Baofeng vs. Yaesu

A walkie-talkie, formally known as a handheld radio transceiver, is a portable two-way radio that can be used for a wide variety of applications including military, amateur radio and personal use.

Walkie-talkies can be used for half-duplex communication where multiple users share a communication channel (frequency) and one user talks (transmits) at a time while one or multiple users on the same communication channel (frequency) receive (listen). Walkie-talkies come with a push-to-talk button that needs to be pressed when a user needs to transmit (talk).

When it comes to making a purchasing decision, prospective buyers often find themselves asking: “Which one should I buy: Baofeng or Yaesu?”. Two very popular and economical handheld radios that are used throughout the world.

In this article we will review and compare two very popular handheld radios: the Baofeng UV-5R and the Yaesu FT-65R.

A Detailed Comparison

Company Background

Baofeng radios are made by Fujian Baofeng Electronics Co. Ltd. The company specializes in the research, manufacture and sale of communication products. Founded 20 years ago in 2001, the company presently has over 1,000 employees two manufacturing plants.

Yaesu was founded by a Japanese radio amateur Sako Hasegawa in 1959. Yaesu has a long operational history and at one point in time were even owned by Motorola. Their product portfolio includes audio systems, transceivers, receivers and antenna rotators.

Build Quality

The table below compares criteria related to the build quality of both radios.

YAESUBAOFENG
IP RatingIP54N/A
Standards ComplianceMIL-810-C, D and EN/A
Build Quality Comparison of Yaesu and Baofeng Radios

The Yaesu radio has a vastly superior build quality compared to the Barofeng radio. It comes with an IP54 protection rating. The first digit in the IP rating refers to the level of solid ingress protection, and the second digit in the IP rating refers to the level of liquid ingress protection. IP54 means that while the Yaesu is not fully dust tight, it is protected against quantities of dust that could interfere with the normal operation of the device, and the radio is also protected against water splashing from any angle. By contrast, no IP rating is available for the Baofeng radio!

The Yaesu radio is also MIL-810-C, D and E certified. The MIL-810 standard is a series of tests that address a broad range of environmental conditions that include sand and dust exposure, shock and transport shock, humidity, fungus and salt fog for rust testing, exposure to high and low temperature plus temperature shock and vibration. The MIL-810 series of tests are approved by all agencies of the US DoD but can be used for commercial equipment as well. What all this means is that the Yaesu radio has a build quality that makes it compliant with military-standard tests. And that is really something! No such certifications are available for the Baofeng unit.

A visual inspection of both radios confirms that the Yaesu has better build quality: all the buttons are rubberized, and nylon screening is used on the mic and speaker to keep the water and dust out. The antenna connection is also sealed. The Baofeng unit on the other hand has plastic buttons on the sides, and rubberized buttons only on the front. It obviously does not provide the same level of sealing against external contaminants as the Yaesu radio.

Radio Specifications and Performance

Table 2 compares the radio specifications for the Yaesu and Baofeng radios.

Transceiver SpecYAESUBAOFENG
Rx Sensitivity0.2 µV0.25 µV / 0.35 µV
Max Tx Power5 Watt4 Watt
Rx Frequencies65 – 108 MHz
136 – 174 MHz
400 – 480 MHz
68 to 108 MHz
136 – 174 MHz
400 – 520 MHz
Tx Frequencies136 – 174 MHz
400 – 480 MHz
136 – 174 MHz
400 – 520 MHz

The information in Table 2 illustrates that the Yaesu unit has a much better radio than the Baofeng, for both transmission and reception. The higher maximum transmit power of the Yaesu translates to longer range. The higher receive sensitivity of the Yaesu translates to better reception of weaker signals.

Users have reported that the Baofeng radio cannot be used for normal conversation when a user is standing next to a Wi-Fi router. However, no such problem is faced when using the Yaesu radio. As well, users have reported poor intermodulation performance with the Baofeng and it seems to overload a lot easier than the Yaesu. This points to a poor and cheaper RF design with the Baofeng. This also demonstrates that the receiver on the Yaesu unit has much tighter filters that have better out-of-band rejection. Radio performance costs money and that’s clearly what you get with a Yaesu.

Both of these units can be used for communication over VHF and UHF bands. Additionally, both radios also support FM radio reception.

Accessories

EXTENDED BATTERY PACK

The Yaesu radio comes with a 1950 mAh battery pack. An extended 2500 mAh battery pack can be ordered separately. The Baofeng radio comes with a 1500 mAh battery pack.  Extended 2100 / 3800 mAH battery packs can be ordered separately.

SPEAKER MIKE

A speaker mic can be ordered separately for both the Baofeng and the Yaesu radios.

CAR POWER ADAPTER

A 12 Volts DC car power adapter is available for the Baofeng radio, but not for the Yaesu.

PROGRAMMING CABLES

Optional PC programming cables are avaible for both radios.

ANTENNAS

Both radios come with stock antennas. The stock antennas on both types of radio has a SMA-female interface and an impedance of 50 Ohms. For improved performance, the stock antennae can be removed and replaced with higher quality antenna, such as the Nagoya NA-701, and others that are available on the market.

PRICE

The Yasesu radio retails for around four times the price of the Baofeng radio. While that’s a big difference, we feel that this price difference is wholly justified, as the Yaesu has significantly better build quality and radio performance.

User Reviews

Most users have reported their satisfaction with the build quality and performance of the Yaesu radio. Users who previously owned a Baofeng considered the Yaesu a “huge upgrade”.  Some users have commented that the user manual that comes in the box is a condensed version, and the complete manual needs to be downloaded from website.

The Baofeng received very favorable reviews by most users who felt that it offers the best value for money and is ideal for beginners. Users commented that the radio is easy to use and has good performance. There’s little doubt that this is a very popular radio!

Some advanced level users – who can compare to other radios – acknowledge that the radio performance is not as good as more expensive radios, but that is something that is understandable given the economical price at which this radio retails. Some users were able to improve the radio performance by replacing the stock antenna with a better quality antenna.

Warranty

The Yaesu radios come with a 3 year warranty. The warranty around the Baofeng radios is unspecified and unclear. In fact customers have experienced their concern around this aspect. The radio seems to almost have a disposable philosophy around it with both the low price point and the build quality.

Important Notes on Using the Baofeng and Yaesu Radios

One thing that should be mentioned is that both these radios receive only analog i.e. do not receive digital service.

Make sure that you are aware of the frequency bands in your location where you are allowed to transmit, so that you don’t get in trouble with the law by transmitting on frequencies for which you do not have a license!

Conclusion

Both the Yaesu and the Baofeng can perform the same functions. However the Yaesu has a build quality and radio performance that is significantly better than that of the Baofeng unit. The price of the Yaesu is, understandably, about four times that of the Baofeng unit.

So which one should you buy?

  • As a beginner or if you are buying a starter radio for kids, it would make sense to start with the Baofeng and later on upgrade to the Yaesu
  • If you climb radio towers or go places where there is a greater risk of dropping the radio from a height, it would be advisable to carry the Baofeng
  • As a hobbyist, you could buy both and experiment
  • If you are looking for a reliable, trustworthy radio that will be resistant to the elements and survive accidents then it makes a lot of sense to buy the Yaesu