Review Pofung (Baofeng) GT-1

I didn’t pay much attention to the GT-1 because I assumed it was just old wine in a new bottle. Time to rectify this, due to popular demand.

We all know the Baofeng BF-666S / BF-777S / BF-888S radios: 16 UHF channels, no display, low power output, a receiver which can be overloaded by snapping your fingers, but they are dirt cheap. The GT-1, co-developed by SainSonic, promises to improve on this concept by adding FM radio, a higher capacity battery and higher power output.

Look & feel
When it comes to looks, the GT-1 looks a bit more modern than its predecessors. The radio is slightly taller and less deep. All in all the GT-1 looks and feels nice. The basic concept didn’t change: 16 programmable UHF channels between 400 MHz and 470 MHz, scramble (voice inversion), a on/off/volume pot, a 16-step rotary encoder and a flashlight. Apart from emitting a steady beam of light the flashlight now offers an ‘SOS- mode: three short, three long and three short pulses.

You can order the radio with side keys in different colors: yellow, orange or green. The (of reasonable quality) manual comes in three languages: English, French and German. Nice touch.

Pofung GT-1Battery
GT-1 Battery LabelAccording to the specs printed on the battery the nominal voltage is 7.4 Volts @ 1800 mAh, the same capacity as the UV-5R battery.  Such a capacity would be in line with the higher power output promised on the radio label: a solid 5 Watts instead of ‘less or equal to 5 Watts’ printed on a BF-888S (which proved to be 2 Watts only).

The first hint of something being terribly wrong was the weight of the battery. It felt so light that I was afraid that it might end up at the other end of the living room if I had a nasty cough. Time to to take a closer look at things. Let’s take a look at the weight first as more cells always translates into a heavier battery.  The amount of plastic used plays a role too, of course. So while this is not a 100% reliable method, it does give you an indication.

Battery weight comparison
Pofung GT-1: 47 grams
Baofeng BF-666S: 54 grams
Baofeng UV-5R: 80 grams
Anytone NSTIG-8R: 96 grams

As you can see the weight of the GT-1 and BF-666S batteries are close. The UV-5R and NSTIG-8R batteries are too, both proven to be 7.4 Volts @ 1800 mAh. The GT-1 battery seems just too light to be in the same 7.4 Volts / 1800 mAh league.

I took my multimeter and checked the GT-1 battery. Not to my surprise it only measured 4.0 Volts (freshly charged), so the nominal voltage is 3.7 Volts only, just like the BF-666S battery. The capacity will likely be the same too, somewhere between 1000 mAh and 1500 mAh.

GT-1 Radio LabelTransmitter
After finding out that the battery might even be inferior to the one supplied with its predecessor I didn’t expect the GT-1 to be able to reach 5 Watts output at all. That proved to be correct. Two samples measured the same: between 1.5 – 2 Watts, depending on the frequency.

TX Audio
A bit brighter and slightly louder than my BF series, which is a plus.

Phase noise and harmonics
Less phase noise than the BF series. There are some unusual peaks visible, but nothing scary.

Pofung_GT-1_spectrumReceiver
At -126 dBm the GT-1 is sensitive enough, but that won’t help you much. It doesn’t take much of an out-of-band signal to make the radio as deaf as a post. Even the local repeater can’t be received in my city center; only if I’m about 3 kilometers away from the center the receiver comes to life.

FM Radio
By holding the upper side key while switching on the radio, the GT-1 will switch to FM radio, something the BF series don’t offer. There doesn’t appear to be a way to tune to a preferred station though; it randomly tunes into stations it finds. This makes the feature of limited use.

Edit: pressing the upper side key shortly will make the radio switch from station to station. Some in-house interference made the system fail when I tested it. The interference caused the scan to stop when encountering these false positives.

RX Audio
A bit raw, just like with the BF series, but more tinny. Audio distorts quickly if you crank up the volume.

Software
The GT-1 can be programmed with the same software developed for the BF series. CHIRP works too, but lacks a few options such as switching on scramble. Changing power output from ‘High’ to ‘Low’ in the software still doesn’t work; the radio just ignores that setting.

The verdict
After being confronted with all the lies surrounding the Pofung GT-1 there’s no way I can justify a diplomatic way of saying things. The GT-1 is just old wine in a new bottle, the battery voltage / capacity is one big lie and so is the promised power output.

The receiver is still disappointing unless you live in the proverbial ‘middle of nowhere’. To make matters worse the GT-1 is more expensive than a Baofeng BF-666S / BF-777S / BF-888S.

In short: don’t buy one unless you’re a notorious masochist. Go for a UV-5R instead or, if you like/need this particular concept, buy the superior Anytone ANILE-8R.


Hans, PD0AC, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Almere, The Netherlands. Contact him at [email protected].

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