There are a whole range of reasons to buy a walkie-talkie, even in the age of cell phones. Let’s say you like to go camping – there’s not always going to be good coverage out there in the woods. But aren’t walkie talkies pretty expensive?
The good news is that there are actually some pretty good products available, often at very reasonable prices. We’ve listed these in the table below and covered each in more depth further down. Take a look – you never, you might find something you like.
Top 12 Walkie Talkies For 2019
|Type||Android TV Box||Number of handsets|
|Best Budget Walkie Talkie||Floureon Radio||4|
|Uniden GMR1635-2 Radio||2|
|Best Mid-budget Walkie Talkie||Midland GXT1000VP4||2|
|Best Premium Walkie Talkie||Motorola MH230R||2|
|Motorola MT352TPR FRS||3|
|Best Long Distance Walkie Talkie||Midland LXT600VP||2|
Before we get started with our product reviews, let’s take a few minutes to talk about some of the most important things to know about walkie-talkies. This will not only help you better understand the product you buy but can also save you lots of money in the long run.
How Do Walkie Talkies Work?
Picture your car radio. That’s a radio receiver, right? Now imagine your car also had a portable radio tower in it, capable of also sending radio signals that someone else’s car stereo could hear. That’s essentially what a walkie-talkie is.
So why would anyone use one? Well, walkie-talkies don’t rely on cell phone towers for a signal. This means that you can be miles away from civilization without any problems talking to someone. Obviously the terrain plays some part in signal strength, but generally, walkie-talkies are great for long-range communication.
Most walkie-talkies will allow you to choose a specific channel to communicate on. This simply changes the frequency of the radio waves you transmit. Once your friend switches to the same channel you’ll be able to hear each other.
You should note that walkie-talkies are “push to talk”. This means that when you want to talk, you press a button and release the button to listen for other people’s transmissions. It’s not like a phone where you can both talk at the same time. This is a small distinction, but it’s one that trips new users up, at least to begin with.
The only issue is with lower-budget models. These usually only offer a handful of channels to choose from and if there are other walkie-talkie users nearby on the same channel, this can lead to competing signals. It’s confusing, to say the least. Some models allow you to set passcodes, and this greatly reduces the chance of being listened in on.
Best Budget Walkie Talkie
If you’re just looking for a nice, affordable set of walkie-talkies, the good news is that you have plenty of options. Sure, there are lots of low-quality models around but we’ve filtered through them so that you don’t have to and listed the best of the best below.
Okay, let’s get to it! First of all, we’ll be looking at the Floureon Radios. For under 40 USD you can have a set of four excellent walkie-talkies that offer everything: range, portability, separate channels, anything you can think of.
Let’s talk about usage. At most, these walkie talkies can transmit signals up to 3km. To be fair, if you’re going camping with the guys you’re unlikely to be as far away as that. Even if someone takes a drive to the nearest town, you’ll be able to talk to them for most of the drive at least. But that’s not all!
These walkie talkies come with 22 different channels and an auto-scan function just in case. The small LED screen is backlit so they’re easy to use at night, plus they even offer the option to increase the power in order to amplify the signals further. This is particularly useful during severe weather or if the terrain is surrounded by mountains.
These walkie talkies even have built-in background noise reduction to allow you to hear the other person as clearly as possible. No matter whether they’re in a crowd, by a river, or in an area with poor reception, there’ll be nothing to stop you communicating.
Next up we have the Motorola T11TP. While most other phone manufacturers dropped walkie-talkies in the 2000’s, Motorola continued to develop them and as a result, they’re one of the best providers in the world. Don’t believe us? Just wait – we’re sure you’ll agree very shortly.
This set of three walkie-talkies costs less than 40 USD and offers several features that just aren’t found on the bargain bin products. The first of these is the call tone. Usually, when people try to call, there’ll be a loud, obnoxious ringtone, but this model lets you choose your own. Good, right?
There’s also a keypad lock so you don’t accidentally switch frequencies or passcodes, 22 channels to choose from, and a flashing low-battery indicator. One thing to note: these products use AAA batteries instead of rechargeable ones. It’s not too bad, however, because you get up to 18 hours of usage out of them.
The T11TPs are very easy to use, with just five buttons and thanks to their belt-clip, you don’t even have to give up valuable pocket space. They have a range of up to 16 miles, so for a budget offering, they punch well above their weight.
Last but by no means least is the Uniden GMR1635-2. These are some very basic walkie-talkies that cost around 30 USD. That’s not to say they’re low-quality, though – these walkie talkies offer a solid middle ground between functionality and affordability, as we’ll show below.
For such an inexpensive product, it has quite a good range. You can scan the surrounding 16 miles to find other users, and there’s even an auto-squelching feature. This helps you stay sane by removing the annoying background noise when there’s nobody talking. It’s a small inclusion but one that makes all the difference.
These models use AAA batteries, but if they go two minutes without making or receiving a transmission, they go into power-saving mode. Don’t worry, you can still receive messages in this mode, but the difference is that your batteries will last longer.
Now, it’s worth noting that these radios can transmit on both the FRS and GMRS channels. You can start using the FRS frequencies immediately, but the GMRS channels may require a license depending on where you are in the world. Always research this before using your new walkie-talkies.
Best Mid-budget Walkie Talkie
So we’ve shown that sometimes the inexpensive products can offer surprising levels of functionality but increasing your budget slightly can vastly improve the quality of product you receive. New features, increased ease of use – the world is your oyster. Don’t believe us? Check out the walkie-talkies below and see for yourself.
The Midland GXT1000VP4s have several improvements that become obvious the moment you use them. For a start, they have 50 channels to choose from as opposed to just 22 – that’s an increase of 156%, which is not to be overlooked.
Secondly, the transmission range has been vastly increased. While the other models allowed you to talk to someone a few miles away, the Midlands can reach your friends in the next city – up to 36 miles out, assuming the terrain is relatively flat. That’s incredible and is among the longest range available aside from specialized walkie-talkies.
Let’s say you’re hunting. You have the prize buck in your sights and your walkie-talkie starts blaring a ringtone. That’s potentially hours of work wasted. The Midlands come with a vibration mode for these delicate situations, and if you find the ringer too loud, there are nine different volume levels to pick from.
These walkie talkies come with a preconfigured connection to NOAA weather channels so you’ll have advance warning of any issues. Better still, these models are weatherproof so you don’t have to let a little rain ruin your trip. They’ll still be damaged if submerged, but they’re fairly resilient.
Next up we have the Retevis H-777. These are a trio of walkie-talkies priced at around 50 USD that offer a lot of bang for your buck. They boast a super simplified design using two dials as opposed to buttons and even USB charging functionality.
Now, these do only allow transmission of 16 different channels, which is a fair bit lower than most. However, they have a number of handy features like the automatic channel lock that comes into play when another conversation is detected on a particular frequency.
These walkie talkies even come with an earpiece to facilitate true hands-free talking. We were particularly impressed with the high-capacity battery. It takes around three hours to fully charge, after which you can expect around nine hours of talk time. Great, right? Well, there’s more.
Run into trouble in the middle of nowhere? No problem – these walkie talkies come with an emergency alarm system. Once properly set up, this will create a loud sound once certain buttons are held down. This could be enough to scare off animals or even just let people nearby know where you are.
Now, our final product in this category, the Nestling Galwad-888S, has the same external body as the previous one, but there are few key differences on the inside that help set it apart. Chief among them is the inclusion of a low-battery alarm and power-saving modes.
These walkie talkies come in a set of four, each equipped with a wireless earpiece and rechargeable battery. Unlike the Retevis, these products also feature an LED torch, making them great for night time security. Perhaps you’re a bouncer or a night watchman – either way, you’re covered.
There are two function buttons mounted on the outside of the unit. These buttons can be programmed with the included software for a greater level of control. There’s a good degree of versatility here, and we feel that these walkie talkies justify their price of around 50 USD.
That’s not all this model has to offer, however. There are also channel scanning and monitoring features, plus you can choose to use either single or dual-band frequencies for those times when the distance is a little lower and you want a stronger signal.
Best Premium Walkie Talkie
Let’s assume for a second that you’re working with a slightly larger budget. In this case, you probably expect nothing less than the best, right? If not, you should because the best is exactly what the following products offer. Don’t just take our word for it, see for yourself.
Our first premium pick is the Motorola MH230R. These cost about 90 USD for two handsets, but this higher price is more than justified by their ease of use and all-round versatility. They have a bright yellow casing that makes them easier to see at night, for instance. That said, let’s get to the interesting stuff.
The MHR230Rs allow you to choose from one of 22 different channels. There are 121 possible privacy codes for each, too, so you can be sure that your communications aren’t being listened in on. After all, even if someone gets the channel right, picking a code at random gives them less than 0.9% chance of guessing the right one.
These walkie talkies come with 11 different weather channels preconfigured and they’ll even alert you in case of extreme weather warnings. Fantastic, right? Well, that’s not all – they also have an admirable range of up to 23 miles.
If you spend a lot of time in the outdoors you’ll know how important it is that your kit is up to scratch. This model is dust-resistant and can handle light rain without any problems, plus its batteries last for around 11 hours on a single charge. Not bad at all.
Our next recommendation is another Motorola, but this time it’s the MT352TPR FRS. It’s not a name that rolls off the tongue, but in all honesty, this product has enough benefits to outweigh their title. It’s lucky they do because, at around 190 USD for three handsets, they’re not exactly cheap.
The great news is that these walkie talkies have exceptional range and battery life. You can talk to your friends up to 35 miles away for about 15 hours without having to recharge the battery pack. Better still, when the time does come to recharge, you can use any old USB port instead of a standard outlet.
There are several features designed to make these models more discreet. Firstly, each handset comes with an earpiece for hands-free talking. Secondly, they feature a vibration mode so you don’t wake up the whole camp when someone wants to get in touch. These are small additions, but ones we were glad to see.
These handsets are water-resistant, automatically block out background noise, and can transmit on 22 different channels. Essentially, if you’re looking for a walkie-talkie that can handle anything you throw at it, the Motorola MR352TPR FRS is an excellent choice.
Finally, let’s take a look at the Retevis RT5. They cost about 90 USD for two handsets and the first thing you’ll notice is that they’re very sturdily built. After all, they have to be able to handle your rugged lifestyle and we’re pleased to announce that they absolutely will.
So, let’s get technical. These radios are capable of broadcasting on FRM and GMRS frequencies, however, you may need a HAM radio license depending on the channels you use. The current frequency can be seen on the large screen, and you can even save some of the 128 channels for later access.
The internal batteries last for up to nine hours each and can be recharged using an automotive battery charger. This isn’t ideal if you plan to use it at home, but if you’re going to be out in the wilderness for a while it’ll definitely come in handy. So how’s the functionality?
Pretty good, actually. There’s a keyboard lock feature to prevent the dreaded butt dial, plus you can program the function keys to do whatever you like. Also included are scan and monitor features, a torch, an alarm, and a battery voltage display. These are like the Swiss army knife of walkie-talkies – if you want it, they have it.
Best Long Distance Walkie Talkie
Let’s say you aren’t worried about all the fancy high-end functionality. You just want some walkie talkies that can communicate across long distances, and ideally, the less expensive, the better. Well, you’re in luck – we’ve found three models that have everything you need. Take a look!
First of all, let’s check out the Midland LXT600VP. Two of these handsets will cost you about 50 USD and while they have a fairly plain exterior, there’s actually a fair amount going on under the hood. So, how do these walkie talkies make your life easier?
First, they have a range that’s almost unseen in this price bracket. They allow you to send signals up to 30 miles away (terrain permitting), and they even have an NOAA weather alert station that can be accessed by navigating to the correct frequency. Not too shabby, right? But there’s more.
Each set of AAA batteries lasts up to 12 hours. If you find the signal a little weak you can use the high power mode which will increase communication clarity at the cost of battery life. There are also three speaker levels that make it easier to use these walkie talkies hands-free.
You’ll even be able to hear emergency announcements like Amber Alerts thanks to the LXT600VP’s All Hazard Alert system. With 36 channels available, each with 121 privacy codes, it’s very simple to find a free frequency to communicate on. In essence, these are simple handsets that just work.
We’re now onto our second-last handset recommendation, the Uniden GMR4040-2CKHS. At a little under 70 USD for two, these are a more up-market solution intended for people who just can’t get the range they’re looking for from less expensive models. Let’s jump right in.
These walkie talkies give you the freedom to talk to people up to 40 miles away, making them the product with the longest range on our list. With 22 channels to choose from and automatic NOAA weather alerts, these are perfect for people who like to get their hands dirty.
They boast a backlit screen and glowing keys so they’re very easy to use in the dark, plus when combined with a VOX headset, they can be used hands-free. Whether you’re coordinating a search, scouting for a place to camp, or giving your buddy a hard time about the number of fish he’s caught, these would be an excellent choice.
Well, we’ve finally made it to the last of our recommendations and we’ve decided to finish on a high note. The Midland LXT630VP3 have a lot to offer and we’re sure you’ll agree that they deserve their spot on our list.
They allow you to choose from 36 different channels. Of course, there are privacy codes available, and you can even choose how to power them. For instance, you could use the rechargeable battery primarily but keep AAA batteries around for an easy backup.
These handsets boast weather scanning functionality, a keypad lock, high/low power modes, automatic squelching, a roger beep, and even hands-free operation. Throw in a 30-mile range and it’s plain to see that these are walkie-talkies that punch well above their price range.
Yep, that’s the other selling point. At less than 50 USD for two handsets, these are among the most affordable products around. Sure, there are cheaper ones available, but generally, they offer far less functionality and won’t give you the versatility that the LXR630VP3’s do.
If you live an active lifestyle, you’ll need walkie-talkies that can keep up. The weather-resistant walkie-talkies from Midland are among the hardiest around and would make an excellent addition to your arsenal.
Electrician and DIY specialist Justin deleted his own successful tech blog to write expert product reviews and buying guides together with his friend Robert.