BaoFeng UV-5RA, UV-B5, UV-82, and Yaesu VX-6R Comparison

I’ve been very happy with the BaoFeng UV-5RA, but BaoFeng has released some newer models on the market so I thought it was time to take a look at the current offerings: of the new models it looked like the best new models were the UV-B5 (or nearly identical UV-B6), and UV-82, so here they are:

IMG_8793
UV-5RA, UV-B5, UV-82, VX-6R
 UV-5RAUV-B5UV-82VX-6
Amazon Price
ManufacturerBaoFengBaoFengBaoFengYaesu
TX Power (claimed)4W, 1W5W, 2W5W, 1W5W, 2.5W, 1W, 05W
Receive Range (MHz)65-108, 136-174, 400-48065-108, 136-174, 400-47065-108, 136-174, 400-4500.5-999
Transmit Range136-174, 400-480 136-174, 400-470 136-174, 400-520144-148, 222-225, 430-450
WaterproofNoNoNoYes
Easy to program by handNoNoNoYes
Scan SpeedSlowMediumSlowFast
ReceiverWide, easily overloadedMuch better than other BaoFengsWide, easily overloaded.Great.
Antenna LengthShortMediumMediumMedium
Annoying AlarmYesYesNoNo
FlashlightCandlelightNoneFlashlightNone
Individual band PTT buttonsNoNoYesNo
Steps (KHz)2.5, 5, 6.25, 10, 12.5, 20, 25, 50 (has 2.5 KHz steps)5, 6.25, 10, 12.5, 20, 252.5, 5, 6.25, 10, 12.5, 20, 25, 50 (has 2.5KHz steps)5, 10K, 12.5 15, 20, 25, 50, 100
Memory Banks11124
Memory Channels12799127900
Alpha Tags7-characters
5-characters7-characters
6-characters
Dual DisplayYesYesYesNo
Dot Matrix DisplayYesNoYesNo
Channel Encoder KnobNoYesNoYes
Dual PPT buttonsNoNoYesNo
VFO / Memory buttonYesYesNo (must hold menu button while turning on to switch)Yes
ARTS TransponderNoNoNoYes
Battery1800 mAh2000 mAh3000 mAh1500 mAh
SizeSmallSmallSmall but a little tallerSmall but a little wider
Shape / Hand FitSquareRounded (easy to hold)Rounded (great to hold).Square but rounded corners, wider so easier to hold.
Backlight ColorsPurple, Blue (RX), Red (TX)WhitePurple, Blue (RX), Red (TX)Orange
FCC Part 90 CertifiedYesNoNo (it does have a certification but mine did not come with an FCC label)No
Legal Uses in the United StatesHam Radio or FCC LicenseHam Radio onlyHam Radio onlyHam Radio only
Companding (see: Wikipedia article)NoYesNoNo
Real S-MeterNoYesNoYes

Scan Speed Compared.  You can see the UV-5RA and UV-82 are identically slow, the UV-B5 is a little faster, and the Yaesu VX-6R smokes them all.

A few thoughts about each radio:

The UV-5RA is still my favorite among the BaoFeng’s.  I think it’s the most versatile, it has 2.5KHz steps, a small size, lots of accessories, FCC part 90 certified (so this can be used on Business Bands with an FCC license).  My main complaint with this (and all BaoFeng’s) is the slow scan and difficulty programming by hand.   (As far as I can tell the UV-5RA, UV-5RB, UV-5RE, UV-5R, BF-F8+, UV-5R+, etc. are the same radio other than minor cosmetic and firmware differences).

The UV-B5 is the best radio I’ve seen from BaoFeng.  If I could only have one radio and only had $30 this is probably what I’d get.  It is shaped perfect and easy to hold.  This has the best receiver of the BaoFengs.  I tested the receivers by transmitting slightly off frequency and it would open up the other two BaoFengs but the UV-B5 would still stay quiet.  Also, there have been several times the UV-B5 will pickup a weak signal the other two BaoFeng’s didn’t.  Scanning is also faster than the UV-5RA and UV-82.  The channel encoder knob makes changing channels or settings so much faster!   Also this is the only radio that allows you to operate in VFO mode on one display and memory mode on the other. It’s only shortcomings are that it’s not FCC certified so it can’t be used on business bands, and the channel steps don’t go to 2.5KHz (which really is not a big deal, I don’t think I’ve need to be that precise for awhile).  If it was FCC certified it would take the place of my favorite from the UV-5RA.  (Note: UV-B6 is just like the UV-B5, except the 6 has a flashlight instead of the channel encoder knob).

Tbe UV-82 is the easiest to hold of the bunch because it is larger.  Other than that I can’t say it differs much from the UV-5RA.  It is a little bigger, has a much bigger battery, a slightly better light.  Changing from VFO mode to Memory mode is done by pressing menu while turning the radio on.  This radio is supposed to be FCC part 90 certified but mine didn’t come with an FCC label. (There are some variants of this radio like the UV-82X which are 2 meter / 1.25 CM instead of 2M / 70CM).

The VX-6R is still the radio I take with me hiking.  The difference between the Yaesu and the BaoFengs is not small.  The Yaesu is much higher quality, and it’s designed to be an Amateur radio which means it’s better at scanning and programming by hand.  The Yaesu VX-6R is not even in the same class as the BaoFengs but I included it in the comparison because it’s my favorite radio and I think most hams are going to enjoy something like this over a BaoFeng.

IMG_8804 IMG_8807 IMG_8806

 Programming
I was able to use CHIRP to program all of these radios and they all worked the same way and all worked fine with the same USB Programming Cable. It was quick to copy and paste the memories from one radio image to the other inside CHIRP and upload to the new radios.

The BaoFeng’s have great versatility because they can transmit on any frequency such as  GMRS/FRS/Marine/MURS/business frequencies, etc.  However, outside of an emergency it is illegal to do so.  I don’t agree with the FCC here, I think the FCC should allow non part certified radios on those frequencies but the rules are the rules.  I’ve posted a Legal Frequencies Q&A on my UV-5RA review page.

 

Ham Radio Comparison UV-3R+, UV-5RA, VX-7R, and VX-6R

radios_compared_sm

  ModelUV-3R+UV-5RAVX-7RVX-6R
  BrandBaoFengBaoFengYaesuYaesu
TX 6 Mnono30-59MHzno
TX 2 M136-174MHz136-174MHz137-174MHz137-174MHz
TX 1.25 Mnono222-225MHz222-225MHz
TX 70 CM400-470MHz400-480MHz430-470MHz430-470MHz
Wideband ReceiveNoNo0.5-999MHz0.5-999MHz
Channels99127900900
TX Power2 Watts4 watts5 watts5 watts
Dual band displayyesyesyesno
Alphanumeric Displaynoyesyes (but not in dual)yes
Waterproofnonofully submersible fully submersible
Shortwave Radio RXnonoyesyes
AM Radio RXnonoyesyes
FM Radio RXyesyesyesyes
Part 90 Certifiedyesyesnono
Cost (New)$33$39$370$230

BaoFeng UV-3R+
Smallest and cheapest radio.  No DTMF keypad.  It doesn’t have the transmit power of the others but it is easy to pocket–the best radio is the one you have with you.  Part 90 means it can be used for ham and business.  Slow scanning.  This is the radio of choice for your pocket.  Accessories are very cheap.

BaoFeng UV-5RA
Best bang for the buck, not easy to program without a computer.  Part 90 Certified means it can be used for ham and business, it’s a great all-purpose radio and I have a few in my emergency kit.  Slow scanning.  I think this model is the best value for the dollar.  Accessories are very cheap.

Yaesu VX-7R
I found this radio to a little too complex for my tastes, I would constantly have to get out the manual to figure it out where the other three radios are pretty intuitive.  It just has too many options I don’t care about.  For being so complex, I couldn’t find that it had an advantage over the VX-6R other than dual receive.  Magnesium case, submersible.  This is the best radio for someone who likes to tinker with all the settings and learn it inside and out.

Yaesu VX-6R
This is my radio of choice and the one I take hiking, it’s easy to program on the field and relatively compact.  It can handle just about anything I want it to do including outside the amateur bands (shortwave, AM/FM radio, etc.).   Magnesium case, submersible.

One neat feature on the Yaesu radios is ARTS, I was curious about the simplex range I’d get so I put one on my desk and the other in my car and drove around town, the radio will tell you when they go in and out of range.