Looking to purchase the best portable radio in 2019? With so many different products available, it can be hard to decide on what device to buy, considering the vast differences in features and price points.

Originally invented in 1965, portable radio has been consistently used by people around the world to listen to music, news and current affairs.

These days, radio can do much more than that, with digital radio, alarm and even Bluetooth capabilities being common in portable radios.

If you are in the market for a new portable radio, we’re here to help.  Below we have reviewed ten of the most popular portable DAB/AM/FM radios available, so you can be more informed on what is best for your specific needs and budget.

Read on to find out features, price point and overall quality of top ten portable AM/FM radios currently on the market!

Alternatively, if you need a radio for your home, we have just finished baking the best tabletop radio review, check it out!

ImageSound power / Weight / Size / Band
Best FM Radio For General Use – Avantree SP850 3-in-1
Ultra-portable and modern design with backlit LCD. Streams music via Bluetooth, SD card or works as a FM radio.
3 W5.6 oz5.2 x 1.3 x 2.6 inFM
Best Portable AM FM Radio – Panasonic RF-2400
Simple, affordable AM / FM radio that features ar precision tuning and a retro look. One of the best portable radio sellers on Amazon.
3 W16 oz3.2 x 9.2 x 4.8 inAM, FM
Best for Jobsite  – Bosch PB180
Tough, heavy duty and waterproof body makes it perfect for jobsite use. Coupled with an ultra-long battery life this is the best jobsite radio around.
10 W64 oz13 x 6.5 x 4.8 inAM, FM
Best Retro Radio – Studebaker SB2000TG
A budget version of a cool looking retro radio. It features a simple design with the most basic operation and controls.
0.35 W26 oz.7.5 x 5.6 x 3.5 inAM, FM
Best Small Radio – Sony ICFP26
One of the best ultra-portable radios around. Small size and lightweight design ensure it can easily slide in your pocket. Great with headphones.
0.1 W6.7 oz4.69 x 2.74 x 1.50 inAM, FM
Best Emergency Crank Radio – RunningSnail MD-090
One of the best compact emergency radios we’ve tested. Radio can be powered with solar, batteries, USB cable and hand crank.
3 W8.8 oz6.2 x 2.1 x 2.9 inAM, FM
Top Sound Quality – Sangean PR-D5BK
Great sound quality in a very portable package. Add strong reception and you get one of the best general purpose portable radios out there.
2 W58 oz10.2 x 5.4 x 2.5 inAM, FM RDS
Best Radio for Shower – Jensen Bluetooth Wireless Waterproof Shower Speaker Radio
Features Bluetooth streaming support and built-in FM radio. Splash resistant design make it a perfect choice for bath or shower usage.
N/A17 oz8.9 x 7.6 x 2.5 inAM, FM, Bluetooth
Best Budget Emergency – RunningSnail Emergency Hand Crank Self Powered
The best budget emergency radio on the market. You can power up the radio with solar, USB cable and hand crank. Upgraded LED flashlight.
N/A7.8 oz5 x 1.8 x 2.4 inAM, FM NOAA
Best Pocket Radio – C. Crane CC Pocket AM/FM Pocket
A pocket radio power house. It features the premium feel, material quality and build. Top choice for pocket size radios, but somewhat pricey.
N/A3.8 oz4.2 x 2.5 x 1 inAM, FM NOAA
Top 10 Portable Radio Shootout

Best FM Radio For General Use – Avantree SP850 3-in-1

Ultra-portable and modern design with backlit LCD. Streams music via Bluetooth, SD card or works as a FM radio.

3 W5.2 x 1.3 x 2.6 in
5.6 oz.FM

Best Portable AM FM Radio – Panasonic RF-2400

Simple, affordable AM / FM radio that features ar precision tuning and a retro look. One of the best portable radio sellers on Amazon.

3 W3.2 x 9.2 x 4.8 in
16 oz.AM, FM

Best for Jobsite  – Bosch PB180

Tough, heavy duty and waterproof body makes it perfect for jobsite use. Coupled with an ultra-long battery life this is the best jobsite radio around.

10 W13 x 6.5 x 4.8 in
64 oz.AM, FM

Best Retro Radio – Studebaker SB2000TG

A budget version of a cool looking retro radio. It features a simple design with the most basic operation and controls.

0.35 W7.5 x 5.6 x 3.5 in
26 oz.AM, FM

Best Compact Radio – Sony ICFP26

One of the best ultra-portable radios around. Small size and lightweight construction ensure it can easily fit in your pocket. Great with headphones.

0.1 W4.69 x 2.74 x 1.50 in
6.7 oz.AM, FM

Best Emergency Crank Radio – RunningSnail MD-090

One of the best emergency waterproof radios on the market. Power sources include solar, batteries, USB cable and hand crank.

3 W6.2 x 2.1 x 2.9 in
8.8 oz.AM, FM

Best For Music – Sangean PR-D5BK

Amazing sound quality for the size and strong AM FM reception make it one of the top choices for general purpose portable radio.

2 W10.2 x 5.4 x 2.5 in
58 oz.AM, FM RDS

Best Radio for Shower – Jensen Bluetooth Wireless Waterproof Shower Speaker Radio

Features Bluetooth connectivity and built-in radio support. Splash resistant design make it a perfect choice for bath or shower usage.

N/A8.9 x 7.6 x 2.5 in
17 oz.AM, FM, Bluetooth

Best Budget Emergency – RunningSnail Emergency Hand Crank Self Powered

The best budget emergency radio on the market. You can power up the radio with solar, USB cable and hand crank. Upgraded LED flashlight.

N/A5 x 1.8 x 2.4 in
7.8 oz.AM, FM NOAA

Best Pocket Radio – C. Crane CC Pocket AM/FM Pocket

A pocket radio power house. It features the premium feel, material quality and build. Top choice for portable pocket size radios, but somewhat pricey.

N/A4.2 x 2.5 x 1 in
3.8 oz.AM, FM NOAA

1. Best For General Use – Avantree SP850 3-in-1

Avantree SP850 3-in-1 is a multipurpose speaker that features Bluetooth, FM radio, MicroSD card playback, and an auxiliary port. It also comes with rechargeable Li-ion batteries and a headphone jack, which are great inclusions for the price. The radio is well-constructed and has a nice on/off volume switch with a bit of a retro ode to old radios of the past.  The radio itself is quite small and will fit in your hand comfortably.
Avantree SP850 3-in-1 is very handy portable radio with Bluetooth. It is well made and almost fits into a pocket.

On the front panel, you will find the small LCD screen with six buttons including menu, mode, and Bluetooth amongst others. Besides the volume switch, the design is very modern with both sides highlighted in bright red color.

It also comes with a carrying strap, which is always handy to carry portable radios around. Besides, the radio comes with an integrated antenna, yet if you ever feel the signal strength is not enough, you can use a USB cable as an extension.

The sound quality doesn’t really stand out due to the small 3-watt speaker.  It isn’t horrendous, but it is not impressive either.

Since the radio produces moderate volume levels, it is best used in quiet places. Alternatively, you can always use the headphones port which is actually quite comfortable given the radio’s size.

On the downside, the radio lacks AM band and is limited to FM coverage only. Depending on your use, this might be a deal-breaker if you are looking for a radio that is versatile.  Although the device is small, it would still be nice to be able to connect it to AC power, but unfortunately, Avantree SP850 runs on rechargeable battery only.

Bottom Line

Avantree SP850 3-in-1 is a small digital radio with a lot of features, however, an AM band support and a more powerful speaker would have made it even better. Although it does have some cons, given the price point the radio represents unbeatable value. If you are looking for a small, cheap FM radio with Bluetooth support and rechargeable Lithium-ion batteries, you may have found one of the best portable Bluetooth radios around.

7.8/10

  • Portability 90% 90%
  • Features 80% 80%
  • Sound Quality 60% 60%
  • Value 80% 80%
POSITIVE
avantree 3-in-1 portable has battery indicatorTons of features in a small device
perfect portable mini radio to have on the goCarrying strap and rechargeable batteries are included
charge status indicatorBacklit LCD
wireless bluetooth2 Years Warranty
NEGATIVE
best for quite music, talk shows, podcastsUnimpressive speaker
volume level is low and no led lightNo AM band

2. Best Portable AM FM Radio – Panasonic RF-2400

Panasonic RF-2400 is probably the most popular portable AM FM radio currently available on the market.

The aesthetic design of the radio has retro touches that are common for electronics design from the early 80s.

Besides the product’s physical appearance, it also has a bunch of great design features that are not common to come by in other products in this price range.

Panasonic RF-2400 features a simple and robust design that makes it one of the best portable am fm radio alternatives on the market

The handle doesn’t fold all the way in like with most radios.  Instead, it folds to the back, creating a ready-made stand. Very cool!

This portable radio is full of great features.  The antenna extends to 24 inches which helps with FM reception strength.  The on/off switch also acts as a band selector switch when you move it further to the right.  The devices tuning wheel is quite large, sensitive and precise, which helps with easy station fine-tuning.

Another cool feature is the glow in the dark dial, making it a breeze to tune at night.

The sound quality is more than decent, given the radio’s price point.  A single 4-inch speaker delivers a great sound usually found in slightly more expensive radio alternatives.

In terms of power choices, you get both – AC and battery-powered operation. To use the radio on the go you need four AA batteries, unlike other devices that take larger and heavier C size batteries.

There is one questionable inclusion to mention, and that is the earphone jack.  Not to be confused with a headphone jack that powers both ears. An earphone jack is a single, left ear only jack that cannot be used with standard stereo mode headphones.

On the downside, the only major complaint we could find is the absence of an external auxiliary port. It means that the radio cannot be used as a speaker for other portable media players you may have.

Bottom Line

Panasonic RF-2400 is an affordable, simple radio that sits amongst the best portable radios in its price range.  It features a precise tuning and excellent sound for a very wallet-friendly price. Although we’d love to see a headphone socket included, we still easily find it to be one of the best value portable radios around.

8/10

  • Portability 80% 80%
  • Features 70% 70%
  • Sound Quality 70% 70%
  • Value 100% 100%
POSITIVE
Check the best price on amazonFantastic AM/FM reception
best portable outdoor radioImpressive sound quality
Exhaustive radio product reviewsGlow in the dark dial
NEGATIVE
Radio stations can be using either FM, AM or digital brodcasting.NOAA weather radio is extremely handy for all those situations.
Not the best portable outdoor radio in our product reviewLack of external auxiliary port

3. best Jobsite radio – Bosch PB180

Bosch is a brand that is best known for its heavy-duty tools and household appliances. At the same time, Bosch PB180 is worth having a good look if durability is a concern.

It is easy to tell that Bosch PB180 is a portable radio that was specifically designed for construction and job site use.

As a general use portable radio, it may come across as rather bulky, but there is a good reason for it.  The radio is housed in a water-resistant, heavy-duty plastic case to protect it from drops and bumps that can occur at a job site.

If you are looking for the best portable fm radio for construction site use - Bosch PB180 is our pick

In fact, the shock-absorbing case protects the radio from drops of up to 6.5 feet high and guarantees to remain fully functional.

The case isn’t exactly great looking, and we won’t find this radio in any aesthetic design hall of fame, but it is more of a function over form type of product.  It has been designed for all-day use by tradespeople wanting extra durability, and it does an excellent job at it.

The radio comes with an AC adaptor for power, yet the device is also compatible with Bosch 18V lithium-ion batteries.  Using the battery allows the radio to last for up to two days with continuous use – a big plus when you are working through the day.  In addition, if you are a tradesman, you may already have those Bosch batteries as they are compatible with most of their tools.

Regarding the sound, it comes with two high performance, 5-Watt speakers so that you can hear the radio over job site noise.

Another handy feature is the external auxiliary port, which allows you to connect any digital media device to Bosch PB180 and use it as speakers.

The radio supports both AM/FM bands and has ten preset options for all your favorite stations.  The radio also includes a 7” antenna that pivots and rotates 360 degrees for maximum reception both indoors and outdoors, but it is not DAB compatible.

It comes with a one year warranty, which is a nice added extra to protect your wallet if the product doesn’t live up to standard.  Users have remarked that it is the perfect radio for outdoor use and working due to being durable, lightweight and producing great quality sound.

Bottom Line

Bosch PB180 is the number one choice for a portable FM radio for worksite use.  The combination of the ultra-long battery life, shock-absorbing casing and powerful speakers make it one of the best radios for construction workers and job sites in general.

8/10

  • Portability 80% 80%
  • Features 70% 70%
  • Sound quality 90% 90%
  • Value 80% 80%
POSITIVE
One of the best portable outdoor radios we've come acrossHeavy duty rugged radio
Product reviews, analysis and comparisonWater resistant
Best radio product reviews here at Crunch ReviewsTwo good quality speakers
Radio reviews on ease of use, portability, reception, sound and much moreFits into a half L-BOXX-2
NEGATIVE
Far from being the best portable outdoor radio in our shootoutNot DAB compatible even though it is a higher priced radio
expensive radioNeed to purchase batteries separately

4. Best Retro Radio – Studebaker SB2000TG

Studebaker is a brand that focuses on making affordable portable AM/FM radios.

Studebaker SB2000TG, in particular, features a true retro design and looks from the golden days of the 50s or 60s.

The radio has great compact size with a flip-up handle allows you to transport it easily in one hand.

The eye-popping feature of this device is the gorgeous metal speaker grill.  It really stands out and adds retro charm to the radio.  In addition, the old school rotary dial on the front panel nicely completes the overall retro look and allows you to dial in the radio station you want.

Studebaker SB2000TG is one of the best handheld radios with a retro look

On the side of the radio is the band select and external auxiliary port, that allows the radio to be used as a speaker for other media players.

Sound-wise, you get a single 2.25” size premier speaker.  It is not the best we’ve seen, but given the price point, the sound quality produced is very respectable.

It is great to see that the radio comes with an AC adaptor.  It allows you to save on the batteries if the powerpoint is around. If you do choose to use batteries, however, the radio takes four large C sized batteries.

On the downside, there is no DAB support.  Also, we feel a backlight on the dial or tuning indicator would be a convenient feature as it is hard to change channels in the dark.

Also since the radio comes with a shorter 11 inches antenna instead of a more standard 24 inch, the reception quality in demanding conditions is impacted.  Lastly, a headphone port would also be a welcome feature to have.

SB2000TG comes with a 90-day warranty which is typical for radios. Overall, users seem to be delighted with aesthetics and value the radio delivers at a very affordable price.

Bottom Line

Studebaker SB2000TG is a cool little portable radio that might be a good choice if you are on a budget.  The retro look is very thematic, and the speaker grill looks great.  If you are looking for a simple, practical, bare-bones old-school looking radio on a budget, it does not get much better than this.

7.5/10

  • Portability 80% 80%
  • Features 70% 70%
  • Sound Quality 70% 70%
  • Value 80% 80%
POSITIVE
Retro look is one of the highlighted featuresDual power operation
high quality and great looks make it to our top tenAuxiliary input
Top ten radio reviewCool retro design
NEGATIVE
only good sound, not greatThe antenna is too small to get great FM reception
radio battery does not come in the boxNo backlight on the dial or tuning indicator

5. Best Small Radio – Sony ICFP26

Sony ICFP26 is an ultraportable vertical AM/FM radio.  Designed to sit in your pocket comfortably, this is the smallest radio on our list, weighing just 6.7oz.

For those looking for the smallest radio they can find, Sony ICFP26 is likely to be the best small radio you can buy today.

There are a lot of things to like with this tiny portable radio, and it starts with battery life. It requires only two AA batteries to deliver up to 110 hours of listening time.

When the battery gets to a low level, the power LED turns red, indicating that battery change is required. Quite a handy reminder to make sure you are never left without a working radio by your side.

Sony ICFP26 is an all time favorite small size portable radio that has been time tested and proven to be the pocket radio of choice for many radio listeners

The all-black housing gives the device a modern look.  It features the speaker at the front and the tuning dial on the side. The tuning wheel is smooth and scans through channels nicely. Below the tuning wheel is a single switch that contains the on/off/AM/FM selections, which is a smart design. 

The best thing about radio case is that it has a flat bottom, that allows it to stand on a flat surface. At the same time, the case plastic has a matte-like finish, which looks great but may get scratched up pretty quickly.

Sony has also included a high-quality wrist strap which is a small thing, but it makes it easy to carry around.

Our only complaint we have is with the telescoping antenna.  It is 17 inches long, which is decent for an ultraportable radio, but it does not come with a guard or protection.  It makes carrying the radio in your hand or a pocket slightly uncomfortable.

The speaker is also quite small and unimpressive, but that is expected when the device is barely larger than a pack of playing cards.  This radio does come with a stereo headphone jack so you can listen to it like you would with your iPhone or the old-school Sony Walkman.

Bottom Line

Sony ICF-P26 is a fantastic ultraportable radio. The build feels exceptionally sturdy, and the sensitivity when selecting channels is awesome.  The telescopic antenna is not perfect as it is hosted outside of the radio body. At the same time, this minor flaw does not prevent ICF-P26 from joining the ranks of the best small radios available today. If you are looking for an ultraportable radio, mainly for headphone listening on a shoestring budget, you would be hard-pressed to find a better deal.

8.5/10

  • Portability 100% 100%
  • Features 70% 70%
  • Sound Quality 80% 80%
  • Value 90% 90%
POSITIVE
battery operated portable pocket friendly radioPower LED that dims when battery level is low
honest and unbiased portable radio reviewsPower switch that doubles as the band select
good level of comfort and portabilityFlat base design so the radio stays upright
NEGATIVE
check negative customer feedback when buying radio for good level of receptionTelescopic antenna is badly designed
battery operated portable pocket powerhouseSound quality could have been better

6. Best Emergency Crank Radio- RunningSnail MD-090

RunningSnail Solar Crank NOAA Weather Radio is purposely built for emergencies and is a great option if you want to be prepared for the worst.

The housed in a hard plastic case is extremely durable that is ready to take some beating. The body features a bright, vivid green color that should help you find the radio easily, even in the dark.

The front of the body features basic radio controls with the solar panel at the top and the flashlight on the side.

To improve reception in hard to reach places, the radio comes with an extended antenna that should give you the best chance wherever you are.

If you are on a trip in the wild, camping or hiking, RunningSnail is sure to have a good waterproof portable radio for you to pick from

Overall, there are for ways to power the radio. You can use the hand crank, solar charge panel, micro USB or AAA batteries.  

One of the cool features is the ability to charge other devices. You will find an additional standard size USB port on the side that can provide charge to your phone or other portable devices in emergencies.

If you choose to use a hand crank, a minute of cranking should get you 20 mins of radio, or 30 mins of flashlight use.  If you do need to make an emergency call, the radio has a built-in SOS button into the bottom of the case that initiates a loud siren sound to attract nearby people.

As with most emergency type radios, you will find a reasonably bright flashlight built into the radio’s body. It will definitely come in handy for outdoor use when camping or hiking, or as a backup flashlight for home.

We could not find many things to fault with this radio from RunningSnail as thousands of happy customers and positive reviews is a great testament to that. If we really had to push for it, I would want to see the speaker produce a slightly better quality sound. At the same time, this is a survival radio that was designed with a different focus in mind, so I may be asking for too much.

Bottom Line

RunningSnail MD-090 is one of the best emergency radios you will find on the market.  It is jammed packed with features such as the flashlight, portable device charging, SOS siren and 4 ways to be powered (crank, battery, solar or USB power bank). Fully charged it provides up to 12 hours of light or 6 hours of radio time. A great result that makes it one of the best portable radios for emergencies.

8/10

  • Portability 80% 80%
  • Features 90% 90%
  • Sound Quality 70% 70%
  • Value 80% 80%
POSITIVE
noaa weather radio is a handy feature for any survival radioGreat amount of features for survival situations
noaa weather radio is perfect for camping and long days out in the wildIntegrated with NOAA for emergency weather alerts
Comes with a build in LED for flashlight reading and noaa weather stations accessTough build and reliability required for emergencies.
alert radio that is both affordable and practical with solar panel chargingEmergency solar power access
NEGATIVE
flashlight reading lamp cold have been lighterUnimpressive speaker
flashlight reading lamp drains battery powerThe looks may not be for everyone

7. Best Sound Portable Radio – Sangean PR-D5BK

When PR-D5BK was released, Sangean claimed to offer the “last portable radio that you will ever have to buy”. I think this may be somewhat of a stretch statement, but the radio does have some great features that make it an option you should probably consider.

Device functions are located at the front and both sides of the radio. At the front, you get 5 FM and 5 AM band presets, radio alarm function, sleep timer, and battery power indicator.

Sangean PR-D5BK is our pick for the best portable radio with stereo sound. Enjoy the audio quality rarely seen in portable radios.

On the left side is the power supply input, you will find an external AUX input, earphone jack, and a mono/stereo switch. The other side hosts volume and tuning knobs.

The tuning knob has an auto-seek option so you can scan through channels without having to turn it manually.

Unlike the majority of portable outdoor radios, Sangean PR-D5BK has two, high-quality speakers that deliver an excellent stereo sound. In fact, the sound quality and the pure listening experience is superior to any other radio in our review.

Tuning wise, the radio has two different antennas. The AM Band utilizes a seven-inch Ferrite AM antenna bar to get great AM Reception. For the FM band, there is a 26.5″ Adjustable Telescopic FM Antenna. Including two specialized antennas was a great design choice by Sangean.

The LCD display shows the radio band and the station selected.

Regarding the downsides, we could only think about batteries and the lack of Bluetooth support. First, there are 6 C sized batteries, which is a lot. We understand that you need electric power for loud and good quality sound, but we feel it has a couple too many. Also, given the price point, it would be a reasonable expectation to include a rechargeable battery in the box.

The absence of Bluetooth also feels a little bit of a miss, especially knowing that the radio has all it needs to become a small boom box.

Bottom Line

Sangean PR-D5BK is a well built and designed portable radio. The features are useful, the speakers are excellent and the above the fold signal strength makes it one of the best portable radios on the market. If you don’t mind using 6 x C size batteries and not have Bluetooth connectivity, PR-D5BK delivers a great package that would even work in noisy places.

8/10

  • Portability 70% 70%
  • Features 70% 70%
  • Sound Quality 100% 100%
  • Value 80% 80%
POSITIVE
portable radio reviewsGreat AM/FM reception
good looking radio black casingSuperb stereo sound quality
portable digital radio with the most refined sound in our portable radio reviewBacklit LCD display
3.5mm headphone support is super handyRDS support
NEGATIVE
consider static noise when buying a radioBass can be a little too heavy with no way to turn it down
not exactly a compact portable device, but works well for your bathNo Bluetooth support
single power source and not exactly clear sound

No carry handle

8. Best Radio For Shower – Jensen Bluetooth Waterproof

Jensen Bluetooth Wireless Waterproof Shower Speaker Radio is a versatile radio that is perfect for shower use but can do much more than that.

The device has a multitude of features built-in such as Bluetooth speaker, radio, NFC, clock and a speakerphone.  It is straightforward to use and features a simple yet robust body.

You will find a multi-function blue back-lit LCD display that allows you to view time, radio band, Bluetooth connectivity, and other details.

The device has a splash-resistant case so that you can use it in your bath or shower.

Given only a few options on the market Jensen Bluetooth Waterproof radio is the best shower radio around.

The device comes with a detachable rubber strap. It allows you to hang the portable radio over a multitude of things such as the shower rod, hook or taps.

It is also great to see integrated Bluetooth support in such a relatively cheap device. It allows you to connect the device to your phone or other portable device and use it as a speaker.  For example, you can make a shower playlist on your phone, connect the speaker and then listening to your curated tunes when you are scrubbing. Alternatively, you can simply tune into your favorite radio channel.

On the downside the unit does not come with batteries included, so you need to source your own four AA batteries.  The battery compartment requires a flat blade screwdriver so make sure you have one handy.  Users have noted that the battery compartment is quite hard to open – even with a flat blade and that it is possible to thread the screw holes if you aren’t careful.

Bottom Line

Jensen Shower Speaker is a great choice for a shower or bath use.  The combination of a low price, Bluetooth features and easy to hang rubber strap is hard to beat.  If you are looking for the best waterproof portable radio that can also play soundtracks from your phone, this little wireless shower speaker is a good fit for the job.

7.8/10

  • Portability 90% 90%
  • Features 70% 70%
  • Sound Quality 60% 60%
  • Value 90% 90%
POSITIVE
one of the top 3-in-1 portable outdoor radiosBluetooth support
good shower radio with alarm that lets you listen to your favorite radio tunesGood reception given built-in antenna
easy tuningRubber strap makes hanging it anywhere very easy
NEGATIVE
Best portable speakers under 100 reviews benefits, pros, cons and recommendationsThe battery compartment is hard to open and needs a flat head screwdriver
Best portable speakers under 100 reviews benefits, pros, cons and recommendations“Splash-proof” not waterproof

9. Best Emergency Compact Radio – RunningSnail MD-088s

RunningSnail MD-088s is the younger, cheaper brother of the all-weather radio MD-090 we have reviewed before.

It has many of the same features in a smaller design, however, there are also few things missing.

Despite the size, this little emergency radio packs enough features to make you strongly consider it if you are on the market for emergency portable radios.

You can charge the radio in three ways, via a micro USB connection, solar energy or manual hand crank.  Unlike its bigger brother MD-090 (see above) using AAA batteries with this radio is not supported.

Samsung Fast Charge Battery Pack is one of the best portable phone charger of 2018. It is designed specifically for a mobile phone and can charge it in no time.

Since the radio also supports NOAA weather service, the weather notifications are always at your fingertips.  The SOS alarm feature is not available on this radio; hence if it is something important to you, you may want to consider MD-090 (see above) as an emergency radio instead.

The odd shape of the radio reminds of an old flashlight. The bottom of the unit has a square base allowing it to stand upright on flat surfaces.

This emergency radio also features an updated LED flashlight that now comes with a built-in 1W LED. It is strong enough to light up a room or an area for extended periods of time.

The speaker is of a relatively small size, so the sound quality is nothing special, yet acceptable for occasional use.

If you are planning to use the hand crank to power up the built-in rechargeable battery, then you may find it uncomfortable. Due to that, cranking for portable device charging is not recommended, unless there is no other way around it.

Bottom Line

RunningSnail has nailed the compact emergency radio again with MD-088s. With solar, USB and hand crank charging, flashlight and a decent radio for occasional use, RunningSnail have delivered one of the best small portable radios for emergency use. Although SOS alarm would have been a welcome addition, it still represents a great choice for anyone looking for a compact emergency radio with an affordable price tag.

8/10

  • Portability 90% 90%
  • Features 70% 70%
  • Sound Quality 70% 70%
  • Value 90% 90%
POSITIVE
battery operated portable pocket survival radio with emergency alertsCompact size with plenty of features
Emergency alerts are triggered by NOAA broadcasting supportIntegrated NOAA weather alert feature
NOAA portable radio comes with weather and emergency alertsRadio antenna gives a good signal
NEGATIVE
manual tuning, no digital tuningUnimpressive speaker
emergency solar power access is sub parHand crank is not comfortable to use

10. Best Pocket Radio – C. Crane CC Pocket AM/FM Pocket

C. Crane CC Pocket is a premium handheld portable radio that has more features than most portable radios on the market.

It comes at a higher price point than other compact portable radios on the list, but it is well justified.

The build quality is solid and sleek, with a rubber casing around the edge of the radio.  It adds another layer of protection and helps to grip the radio when carrying around.

The face of the radio has an LCD and five one-touch memory presents to access your favorite radio stations. In total, the radio can store up to 25 presets on both the AM and FM bands.

CC Pocket is arguably the top pocket radio the money can buy

The LCD display is relatively simple but very readable and neat.  It features a backlit screen that works great in the dark. The radio also features a sleep function, which you can enable by holding the power button.

In addition to the standard AM/FM bands, the radio has access to NOAA Weather through an alert mode.  This feature is not common in a budget of mid-level small pocket radios, but anyone spending time hiking, camping or bushwalking will find it useful. You can further customer the feature to choosing the alerts you want to listen to.

Since the radio is positioned as a premium pocket radio, it comes with a quality made belt clip and earbuds.

There aren’t many flaws to point out except that the radio is pricey. But like we said at the beginning of our review, despite the premium price tag, we feel it is well worth your attention.

Bottom Line

C. Crane CC Pocket is a portable pocket radio powerhouse.  It is made to be a device that can withstand the stress of hiking and traveling but also works great as a stay at home occasional use radio.  It comes in a little pricey, but it is well worth the money.  If you want a premium pocket radio that is ultra-portable and robust at the same time, you will struggle to find a better alternative.

8/10

  • Portability 90% 90%
  • Ports / Connections 80% 80%
  • Sound Quality 80% 80%
  • Value 70% 70%
POSITIVE
Batteries last long time and built in radio speakerIncluded earbuds are of great quality
local radio stations and weather alert radio are pretty goodFantastic reception
would work well as an outdoor speaker and an horologe am fm pocketModern design
li-ion battery allow function radio wheather you have access to AC or notPremium build quality
NEGATIVE
Small but ultra rugged radio receiverSpeaker could be better
LED tuningNo DAB support
no battery indicatorExpensive

Portable AM FM Radio Buying Guide – Key Features to Consider

Before you begin your search for the best portable AM/FM radio and read radio reviews, there are a few key features to consider. Knowing what to look for should make your search easier, skimming through the radio reviews quicker and help me you pick the top portable radio for your needs. By doing this, you will reduce time wasted, looking at products that don’t fit your needs and narrow down your search to make the overall experience more enjoyable. Here are three key features we think you should consider:

Mono or Stereo

Sound quality should be considered upon purchasing the best portable outdoor radio. If you are buying a mono device, the radio will only have one channel. Alternatively, stereo support requires two channels, which results in clearer and better sound quality.

DAB Compatibility

Digital Audio Broadcasting (or DAB for short) is a type of radio broadcast that can offer more efficient use of bandwidth than a regular AM or FM spectrum. Consider whether the radio you are looking at is DAB compatible if you want to listen to higher sound quality radio stations. Besides, it is a good fail-safe in case AM/FM broadcasts get shut down in the future.

Portability

If you are on the hunt for the small pocket size radios, then portability is likely to be one of your main concerns. The most portable radios are also referred to as pocket or walking radios. It is important to mention if the size is a priority, portable pocket FM AM radios are a lot more common than pocket DAB radios, which are still making their way into the portable radio market.

Also, most portable radios feature a 3.5mm headphone connection; some even have earphones included in the box. It makes those radios with earphones accessible and easily enjoyable on the go.

Historically, Sony radios were strong in battery-operated portable pocket radio or smallest radio size category, but with the new competition from CC. Pocket, the radio selection is no longer as straight forward. Both CC Pocket from Crane and ICFP26 from Sony (see above) from our review are very capable smallest size radios that can be easily carried around in a pocket.

Battery Life

The battery life of a portable AM, FM, or DAB radio should always be taken into consideration when choosing the product with the best fit.  If you are planning on using the radio out of the house often, battery-operated radio with extended battery life is what you need.

There are two main types of battery-operated radios to consider, rechargeable radio and the one that uses typical A or AA size disposable batteries. The advantage of the former is that you get to save on battery cost long term, the drawback is that you need to have a battery charger.

Power Options

Most portable or small AM FM radios run purely off the battery power. Only occasionally, you come around pocket-size portable AM/FM radios that feature an AC power port. At the same time, the ones that are designed to be carried around and used on a table or bench almost certainly come with AC adaptor.

Waterproofing

Pocket size radio waterproofing or weatherproofing is not common, and if the water-resistance of some sort is required, a water-resistant handheld radio is needed. Most of the time, waterproof radios are also dustproof, but when cheaper materials are used – the radio sound quality may get impacted.

Earphones or a Speaker?

If you are looking for the best radio for your pocket, it is likely that you are planning to use it with headphones and on the go. At the same time, most radios, even the ones that are less portable feature a headphone jack, so you are likely to get it anyway. Also, all radios with earphones or without, come with a speaker built-in.

In other words, you don’t need to decide between earphones and a speaker as with any portable radio in our review – you will get both.

Additional Features

Whether you are after a mini AM FM radio or a portable handheld radio, the critical features for your radio are likely to be the same. At the same time, some of the secondary functions and extras can vary. Those can be important for you, depending on how are you planning to use your battery-operated radio. Below are some of the extra features you may want to consider:

  • Attachments, such as a belt clip or a carry strap
  • USB port – allows you to play your favorite MP3 songs using the radio’s speaker
  • Bluetooth – portable radio with Bluetooth support is not exactly typical. Similarly to USB, you can use the radio’s speaker to stream songs from your mobile or other portable devices
  • Alarm clock – small AM FM radios do not usually come with an alarm clock, but bigger, digital display portable FM AM radios are likely to have the feature.
  • Flashlight – not a feature on typical handheld radios, yet if you are after emergency hand crank radios, they are almost guaranteed to have it. For example, both radios from RunningSnail in our review represent a hand crank LED flashlight and radio at the same time.
  • Telescopic antenna – at times, when you are out in the wild, reception can be an issue. If you are searching for the best reception radio for AM FM bands, telescopic antennas can give you that extra edge to get that stable radio coverage and good sound quality.
  • Auto station scan – a handy feature that allows pocket and handheld radios to tune into the station’s frequency automatically.
  • Weather radio – designed to sustain harsher weather conditions, hence is waterproof and could be shockproof. Besides, it supports NOAA emergency weather radio broadcasting.

Budget

Based on the radios in our review and depending on your needs, a good portable digital or AM / FM radios can set you back anywhere between $20 and $150. Ensure you are not paying for the features you don’t need by cross-checking your requirements with features offered by the radio.

Knowing the basics and having a good hold of the above information should help you understand the features relevant to you so that when you go through radio reviews (or any product reviews) – they make more sense.

DAB vs AM / FM Radio – Which One to Choose?

After going through multiple radio reviews people are typically challenged with a question whether to go digital or analog. DAB radios are gaining slowly in popularity but are usually more expensive than AM or FM radios, so which one should you go for?

The truth is that radio, just as TVs did, will eventually switch to digital-only broadcasting, hence AM and FM devices will become a thing of the past. The question is when do you want to make a move as you still have a couple of solid years in your pocket.

Sound

DAB radio is not subject to crackling or hissing, which results in better, more detailed and consistent sound reproduction. There is one exception though – when you lose the signal, you lose the sound, hence the radio using digital signal is either there or it is not.

Stations

Yes, it is likely to have fewer stations available on DAB, but this is only a matter of time. According to the latest statistics – 50% of all FM stations also do digital broadcasting.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between AM and FM bands?

Both frequency bands represent an analog method to of audio signal broadcast.
The difference between the two bands is the way the carrier wave is altered. For FM radio the frequency of the carrier signal varies, whereas, with AM band it is the amplitude that changes.
In addition, AM frequency range is represented between 535-1605 kHz, whereas FM frequency range is 88 to 108 MHz.

Here is a nice video explaining the difference between AM and FM bands:

Mono vs. Stereo in radios

Despite the technical capabilities and historical implementation, current AM band is mono only. An original attempt has been made to introduce stereo sound to AM band in the mid-1980s, but as it required compatible receivers and music stations migrating to FM band, the demand for AM Stereo capability has ceased to exist.

FM band was and still is Stereo compatible.

How to Improve Radio AM/FM/DAB Reception

Just like with your mobile phone or TV – radio signal quality depends on a number of factors knowing which allows you to work on your radio’s reception. Below are the main factors to consider when trying to improve reception quality:

  • Eliminate electrical trash. The common items that generate radio interference are CD, DVD players, TV boxes, vide consoles, microwave ovens, light dimmer switches and monitor screens.
  • Choose a better location. Brick, concrete, steel structures block radio waves. Try to make sure that there is nothing obscuring in between the radio and the transmitting tower.
  • Poor radio antenna. It looks good and makes the radio more portable when it comes with a built-in antenna. At the same time, to ensure you have the best reception, the antenna needs to provide as much physical length as possible, hence external antenna makes a huge difference.
  • Stereo FM. Our current FM stereo system was designed in the 60s and had to replace a more reliable FM band that was originally delivering only a mono signal. Despite the audio quality, the mono is a clean, stable and stronger signal. The later updated FM stereo band has sacrificed signal stability in favor of stereo sound and for over 40 years, the FM band has not been updated. Most portable FM radios have a switch between Stereo and Mono and if your radio does too, going Mono will provide you a better radio reception at a very little cost of reduced audio quality.
Are radio waves dangerous ?

To answer the question completely, we need to understand what is radio frequency radiation (RF). In short, it is an emission of the energy from a given source. In the case of radios, the emission is generated by the radio station transmitter and uses radio and microwaves for broadcasting.

Those waves sit low in the electromagnetic spectrum and emit radiation that is considered as non-ionizing or in simple terms – they do not interact with our body. As a result, those waves are not capable of having any effect or damage our DNA or trigger mutations.

Non-ionizing waves are miles less harmful than Gamma, UV or X-rays. At the same time, there is no study that definitively concludes that frequency modulation (i.e. FM) and amplitude modulation (i.e. AM) waves are not dangerous for our body, or the other way around for that matter.

What is a Transistor Radio?

A transistor radio is what made portable outdoor radio possible in the 1960s. The invention of transistors allowed to reduce radios to pocket sizes to become the most popular electronic devices in history.