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.




Signal meterOn/offOn/offDynamic
SquelchVHF: On/off
UHF: Tiny steps

21. Dec 2013
As the UV-5R

21. Dec 2013
Larger steps
Size and shapeSquare and smallFits better
in hand, larger
Fits better
in hand
Frequency/channel changeUp/downUp/downRotary
VFO/MR buttonYesTurn radio off,
then press menu
as you turn it on

3. Jan 2014
Band buttonYesNo (in menu)Switches 
Dual PTT buttonNoYesNo
ProgrammingNeed a computer
to enter alpha tags 
Alpha tags 
can be entered 
from keyboard
Alpha tags can 
be entered 
from keyboard
Memory channels12812899 + 16 for FM radio
Display7 characters
in name
7 characters 
in name
Harder to read,
only 5 characters
in name
ModificationsEnlarge 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.

Sverre Holm, LA3ZA, is a regular contributor to and writes from Norway. Contact him at [email protected].

4 Responses to “The best of the Baofeng handhelds”

  • Richard Line KC8HMJ:

    R and L Electronics has them for $40 shipped.
    May not be my best ht but it works and for the low cost hard to beat !!

  • Todd KD0TLS:

    I have a few UV-5Rs, and I don’t see why you even need the “Band” button. I have UHF and VHF repeaters programmed in, and I certainly don’t need to press the “Band” button to switch between the two. It’s only in “Frequency Mode” that it’s an issue, but why would anyone need to use that mode? It’s not as if repeaters change frequencies constantly. And you can programme the simplex channels in, too. Maybe in other countries, simplex isn’t “channelised”, but it is in the U.S.

  • Sverre LA3ZA:

    There are many different ways to use these HTs. I for one prefer to be able to access the Band button, as I sometimes enter a frequency manually. But of course, the automatic switching of the UV-B5 is the most elegant solution.

  • Randall VE6VOR:

    Hey thanks for that work. I was just looking at a site selling them and wondering how in the world I could begin to compare them.

    Thanks, that helps.


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