4 best handheld transceivers

These are the 4 best amateur radio handheld transceivers available today. There are other very good handhelds on the market, however, these are the true performers. They cover analog and digital modes, and have a wide variety of features. I like radios that offer a digital mode, because it increases functionality of the radio.

amateur radio handheld transceivers

Anytone AT-878UVII Plus

The Anytone AT-D878UVII Plus is a Dual Band DMR/Analog handheld transceiver with APRS on both transmit and receive. The 1.77-inch color TFT display is easy to read.

It offers a powerful 7 watts on VHF, and 6 watts on UHF that will get your signal heard. A large 4,000 memory channel capacity so you will never run out of storage. The 10,000 DMR Talk Groups, and amazing 500,000 digital contact list gives you plenty or room to grow.

You can program up to 250 zones with 250 channels in each zone. The Anytone 878UV is programmable from the built in keypad so you can add repeater frequencies in the field. It ships with a wireless Bluetooth PTT button, and Velcro strap that can be fastened to steering wheel when mobile.

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  • Built-in GPS
  • Bluetooth capable
  • 1 watt audio output
  • Talk Alias
  • Analog and DMR with APRS
  • Standby Background Picture and Power-On Picture
  • GPS
  • Large capacity 3100mAh Battery, up to 35 hours between charges
  • DMR Tier I and Tier II compatible
  • 136-174 / 400-480 MHz TX/RX
  • IP-54 Water, and Dust Resistant rating
  • 1.77-inch color TFT Color TFT Display screen
  • 4 power levels: VHF: 7/5/2.5/1 watt, UHF: 6/5/2.5/1 watt
  • 1.77-inch color TFT Screen with a selectable dual channel or single channel display
  • Bandwidth 12.5 DMR / 25.0 kHz Analog
  • Allows direct channel input
  • Digital IDs and talkgroups
  • Two-Tone Encode / Decode

4 Best Amateur Radio Handhelds with Digital Modes



Yaesu FT5DR

The Yaesu FT5DR is a dual band analog and digital(C4FM) handheld transceiver. It has a highly visible full color TFT touch panel display is easy to see day or night. A full 5 watts of RF power output, furthermore, it delivers a powerful 1 watt of audio output power.

The FT5DR includes a high sensitivity 66 channel GPS receiver, 1200/9600bps APRS Data modem, SD card slot, and is powered by a 2,200mAh High-Capacity Li-ion Battery Pack. The real dual band operations (V+V, U+U, V+U, U+V) on each receiver for simultaneous receive

The wide range RX receiver offers continuous reception from 0.5MHz to 999.99MHz on band A, and 108MHz to 580MHz on band B. A voice recorder function lets you save audio to the SD card. The FT5DR supports the WIRES-X Portable Digital Node Function.

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  • Band Scope with up 79 frequencies displayed
  • Wireless hands-free operation with the Bluetooth® headset (SSM-BT10)
  • VOX function
  • Smart navigation function
  • Memory Auto Grouping (MAG)
  • VFO Band Skip Function
  • Wide-range RX coverage
  • Built-in high-sensitivity 66 channel GPS receiver
  • 1200/9600bps APRS Data modem
  • 2,200mAh High-Capacity Li-ion Battery Pack (SBR-14LI)
  • AM/FM reception
  • Micro SD Card Slot
  • Quick-Release Holster with belt clip
  • Voice recording feature

This is my everyday radio for VHF/UHF, and digital when operating portable. The easy to see display with quick band changes is awesome. The receiver has tone controls but fall just short of the FT70DR audio quality. I find this HT to be the easiest to program in the field.


Yaesu FT70DR

The Yaesu FT70DR is an entry level dual band handheld transceiver. The colored LED Mode Indicator displays what mode the FT-70DR is in, and clearly shows the transmit / receive mode by changing color.

Some feature include System fusion (C4FM) with a digital group monitor (GM), DG-ID, and DP-ID. Automatic mode select(AMS) to detect if the incoming signal is analog or digital, and a mini USB port for easy programming and software updates.

The scanning options that include a frequency range, or memory channels. The FT-70DR is built to commercial grade standards for the harshest of environments.

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  • IP54 Rating, Dust and Water Protection resistant
  • Wide band receive coverage of 108 – 579.995MHz
  • Scanning Capabilities, Programmable VFO and Memory Scan
  • Priority Channel Scan
  • External DC jack for DC supply operation or to charge the battery
  • Mini USB port
  • Double-Conversion Superheterodyne receiver
  • F2D, F3E, F7W modulation type
  • Three power levels, 5W/ 2W/ 0.5W
  • 700mW audio output
  • CTCSS/ DCS Operation
  • Auto power off feature
  • RF Squelch
  • Transmitter Time Out Timer (TOT)
  • Busy Channel Lock-Out (BCLO)

This radio sounds great on both transmit and receive and the display is adequate. The battery life is good, but could be better. I own three of these radios and use them often.

Icom ID-52A

amateur radio handheld transceivers

The Icom ID-52A is a dual band w/D-STAR handheld transceiver that comes in a larger body and has a large 2.3” color screen with 320 x 280 pixels. It features common Bluetooth® profiles for audio and data controls, plus,  you can send text messages, and GPS location information.

It has 5 power levels and a loud 750 mW of speaker audio. Dual watch in V/V, U/U, V/U, and DV/DV. The air band reception has been expanded from VHF(225.) to UHF(374.995).

The newest D-STAR technology enables you to send, receive and view saved photos on the installed Micro-SD card. Some other features include the DR function, built-in GPS receiver, a micro SD card slot, IPX7* waterproof construction, and terminal/access point modes.

This is a larger handheld and it weighs  in at 11.6 oz. with battery and antenna.


  • 5 power levels, 5W / 2.5W / 1.0W / 0.55W / 0.1W
  • Wideband Receiver 88.0 – 174, and 225 – 479
  • VHF/UHF Airband coverage
  • FM Broadcast Receiver
  • Guaranteed range: 144-148, 440-450 MHz
  • 1000 memory channels
  • Built-in Bluetooth
  • IPX7 weatherproof rating
  • GPS
  • Dual Watch Receive VHF/VHF, UHF/UHF, and VHF/UHF
  • Integrated GPS/GLONASS Receiver
  • MicroSD card slot
  • Micro USB Jack
  • QSO log in CSV data format
  • Voice recorder

I sold this radio simply because I like smaller handhelds and we do not have D-star repeaters in my area.  I could have added a fourth hotspot for D-star, but I am not a big Icom fan anyway. It was easy to read, and had good receive audio.

The 4 Best Amateur Radio Handheld Transceivers

These are my picks for the 4 best amateur radio handheld transceivers since I own or have owned all of them. I have my favorites that get regular use, and two I passed on to others that may like them more than I did. All radio choices seem to be personal, however, none more then the purchase of a handheld transceiver.

By Vince