05 December, 2013

The best of the Baofeng handhelds

How do the cheap Baofeng handhelds compare? I have had the Baofeng UV-5R since I bought it from the 409shop in April 2012, but recently I noticed that the UV-B5, UV-B6, and UV-82 have appeared on the market also. If I should need another handheld transceiver for VHF/UHF, is there any advantage in getting any of the other models?

I prepared the following table in order to highlight differences and similarities. Bold characters signify an improvement for what I conceive to be typical radio amateur use.




Front-end OK OK Improved
Antenna Short Longer Longer
Signal meter On/off On/off Dynamic
Squelch VHF: On/off
UHF: Tiny steps
21. Dec 2013
As the UV-5R

21. Dec 2013
Larger steps
Size and shape Square and small Fits better
in hand, larger
Fits better
in hand
Frequency/channel change Up/down Up/down Rotary
VFO/MR button Yes Turn radio off,
then press menu
as you turn it on

3. Jan 2014
Band button YesNo (in menu) Switches 
Dual PTT button No Yes No
Programming Need a computer
to enter alpha tags 
Alpha tags 
can be entered 
from keyboard
Alpha tags can 
be entered 
from keyboard
Memory channels 128 128 99 + 16 for FM radio
Display 7 characters
in name
7 characters 
in name
Harder to read,
only 5 characters
in name
Modifications Enlarge mic hole,
(and here),
Low modulation mod
- Unused button as
light switch

The UV-B6 is not covered here since the only difference from the UV-B5 is a flashlight instead of the rotary encoder and alarm button of the B5.

My main sources are the blogs of PD0AC (UV-82, UV-B5/B6) and the Miklor FAQs

In general I think the design of much radio equipment is lagging behind other electronics when it comes to user interfaces. Imagine a smart phone user interface on a handheld! That is why I emphasize user interface issues in my final evaluation.

I like the improved front-end, signal meter, and squelch of the UV-B5 making it a strong contender for the winner position. But I don't think they are worth the price of a poorer display. On the other hand, the UV-82 is inferior in my view to the UV-5R due to the need to enter the menu for VFO/MR and band switch functions. So for now I'll stick with the UV-5R.