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Updated April 7, 2023
Best Mobile Ham Radios Reviews In 2023
If you are in a hurry, Yaesu FT-2980R is the best mobile ham radio in the market. It is a single band high power output mobile radio and an improved version of FT-2980 with exceptional performance.
Wondering what is the best mobile ham radio for you?
It might be confusing picking the right one when there’s a lot of ham radios in the market to choose from. But the good news is that it doesn’t need to be frustrating anymore.
Our Top 5 Picks
- 1. Yaesu FT-2980R – Editor’s Choice
- 2. Yaesu Original FTM-400DR/XDR – Best Premium
- 3. BTECH Mini UV-25X2 – Best Budget
- 4. AnyTone AT-5888UV – Best For Crossband
- 5. Radioddity DB25-D Dual Band DMR Mobile Radio – Best DMR Mobile
12 Best Mobile Ham Radios In 2023 Reviews
1. Yaesu FT-2980R – Editor’s Choice
- 80 watts of high power output.
- Large display screen.
- Wireless internet linking access.
- 221 memory channels.
- Alpha-numeric labels.
This is a single band high power output mobile radio and an improved version of FT-2980 with exceptional performance.
Unlike other mobile radios, it has a wireless internet linking function. This makes it possible to connect with other users across the globe. Almost as versatile as a hand-held option.
It runs on 80 watts of power output that increases its performance efficiency. This makes it robust and capable of transmitting over long distances such as around the world.
With this radio, you get adequate storage space for your favorite channels. This is possible as it has an extensive memory system that can take up to 221 memory channels.
Its display is huge and makes it easy to read the ongoing operations. It’s also easy to see the operations at a glance.
Being that the screen is colored, it makes operating the radio simple especially at night and in poorly lit areas.
But that’s not all… you can edit channel names according to your preference using alphanumeric labels, thereby, making them easy to read.
Among the 221 channels, you can set and customize one as your home channel. You can allocate a frequently-used repeater channel or simplex frequency to this home channel.
This is important for enhancing easy access.
2. Yaesu Original FTM-400DR/XDR – Best Premium
- 50W FM, C4FM FDMA w/ GPS for APRS(1200/9600bps), Micro SD
- Frequency range RX – 108-470 / 800-999 MHz (cellular blocked)
- Frequency stability – ± 2.5 p.p.m. (-20 ~ +60 °C)
- Tuning steps – 5 / 6.25 / 10 / 12.5 / 15 / 20 / 25 / 50 / 100 kHz
- Filters – 12 / 30 kHz
Yaesu Original FTM-400DR/XDR is a highly capable and versatile mobile radio that is equipped with a large display screen and excellent signal quality. Whether you need to communicate in digital or analog mode, the FTM-400DR/XDR can handle it with ease, thanks to its dual-mode system.
When in analog mode, this radio works just like any other conventional radio, but when it goes digital, it utilizes Yaesu’s proprietary C4FM technology to produce an exceptional quality signal. However, it’s important to note that C4FM is exclusive to Yaesu, so users may experience difficulty communicating with those using other digital modes like DMR and DSTAR.
Aside from its ability to operate in both analog and digital modes, the FTM-400DR/XDR boasts several other impressive features. For one, it operates in three digital modes and one analog mode, allowing users to communicate with a wider range of radios. Additionally, its compact size makes it easy to fit in a car or other small spaces, and the detachable front panel gives users the option to install the main body of the radio wherever they prefer and run an extension cable to the front panel.
The front panel of the FTM-400DR/XDR is dominated by a large touchscreen display, but it also has a few buttons and knobs for those who prefer a more tactile approach to controlling the radio. This radio is very similar in appearance and features to the FTM-300DR, with the main difference being the larger display of the FTM-400DR/XDR. While the FTM-400DR/XDR does not directly support Bluetooth, an additional module can be added for this feature.
One particularly noteworthy aspect of this transceiver is its microphone. The stock microphone comes with several buttons that allow users to handle most functions without having to touch the screen. Additionally, an optional camera microphone is available, which can capture photographs and store them in a microSD card inside the radio.
The FTM-400DR/XDR is capable of functioning as a cross band repeater, although it requires some setup. To enable this feature, users will need to press the GM, F, and DISP buttons and then give a quick press to the power button. While in cross band repeat mode, the radio has a hot mic, but it only works in analog mode and does not accept C4FM.
While the FTM-400DR/XDR is a dependable radio, there are some minor drawbacks to be aware of. For example, the use of a touchscreen can make it difficult to access certain menus and functions, and there is no auto-dimming feature on the display.
Overall, the Yaesu Original FTM-400DR/XDR is a high-quality and feature-rich mobile ham radio that is sure to meet the needs of even the most demanding users. With its excellent audio clarity, maximum Tx output of 50W, and numerous features, this radio receives a rating of 9/10 from us. We highly recommend it for anyone in need of a dependable mobile radio.
- Features: 9.5/10
- Value for Money: 8/10
- Audio Clarity: 9/10
- Overall Rating: 9/10
3. BTECH Mini UV-25X2 – Best Budget
- High and low power setting.
- It works well with a magnetic mount antenna.
- Expanded frequency range setting.
- Channel mode editing settings.
This radio is high powered, dual-band radio that’s designed in the US. Besides, it has custom firmware and comes with full US warranty and customer support.
This makes acquiring the radio risk-free and you can get help with it at any time. This makes it better than most radios in the market.
Being a dual-band mobile radio, it operates on a VHF frequency of 136-174 and UHF frequency of MHz 400-520 MHz. What makes this radio unique is the ability to expand the frequency range.
Also, it has a dual power setting capability, thus, you can set it on high at 25 watts or low at 1o watts. This option gives you the freedom to set the radio on a power setting that meets your specifications and radio needs.
Additionally this radio features a colored LCD with a quad watch. Thus, you can view up to four frequencies or channels on the screen simultaneously.
It’s made of sturdy material which makes it robust and less susceptible to damages.
Furthermore, the radio is easy to install in your vehicle. It should only take you a few minutes and it’s a do it yourself task. But what is more pleasing is that it’s easy to program and use without the need for extra-ordinary skills.
4. AnyTone AT-5888UV – Best CrossBand Mobile Ham Radio
- AnyTone Dual Band Mobile Transceiver Radio, feature Full Twin Display and Receive, Cross Band Repeater mode, Remote Mountable Faceplate.
- Frequency Range: VHF/UHF. FCC ID: T4K-588UVBPLUS
- High Power Output: 50 Watts on VHF band and 40 Watts on UHF band, Built-in speakers in both radio and microphone, Built-in cooling fan
- 758CH, 2Tone/5Tone, CTCSS/DCS, ANI, DTMF, Squelch Level setup, Busy Channel Lockout,VFO, TOT, APO, keypad lockout wide/narrow band
- Easy to program via PC
AnyTone AT-5888UV Mobile Transceiver is a reliable mobile ham radio and a top choice for cross band repeater usage. Although radios with this functionality are not uncommon, only a few highlight it as a significant feature and offer easy access to it.
This dual band radio showcases its cross band repeater mode with ease. The function is user-friendly and the radio display exhibits pertinent frequencies, notifying the user when the repeater mode is active.
Operating with 2cm and 50cm bands, this radio boasts a maximum output power of 50W (VHF) and 40W (UHF), providing a considerable range. When paired with the appropriate antenna, it offers an impressive range and ease of use.
AnyTone also offers the AnyTone AT-5888UV III, which is similar to this radio, but it is a tri-band radio.
As a mobile transceiver, the device comes with a mounting bracket, screws, and a DC power cable with a fuse holder. It cannot be powered with a 12V DC cigarette lighter output and should be wired properly with a battery or cables to function correctly.
The radio’s front is uncomplicated, featuring a large screen flanked by a few buttons and knobs. The display is broad, backlit, and displays a wealth of information. The backlight can be customized to three colors, and it is not a major distraction or nuisance while driving at night. During the day, the display remains easily readable, even when it is bright outside.
The radio has built-in speakers and microphone, but using external speakers is recommended. While the volume is adequate, the quality of the built-in speakers is average at best. External speakers make a significant difference to this radio’s sound quality.
The microphone has several buttons for easy control and management, allowing users to handle many radio functions directly from the mic. It connects to an RJ-45 plug on the side of the radio near its face. It is decent for transmitting, but the reception is average.
The AnyTone AT-5888UV Mobile Transceiver is a feature-rich device with a comprehensive list of options, including a built-in cooling fan, squelch setup, CTCSS/DCS, ANI, DTMF, busy channel lockout, VFO, 758 channels, and many more.
It is recommended not to save too many channels on the radio since scanning speed decreases as the number of channels increases. This is a natural effect of using multiple channels, but this mobile radio appears to be considerably slower than others.
A programming cable is included in the package, and it is strongly recommended to use it. AnyTone offers free software for programming, but this transceiver is compatible with CHIRP and works better with it.
In conclusion, the AnyTone AT-5888UV Mobile Transceiver is a reasonably priced, feature-rich radio that functions effortlessly as a cross band repeater and provides a decent range for communication. Despite having some shortcomings, the radio’s overall performance makes them feel insignificant and that’s why this is our choice as the best crossband mobile ham radio.
- Features: 9.5/10
- Value for Money: 9/10
- Audio Clarity: 8/10
- Overall Rating: 9/10
5. Radioddity DB25-D Dual Band DMR Mobile Radio – Best DMR Mobile
- 20W output power + 300K DMR Contacts: 20W/5W high-low power selectable and 30,0000 DMR contacts storage, allowing bulk import via software.
- Dual Band, Dual Mode and even Dual Standby
- GPS function which can be used for APRS, which is for real time digital communications of information of immediate value in the local area.
- Color Screen & Dual Speakers
- 7 Customizable Keys
The Radioddity DB25-D Dual Band DMR Mobile Radio is a highly regarded option for those seeking a reliable and compact DMR mobile ham radio. This radio may appear larger in images, but in reality, it is comparable in size to a mobile phone, albeit thicker and heavier.
Despite its compact design, the mounting bracket that comes with it ensures that it can be mounted anywhere without much trouble.
One of the best features of this radio is that it comes with a GPS antenna included in the box, which can be easily connected to the back of the radio.
Additionally, a power cable is attached to the radio, which can be connected to the car’s power supply or the 12V cigarette lighter socket. The input voltage requirement is 13.8V, which is available through the lighter socket, making it simple to use the radio on-the-go.
Along with the mounting bracket, the box also includes other important components such as mounting screws, power cable, and a programming cable that uses a 2-pin Kenwood connector.
This cable is very similar to (or the same as) cables used for DMR devices like the TYT MD-380. While the MD-380 is an HT, a better comparison would be the Retevis RT73 DMR Radio, as these two radios are essentially the same in terms of hardware and appearance. However, Radioddity has customized the firmware and software to suit its style.
Radioddity has made some software changes to this radio, but the hardware, including the DC input and RF power output, remains consistent with other radios.
Since it connects to a 12V source, the maximum output power of the radio is limited to 20W. However, the transmit power can be easily switched between high and low power output, up to 5W, as needed.
When paired with a good antenna, the transmit power and signal clarity of this transceiver are sufficient for most uses, offering clear communication over conventional analog or DMR bands.
While it works on conventional frequencies of VHF 136-174MHz and UHF 400-480MHz in analog mode, it only works on DMR Tier II in digital mode. The radio allows for a 300,000 contacts list, easily added through the interface or programming software.
It also offers dual-mode, dual-band, and dual standby, making it easy to monitor desired channels and switch between analog and digital modes. The APRS function adds to the fun, allowing for analog APRS in a vehicle at a reasonable cost.
The interface includes an RJ45 plug for the microphone, a dial, a 1.77inch TFT screen, and a speaker, with seven buttons on top, three of which are programmable. The microphone includes four more programmable buttons and a magnetic contact at the back, making it easy to place on any metallic surface.
In terms of software, Radioddity actively manages and updates the firmware and software, providing features with greater scope for improvement. The software allows for a 300,000 contacts list, which is sufficient for most uses, but it does require some learning curve. The software can be buggy, and navigating menus can be a bit challenging.
Overall, the Radioddity DB25-D Dual Band DMR Mobile Radio is an excellent mobile radio that offers a lot of features for its price point. It is compact, easy to mount, and offers useful features like APRS, easy programming, and GPS. Additionally, it provides good voice quality and clarity, making it an excellent choice for anyone seeking a reliable DMR mobile ham radio.
- Features: 9/10
- Value for Money: 9/10
- Audio Clarity: 8/10
- Overall Rating: 8.5/10
- Channel Display mode.
- Key lock.
- Busy channel lockout.
- Memory channel lockout.
- Frequency ranges (144-148 MHz and 136-174 MHz).
- 65 watts power output.
TM-281A is a single band and the best ham radio with a transceiver that delivers excellent mobile performance.
The radio is made of rugged, tough, and sturdy materials that make it suitable for use in off-road errands. The sturdy material makes it less vulnerable to damages caused by rough roads.
Besides, it runs on a power output of 65 watts which increases its efficiency to exceptional results. Also, this enhances its ability to transmit over long ranges and in areas with lots of obstructions.
You have the option to influence power settings. Therefore, you can choose high or low output according to your preference and how far you want to transmit.
It features a multi-color LCD display with up to 32 different brightness variations. This is important when setting the display lighting to match the external lighting.
More importantly, it helps you to see the display functions without straining your eyes.
Also, the radio’s keypad has a backlight mode that lightens the keypad for ease of use. You will find this important when operating the radio in the dark or a poorly lit room.
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- Multiple scan functions.
- High wattage output.
- Small compact size.
- Alpha-numeric labels.
- 207 memory channels.
This a powerful single band mobile radio with a maximum of 65 watts power output. It’s compact in size, occupies a small space within your vehicle, and is designed to offer you excellent radio performance.
The high power output enhances its performance by enabling you to communicate over wide ranges. Besides, this makes it possible to have lengthy conversations with friends and family.
Also, it operates on a frequency range of 144-148 MHz and 207 memory channels. With 207 memory channels, you can scan and save your favorite channels to this ample storage space.
You will find the radio easy to use since it has a user-friendly interface. Furthermore, its LCD display is large enough and operates on 6 alphanumeric characters.
This makes it possible to view operations on the display at a glance without losing sight of important information. It will also help you to see the screen labels from multiple different angles.
It’s made of strong aluminum material that is tested for shock, vibration, and temperature. This makes the radio robust and less susceptible to rough road damages.
*Check here the Best Handheld Ham Radios
- Quad-band 10M/6M/2M/70cm.
- 50/40 wattage output.
- Digital FM broadcast band radio.
- Keypad lock function.
- 809 memory channels.
- Channel name editing.
TH-9800 is a quad-band and 50 watts mobile transceiver radio that is designed for amateur base station use in vehicles. It’s an off-road radio that’s made of strong materials to prevent potential radio damages.
It has two power output options. These are the 50 watts and the 40 watts power output setting. 50 is the maximum wattage and it helps you to transmit effectively in areas with obstructions.
The package includes the ham radio, a mic hanger, a power cable, a mounting bracket, and screws. It also comes with an operating manual, a programming cable, and a factory Disc.
The user manual makes it easy to operate the radio without the need of specialized skills. Thus, anybody can learn how to use the radio by just following the manual instructions.
To get the best from the radio, you need to program it by adding the right channels. The best part: it comes with a programming cable and software. You only need a PC for a quick installation.
Moreover, customer service is completely available at your disposal. And, you can contact them in case you need some help. Since they are available on social media, it’s easier to reach out to them.
- It comes with mounting brackets and screws.
- 25-watt maximum power output.
- Built with a cooling fan.
- Dual-band radio.
This is a compact dual-band mobile transceiver amateur radio that is designed for use in cars. Since it’s made of sturdy material, it’s strong enough to endure off-road hurdles.
This radio runs on a 25-watt power output that enhances its performance to transmit through obstacles such as concrete, wood, and metal. Thus, you are guaranteed of quality communication regardless of the obstructions
QYT KT-8900 features an inbuilt cooling fan that cools down the radio after several hours of use. This feature help avoid overheating which is likely to slow down other radios’ performance.
The radio is easy to program. What you need is a computer and programming software. You’ll also need a Windows operating system installed on your computer.
Also, the radio is dual-band and operates in both vhf and uhf frequency. It ranges of 65-108 MHz for commercial FM, 136-174 MHz very high frequency, and 400-480 MHz ultra-high frequency.
The radio has up to 200 memory channels. You can scan and save all the channels of your choice.
10. AnyTone AT-5555N
- Powerful output: AM 12W, FM 30W, SSB 30W.
- Built-in speaker.
- Frequency response AM/FM: 300-3000 Hz SSB: 450-2500 Hz.
- Audio output power 3 watts.
- Automatic gain control.
AnyTone is a high power output and 10M amateur radio that is designed for use in vehicles and outdoor activities such as hiking. This radio is known for its excellent performance.
It operates on three adjustable power settings depending on the band. AM runs on 12 watts, FM on 30 watts, and SSB on 30 watts. You can easily adjust power settings through its power knob.
The radio comes with a default frequency of 28.000-29.000 MHz. The good news is that you can expand the radio frequency so that the radio works optimally according to your geographical location.
To get this sorted, send an email to your seller and you’ll get an easy to read set of frequency expansion instructions.
Besides, the radio features a large red-colored LCD display that helps you to see operations at glance. This makes the radio less strenuous to use, especially when in the dark or a poorly lit place.
But what’s more amazing is the 1-year product warranty. This means acquiring the radio is risk-free for the first year.
And if you’re not satisfied with the radio in the first month, you can send it back and ask for your money back.
- Multiple LCD color display.
- Noise Filter.
- Microphone gain control.
- Power control.
- AM and FM operation.
- Dimmer control
This a 10-meter mobile radio with a record for frequency stability and clear crispy sound. It’s ideal for today’s mobile radio needs and is worth investing in.
Moreover, it features an outstanding LED-backlit faceplate with up to 7 different colors. Therefore, with the push of a button, you can set the faceplate to light according to your preference.
Alternatively, you can let the process be automatic by allowing the radio’s CPU to scan through and find the ideal color for the faceplate.
The best part is that these alternative faceplate lightings will enable you to operate the radio effectively at night. You will also find it beneficial when in a poorly lit area.
Amazingly, it operates on power output of 70 watts which enables the radio to transmit over long ranges. Therefore, communicating with other users scattered all over is going to be easy for you.
Also, this radio is PC programmable. You only need programming software and a computer to program the radio so that it suits and meets your radio needs. Moreover, programming is easy and takes a short time.
Its variable power control setting is meant to help you control the power output to your liking. You can set it on low or high depending on your objectives.
Long-distance communication will require a high power output while short distance ranges will do fine with a low power setting.
*Check out our reviews on the Best Long Range Two Way Radios
- Dual simultaneous display.
- Easy channel editing.
- Supported group tones.
- Programmable 200 memory channels.
- Multi-color LCD display.
- Loud 2W speaker.
This is a two-way and high power dual-band analog mobile radio that is designed in the USA. Unlike other radios, it comes with a custom made firmware that makes the radio simple to operate.
BTECH UV-50X2 features a robust multi-color LCD display screen that is also customizable.
Also, you can customize channels to display in alphanumeric mode. The best part is that you can do the same to frequency settings. This helps in making the radio easy to operate.
This radio has 200 memory channels that you can program according to your interests and need. Moreover, you can scan for your favorite channels then add them to your channel list.
Channel list modification is possible and easy at the same time. The radio makes your work easy by allowing you to remove or add channels appropriately.
It comes with a programming cable and software for convenience in programming. However, you need to have a windows computer, then carefully follow programming instructions.
Mobile Ham Radios Buyers’ Guide
To make an informed buying decision, you need to check the radio for important features and functions. Below, you will find some of the main considerations you MUST put into perspective.
Rough roads are more likely to damage a mobile ham radio. Therefore, you want to ensure the radio is of high quality, is robust and less susceptible to off-road damages.
The best way to achieve this is to find an amateur mobile radio that is made of sturdy metallic material like aluminum.
Aluminum is tested for shock, vibration, and temperatures, and thus a guarantee that it will keep your radio strong and durable.
2. Output Power
Power output is the engine that determines the efficiency of any mobile ham radio. This implies that power output influences the maximum range the radio can cover.
Therefore, the higher the wattage, the wider the range and better the radio will perform. And the lower it is, the more inefficient the radio will be.
Thus, if you want to communicate over wide ranges, then, the best mobile ham radio for you is one with high power output.
3. Bands and Frequency
Radio communication takes place over frequencies. On the other hand, bands are a collection of multiple frequencies. Moreover, frequency strength determines the range of communication.
If the frequency is weak, it will hinder proper communication. Thus, the best frequency is strong and covers a wider range.
That said, you need to ensure the radio operates on a reliable and strong frequency range. This will facilitate prompt and uninterrupted communication.
The best mobile amateur radio is either a single band or dual-band. In turn, this determines if it’s operating on VHF, UHF or HF.
The ability to program the radio enables you to add important Talk groups and channels that are relevant to your area.
This also influences the number of people you can communicate with either locally or globally. Therefore, you should pick a mobile ham radio that is easy to program.
More importantly, you need to be certain that programming accessories such as the software and the cable are easy to find in the market.
Antenna power can either make or break a mobile radio’s performance. When operating in an area with poor or weak signals, you need a strong and powerful antenna.
Moreover, since poor signals hinder quality communication, you should double-check the strength of the radios antenna.
Alternatively, you can get aftermarket antennas and replace it with the factory one. Aftermarket antennas are reliable and more powerful hence a guarantee that you will experience quality transmissions and receptions.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Single Band Vs Dual Band?
Dual-band communications takes place on the ultra-high frequency (UHF) and very high frequency (VHF). UHF band has a frequency range of 420-450 MHz and is commonly referred to as the 70 cm band.
On the other hand, the VHF band has a frequency range of 144-148 MHz and is commonly referred to as the 2m band.
Dual-band systems allow transmission and reception in two ways. First, it can take place on different bands where one band receives while another transmits.
Alternatively, transmission and reception can take place on one band but on a different frequency.
2. Dual-Band Vs Quad-Band?
Both dual band and quad band are multi-band systems though with a slight difference. A quad-band ham radio system supports up to four frequency bands. On the other hand a dual band mobile radio supports 2 frequency bands