Whether it is for professional or personal use, digital mobile radios (DMRs) are beneficial in more ways than one. These digital two-way radios are modern alternatives to their obsolete analog counterparts. Because they are digital, expect clearer communication between parties.
More than offering better audio clarity, DMRs are also known for their next-level security features. It has state-of-the-art encryption, so you can prevent intrusion from those unauthorized to listen to your conversations.
Are you thinking of buying a DMR mobile radio? As you narrow down the options, below are some of the most important considerations.
- Ease of Use: Look for a radio with user-friendly features. Otherwise, it is frustrating to use. The buttons should be designed to be easily accessible. The body should have an ergonomic shape, which makes it convenient to hold. Even the programming software should be a breeze to use, so you can customize the settings in a snap.
- Construction: The DMR should have a tough construction, so it can withstand the test of time. Plastic is the most common material used, which is lightweight. More so, you can find waterproof models, so you do not have to worry about them getting wet.
- Battery: Most of the DMRs are equipped with a lithium-ion battery. Consider how long it takes to fully charge the battery and how long it can last in a single charge. A good battery is a must-have to make the radio more reliable.
Read on and find out some of our top picks for the best DMR radio.
Table of Contents
- Top 6 DMR Radio Reviews
- What to Look for When Buying DMR Radio
- Can You Use a DMR Radio Without a License
- How Far Do DMR Radios Work
- What is the Difference Between P25 and DMR
Top 6 DMR Radio Reviews
1. BTECH DMR-6X2 DMR
If you are into radios, then you would know that the brand name alone is already enough to choose this product.
One feature that makes it a worthy addition to your list of the top DMR dual-band radios is the powerful specs. Looking at the technical data, it has a frequency range of 400 to 480 MHz and 136 to 174 MHz. More so, the UHF output is 6 watts, while the VHF output is 7 watts.
This radio is also impressive because of its selectable display. This way, I can configure the screen’s brightness depending on when I am using the radio. I can choose from contrasting black or vibrant blue. Regardless, the display remains bright, making it a snap to navigate the menu.
You will have full control when using this radio. Your purchase includes free software, which you can use to update its functions. This radio will also offer many options for customization, such as creating pre-made channels.
Another notable functionality of this radio is the ad-hoc private talking. This is useful when you want to connect to a new talk group. All you need to do is press 0 and it will connect you to a new talk group or initiate a new private call.
You will find tons of add-on features that will make this radio more useful in various situations. For instance, it has a built-in audio recorder, as well as GPS functionality. It has store and forward repeater modes, so I can keep conversations. You will also fully control the radio as it offers adjustable scanning depending on your needs.Heads-up: However, one of the problems with this radio is the assembly of the screen. Pressing the top buttons too hard can put pressure on the screen, resulting in visible ripples. Plus, programming the radio can be a headache, especially if you are a first-time user.
- Has powerful specs that are indicative of the reliable performance
- Selectable display, whether it is day or night
- Allows ad hoc private calling
- Customizable using free programming software
- Built-in audio recording and GPS
- Faulty screen assembly
- Difficult to program, especially for a novice
2. AnyTone AT-D878UVII Plus DMR
The first thing that you will notice in this product is its price. Yes, it is expensive, but for a reason. It packs some of the most innovative features I have seen in DMR-compatible radios.
It has Bluetooth connectivity, which makes it a great pick if you are looking for the top DMR radios for ham use. This is a good feature if you want a hands-free radio, especially if you are driving. No need to push any button if you want to talk.
With its high power output, the transmission is exceptional. It has selectable power output. I can choose from 1, 2.5, 4, or 6 watts depending on the surrounding conditions. This is also responsible for improving the range of the radio.
The display is also worth highlighting. The screen is only 1.77 inches, but it is highly visible. Thanks to its color TFT screen, it is easy to see information whether it is day or night. I can change the color of the screen, as well as the font.
With its large memory, you will not run out of space for storing all your contacts. It can store up to 500,000 contacts. This is more than double the 200,000 capacity of the previous models. This way, it is easier to connect with the DMR community.Heads-up: One of the biggest drawbacks of this product is the obscure menu, which makes programming difficult. When you buy this radio, it is inclusive of a free training course. The learning curve is steep.
- Allows hands-free calls through Bluetooth
- High power transmission for exceptional range
- Bright color display for easy day or night use
- Large memory for all your contacts
- The obscure menu makes the user interface tricky
3. Ailunce HD1 DMR
Right out of the box, I was impressed with this radio. It is made of lightweight plastic, which makes it comfortable to hold. Plus, it is tough. The body feels solid, so I am confident that it will withstand the test of time.
Speaking of its construction, it is also notable because of its dust-proof and waterproof construction, making it great for demanding applications. The unit is submersible in water at a depth of up to one meter for 30 minutes.
The powerful battery of this DMR is another reason it stands out. It is rechargeable and has a rating of 3,200 mAh. The standby time is up to 30 hours. It is energy-efficient so that I can conserve the battery.
This DMR is perfect for worksites. This is because it comes with GPS functionality, making it easy to locate other users on the move. There is also an emergency alarm, so other users will receive an alert when someone needs assistance.
Another thing that makes it multifunctional is the built-in FM radio, so you can listen to your favorite music and stations. When a call comes, the FM stops and you can instantly connect to another user. It will resume playing music once the conversation concludes.Heads-up: Nonetheless, I wouldn’t say I liked the display of this radio. It is hard to read the screen, especially when under direct sunlight.
- Lightweight and sturdy plastic construction
- Comes with a powerful rechargeable battery
- Easily locate other users with the GPS function
- Listen to your favorite music through the FM radio
- The display can be hard to read
4. BAOFENG DM-1701 DMR
Wrapping up our list is an amazing Baofeng DMR radio. One of the stand-out features is the display. At 1.77 inches, it is quite small, but that does not hinder visibility. It has a blue background while the texts are bluish gray, showing nine large characters in each line. It is easy to see regardless of the viewing angle.
With its DMR radio frequencies, users can enjoy its versatility. Users can choose from UHF 400 to 800 MHz or VHF 136 to 174 MHz. It also supports narrow and wide-band FM, which makes it multifunctional.
The radio can handle multiple communications efficiently. It stores 120,000 contacts, 10,000 talk groups, and 3,000 channels. It also offers channel selection, which I can switch by inputting the channel on the keypad or using the top knob. Plus, it has direct mode dual slot communication. The latter means that I can engage in two call groups simultaneously.
Even after years of use, this radio will remain functional. Thanks to its military-grade construction, the durability of the radio is not one thing to worry about. It is built to last, from the tough housing to the strong belt clip.
With a large-capacity lithium-ion battery, this radio is a dependable companion. At 2,200 mAh, it has a working time of up to 18 hours. On the other hand, when in standby mode, a full charge will last 48 hours.Heads-up: The small keypad buttons, however, can be a problem. I have large fingers, so I find it quite hard to use. Also, the volume knob is sticky, which makes it difficult to adjust.
- Visible display in different viewing angles
- A multifunctional radio with FM support
- Allows efficient multiple communications
- Military-grade construction for longevity
- Large-capacity lithium-ion battery
- Small keypad buttons
- Sticky volume knob
5. Radioddity GD-77 DMR
It may not be teeming with features as its other counterparts, but that does not make this radio less functional.
Among others, I am a big fan of this radio because of its multiple modes. I can use it as an analog or digital radio, depending on what the situation requires. It even comes with a promiscuous mode, which allows me to listen to all conversations.
I have used several DMRs in the past, and one of the most common problems is distortion, especially at full volume. With this model, however, I like how the audio remains crystal-clear so that I can hear the other person without a problem.
Aside from using the radio to talk to another person, I can also send a text message, thanks to its SMS functionality. There are 32 pre-made messages. Plus, the radio allows storage of up to 10,000 contacts and 1,024 talk groups.
Another good reason to choose this radio is its 2,200 mAh battery. On average, the battery has a talk time of up to 18 hours. Meanwhile, when the radio is in standby mode, it lasts up to 48 hours. However, with a charging output of only 8.4 watts, it may take quite a while to juice it up.
More so, the radio stands out because the software and firmware are updateable. This way, I can enjoy the latest features developed by the manufacturer. A programming cable is included so I can connect it to a computer when it is time for an update.Heads-up: However, this DMR handheld unit also has some problems. For instance, the user interface can be tricky to figure out, especially if you are using the radio for the first time. I also wish there is an adjustable brightness, so I can change the level of the backlight depending on the conditions of the environment.
- Versatile functionality with analog and digital modes
- Crystal-clear audio even at high volume
- Has SMS capability
- Comes with a powerful lithium-ion battery
- Updatable firmware and software to enjoy the latest features
- User interface can be tricky
- Display brightness is non-adjustable
6. TYT MD-UV380 DMR
This DMR transceiver is one of the cheapest options on this list. While it is economical, it packs many commendable features, including those comparable to its higher-end competitors.
Chinese brands often have a bad rap because of quality issues. So far, I have not had any problem with this unit. I like how it has a tough construction, so I expect it will last a long time.
The radio is also excellent in terms of visibility. This is possible because of the multi-colored LCD. Some parts are darker than others. The contrast in colors makes it easier to see the display, especially when it is too bright or too dark.
Like many of the top DMRs in the market, it also has a dual operating mode. I can use both VHF and UHF, making it versatile. With analog and digital transmission, I can choose whatever is most suitable for a given situation.
To add, it comes with a powerful speaker that delivers audio clarity. Even in a noisy environment, it is loud, so I can hear the other person. Even the built-in microphone is top-notch.Heads-up: If there is one thing the manufacturer should improve on, it would be the programming software that comes with this radio. I find it quite challenging to use, which can be an issue for beginners.
- Perfect for people on a budget
- Tough construction guarantees durability
- Multi-colored LCD for visibility
- Allows analog and digital transmission
- Programming software can be improved
What to Look for When Buying DMR Radio
Buying a DMR can be overwhelming. You might have heard of recommendations from online platforms like Reddit or from friends who have used different radios. However, you should still be diligent in your research. Below are some of the most important factors to consider.
Ease of Use
If it is your first time using a DMR, you might end up being frustrated if you choose the wrong model. Go for one that has an intuitive user interface, so operating the radio will be a snap. Setting it up should be a breeze as well.
A tough construction is a must-have when you are looking for a DMR. Most will be made of plastic. Make sure that it is lightweight but robust. Some are flimsy, which can easily break when you accidentally drop the radio.
When looking at the radio’s construction, consider as well how ergonomic the design is. For instance, the buttons should be in easily accessible locations. Plus, they should not be too small. Otherwise, they will be difficult to press.
Lithium-ion is the most common battery type that you will find in DMRs. Consider how long it takes before it is fully charged. More so, read up on how long the battery will last when it is used and at standby time. A powerful battery is a must if you want the radio to be more reliable. Some of the DMR radios to avoid are those with weak batteries.
The display is important for monitoring the frequencies, channels, and other things in a DMR. If you opt for the cheapest DMR radio, it may not have a display. Having a display is better for ease of use. Also, think about how large the display is. Plus, it is good to have a backlight for easy visibility day or night.
Number of Channels
Basic DMRs can have as few as 16 channels, which would be sufficient for casual users. However, you will also find models with as many as 1,000 channels. Think about the number of talk groups and frequencies you will be connecting to. There should be one channel for every talk group or frequency you wish to monitor.
Not all will have Bluetooth connectivity. Nonetheless, this is a useful feature to have, especially when you are driving. This will allow the hands-free operation of the radio, which will make it safer. With Bluetooth, you can connect the radio to a wireless headset, making it more convenient.
This is especially a great feature on the job site. With GPS functionality, you can easily locate other users in a large area. This way, it is possible to quickly respond when help is needed.
The top options are those that come with programming software. Some radios will not include such, which means that you must pay a separate fee. With programming software, you can connect the radio to a computer and customize its different functions.
Good audio quality will make the DMR more functional. Otherwise, there will be distractions. Even if it utilizes digital signals, it can still have sub-par audio if you choose an inferior radio, which can make it frustrating to use. The audio quality must not be compromised even if you are in a noisy environment.
Can You Use a DMR Radio Without a License
Yes, you can use a DMR radio even without a license. Nonetheless, you will need a user ID, which is a requirement for programming. You can also ask someone who has a programming application to complete the registration on your behalf.
How Far Do DMR Radios Work
The range of DMRs will differ from one unit to another, depending on its technical specifications. On average, it can reach 10 miles. Meanwhile, some people will use repeaters to extend their range.
What is the Difference Between P25 and DMR
The main difference between the two is that P25 is a standard that governs public safety-level two-way radio. On the other hand, DMR is a version for private industries. DMR is designed for civilian use, while P25 radios are most common among policemen, firemen, and others in public safety departments.
Forget about ancient analog radios. Now is the time to switch to the best DMR radio, including those mentioned above. They are packed with innovative features that will ensure audio clarity and security.
Depending on your chosen model, DMRs have state-of-the-art technology that redefines radio communication.
Despite their benefits, not all DMRs are the same, so you should take the time to narrow down the possibilities and make a well-informed choice.
Hi, I am Amaro Frank – the Wind Up Radio’s content editor and writer. Working with Adam is so much fun, as his stories and experiences enrich my knowledge about radio communications and radio accessories. My main tasks in Wind Up Radio are building content and generating great articles on different topics around radio accessories.