions.
  • Using your device as a type of public address system is not allowed.
  • You have to identify yourself using the call sign assigned to you by the FCC periodically during transmissions and at the end of all transmissions.

Are There Any Precautions I Should Be Aware Of?

  • The most important things to keep in mind is that you do need a license to transmit, and the above rules and regulations are aggressively enforced by the FCC. If you don’t want to get a license then all you can do with most Baofeng radios is listen to others.
  • It’s important that you program your radio to specific amateur and/or emergency channels, lest you wander into military frequencies and incur the wrath of the FCC.

What are the Benefits of a Baofeng Radio?

  • The most important benefit of a Baofeng radio is its ability to allow you to communicate and receive important information (3) in the event of an emergency. When cell towers are down your Baofeng will still get through.
  • They can also be used to communicate with employees in the field or others on large construction sites.
  • There is no monthly fee as there is with a cell phone.
  • Baofeng radios are highly portable and as a general rule, much more durable than smartphones.
  • You’ll be able to communicate clearly even in noisy environments, something that’s nearly impossible with a smartphone.
  • You can connect your radio to an entire group of people.

How do I Program a Baofeng Radio?

Select the Right Connecting Cable – Your Baofeng radio will connect to your computer using a USB cable. Not just any USB cable will do, but happily the right type should come with your radio. If your Baofeng did not come with the right cable you should be able to pick one up on eBay or Amazon without much problem.

Set up the CHIRP Software – Programming your Baofeng radio will require the use of what’s called CHIRP software (4). This is free, open-source software you download from the internet. The version you get will depend on your computer’s operating system. Once you have downloaded and installed the CHIRP software, connect your Baofeng to your computer using the USB cable and power.

Open the Software and Begin Programming – Open the CHIRP software and look for the button that says “Go to Radio”. Click it. Then click “Download from Radio”. One word of caution here: make sure your radio is set to its original factory settings, or the programming won’t work. If you’ve previously programmed the radio, you’ll need to go back into “settings” and reset everything to factory default. Also, if the radio is communicating with you in Chinese, go back into the settings menu, find the language settings, and choose English. Once you’re sure your radio is set to the factory default settings you can proceed.

Set the Frequency and CTCSS Tone – Go into the “menu” on your radio and select button 1. This is where you’ll choose your frequency. Most Baofeng’s support both UHF and VHF frequencies and operate in either the narrowband 12.5 KHz or the wideband 25 KHz. Save your changes. Then go back into the menu and select the CTCSS tone settings. CTCSS stands for “Continuous Tone-Coded Squelch System” (5). This is a kind of in-band signaling that reduces other voices on shared two-way radio channels. Simply navigate the menu until you find the CTCSS tone you want and then save your changes.

Set the Transmitting Frequency – Put your radio into VFO mode by pressing the orange VFO/MR button until 2 frequencies appear. Then press and hold the blue A/B button until you see an arrow appear pointing to the top frequency. Type in what you see minus any decimal point. So if the frequency you see is 146.76, type in 14576. If the frequency is less than 6 digits, add zeros to the end to make it 6. (i.e. 146760 etc).

A note of warning: different Baofeng radios tend to have different menu structures so you may find yours does not dovetail perfectly with the above instructions. The important thing is to adhere to the steps as they’re laid out in bold:

  • Make sure you have the right USB cable
  • Download and activate the CHIRP software
  • Connect the radio and open the software
  • Set the frequency and CTCSS tone
  • Set the transmitting frequency

For more details refer to the owner’s manual that comes with your particular Baofeng.

How Can I Get a Good Signal?

Making sure you get a good signal is not as tough as it may seem. It’s mostly a matter of common sense. Here are some tips that will help ensure you get a clear signal every time.

Make sure you’re in an unobstructed area – If you stand outside in a clearing or a parking lot you’re going to get a better signal than if you are in a basement, or in an alley between tall buildings. The more wide open the space the better will be your signal. If you are indoors and there is a balcony available you’ll probably get a better signal on the balcony.

Stay where you are while talking – Once you have a clear signal don’t move around while you’re communicating. If possible, just stay where you are until the conversation is over. Encourage the person you’re conversing with to stay put as well.

Don’t use your Baofeng while driving – First of all, because it’s not safe to be distracted while you’re driving. But from a technical standpoint, trying to use the radio in a moving car will be difficult because you’ll encounter numerous obstructions including buildings, bridges, trees, tunnels and more. If you must use your Baofeng in the car, pull over and stop in an area that is free of obstructions.

Buy an external antenna – If you must use your Baofeng in your car for whatever reason, you can improve your chances of getting a clear signal by purchasing an external antenna. This will attach to the outside of your vehicle and improve your odds of getting a clear signal. Even so, you should not use the Baofeng radio while actively driving.

If you have a weak signal, check the batteries – People often think battery operated tech is malfunctioning when in fact the problem is the battery or batteries. If you’re having trouble getting a signal with your Baofeng check the battery before you chuck it in the trash out of frustration.

Use a signal repeater – A repeater (6) is a combination amplifier and relay device that increases the power of the incoming signal before sending it on. If you have trouble getting a good signal in your home or office you can try setting up a repeater on your roof or balcony to boost the signal.

What is the Range of a Baofeng Radio?

That’s the $64,000 question. The most common compliant users have of Baofeng radios is that some of them don’t live up to their range claims. They’ll claim to communicate over 30 plus miles but the reality will be considerably less. This is not always the fault of the radio, however. As we mentioned above the Baofeng, or any other make of handheld two-way radio, will not provide optimal performance if there are obstructions nearby. So stay out of the woods, or basement, avoid crowded city streets and don’t expect to hear anything if you’re driving through a tunnel.