After comparing ten of the best portable radios on the market, we found the Sangean PR-D18BK to be the top choice overall that would work for most people’s needs.

We have spent 15 hours researching, testing and collecting customer feedback from all over the internet to bring you this unbiased portable radio review and help you make the right purchase decision.

In this top 10 review article, we are predominantly comparing portable radios on their most important characteristics such as audio performance, weight, size and radio bands they support.

Overall, there are multiple great portable radios on the market and the one that is most suited for your needs depends on factors such as portability, ease of use, where and how you are planning to use it. Keep reading to discover the best portable radio for you.

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


Top 10 Portable Radios

Sound power / Weight / Size / Bands

Best FM Radio Overall – 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 W


5.6 oz


5.2 x 1.3 x 2.6"



Best Selling Portable 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 W


16 oz


13 x 6.5 x 4.8"



Most Durable – Porter Cable PCC771B

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


48 W


52 oz.


12.4 x 6 x 5.6"



Best Retro Style 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 W


26 oz


7.5 x 5.6 x 3.5"



Top Value 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 W


6.7 oz


4.7 x 2.7 x 1.5"



Portable Emergency Radio – RunningSnail MD-097

One of the top compact emergency radios we’ve tested. Radio can be powered with solar, batteries (35 hours), USB cable and even hand crank.


3 W


21 oz


8 x 3.5 x 3.2"



Top Audio Quality – Sangean PR-D5BK

Great sound in a very portable package. Add strong reception and you get one of the best general purpose portable radios out there.


2 W


58 oz


10 x 5.4 x 2.5"



Most Durable Portable Radio – Sangean PR-D18BK

A portable travel size radio in a stylish and rugged body. It comes with 10 station presets, 2 alarm timer and an option to run it of the AC power.


1 W


14 oz


6.5 x 4.2 x 1.5"



Smallest SSB Digital Radio – CC Skywave SSB

The smallest multi-band portable radio with SSB we’ve tested. Supports all radio bands there are – a true Swiss army knife in portable radio segment.


1 W


14 oz


6.5 x 4 x 1.5"



Best Pocket Size 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.




3.8 oz


4.2 x 2.5 x 1"



1. Best General Use Portable Radio – 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 control 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. 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 audio quality doesn’t really stand out due to the small 3-watt sound output.  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 stations 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.


  • Portability 90% 90%
  • Features 80% 80%
  • Sound Quality 60% 60%
  • Value 80% 80%
avantree 3-in-1 portable has battery indicator Tons of features in a small device
perfect portable mini radio to have on the go Carrying strap and rechargeable batteries are included
charge status indicator Backlit LCD
wireless bluetooth 2 Years Warranty
best for quite music, talk shows, podcasts Unimpressive speaker
volume level is low and no led light No AM band

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

Panasonic RF-2400 is probably the most popular 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 in other products in this price range.

This portable radio is easy to use and comes with some great features.

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

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

The handle doesn’t fold all the way in like with most radios.  Instead, it folds to the back, creating a ready-made stand. Another cool feature is the glow in the dark dial, making it a breeze to tune at night.

The speaker 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 system 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.


  • Portability 80% 80%
  • Features 70% 70%
  • Sound Quality 70% 70%
  • Value 100% 100%
panasonic rf-2400d has good reception Fantastic AM/FM reception
cheap portable outdoor radio Impressive audio quality
wide range of cool features such glow in the dark Glow in the dark dial
Panasonic rf-2400d is easy to use Extremely easy to use
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 review Lack of external auxiliary port

3. Best Tough Portable Radio – Porter Cable PCC771B

If you’re looking for a reliable and fairly priced job site radio, you won’t go wrong with the Porter Cable PCC771B.

It is durable and relatively compact, giving it the ability to withstand rough job sites. The heavy-duty roll cage comes with loops that allow you to hang the radio from ladders and rafters.

Thanks to the two high-grade stereo speakers, the audio quality is good and the sound is clear.

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

On top of the radio capabilities, it is Bluetooth-compatible so that you can stream your favorite music with your phone safely in your pocket.

It comes with 12 AM/FM memory slots for your favorite channels. It also has large labeled buttons on the front that make it incredibly easy to use.

Rarely seen on construction radios, but this model offers an equalizer to tweak the bass and treble levels to your liking. If you have an MP3 player, you can plug your music device into the radio via an auxiliary cable.

At the same time, the Porter Cable radio isn’t suitable for very noisy work environments as the max volume could be lacking.

The radio operates on two power sources: the 20V MAX Lithium-Ion battery and an AC wall adaptor.

Bottom Line

Durable and compact, Porter Cable Bluetooth Speaker and Radio is the perfect job site radio for harsh work environments. It has 12 presets for AM and FM stations, Bluetooth, and an aux port for your music devices. Although the max volume is lacking, its ease of usage, high-quality audio, and powerful built-in equalizer more than make up for it.


  • Portability 80% 80%
  • Features 70% 70%
  • Sound Quality 90% 90%
  • Value 80% 80%
One of the best portable outdoor radios we've come across Durable and compact
Product reviews, analysis and comparison Easy to use
Best radio product reviews here at Crunch Reviews Bluetooth-compatible
Radio reviews on ease of use, portability, reception, sound and much more Excellent audio quality
Radio news and updates Built-in equalizer
Far from being the best portable outdoor radio in our shootout Low max volume

4. Best Retro Radio – Studebaker SB2000TG

Studebaker is a brand that focuses on making affordable, easy to use portable AM/FM radios.

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

The radio has a great compact size with a flip-up handle that allows 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.

Studebaker SB2000TG is one of the best handheld radios with an old fashioned retro look

In addition, the old school rotary dial on the front panel nicely completes the overall retro look and allows you to dial in the music station you want.

On the side of the radio is the band select and external auxiliary port, which 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 produced is very respectable.

The radio comes with an AC adapter to help you save on batteries if the power access is around. If you do choose to use batteries, however, the radio takes four large C batteries.

On the downside, there is no DAB support. Also, a backlight on the tuner dial 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 the aesthetics and value the radio delivers at a very affordable price.

Bottom Line

Studebaker SB2000TG is a cool and easy to use 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.


  • Portability 80% 80%
  • Features 70% 70%
  • Sound Quality 70% 70%
  • Value 80% 80%
Retro look is one of the highlighted features Dual power operation
high quality and great looks make it to our top ten Auxiliary input
Top ten radio review Cool retro design
AC cable comes in the box Comes with AC adapter
only good sound, not great The antenna is too small to get great reception
radio battery does not come in the box No backlight on the dial or tuning indicator

5. Best Value Small Size 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 capacity.

It requires only two AA batteries to deliver up to 110 hours of listening time.

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

When the battery gets to a low level, the power LED indicator turns red, indicating that battery change is required.

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 an ultraportable radio that is exceptionally sturdy and features a great channel selection sensitivity. 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.


  • Portability 100% 100%
  • Features 70% 70%
  • Sound Quality 80% 80%
  • Value 90% 90%
battery operated portable pocket friendly radio with led indicators Power LED indicators dim when AA batteries level is low
honest and unbiased portable radio reviews Power switch that doubles as the band select
good level of comfort and portability Flat base design so the radio stays upright
check negative customer feedback when buying radio for good level of reception Telescopic antenna is badly designed
battery operated portable pocket powerhouse Audio quality is mediocre

6. Best Portable Emergency Radio- RunningSnail MD-097

RunningSnail MD-097 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 bright and vivid colors that should help you find the radio easily, even in the dark.

To improve reception in hard to reach places, the radio comes with an extendable antenna to ensure that you receive the latest emergency news and weather updates.

If you are on a trip in the wild, camping or hiking, RunningSnail MD-097 is sure to have a good waterproof portable radio for you to pick from

The digital tuner makes it a lot more convenient to get the right frequency, especially if you’re under distress.

It is jam-packed with features that you will need in a bad situation. In addition to sporting a bright LED light for you to use during power outages, it also has an SOS alarm with flashing lights to alert rescuers of your location. If your phone runs out of battery, you can charge it with this emergency weather radio.

Besides that, with its gigantic 4000mAh battery, you won’t run out of power during an emergency or a power outage. If you are stuck with a dying portable radio, RunningSnail MD-097 can be powered with solar energy, 3 AAA batteries, micro-USB, or hand-cranking which is perfect for a camping trip.

It’s not only for emergency situations though. RunningSnail MD-097 comes with an AUX music player for you to plug your phone to.

Bottom Line

RunningSnail MD-097 is an amazing radio that was purposely built for emergency situations. It is jammed packed with features such as the LED flashlight, portable device charging, SOS alarm, AUX music player and 4 ways to be powered (crank, battery, solar, or USB power bank). Fully charged it provides up to 35 hours of usage and has an impressive reach even in the most remote areas.


  • Portability 80% 80%
  • Features 90% 90%
  • Sound Quality 70% 70%
  • Value 80% 80%
noaa radio is a handy feature for any survival radio Great amount of features for survival situations
noaa weather radio is perfect for a camping trip and long days out in the wild 7 NOAA emergency weather channels
Comes with a build in LED for flashlight reading and noaa weather stations access Multiple charging options
A portable music stations for your camping trip Powerful LED flashlight
alert radio that is both affordable and practical with solar panel charging AUX music player
flashlight reading lamp cold have been lighter No favorite station memory

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 audio system is our pick for the best portable radio with stereo sound.

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 audio quality and the pure listening experience is superior to any other radio in our review.

Tuning wise, the radio has two different antennas, one per band. The AM Band utilizes a seven-inch Ferrite AM antenna bar for improved AM Reception. For the FM band, there is a 26.5″ Adjustable Telescopic FM Antenna.

Regarding the downsides, we could only think about batteries and the lack of Bluetooth support. First, there are 6 C-size batteries, which is a lot. 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 that can even work fine in your living room.

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 batteries and not have Bluetooth connectivity, PR-D5BK delivers a great package that would even work in noisy places.


  • Portability 70% 70%
  • Features 70% 70%
  • Sound Quality 100% 100%
  • Value 80% 80%
quality ferrite antenna for improved reception Ferrite antenna improves AM and FM  range and reception quality
radio device that is more of an audio system Superb sound
portable digital radio with the most refined sound in our portable radio review Backlit LCD display
3.5mm headphone support is super handy

RDS support

Comes with a power cord for a regular house power outlet that would work fine on your bedside table Comes with a power cord
consider static noise when buying a radio Bass can be a little too heavy with no way to turn it down
not exactly a compact portable device or a CD player, but is reasonably portable No Bluetooth support
single power source and not exactly clear sound

No carry handle

8. Best Rugged Portable Radio – Sangean PR-D18BK

Sangean PR-D18BK AM/FM portable radio is a no-frills, straightforward portable radio with a range of useful, practical functions.

It comes with a built-in clock, 2 alarm timers with a snooze function, a sleep timer, and a humane wake system consisting of progressively loud radio transmission or a buzzer.

Since it’s incredibly easy to use, you don’t have to refer to a manual to set it up.

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

This model has a digital tuner that comes with an auto-scan feature. It also allows you to have 5 present slots for AM and FM bands respectively.

Its long antenna provides the reception you need even in the most secluded part of town. As long as you have 4 AA batteries on hand, this handy little radio will entertain you with music and news reports wherever you go. Alternatively, you can also buy a power adapter to use it as a tabletop radio.

Although it’s made of plastic, it is sturdy enough to withstand your alarm clock rage in the morning. The audio quality isn’t too bad, but you won’t get heavy bass from this simple portable radio. It is pretty loud – perfect for both indoor and outdoor use.

Bottom Line

Sangean PR-D18BK AM/FM portable radio offers practical features packed into a tiny portable radio. With its long antenna and battery life, you won’t have to worry about losing reception. Despite the mediocre quality of sound, it is still clear enough for day to day use as it boasts a wide range of volume control.


  • Portability 80% 80%
  • Features 80% 80%
  • Sound Quality 60% 60%
  • Value 90% 90%
one of the top 3-in-1 portable outdoor radios Humane waking system by radio haws or buzzer with snooze function
good shower radio with alarm that lets you listen to your favorite radio tunes Intuitive setup
easy to read manual Backlit LED display
am stations presets 10 station presets
It operates on four AA batteries or on mains power and has easy tuning feature Long battery life with four AA batteries
Best portable speakers under 100 reviews benefits, pros, cons and recommendations Lacking audio quality
Best portable speakers under 100 reviews benefits, pros, cons and recommendations Doesn’t come with a power adapter

9. Most Portable SSB Radio – CC Skywave SSB

If you’re into the original CC Skywave but had trouble reconciling with its omission of the Single-Side Band (SSB), look no further than this new and improved version of the beloved original.

Dubbed as the Swiss Army Knife of portable radios, this portable radio has a lot to offer.

As one of the smallest multi-band radios with SSB, it allows you to receive transmissions in areas with no cellular coverage.

If you need the top small radio for prolonged outdoor use with weather channels, RunningSnail Emergency Radio is a good option to consider.

Two DSP chips and the longer antenna, allows tuning into AM, FM, NOAA weather and aviation bands.

With such a wide range of audio selection and 23’ portable shortwave reel antenna – CC Skywave SSB has surprisingly great reception and easy to tune. Its channelized weather reception makes it exceptionally easy to tune into weather reports since you simply select through the channels until you get to a local service.

The controls are also pretty intuitive. It has direct frequency entry as well as auto scan and store. You can store up to 400 channels and 10 aviation memories. For more flexibility, you can use selectable tuning and fine-tune your frequency search on all bands except the weather band.

Besides that, this pocket-sized shortwave radio also offers a built-in clock and timer – perfect for travelers who are always on the go. With the headphone jack, you can listen to the radio transmissions using headphones. While the speakers aren’t great, you can select between music and voice modes to enhance your listening experience.

Bottom Line

CC Skywave SSB is a pocket-sized feature-packed technological marvel in the portable radio world. In addition to the new SSB capabilities, it offers 5 bands – AM, FM, SW, channelized weather band, and the aviation band. It also stands out for its intuitiveness, durability and 60+ hours of battery life using two AA batteries.


  • Portability 90% 90%
  • Features 70% 70%
  • Sound Quality 70% 70%
  • Value 90% 90%
battery powered portable pocket survival radio with emergency alerts Smallest SSB portable radio around
Emergency alerts are triggered by NOAA broadcasting support Multi-band reception
NOAA portable radio comes with weather and emergency alerts Direct frequency entry with both fast and fine tuning
NOAA portable radio comes with weather and emergency alerts 60+ hours of battery life
NOAA portable radio comes with weather and emergency alerts Headphone jack
manual tuning, no digital tuning Expensive

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 presets to access your favorite radio stations. 

With 5 memory buttons and much more - CC Pocket is arguably the top pocket radio the money can buy

In total, the radio can store up to 25 presets on both the AM and FM bands.

The LCD display is relatively simple but very readable and neat.  It features a backlit display 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 standard AM/FM bands, the radio is your emergency kit as it has access to NOAA Weather channels 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 customize the weather alerts you want to listen to.

Since the radio is positioned as a premium pocket radio, it comes with 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.

If you are looking for portable SW radios, then make sure to check out the bigger brother C. Crane CC Skywave SSB in our best shortwave radio review that we have recently published.

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.


  • Portability 90% 90%
  • Ports / Connections 80% 80%
  • Sound Quality 80% 80%
  • Value 70% 70%
Batteries last long time and built in radio speaker Included earbuds are of great quality
local radio stations and weather alert radio are pretty good Fantastic reception
would work well as an outdoor speaker and an horologe am fm pocket Modern design
Runs on two AA batteries and lithium ion battery allows function radio wheather you have access to AC or not Premium build quality
Small but ultra rugged radio receiver Built-in speaker could be better
LED tuning No DAB support
no battery indicator Expensive

Top Rated Portable Radios – Specifications

Bands Power Battery Size Weight
Avantree SP850 FM 3 Watt Rechargeable 5 x 1.3 x 2.6 in 0.35 lb
Panasonic RF-2400 AM, FM 0.8 Watt 4 x AA 6 x 4.6 x 9.8 in 2 lb
Porter Cable PCC771B AM, FM 48 Watt DC power 12.4 x 6 x 5.6 in 3.25 lb
Studebaker SB2000TG AM, FM 0.35 Watt 4 x C 5.5 x 7.3 x 3.3 in 1.8 lb
Sony ICFP26 AM, FM 0.1 Watt 2 x AA 4.7 x 2.7 x 1.5 in 0.4 lb
RunningSnail MD-097 AM, FM, NOAA 3 Watt 3 x AAA 8 x 3.5 x 3.2 in 1.1 lb
Sangean PR-D5BK AM, FM 1.6 Watt 6 x C 10.2 x 5.4 x 2.5 in 2 lb
Sangean PR-D18BK AM, FM 1 Watt 4 x AA 6.5 x 4.2 x 1.5 in 0.9 lb
CC Skywave SSB AM, FM, WX, AIR, SW 0.5 Watt 2 x AA 4.8 x 3 x 1 in 0.4 lb
CC Pocket AM, FM, NOAA 0.5 Watt 2 x AA 2.5 x 4.2 x 1 in 0.24 lb

Portable AM FM Radio Buying Guide

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 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 of listening to the radio more enjoyable.

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. Check our buying guide to find out the features, price points, and overall quality of the top portable AM/FM radios should have.

There is a wide range of features that could be handy, but here are three key features we think you should definitely consider:

Mono or Stereo Speakers

The quality of the sound is one of the key criteria that 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.

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 better fidelity sound radio stations. Besides, it is a good fail-safe in case AM/FM broadcasts get shut down in the future.


If you are on the hunt for 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’s radios were strong in battery-operated pocket radio or smallest radio size category, but with the new competition from CC. Pocket, the radio selection is no longer as straightforward. 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.  Although you could use your radio at home most of the time, there are times outdoors, where you are likely to appreciate a longer-lasting radio.

There are two main types of battery-operated radios to consider, rechargeable radio and the one that uses the typical disposable A or AA 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 a power cord for AC DC power. At the same time, the ones that are designed to be carried around and used on a bedside table or bench almost certainly come with an AC adapter.


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 delivery may get impacted.

If you are looking for tougher waterproof radios for a worksite, check out our top 10 jobsite radios review.

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 headphone jacks, 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 music and radio shows as MP3 players using the radio’s speaker
  • Bluetooth – portable radio with Bluetooth support is not exactly typical. Similarly to USB, you can use the radio’s built-in 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 a good, clear sound.
  • 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 broadcasting.


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.


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 radio signal, you lose the sound, hence the radio using digital signal is either there or it is not.


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 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 radio signal varies, whereas, with AM band it is the amplitude that changes. In addition, the AM frequency range is represented between 535-1605 kHz, whereas the 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 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 that improves the sound when listening to the radio.

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 a CD player, DVD players, TV boxes, vide consoles, microwave ovens, light dimmer switches, and monitor screens.
  • Choose a better location. Despite the radio transmission speed being as fast as the speed of light – bricks, concrete and steel structures can block radio waves. Try to make sure that there is nothing obscuring in between the radio and the transmitting tower that broadcasts your FM music station.
  • 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 radiofrequency radiation (RF). In short, it is an emission of energy from a given source. In the case of radios, the emission is generated by the AM or FM 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 bodies. As a result, those waves are not capable of having any effect or damage to 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.