Baofeng UV-3R Handheld Radio Review

On this page, we take a look at an impressive, and tiny, dual band handheld amateur radio, the Baofeng UV-3R.

Baofeng UV-3R Transceiver

Holding the tiny Baofeng UV-3R Mk 1 ham radio

Here’s what the Baofeng UV-3R has to offer:

  • 2 metre / 70 cm transceiver
  • Tiny – At 81 x 47mm
  • Covers 136-174MHz and 400-470MHz
  • Works with UK repeaters
  • Dual-watch
  • Scanner
  • VOX
  • CTCSS / DCS
  • Reported 8 hour battery life
  • Also has FM radio and torch

The real seller for this model though, is that it costs around £30. Yep – You read that right… a pocket-sized fully functional dual-band transceiver for £30.

Availability

As you have probably guessed, ths is one of the many Chinese low-priced amateur radios (like the Quansheng TV-UV2) that you can buy if you don’t ordering from Hong Kong and waiting a couple of weeks.

Note that a MkII version of the UV-3R is available, with a two-line display. Specs, prices and suppliers are similar.

I was advised to use Mega409Shop by fellow ham Jim. On this recommendation, I purchased one, and paid under £30 including the P&p. It arrived within 10 working days from Hong Kong.

Buying a Baofeng: The best deals appear to be on eBay, from a Hong Kong supplier. Allow approx. 10 days for shipping. To get the best price, the trick seems to be to go via ebay.com, and not ebay.co.uk – Here’s the link to the seller I used: eBay US Mega409shop

Baofeng UV-3R Review

Out of the box, this is an impressive radio. It’s very tiny, and very light. Sure, it doesn’t have the solid feel of a larger handheld, such as a Yaesu, but it’s made of a tough plastic and looks like it will take a few knocks. Further down the page, is a YouTube clip of me unboxing the radio, and going through the box contents.

Programming the radio for access to local repeaters was surprisingly easy, at least compared with the Quansheng TG-UV2 and the Moonraker HT-90 that’s covered elsewhere on this site. I’ve added a guide on how to set it up for access to the main Essex repeater. See Setting up the Baofeng UV-3R for GB3DA Danbury Repeater – It’s worth mentioning that this Baofeng can be programmed from a PC, using a programmig lead – sold seperately.I have one of these on order, and will add information on this in due course.

I was expecting the radio to be a little tricky to set up, as it’s too small for a numeric keypad. Without keypad entry, all of the channel and memory selection is done using the rotary control at the top of the radio, which has a handy lock, so it doesn’t spin accidentally. Scrolling from one end of the band to the other by spinning the tuning dial feels a little tedious, so it’s worth setting up a few memory presets early on.

The manual is surprisingly well-written too, although doesn’t mention the name of the radio, so it can be assumed that this is a general manual for other radios made by the same factory to the same spec.

Baofeng UV-3R side view

Baofeng UV-3R side view, showing DC and SP/Mic sockets

Controls on the radio

On the front of the radio is an orange power button, a ‘U/V’ button for toggling UHF/VHF,a ‘Menu’ button and a ‘VOL’, which uses the dial control to adjust audio volume.

On the left-hand side is an orange ‘L/R’ button, which is for the light and FM radio. There’s a decent sized PTT button, and there’s also an F/A button. A word of warning. Don’t hold down the F/A button, as this causes the radio to emit a very loud emergency signal, with no obvious way to turn it off. If you decided to key up whilst the emergency tone was sounding, it’d be transmitted.

On the right of the radio is the headphone/speaker socket, plus the socket for the supplied 5V mains transformer.

On the top, there’s the female SMA socket, white LED, and the dial.

Baofeng UV-3R Top View

Baofeng UV-3R Top View, showing SMA, Bulb and Dial

Using the UV-3R

So far, I’ve been very impressed with the radio. There are a couple of things you should note:

Power: The radio transmits at a maximum of 2W. Other handhelds out there go up to 5W, so if power is key, then this may be a factor.

Aerial: The radio comes with two aerials – A 2metre band aerial (measuring 107mm) and a 70cm band aerial (at 76cm). A dual-band aerial would have been nice, but apparently one is available online.

Tail-Tone: There’s an option described as “to eliminate the annoying audio caused by carrier wave disappearing after the transmission ends the communication”. The default is “off”, and for repeater access, that’s how it should stay.

W/N: The radio has a setting for wide and narrow band. Menu option 13 gets you to this

I’m very happy with this little radio. I’ve hooked it up to the card mag-mount, and had no trouble working the repeaters in the area. The audio quality from the speaker is pretty good, and the FM radio has a decent enough sound for the size of speaker. Audio from my test QSOs has been described as “great”, indicating that the mic and AF gain do the job nicely.

There’s little not to like about this radio, and even if you have a portable already, at £30 this makes an ideal spare, or as a low-price entry level radio for anyone that’s just passed their Foundation.

To check out the prices, and for accessories – See Mega409shop on eBay US

Baofeng UV-3R Specifications

According to the manual, here are the specs:

  • Dimensions: 81 x 47 x 23mm
  • Weight: Approx 130g
  • RF Output Power: 2 Watts
  • Battery: 1200mAh
  • Spurious Emission:  Greater than >65dB
  • FM Noise: 45dB(W)/42dB(N)
  • Sensitivity (12dB SINAD): 0.2uV
  • Spurious Response Rejection: Less than -60bB
  • Audio Output Power: Less than 1.7V at 8 ohms
  • Receiver Current: Less than 400mA
  • Standby Current: Less than 75mA

Unboxing the Baofeng UV-3R

If you’re interested, here’s a 3 minute video clip of Pete taking the UV-3R of of its box, and having a quick look at the box contents:

Supplied with the Baofeng UV-3R

As you’ll see from the Unboxing video, there’s a belt clip, docking station, 5V mains charger (with UK adapter), two aerials, battery, hand strap, and a mono earpiece with inline mic (which works well with hands-free VOX)

Baofeng UV-3R Box Contents

Contents of the Baofeng UV-3R Box

Got a question on this radio? Add a comment below, or better still, ask in our Essex Ham Hardware Forum

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Comments

Baofeng UV-3R Handheld Radio Review — 20 Comments

  1. 2 weeks and £30 via Ebay… amazing piece of engineering, My big fat kenwood D7E
    is now starting to collect dust!!!!! dual band antennae is a must!

  2. Really spiffy little set. I ordered spare Li-ion batteries for it. Easy to cahge to a spare in the field if you are “long winded”! Since I got this set, I use my TYT UVF-1 much less. It is lighter and handier!

  3. You should put one of these on a test set and look at the spurious emissions.
    Their figures were clearly written by Enid Blyton.

    Saw one of these at a business radio event last week handled by an Ofcom field engineer. He was curious and had bought one off eBay, and when it arrived tested it. Second harmonic was hardly 20dB down, third wasn’t much better, and the fourth….etc.. 145.125 – 290.250……military aviation – not good, and 435.375 (OK, can live with that), 580.5 (ch.34 TV).

    The CE mark is clearly a fake as there is no way they can meet RTTE regs with figures like he found. It also appears that they failed FCC approval in the ‘States.

    The radio uses SDR technology, and very little in the way of filtering on the TX.

    What worries me more is the matter that he found it to switch on (on UHF) at 406MHz, which is an international distress beacon frequency, and with the cheap build, I can see PTT’s getting stuck.

    You get what you pay for, and I can see that this little wireless may well bring you a lot of trouble!

    Because eBay ignore rules and regulations where it suits them, Ofcom feel that they will have an uphill struggles stopping them from coming into the country.

    Amateurs are moaning like heck about un-controlled out of any sort of spec PLT splattering everywhere from DC to light, yet “we” seem to be happy to buy this cheap and nasty junk and use it in the name of the hobby, without thinking that our harmonics may interfere with emergency services, broadcast, and other legitimate radio users.

    vy 73
    Rob Compton – M0ZPU

  4. I was given one of these for a Christmas Present by my friends Karl and Eileen Davis, I am just starting my course so cannot transmit. was at Ramsden Heath over Christmas, took my radio but did not really know what to do. However, am going to learn. K & E are experienced radio people, karl’s call sign is m1 dfm, lives in kent but is welsh, and was so impressed with this radio he bought one for him and one for Eileen. Karl is my radio tutor. fiona

  5. I got one of these but sold as uv-200. I agree you get what you paid for. Mine after a day of use dropped power on VHF to 100mW. I cant get to my home town repeater which is 3 miles away.
    73
    W9GIL

  6. Superb value radio from what i have seen. Been in the business of looking at several reviews of each radio prior to purchasing. From what i have seen this looks like a good radio and worthy of my hard earned. Cant wait to get mine and try it out. There is a problem with the second harmonic but for thirty quid i can live with that.

  7. For thirty quid you may be able to live with it, but bear in mind that as a licensed ham it is your responsibility to check from time to time that equipment used under your callsign conforms to all the requirements regarding harmonics and spurious emissions, and if the equipment fails the test the equipment must not be used until brought up to required standard.

  8. Baofeng have now brought out a new version of this radio – the UV-5R. This is a much improved version – higher Tx output, better selectivity, cleaner Tx output, bigger capacity battery. It’s about £10 dearer than the UV-3R, and well worth spending the extra on. It was put through its paces by Dutch amateur PD0AC, and he reported that although there are still a few annoying ‘bugs’ in the UV-5R, it was a much better radio.

    See http://hamgear.wordpress.com/2012/04/04/review-baofeng-uv-5r-part-i/

  9. i have several versions of the uv3r great little radio spare batteries np60 and external charger add a tiger tail for uhf about 6.1/4 inches if its used portable harmonics no problem c arry case save any damage great scanner

  10. If I’d buy two of these, can I use them as walkie-talkies for like to communicate between 2 cars?

  11. Does anyone know as to where I can obtain a UK Mains charger from for the UV-3R, I have looked on eBay but they all seem to be in the USA…

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