Are you in search of a portable AM/FM radio that outshines others? Not to worry, after digging through the internet, we have come up with a list of the best portable AM/FM radio that packs all the essential features every good AM/FM radio should have.
Here’s a quick overview of the top portable AM/FM radios before we dive into the details.
- Editor’s pick – Kaito KA500 Portable AM/FM Radio “As a ham radio enthusiast, I have had the opportunity to play with a variety of receivers and transceivers of differing price points. For the money, the Kaito KA500 has thus far shown to be a stellar performer.”
- Runner Up – Sangean H201 Portable AM/FM Radio “I have had this radio for almost a year now and it works great. It picks up so many stations. The weather-band may have saved our life.”
- Budget Pick – DreamSky Portable AM/FM Radio “The tuner is accurate. I can pick up low wattage stations in the house that I normally can’t receive unless I’m in the car.”
- Best Sound Quality – Retekess TR604 AM/FM Radio “I would compare this radio to the old fashioned transistor radios of the 60’s in sound quality / interference / tone quality / station separation.”
- Best for Emergencies – Eton FRX3 Portable AM/FM Radio “Very durable, and I really love that they can use several sources for power. I don’t want to be without this after going through several days without power last year. “
- Best with Bluetooth – Tivoli Audio AM/FM Radio “What my wife really wanted was “a little radio to listen to NPR in the kitchen.” It does exactly that, it does it PERFECTLY, and I don’t know of any other product that would do it as well.”
Table of Contents
Surpassing all other products to make it to the top of our list for best portable AM/FM radio is the Kaito KA500. This radio is perfect for daily and emergency use. This portable AM/FM radio comes in several colors ranging from black, blue, green, red, and yellow, so you can choose any color that matches your taste.
The most outstanding feature of the Kaito KA500 is its host of emergency preparedness features that guarantee you never have to worry about emergencies again.
One of these features is its diverse power options. This radio comes with an AC/DC adapter to power the radio. The AC/DC adapter can also be used to charge the built-in rechargeable battery.
In addition to this, the Kaito KA500 has a hand crank that juices the batteries and gives it about 15 minutes of power. There is also a USB port for charging the batteries. Lastly, you will also find a solar charging port that becomes useful when there is no way to charge with electricity.
Moving to the frequency range of this radio, it is clear that you will enjoy AM, FM, shortwave, and NOAA broadcasts. The Kaito KA500 also comes with seven pre-programmed weather channels that can easily be accessed by tuning the knob from 1-7. All alert signals will be activated automatically once you put the radio on “Alert” mode.
Other notable features worth mentioning include the radios’ ability to charge your phone through its standard 5V DC USB port. The material used in the manufacture of this beast is ABS; which is waterproof and impact resistant. The Kaito KA500 is in fact the best radio for camping and other outdoor activities.
- The batteries are replaceable
- This radio can be powered through various sources
- Includes emergency alert feature that automatically tunes in to weather reports
- Can charge mobile devices
- Material is durable
- AC adapter is not included and has to be bought separately.
Those who have used the Kaito KA500 for a while described it as one of the only complete AM/FM radio they have ever owned. Many of them stated that it had everything they need. One user who stays in a rural area mentioned that with his former radio he used to get two AM and one FM station, but with the Kaito KA500, he gets more stations, shortwave included. It’s important to note here that the Shortwave operation is fairly basic and this radio will not demodulate SSB, for instance. If you’re looking for high quality gear, please check out our reviews on the best shortwave radio.
Coming in second place with a sleek white cabinet and a sturdy build is the Sangean H201 portable AM/FM radio. The Sangean H201 is made to be used every day, everywhere, and anytime.
When it comes to water resistance and waterproofing, only a few radios come close to the Sangean H201. Its ability to be used while in the shower, boat, and beach makes it the envy of many other portable AM/FM radios. This radio is IPX7 rated and this means it will float back up when immersed in water.
In addition to the waterproof nature of this radio, the Sangean H201 also offers 25 preset memory stations, 5 of which are in the AM range, 10 are FM and 5 are WX (Weather radio). You also get certified weather radio channels from all 7 NOAA weather channels.
Users of the Sangean H201 will also like that the radio comes with a swivel handle which makes hanging it on the wall and carrying it a stress-free affair. Other features worth mentioning include the state-of-the-art emergency LED illumination, the emergency buzzer, an indicator for the battery power, and a large and easy to read LCD.
Finally, this radio also features a real-time clock, adjustable sleep timer and one awesome 3” 2W speaker. For a bluetooth version of this radio you can opt for the Sangean H202.
- Perfect for those who love listening to music while in the bathroom
- Long battery life
- No AC adapter included in the package
- AM reception is not so great
- Using the timer option can be tedious
The Sangean H201 has so many positive reviews on Amazon and only a few negatives. One of the big pluses is the capability to use it in the bathroom. Many users mentioned that until this product came into their lives they didn’t know what had been missing by not having music in the bathroom.
However, some users complained about a design flaw in the placement of the timer and On/Off button; they said it is very easy to mistake one for the other, especially when there is poor lighting.
If you want an inexpensive pocket radio, we recommend the DreamSky. This portable AM/FM radio offers many essential features every AM/FM radio should have. In addition to this, it is one of the best radios you can gift senior citizens as it is easy to use.
The DreamSky portable AM/FM radio is the dream radio of senior citizens who want the old-school radio-style but need it to be compact. This radio comes with a 16.5 inches long transistor antenna that gives it that oldies look and guarantees you enjoy a strong reception.
You will also enjoy the built-in loudspeaker of the DreamSky AM/FM radio as it does its job of ensuring you enjoy your listening experience.
This DreamSky radio also features an earphone jack which you can use if you don’t want to disturb people while on the train or bus. Lastly it is powered with two AA alkaline batteries.
- Batteries included
- Sound on this radio is very good
- Build quality is better than most radios in its price range
- Ultra lightweight and good for backpacking.
- Picking up weak AM signals might be a difficult task
In general, over 70% of the users rate this radio a 5-star product. There have been a few complaints however on the build quality in particular the case and the tuner dial.
The number one portable AM/FM radio when it comes to sound quality is the Retekess. It easily wins this award due to the host of features it packs that every sound enthusiast will love. This radio is also easy to use and carry around.
Without a doubt, this radio looks like the ones used by our grandparents and their parents before them; because of its look, it is the perfect gift for elderly folks who love flexible knobs that are easy to turn and retractable antennas that are more than 23 inches long.
In addition to this, the high-powered speakers on this radio make it perfect for elders with hearing impairment. It packs a 3.5 inch 6 ohm 2W speaker that guarantees superb crisp and clear sound. The Retekess is the best sounding small radio on our list.
Other enjoyable features of the Retekess TR604 include its large and clear dial, that makes it easy for elders to tune the dial to their preferred channel; there is also the 50 ft power cord that means it can be used with electricity and can be used even if the socket is far away.
Alternatively, you can choose to use 3 x D batteries in case of power failure or when you are not close to a power source.
- Excellent tuner and sound quality
- Retro look makes it the perfect gift for seniors.
- No compartment in to store the AC power cord when running on batteries.
Many users say the Retekess is easy-to-use and offers excellent AM/FM reception. Many users also stated that it is a lot lighter than they imagined despite the way it looks in the pictures. A user even mentioned that this radio could pick up radio stations even though she and her husband live in a radio dead zone.
“I bought this lil radio for my father, and he loved it perfect size and very light weight, the numbers for the stations are a good size for him to see and has a lil turning knob on the sides easy for him. I’m very happy and satisfied with this lil radio” – Amazon reviewer
We have selected the Eton FRX3 portable AM/FM radio as the number radio for emergencies, and the features below will explain why.
This ultra lightweight portable AM/FM radio adopts the motto of the red cross, which advices everyone to be prepared for emergencies. The emergency radio can be powered through several options: some of which include; rechargeable batteries, solar power, AAA batteries, and the hand crank.
The hand crank isn’t a feature you see on many radios today, and this is what makes the Eton FRX3 so unique. Spinning this hand turbine during emergencies gives you 10-15 minutes of radio and flashlight use.
In addition to this, the Eton FRX3 is able to power and charge your phone and other essential devices when the need arises. It also comes with a USB port that makes all this possible.
When broadcasting emergency weather alerts to your radio, the Eton FRX3 Alert function does its best; and it is ever ready to receive alert signals from all seven NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) weather band stations.
Furthermore, the Eton FRX3 radio features an AUX input that enables you to play music from an external source; it also comes with a headphone output. You will also like the glow-in-the-dark feature that makes it easy to find your radio when the lights go out and its backlit display with illuminated buttons. When you need to set an alarm, the Eton FRX3 will also come in handy.
- This radio can be powered in many ways
- It can be used to dump power to your cellphone.
- AM/FM function cannot be used when it is set to alert mode. While on alert mode, you can’t listen to regular radio stations; this radio will only be able to listen to emergency weather alerts.
One of the few complaints of the Eton FRX3 is with the flashlight. Users stated that turning on the flashlight by mistake is too easy. However, they still recommended it for emergency use. One particular user said it is the perfect AM/FM radio for those preparing for the apocalypse.
Users also advised prospective buyers to first charge the batteries. Also they mentioned that people that intend to use the hand dynamo or solar option should remove the protective film of the rechargeable radio; if not, the radio will not hold a charge.
The best portable AM/FM radio with Bluetooth functionality is the Tivoli. The simple yet classic look of this portable AM/FM radio packs everything you need in a Bluetooth radio.
The Tivoli Audio AM/FM Radio makes streaming music from your favorite device all too easy. How does it do this you ask? Well, through high-performance Bluetooth technology of course. You do not need to worry about connection issues and disruptions, so connecting to your PC, smartphone, tablet, and other Bluetooth devices should be a piece of cake.
In addition to this, this Bluetooth radio comes with a full-range driver speaker that delivers sound just the way you like them. The 3-inch-long throw driver provides accurate tonal balance and bass response. It makes use of a frequency hopping spectrum that provides low-to-noise interference with other wireless devices.
Also, for those of you who like tuners, this radio is one you should have no issues using; the oversized controller helps maintain this device’s radio-like look and allows for sensitive tuning between AM/FM.
- Comes with easy-to-use Bluetooth features
- It is perfect for listening to music while in the kitchen
- This is one of the few portable AM/FM radios that comes with an internal antenna and an external antenna jack. The external antenna is packed with this unit.
- It still sounds like a radio when you use the Bluetooth feature to play music
- It is a bit pricey.
For many users the price of the Tivoli Audio AM/FM Radio is a bit on the high side for a portable Bluetooth radio. But, other than this, they commended the manufacturers for coming up with an aesthetically pleasing, portable Bluetooth radio that doesn’t sound bad at all.
How We Picked the Best Portable AM/FM Radio
Here is a guide on how we selected the best portable AM/FM radios seen in the product review section above
The first factor we considered when selecting these portable AM/FM radios was their size. We needed radios that are not heavy but light, not large but compact.
The radios we selected are suitable for camping, hiking, fishing trips, and other outdoor activities. This way, you wouldn’t need to worry about them slowing you down while you are on the move.
Some of these radios even fit perfectly in the pocket.
Another criterion we put so much focus into while selecting these radios is the power options available to the radio. These radios can be powered with AA, AAA, 2D and 3D rechargeable batteries, making them suitable for camping trips.
For people who need them in the office or at home, these radios could also be powered via a power outlet, using an AC power cable; this means you don’t need always to use your batteries.
A lot of them could also be powered using solar and a hand crank, this becomes very handy during emergencies.
Portable radios need to be durable because they will be moved around a lot. They need to be sturdy and should be able to withstand harsh weather conditions without this affecting their performance. For this reason, we chose only radios that were made using high-quality materials and components.
In addition to having multiple sources of power, we also had to consider the battery life of the radios. This is because portable radios will see much outdoor use where there will be no electricity to power them. The AM/FM radios we selected do not only pack excellent battery life. Some of them could even be used to charge mobile devices.
Radios need to be very sensitive to signals; for this reason, we selected both digital and analog radios. So, whether you prefer the retro way of tuning your radio, our list of the best AM/FM radios pack the best control knobs. With the digital radios, you can easily punch in the number of the channel you desire.
Many of these radios also featured antennas of varying inches that ensure that you get very clear signals and reception. All the AM/FM radios in our list provide good reception indoors.
We considered the water resistance of these radios for two main reasons. One is because they will see lot of outdoor use.
While outdoors, the radio might see its fair share of rain. It might even fall into the water during a fishing trip. It will be sad to see that your radio can’t stand a little bit of water. Also, we found out that many people like using radios in the bathroom and kitchen. In these places, the radio will be exposed to water. For this reason, we selected waterproof radios.
As we come to the end of this review, you will see that selecting a portable AM/FM radio demands a lot more than you could have imagined.
We focused on radios that are suitable for emergency situations because your TV and mobile device might not do a lot of good during emergencies. These portable AM/FM radios are perfect for both fun times and emergencies.
As a recap here are our top picks for a portable AM/FM radio
- Editor’s pick – Kaito KA500 Portable AM/FM Radio
- Runner Up – Sangean H201 Portable AM/FM Radio
- Budget Pick – DreamSky Portable AM/FM Radio
- Best Sound Quality – Retekess TR604 AM/FM Radio
- Best for Emergencies – Eton FRX3 Portable AM/FM Radio
- Best with Bluetooth – Tivoli Audio AM/FM Radio