Baofeng UV-5R

Last summer I sold my Yaesu VX-7R handheld transceiver due to lack of use. At the time, I decided I’d rather have the money than the radio, so off to eBay it went. I haven’t really missed having a handheld much, but when I caught wind of the Baofeng UV-5R selling for under $75 I was interested.

Reviews from users were generally good, with almost all of the negatives reviews from people that have never touched one, or who want to whine that it “can’t do DStar” or some other malarkey. I don’t care about DStar. I don’t even care much about having an HT since 99.9% of the time my Yaesu HT was sitting in the charger waiting to be used. I figured for $65 it would be worth having a handheld, plus the curiosity in me wanted to see for myself what a $65 dual band HT could possibly be like.

I bit the bullet and ordered the UV-5R from, and also spent the $18.95 to get the USB programming cable. Shipping was $7.00.  I placed my order on March 27, 2012, my order shipped on the 28th from North Carolina, and was received on the 31st, four days after placing the order. Shipping was via USPS Priority Mail.

First Impressions: 

  • The build quality is poor compared to the Japanese radios. This was not unexpected. My unit had a bit of adhesive residue on the keypad that was easily removed by simply picking it off with my fingers, nothing sticky left behind. It was also missing the “Baofeng” name badge above the keypad.
  • The “flashlight” LED could be mounted better. It seems to be a regular leaded type LED sticking out of the top of the rig.
  • The antenna is somewhat flexible, but is still very, very stiff. There’s really not enough flex to it for me to consider it a “flexible antenna”.
  • The back of the radio seems to be metallic looking plastic. If it’s actually metal, it sure doesn’t feel that way.
  • For $65, I would say the build quality is acceptable. It’s not earth shatteringly good or bad.
  • There is no user manual included, but it is available for download at the website, as is the programming software and drivers.
  • Programming cable is shipped loose, no drivers or software included. See point above.
  • The programming software isn’t great, but it gets the job done. Reads/Writes seem reliable, had no problems (unlike RT Systems software for Yaesu radios) – EDIT I’ve found that CHIRP is a more elegant piece of software for programming
  • The included drop-in charger can accept the radio with the battery, or just a battery by itself if you have a spare to keep charged.
  • The Chinese to English translations can leave a lot to be desired. Especially the label on the bottom of the charger.
  • The power switch is part of the volume knob. I like this. It makes it easy to turn the radio on or off without having to look at it, which can be pretty nice in certain situations.
  • The included belt clip does not appear to be at all sturdy.


Drop in charger

Label on charger doesn’t make much sense after the translation from Chinese to English.

Front of radio showing a bit of glue residue and missing name badge,

Antenna connections. Male SMA on radio, female on antenna. Many hams are making a big deal about this, but it seems pretty standard outside of amateur radio, so I don’t see an issue with it.


RF Performance:

I wasn’t able to run it through the paces quite as much as I had hoped as I discovered that my service monitor is badly in need of calibration. But here is what I was able to get:


  • RF Output power on 146MHz is slightly over 5 watts
  • Receive sensitivity is around -122dBm, which is right where I would expect it to be, as compared to other amateur and commercial gear I’ve worked on over the years.
  • Maximum deviation was right at 5khz, a little hot, but within specs. This included a CTCSS tone.


  • RF power on 444.500 was 3.7 watts
  • Receive sensitivity was around -119dBm
  • Deviation was closer to 6kHz, assuming my service monitor is reading correctly.

The only spurious emission I was able to detect on my spectrum analyzer were more than 55dB below the carrier.

I’m not going to go into much more depth on operating the radio. There’s plenty that’s already been said on forums like about this radio. My understanding is that it’s very difficult to program without the software. So was the Yaesu VX-7R.

Overall I’d say that’s it not a bad investment for $65. If you lose it, drop it off the tower, or otherwise damage it, you aren’t out much. I consider it to be a “disposable” radio.

I’m looking forward to seeing some of the Chinese made dual band mobile radios that are in the pipeline.


  1. I just found out about this radio and am really looking forward to grabbing one. I have a couple UV-3Rs and have been wondering when the Chinese were going to come out with a dirt cheap DTMF radio. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and I take a look at the UV-3R if you're interested in a sub-$50 HT. They're worth every penny. Now if they'll just make a sub-$100 radio with alpha, I can die a happy man. 73s

  2. I meant, "and take a look" …where'd that "I" come from….anyway, looks like this little guy DOES do alpha! Why isn't it advertised?
    I can't tell if it's a hack or what yet, but I'm so excited I had to post something here!

    1. There's a place in the software for an Alpha tag, but I have yet to figure out how to make it display. I really haven't spent much time with the radio though and still haven't read the manual.

  3. You set the display of the memory with menus 21 & 22 or in the software. The SW comes up in the channel info. Use the edit menu on top to open the optional and the DTMF settings.

  4. I bought a UV-5R a couple months ago brand new in box with charger, lithium ion battery, earpiece, and manual for $55 dollars, free shipping, no tax. I love the little radio because it's smaller than the higher priced ones. It works perfectly. I also purchased an extra battery, the programing chord, and software from the same guy.  It came from Hong Kong in about a week and a half. They're even cheaper now. Bought another for my wife. I'm totally satisfied with them. And like the guy says, if it tears up I'll just toss it and buy another.

  5. I don't know how many of you are aware that this radio is now available with a 3600 Mah battery for $65 shipped. I ordered one and it is unrel from a run time aspect. 4 days straight and still going!

  6. Just got this as a replacement for another Chinese dual-channel ht I left on a train. Really liked the first one so when looked for the replacement I didn't really have a problem getting another. Landed on the UV-5R and I'm not disappointed. Works like a champ.

  7. Well I bought one also, cute inexpensive throw away radio works on all frequencies, Business, Law, Fire, Oem disaster, Murs, Frs, & Marine vhf. anything I need on the fly. squelch circut is a bit touchy, my boss wants to buy 50 of them for work. thanks

  8. Bought one and really liked it.  Very comfortable in hand, scanning a bit slow, but acceptable.
    Bad Part ?  Well, it didn't receive or transmit on any freq.  If you get one that works, they are a great little unit, high DOA ratio from what I have been able to pick up on the internet.

  9. Just a note that comments with links to online sellers are going in the spam bin. I don't care if some seller I've never heard of is cheaper, it's my site and I don't wish to push search traffic to sites I'm not familiar with. So don't bother posting your links, as they will NOT appear here. 

  10. I have purchased over 70 of the UV5R units for use on Ham and other commercial frequencies including the marine band for the local marinas. Everyone that uses them loves them…cheap and disposable and reliable, amazing battery life. Won't be long when they surpass the expensive units we are now forced to choose from.(brand names not mentioned!)

  11.  My XYL just bought me one for a belated  birthday present.  Nice little rig. It was cheaper than a new battery pack from my old Yeasu HT.  However, instructions are not in very much detail, for this digtally challenged OP.  I figured out how to enter the offsets FREQ and PL, but can't figure out how to save a FREQ/channel to memory. 
    When put the programming software CD in the drive, I got the Blue Screen Of Death (It was only a scare.)  Next I am going to search for better save to memory instructions.
    For now, it keys up my club repeater and a local linked repeater both 10 miles away, almost line of sight, from my kitchen.

  12. I bought one of these and I kinda like it. It does everything I need it to do and the cost is not much at all. What I am having a problem with is using an external mic. I plug it in and nothing happens. No transmit or receive through the mic. I can still key up the radio.

    I can’t find anything to change in the radios setting. Is anyone else having a problem with this.

    I wrote to the seller of the mic and was told other people have the same problems. Hmmmm.

    1. I purchased the Baofeng hand held mic for my UV-5R and I have not experienced any problems with it so far.

    2. You cannot plug in the speaker mic with the radio on.
      One person wrote that he had to turn the “beep” on or off to make the speaker mic work, I am not sure if he is referring to the Pad tones or the End of transmission “beep”, I believe it was the pad tones.
      Another “on line sight” had you having to trim the sides of the rubber plug so it went in further as there was plastic on each side of the radio that stopped the plug from fully inserting.
      The beep on/off was written on the e-ham site I believe.

    3. Some mics are a bit of a pain but try pushing it in hard push the key-up if it then shows it is transmitting you need to file down slightly the ridge of the two jack plugs (the bit near the black plastic end) to allow the jack plugs to be pushed in further. Works for me.Cheers Dav

  13. Got mine from ASSOCIATED RADIO in Ov Pk, KS – $40 w/speaker mic (the regular PTT was really hard to push).  I'll be using it for my commercial fire alarm biz work – inspections and the like.  Still haven't figured out how to make it go to comm. FM, but no biggie.  The manual STINKS, but oh well.  Hard to beat the bux/value ratio.

  14. Just placed an order on eBay UK for the new "UV5R Plus" for £39 (about $62 in US money).  We always pay more for our gear here because of 20% sales tax  and the effect of a smaller market.
    It should be arriving Wednesday or Thursday and I'm looking forward to seeing it.  I already have 2 Wouxun rigs (mine and the XYL's), and love them, apart from the useless S-meter that shows S9++ for any signal that opens the suelch!  The reason for abandoning the Wouxun is because I need a radio for DF, so hoping the S-Meter on the latest Baofeng actually gives a useful reading.

  15. I have discovered that you can Tx inhibit the VFO of these radios using CHIRP. 
    Set the VHF & UHF frequency to 1.000 und uncheck the "Allow Tx" checkboxes.  Now only the memory channels can Tx (listen-only channels can be created by setting duplex to "OFF").
    Handy if you want to use these as PRS radios that require no licensing.  PS: you may have to "upload from radio" first, change your data & then "download to radio".  The radio needs to be in channel mode & on the LOWER display for this to work.

  16. I Purchased two Baofeng UV5R transceivers from an ebay seller based in the UK for £59 including shipping. They are great little radios. The earphone/mic they came with and the separate speaker/mic purchased as an accessory  work well either using  PTT or in VOX mode, this is great if you need both hands free for other things like climbing. Programming via chirp is simple. Battery life is excellent.

  17. I found a way to make the ptt button much easier to press. Remove the battery, slip in a folded piece of paper between the heat sink and the ptt button and you're golden. Gentle touch now is all it takes for me.

  18.  As the price continues to drop the quality seems to be going up. I have several of these radios now including the BF-F9 and the UV-5R and both are excellent radios. Last check on Amazon had them a little over $30 dollars US. 

     I agree that the radios are a good investment for the price. WHy take your $300 dollar radio out in the field when the Baofeng UV-5R does the job well, and if you break it or drop it in the mud you aren't out a weeks wages.

    w7dtg Don

  19. Thanks for the overview.  I bought a UV-5R about a week ago for $29 and I am loving it so far.  I am just a newbie (testing for my tech ticket next week) and having fun just listening and learning and this is a great starting radio.  In the reviews I read, a common complaint is that this radio is hard to program.  Programming with CHIRP makes this extremely easy and I learned how to program it by hand within the first two days, so if a newbie like me can figure it out, I don't think it's that hard.

    Anyway, I love the 5R so much that I've ordered a UV-82 which should be here in two days.  I hear the UV-82 is a considerable upgrade from the 5R so I'm very excited to try it out.  If it meets expectations it will probably be my daily driver and I'll relegate the 5R to my emergency go-bag.

  20. I could not find a link where I can download the owners manual for the uv-5ra

    I have gone to a dozen sites but no luck. Please help!


    Bruce   W7OTQ

  21. I l

    I love this radio, but I just lost the button below the push to talk button. The one for turning on the light. How would I ever get a replacement button. I thought I had the radio in my coat pocket, but when I took it out the button was missing. Is there any way of getting a part replaced?

    1. under 2 way radios and then baofeng then repair parts… jsut about anyhtign you want except a metal case… which I am going to try to sand cast my own.

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