Top 3 Best ICOM Ham Radios For 2024


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Searching for best ICOM ham radio?

Each model in ICOM’s lineup brings its unique set of features and functionalities, catering to a wide range of needs and preferences. From the robust and feature-rich handheld transceivers to the versatile and powerful mobile and high-frequency radios, ICOM stands out for its commitment to quality, innovation, and user experience. 

Whether you’re a seasoned ham operator or new to the hobby, these radios offer something for everyone, blending traditional radio functionalities with modern technological advancements.

So, whether you’re looking for a handheld, mobile, or high-frequency radio, join us as we unpack the features that make ICOM a brand worth considering in the dynamic and ever-evolving realm of ham radio.

Our Top Picks

Why Should You Trust Us?

At WhollyOutdoor, we pride ourselves on delivering reviews rooted in honesty and objectivity. Our founder, Paul Dudley, is not just an editor but a dedicated ham radio enthusiast and outdoor lover. 

This personal passion and hands-on experience shape our approach to every review, ensuring that you receive trustworthy and practical insights. 

We’re here to offer you more than just information; we aim to be your reliable guide in the ever-evolving world of amateur radio and outdoor adventures.

How We Choose the Best ICOM Ham Radios

Selecting the best ICOM ham radios isn’t just about looking at the latest models or the most feature-packed options. Our approach is methodical, reader-focused, and driven by a genuine passion for amateur radio. Here’s how we narrowed down our top picks:

  1. User Needs and Preferences: We start by considering the diverse needs of our readers. Are they beginners or experienced users? Do they prefer handheld, mobile, or base stations? Understanding these preferences helps us target features that matter most to our audience.
  2. Technical Specifications: We dive deep into the technical aspects – frequency range, power output, type of modulation, battery life, and more. This helps us gauge the performance and versatility of each radio.
  3. Innovative Features: We look for radios that bring something extra to the table, like advanced GPS capabilities, digital modes (like D-Star), and Bluetooth connectivity. These modern features can significantly enhance the ham radio experience.
  4. Durability and Build Quality: Especially important for outdoor enthusiasts, we assess the build quality of each radio. Durability, weather resistance, and portability are key factors in this evaluation.
  5. Ease of Use: A great radio should be user-friendly. We prioritize models with intuitive interfaces, clear displays, and straightforward programming.
  6. Brand Reputation and Support: ICOM’s reputation for quality is well-known, but we also consider the level of support and warranty offered, which is crucial for long-term satisfaction.
  7. Price vs. Performance: We balance features and quality against cost to ensure our recommendations offer the best value for money.
  8. Feedback from Real Users: We scour user reviews and ham radio forums for insights into how these radios perform in real-world scenarios, not just in test environments.
  9. Comparative Analysis: We compare our shortlisted models against each other, focusing on how each one stands out in key areas like signal quality, battery life, and additional functionalities.
  10. Future-Proofing: We consider how well these radios will hold up over time, looking at aspects like firmware updates, compatibility with future technologies, and adaptability to evolving amateur radio practices.

Based on these criteria, we’ve selected radios that we believe will best serve the needs of any ham radio enthusiast. Whether you’re a hobbyist looking to explore the airwaves or a seasoned operator needing a reliable rig, our picks for the best ICOM ham radios are tailored to offer exceptional performance, durability, and ease of use.

Best ICOM Ham Radios Reviews

1. Icom IC-7610 – Best Icom High Frequency Ham Radio

Icom IC-7610 is amongst the best HF transceivers available on the market. It performs admirably in comparison with its peers and excels not just in technical aspects, but also in its interface and experience. 

The most prominent visual aspect of this radio is the 7-inch color touchscreen that dominates its front. The bright, high-quality display is large enough for most users. You can also split the display into two to show information like main and sub-receivers. Should you desire a larger display, it is possible to connect an external display to the transceiver. 

The bright and sharp display shows off several features, including a spectrum scope, waterfall, audio scope, and more. Of course, it also shows the menu and information related to the current channel and frequency.

In case a touchscreen isn’t your cup of tea, plug a mouse into one of the two USB slots and use it for conventional point-and-click functions. Of course, this also works with any external display connected to the transceiver. Yet, what you can do with a mouse is somewhat limited.

Apart from the screen, much of the transceiver’s front is covered in various buttons, dials, and knobs to access its features. The multi-dial knob takes center stage here and remains generally easy to manage. Apart from turning it, you can also push it like a button to access other menus and features.

Thanks to the presence of all these buttons and knobs, most of the features for the HF transceiver are easily accessed, without having to wade through menus. One of the points where the IC-7610 misses is the lack of a backlight for the buttons and knobs. 

However, such mild annoyances can be forgiven considering how good the transceiver is at its job. The Tx and Rx audio quality is phenomenal. The audio you transmit or receive is as clear and crisp as it gets, and without distortion.

The unit makes use of two receivers, and they are selective, sensitive, and overall excellent at their job. This setup means that the transceiver can be seen as two separate radios that share single controls. This opens up the possibility of true dual-band functionality, allowing users to monitor, receive, or transmit on two bands simultaneously. 

IC-7610 is sometimes compared to the more popular, but lower-priced Icom IC-7300. The comparison is unfair to both of these amazing transceivers. While they are both HF transceivers, they fill different positions in the niche and offer different solutions. 

Perhaps a value-oriented beginner could start with the IC-7300 and consider the 7610 when comfortable for an upgrade.

Overall, the Icom IC-7610 is a remarkable high-end High Frequency radio with impressive looks, design, and features. Its Tx and Rx are near flawless, and the digital signal processing works wonders with the signal quality.

To sum up, what I like is the…

  • Good design and build quality
  • Large 7-inch touchscreen TFT
  • Easy to access most functions and features
  • Well made and detailed manual
  • Remarkable Tx and Rx quality
  • Offers true dual-band functionality
  • DSP (Digital Signal Processing) for better audio 
  • Simple to setup.

On the downside…

  • No backlight for buttons
  • Limited features when used with a mouse.

Our Ratings

  • Features: 9.5/10
  • Ease of Use: 9/10
  • Signal Quality (Tx/Rx): 9.5/10
  • Build Quality: 9.5/10
  • Audio Quality: 9.5/10
  • Value for Money: 8.5/10
  • Overall Rating: 9.5/10

2. ICOM IC-7100 – Best Multi-band ICOM Ham Radio

There’s everything to love about the Icom IC-7100 and this rig does get a lot of love! This is a full-featured multi-band mobile radio, with D-Star capability, responsive touchscreen, and thoughtful design. 

The multi-band all-mode radio is the classic “shack in a box,” thanks to its versatility. Also, while this transceiver isn’t cheap, it does offer great value with remarkable features.

Since this is a mobile radio, it comes with a classic mounting bracket, though it can also work with a suction cup mounting base. And there is a touch of thoughtfulness with the mounting as well. The faceplate/control head is removable and can be installed according to the user’s preference, while the box can stay safely out of the way.

Icom has chosen to angle the control head, which looks weird at a glance but offers excellent ergonomics. The control head can stand on the curve, keeping the screen and controls readily accessible. 

It is dominated by a large touchscreen with a big knob to the side. Several buttons cover the angled part of the control head and provide easy access to various features and functions.

The display here is the dot-matrix type. I would like to expect colors at this price, but really, there isn’t much to complain about this display. It has excellent contrast and shows the information clearly, and the touch function works flawlessly. It is backlit and bright enough to be visible during the day, yet it doesn’t feel obnoxiously bright at night.

The microphone attaches to the back of the control head using an RJ45 connector. The included mic is plain to look at, but has a good heft and feels good in the hands. It offers good audio quality and works nicely with the unit. 

As a multi-band radio, Icom IC-7100 fully covers High Frequency , 50, 144 and 430/440 MHz amateur bands in multiple modes. Its power output can go up to 100W for HF and 50 Mhz. The 144 Mhz band maxes at 50W, and the 430/440 MHz band works with 35W max.

The radio includes digital capabilities and works with D-Star. The memory has room for 900 D-star repeater channels, with an additional 495+ channels for regular use. Also an SD card slot makes it easy to save data or store memory channels and D-Star repeater memories. 

Taking the digital touch a step further, the IC-7100 can connect to your Android smartphone and work with the RS-MS1A app. However, it works only when connected through a data cable. While there are uses for this, the cable is a hassle and a Bluetooth connection would be much desirable. Guess you can’t have everything!

Overall, Icom IC-7100 is a remarkable mobile radio that impresses with its great features, then takes things up a notch with great ergonomics and amazing voice clarity.

To sum up, what I like is the…

  • Multi-band and multi-mode function
  • High-quality Tx and Rx
  • Large, clear, touchscreen display
  • DSP (Digital Signal Processing) for better audio
  • Large VFO knob has a good feel
  • Detachable control head
  • Works with analog and digital modes
  • Can work with the RS-MS1A app.

On the downside…

  • Lacks features like GPS, Bluetooth, APRS
  • Color screen would be preferable.

Our Ratings

  • Features: 9/10
  • Ease of Use: 9/10
  • Signal Quality (Tx/Rx): 9/10
  • Build Quality: 9/10
  • Audio Quality: 9.5/10
  • Value for Money: 8.5/10
  • Overall Rating: 9/10

3. Icom ID-52A – Best Handheld ICOM Ham Radio

Icom ID-52A is the company’s flagship handheld transceiver. It plays that role with an imposing presence and great features to boot. And when I say imposing, I mean that this is amongst the biggest HTs on the market. 

How one feels about that is entirely subjective. Some people find the larger size and heft to be a comfortable and good feel in the hands, while others find it needlessly clunky. In some part, the larger size is due to some iterative improvements ID-52A has received over the previous model, Icom ID-51. 

The most notable visual changes here are the bigger screen and the louder speaker. The display is 2.3 inches and adds a nice visual touch to the device. 

However, for a radio this expensive, the display falls short on some quality features. It’s not all that bright and thus not clearly visible under the sun. The contrast could have been better, and the black color on the display has something of a gray touch.

On the plus side, it shows information rather elegantly. Incidentally, this is also the first display on an HT that can handle a full-color waterfall.

Similarly, the improved 750 mW speaker is also very loud and offers clear audio. Icom ID-52A carries this great quality for received signals to the transmitted signals as well. The Tx and Rx quality on this transceiver are remarkable.

It can function as a dual-band transceiver, working on 2m and 70cm bands. For those who want something more to listen to, this radio will also receive broadcast FM and airband. 

Since this is an Icom radio, the digital mode here is D-Star. It shifts from analog to digital rather effortlessly and you can also use analog and digital features simultaneously. The radio uses its built-in GPS to work with Icom’s repeater list, thus ensuring that users have an easy way to find and connect to repeaters wherever they’re located. 

The HT can use Bluetooth to connect to a variety of accessories or to your smartphone through the RS-MS1A mobile app. The app expands the features and possibilities of the radio, while also making it easier to work with updates. 

While this is a feature-rich radio, the lack of APRS is disappointing. At this price point, one would expect full APRS, rather than no APRS. Similarly, the decision to stay with micro USB charging rather than going with USB Type-C isn’t very sensible. 

Other notable features include a sturdy build and casing with IPX7 protection rating (so it’s waterproof), good battery performance, compatibility with ID-51 accessories, and a nice user interface. 

Overall, Icom ID-52A is a well-built and feature-rich handheld transceiver that’s easy to use, has great features, and shows remarkable performance with options like Bluetooth and GPS. The radio offers amazing Tx and Rx quality, and convenient functioning of analog and digital modes.

To sum up, what I like is the…

  • Good build quality with IPX7 protection rating
  • High-quality 750 mW speaker
  • Larger display with waterfall
  • Built-in GPS works seamlessly with repeater list
  • Compatible with ID-51 accessories
  • Easy working in analog and digital modes
  • Multiple Tx power options (5, 2.5, 1, 0.5, and 0.1 W)
  • Bluetooth.

On the downside…

  • Expensive
  • No APRS
  • Display performance could be better
  • No USB Type-C charging

Our Ratings

  • Features: 9.5/10
  • Ease of Use: 9/10
  • Signal Quality (Tx/Rx): 9/10
  • Build Quality: 9/10
  • Audio Quality: 9.5/10
  • Value for Money: 7.5/10
  • Overall Rating: 9/10

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. How do I choose the right ICOM ham radio for my needs? Consider your main activities: are you a casual user, a hobbyist, or a professional? Look at factors like frequency bands, power output, portability for handheld models, and additional features like GPS and digital modes. The right radio balances your needs with features and budget.
  2. What benefits does GPS offer in an ICOM ham radio? GPS in ham radios aids in precise location tracking, which is crucial for mapping during travel or outdoor adventures. It also facilitates advanced features like APRS for real-time data communication and easy access to nearby repeater networks.
  3. Can ICOM radios be used for emergency purposes? Absolutely. ICOM radios are renowned for their reliability and durability, making them suitable for emergency communication. Features like long battery life, robust build, and clear signal transmission are vital in emergency situations.
  4. What’s the advantage of digital modes over analog in ICOM radios? Digital modes provide clearer audio quality, better signal strength at longer distances, and less susceptibility to interference. They also offer advanced communication options like text messaging and digital voice recording.
  5. Is a license required for operating ICOM ham radios? Yes, a license is required for ham radio operation in most countries. This ensures users understand radio operation and etiquette, and helps prevent interference with other communications.
  6. How does one update the firmware in an ICOM ham radio? Firmware updates typically involve downloading the latest firmware version from ICOM’s official website and using a USB connection to transfer the update to your radio. It’s crucial to follow the specific instructions for your model to avoid any technical issues.
  7. Are accessories from other brands compatible with ICOM radios? This depends on the specific model. Some ICOM radios may be compatible with universal accessories, while others require ICOM-specific accessories, particularly for specialized functions.
  8. What is D-Star and is it available on all ICOM radios? D-Star is a digital voice and data protocol system that offers enhanced communication capabilities. It’s not available on all ICOM models, so if this feature is important for your communication needs, verify the model’s specifications before purchase.
  9. How important is battery life when selecting an ICOM ham radio? Battery life is crucial, especially for handheld models. Longer battery life means more time communicating without the need for frequent recharging, which is essential for field operations or during extended outdoor activities.
  10. What kind of warranties do ICOM ham radios typically have? ICOM radios usually come with a manufacturer’s warranty ranging from one to three years, covering defects and malfunctions. It’s important to check the warranty details for the specific model you’re interested in, as terms and coverage can vary.
  • December 8, 2023
Paul Dudley

Paul is the owner and founder of . His passion for ham radios and fishing lead him to create this site. He loves playing with his radios and doing many other outdoor activities