The Baofeng UV-5R and the Retevis RT-5R are two ham radio choices that will delight users with their impressive features. Below we will help you decide which one will meet your needs.
Table of Contents
Key differences between Baofeng and Retevis
|Feature/Specification||Baofeng UV-5R||Retevis RT-5R|
|Frequency Range||VHF / UHF|
|VHF / UHF|
|Transmit Output Power||4 watts||5 watts|
|Voltage||4 volts||7.4 volts|
|PTT||Single and Dual||Single and Dual|
|License||Not required to receive |
Amateur Individual License FCC (Part 15b, Part 97)
|Not required to receive |
Amateur Individual License FCC (Part 15b, Part 97)
|Weight||340.2 grams / 12 ounces||186 grams / 6.6 ounces|
- The difference in transmit power means that the Baofeng UV-5R will cover some distance (a mile or so) less than the Retevis. The range of the RT-5R is
- 2-3 miles in the city when operating in the UHF band (UHF is best for congested areas)
- 5-10 miles in forested/low hilly areas and
- 25-30 miles on top of mountainous regions
- The RT-5R allows operation in the MURS band (151-154 MHz) which is a plus
- The Baofeng UV-5R comes pre-locked to meet FCC regulations while the Retevis RT-5R must be manually configured to block frequencies where transmission is either not allowed or only permitted if the user has a license
- The UV-5R has a larger battery than the RT-5R so longer intervals between recharge relative to the RT-5R
- The RT-5R is lighter than the UV-5R and therefore more portable.
- Both the Baofeng UV-5R and the Retevis RT-5R have a straightforward menu through the LCD, with which a user can program them. They both can also be configured with the aid of a computer
- Both are dual-band ham radios supporting the VHF and UHF radio frequencies
- Their monitor function allows you to access the voice enhancement capability in the case of weak signals
- Both have a flashlight that helps provide primary light and also work as an SOS tool when set to blink continuously
- Their keypads can both be locked to prevent accidentally switching channels as you operate them
- Their VOX functionality allows for hands-free use as you drive or go about other errands
- Both have the Squelch function, which helps reduce unnecessary channel noise when there’s no transmission
What users say
Let’s take a look at what users think about the two radios
Most users agree that the Baofeng UV-5R is a powerful and worthwhile purchase if you are seeking to meet your ham radio needs. Despite coming at a pocket-friendly price, it continuously and consistently receives broadcasts from over 20 miles away.
The provision to accessorize it due to its removable antenna and battery guarantee a user receives much better signal reception and battery life. Its advanced features and beginner friendliness make it an excellent choice for both experts and beginners who have just passed their tech license exam.
Multiple users complained about the Baofeng UV-5R’s inability to transmit on the GMRS, FRS, and MURS frequencies (FCC locked), only transmitting on channel mode. The same users, though, admit that they did receive signals on those frequencies – one-way usage.
Many other users advised that it’s best to buy this radio if you possess or plan on possessing a Ham radio operator license. The license allows one to transmit on the MURS, FRS, and GMRS frequencies since you will be meeting FCC regulations without power and band limitations.
Many users commended the Retevis RT-5R for transmitting through the MURS frequency despite being cheaper than most other radios that support the same frequency. They also noted that users would need the programming software and cable accessory to block out unlicensed channels.
Users also noted the covered range that this ‘great product worth more than its price’ had. Others wished to see more clear-cut instructions for programming and operating it. The only downside is that you would need to buy independent software and programming cable to program the radio.
Which device you should choose?
Before zeroing down on either the Baofeng UV-5R or the Retevis RT-5R, you should consider; what your ham radio needs are, whether or not you hold a license and how much time and effort you want to spend configuring your radio.
The Baofeng UV-5R comes transmit-locked to meet the FCC regulation for GMRS, and other frequencies that need licensing to access. It is, therefore more suitable for users who don’t want the hassle of having to configure the radio to block out channels and frequencies they are not allowed to use.
If you want standard functionality, then we recommend purchasing the Baofeng UV-5R since it will still leave you in a position to configure it using CHIRP software should you need to. All this while still staying within your legal bounds if you have no license.
If you want to use the GMRS, FRS, MURS frequencies out of the box on the other hand, buy the Retevis RT-5R.
What is the procedure to unlock bands on a Baofeng Radio?
Any user can reprogram most ham radios using the free CHIRP open-source software, whose user-friendly interface works well on Windows, Linux, and Mac operating systems. Another way is to manually configure it by way of pressing a few key combinations on the keypad to unlock the GMRS frequency.
We will use the Baofeng UV-5R as an example radio for the CHIRP route. Note that the Baofeng UV-5R is not an FCC part 95 e-type accepted radio; transmitting on GMRS frequencies without a license is an FCC violation. The method herein works for other models like the UV-5RE Plus, too.
All a user needs is a USB programming cable and the downloaded and installed CHIRP software, then:
- Run CHIRP, and under the radio option, choose the ‘download from radio option’ and enter the COM port, vendor, and ham radio model details
- Accept, and this unveils the list of available programmed channels; still under CHIRP, open ‘File,’ then ‘Open Stock Config,’ then choose the channels you wish to add to your Baofeng. Press the hotkeys on your OS, i.e. ‘Ctrl + A’ for Windows to select all the channels or ‘Ctrl + Right Mouse Click’ for singular selections
- Copy the target channels, i.e. ‘Ctrl + C’ for Windows, then choose the Baofeng tab to find and blank channel (save for channel 0, which is non-programmable)
- Select edit, then paste the copied channels into your radio’s configuration, i.e. ‘Ctrl V’ for Windows
- In case the number of channels exceeds the available slots (25 by default), make use of Baofeng’s 128 channel provision by increasing this number. The setting can be located through the Generic CSV route.
- Conclude by uploading the configuration to your radio. Under the ‘Radio’ option, select ‘Upload to Radio’ for CHIRP to write them into the Baofeng’s memory. Then follow steps i-v once more, the success of which will lead to the Baofeng showing a receive light in the stead of a send light.
- Switch to Memory /Channel mode, move to A frequency, and you should be able to view the frequencies you added. Godspeed!
We will follow a few simple steps for the keypad route, but first, turn your Baofeng UV-5R off.
- Firmly press the Push To Talk button (PTT), the Monitor button, and the VFO button simultaneously while turning the radio on as well
- Done right, the word Factory will display on the screen, resetting it
- If you are on a GMRS frequency (462.700, for instance), when you press the PTT button, instead of the beep tone indicating the limitation, you will notice the transmit button light up instead
- Doing this will unlock the GMRS frequency without erasing any of your pre-existing channels