Top 3 Best Motorola Ham Radios For 2024


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Searching for the best Motorola Ham Radio?

Ham radios are more than just a hobby; they’re a lifeline for many enthusiasts and professionals. Motorola, a brand with a solid track record in communication technology, offers a variety of ham radios, each designed to meet specific user needs. 

In this article, we have the best Motorola ham radios with all their pros and cons to help you decide which is best for you.Whether you’re exploring rugged terrains or need a dependable communication tool for emergency situations, the right ham radio makes all the difference. 

This post will focus on what to look for in a Motorola ham radio, helping you to make an informed decision based on your requirements. If you’re curious about the latest offerings from Motorola and how they stack up, this article is your go-to guide for clear, detailed insights.

Why Should You Trust Us?

At WhollyOutdoor, our commitment to objectivity, honesty, and education forms the foundation of every review and opinion we share. Founded by Paul Dudley, a passionate ham radio enthusiast and avid outdoorsman, this websute is more than just a platform for reviews; it’s a reflection of our dedication to the outdoor lifestyle and the tools that enhance it. Paul’s hands-on experience with ham radios and various outdoor activities lends authenticity and depth to our content.

Since 2018, we’ve been dedicated to guiding our readers through the complexities of outdoor gear with reliable and straightforward advice. Trust us to provide you with information that’s not just informative but also grounded in actual use, ensuring you make well-informed decisions for your outdoor adventures.

How We Choose the Best Motorola Ham Radios

Selecting the best Motorola ham radios involves a meticulous process that goes beyond just comparing specs and prices. Our approach is centered on the real-world use and practicality of each model, ensuring that we recommend radios that truly meet the diverse needs of ham radio enthusiasts.

  1. Performance and Reliability: The core of a good ham radio lies in its performance. We look for models that offer clear signal transmission and reception, robust power output, and consistent reliability in various environments. This ensures that whether you’re in an urban setting or out in the wilderness, your radio won’t let you down.
  2. Build Quality and Durability: Ham radios often face challenging conditions. We assess the build quality, focusing on materials used and the overall construction. A good Motorola ham radio should withstand regular use, and even some degree of rough handling, without compromising its functionality.
  3. Ease of Use: Whether you’re a seasoned ham radio operator or a newbie, navigating the features of your radio shouldn’t be a hassle. We prioritize radios that offer intuitive interfaces, straightforward programming, and user-friendly controls. This makes it easier for all users to get the most out of their radios.
  4. Feature Set: We evaluate the feature set of each model, considering both basic and advanced functionalities. This includes assessing digital and analog capabilities, programmability, GPS integration, and any other unique features that enhance the overall user experience.
  5. Battery Life and Power Options: Long-lasting battery life is crucial, especially in situations where charging facilities are scarce. We look for radios with efficient power consumption and the flexibility of power options, ensuring you can stay connected for extended periods.
  6. Customer Feedback and Community Input: We consider feedback from actual users and the ham radio community. This helps us gauge real-world performance, reliability, and any potential issues that might not be evident through specifications alone.
  7. Value for Money: Price is always a consideration, but it’s about finding the right balance between cost and quality. We seek out radios that offer the best combination of features, performance, and durability for their price point.

By thoroughly examining these factors, we ensure that our recommendations for the best Motorola ham radios are well-rounded, practical, and most importantly, reliable for our readers. This comprehensive approach is aimed at helping you choose a radio that not only fits your specific needs but also provides a great return on investment.

3 Best Motorola Ham Radio Reviews

1.  Motorola XPR 2500 – Our Top Choice

The conventional mobile radio form factor, reasonably high output power, convenient use, and easy access to digital modes make the Motorola XPR 2500 our top choice. This one isn’t as rich in features as the handheld Motorola R7, but then the XPR 2500 isn’t intended as a flagship. It’s a workhorse that knows its job and does it well.

It is a digital transceiver working on DMR and MotoTRBO. Users can have it on UHF or VHF with limitations on maximum output power. The maximum power output for UHF is 40W, while that for VHF is 45W. Both bands are also available in variants with 25W maximum power.

The build quality is pretty good. Although the body is made of plastic, the casing is tough and durable. The rear of the radio has a big and well-placed heat sink, ensuring that the transceiver doesn’t heat up even when working on max power. 

The front of the radio has a simple interface. It has a small screen with a few buttons around it, the speaker takes one side of the front, while a small power button and an RJ45 microphone connector find room on the other side of the screen. 

Amongst the six buttons placed below the display, there are four programmable buttons, one menu button, and a home/back button. There are fewer buttons as compared to most mobile radios, and yet, that’s one of the plus points of this transceiver!

It’s remarkably easy to operate, handling the menus is easy, and the presence of programmable buttons lets the user take the proverbial wheel on this mobile radio. While the radio is not user-programmable, these programmable buttons offer the slight touch of customization available directly to the user. 

While the display is small, it’s crisp, clear, backlit, and shows all information, including menus. It’s easy to navigate and makes it easy to find the information and settings you want. It remains visible during the day and doesn’t get garishly bright at night.

The same careful approach is also visible with audio transmissions. The transceiver uses an “intelligent” system to find ambient noise in the vehicle and filters it out when transmitting. The speaker also offers good audio quality and is fairly clear.

Motorola includes the PMMN4090 compact palm microphone with the mobile radio. The mic is good quality, but with a simple build. The PTT button on the mic has good resistance and feels satisfying to work with.

Overall, Motorola XPR 2500 offers ease of use combined with the availability of high transmit power. With digital technology, its audio quality is remarkable, and the radio balances performance and value deftly.

To sum up, what I like is the…

  • Good build quality 
  • Good heat management
  • Clear audio Tx and Rx
  • Works on digital mode (UHF or VHF)
  • Max output power 45W on VHF (40W on UHF)
  • Easy to operate
  • Good performance.

On the downside…

  • Not user-programmable
  • There are no analog mode options

Our Ratings

  • Features: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 9/10
  • Signal Quality (Tx/Rx): 9/10
  • Build Quality: 8.5/10
  • Value for Money: 8.5/10
  • Overall Rating: 9/10

2. Motorola R7 – Best Premium Motorola Ham Radio

Motorola intends for the R7 to be its flagship portable radio, so it gets top-of-the-line features, options, and performance. It also gets a big price tag, making this a premium option. And there are several good reasons for its flagship status. The build quality is great, the display is remarkable, the audio quality is phenomenal, and there are many impressive features.

Looking at the build quality, the radio is fairly compact, though not tiny, and the casing is dependable. Motorola R7 is rated IP68, which means it is dustproof and waterproof.

The color display is pretty good too. It’s clear, crisp, and shows good detail. While the backlight is good and works fairly well in the sun, the display also has something of a transflective touch. This keeps the display visible even in the sun and without the backlight. 

Plus, the menus are very well laid out, and general information is easy to understand. Motorola R7 is also available in the no-display variant, but that ends giving up several features that make this such an impressive handheld transceiver.

Similar thoughtful implementation is visible in the audio quality. The speaker is very clear and offers great audio. Motorola has also done some thoughtful engineering for the transmitted audio. There are two microphones on this transceiver.

The microphone at the back catches ambient noise and works for noise cancellation. Meanwhile, the microphone at the front works conventionally and picks up audio from the user. 

As with conventional ham radios, this one too offers a maximum 5W transmit power on VHF and 4W on UHF. It also works on the 800/900 MHz band, though the transmit power is limited to 2.5W for this band. 

That said, this is a digital radio at heart and prefers to work with DMR where the magic of MotoTRBO shines. Other features for the Motorola R7 include GPS, WiFi, Bluetooth 5.2, and it can handle third-party apps. Even though this is a business/ham radio, it gets quite close to being a smartphone as well.

Overall, Motorola R7 is a remarkable handheld radio that shows good range, has clear communication, and is convenient to use. It is expensive, but its capabilities can very well justify the price tag.

To sum up, what I like is…

  • Amazing build quality
  • Rated IP68
  • Can work on UHF, VHF, or 800/900 MHz (single-band only)
  • Good range of customization options
  • Can work in digital and analog modes
  • Excellent audio quality
  • Includes GPS, Bluetooth, and WiFi
  • MotoTRBO has excellent performance
  • Good battery performance.

On the downside…

  • Expensive
  • Not user-programmable

Our Ratings

  • Features: 9.5/10
  • Ease of Use: 9/10
  • Signal Quality (Tx/Rx): 10/10
  • Build Quality: 9.5/10
  • Value for Money: 8/10
  • Overall Rating: 9.5/10

3. Motorola CP100D – Best Budget Motorola Ham Radio

Motorola CP100D is amongst the most price-conscious options available from the brand. Pushing the value proposition and usability options, Motorola offers this radio in several variants to suit your needs. 

You could get this radio with no display or keypad, with a display and limited keypad, or a display and full keypad. It can work in the digital mode with MotoTRBO or conventional analog VHF or UHF modes and the analog variants can be upgraded to digital when desired.

All these options can have custom programming as desired, though these radios are not user-programmable. Dealer intervention is necessary in most cases.

All of this might seem cumbersome for the average user. However, Motorola Solutions isn’t targeting individuals with these radios. They are meant for business and commercial operations where it might be desirable to have the Handheld Tranceivers  programmed to specific settings. 

Now each of these options brings some functional changes, apart from the change in appearance. The devices with a screen and keypad work with 160 channels, while the no-screen and no-keypad model works on 16 channels. Additionally, the limited keypad gets two programmable buttons, while the full keypad gets five programmable buttons.

You, or rather, the business, will need an FCC license to operate these radios and a separate software license is needed from Motorola for the use of digital modes and MotoTRBO, though that’s usually included with the purchase. 

The CP100D is rather well-suited for business requirements because the radio is incredibly easy to operate but can also handle some complex requirements, especially in the full keypad versions. It is repeater capable, has good transmit power, and offers good Tx and Rx audio quality.

Motorola CP100D offers a maximum transmit power of 5W on VHF and 4W on UHF. It comes with a standard 1750 mAh battery that can keep the radio running for about 14 hours. If you need more juice, Motorola also offers a battery upgrade to a 2150 mAh battery with a claimed use time of 20 hours. 

Overall, the Motorola CP100D offers ease of use, convenient pricing, and good performance. The availability of customization options makes it easier to get the radio suitable for your specifications and requirements. 

To sum up, what I like is…

  • Good build quality
  • Good range of customization options
  • Can work both in digital and analog modes
  • Good audio quality
  • MotoTRBO has excellent performance
  • Good battery performance.

On the downside…

  • Available options can be confusing

Our Ratings

  • Features: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 9/10
  • Signal Quality (Tx/Rx): 9/10
  • Build Quality: 7.5/10
  • Value for Money: 8/10
  • Overall Rating: 8.5/10

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. Can I upgrade Motorola Ham Radios later? Most Motorola ham radios have limited upgradeability, focusing mainly on software updates. Hardware modifications are typically not feasible, so choose a model that meets your long-term needs.
  2. How does wattage affect a Motorola Ham Radio’s performance? Higher wattage can mean a stronger signal and greater range, but it also impacts battery life. Balance your need for range with expected battery duration.
  3. Are Motorola Ham Radios compatible with other brands? Yes, as long as they operate on the same frequency bands and modes. Always check compatibility specifics, especially for digital modes.
  4. Do I need a license to operate a Motorola Ham Radio? Yes, in most countries, operating a ham radio requires a license. Check your local regulations to understand the licensing process.
  5. What’s the difference between VHF and UHF in Motorola Ham Radios? VHF bands are ideal for longer outdoor distances with fewer obstructions, while UHF bands are better suited for urban environments with more obstacles.
  6. How user-friendly are Motorola Ham Radios for beginners? Many Motorola models are designed with user-friendliness in mind, offering intuitive interfaces and basic operation modes suitable for beginners.
  7. What should I consider for antenna selection with Motorola Ham Radios? Consider the radio’s frequency range and your typical usage environment. Different antennas excel in different conditions and ranges.
  8. Is audio quality consistent across Motorola Ham Radio models? Generally, yes. Motorola is known for good audio quality, but individual model specifications can affect clarity, especially in noisy environments.
  9. How significant is the weight of a portable Motorola Ham Radio? For outdoor or mobile use, lighter models are preferable for ease of carrying. However, don’t compromise on essential features for the sake of weight alone.
  10. Are there any special features I should look for in Motorola Ham Radios? Look for features like programmable buttons, emergency alerts, and noise-cancelling capabilities, depending on your specific needs and usage scenarios.
  • December 13, 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