Best Portable Radios

Radio lovers, who had lived with the golden age of radio through the 1950s till the advent of the new millennium, can relate to the nostalgia of listening to the radio for music, news, and current affairs.

Individuals, who had grown up by listening to the radio, evoke countless memories associated with the radio during care-free, lazy conversations over tea. 

In the times when music streaming services are ruling the roost, the portable digital radio brings excitement with its element of surprise or uncertainty. 

A portable radio is lightweight and small enough to become your pocket buddy effortlessly. 

In this article, our detailed Buyer’s Guide, insightful reviews of the Top 7 best portable radios, FAQs, and conclusion regarding best portable radios; equips you with all the necessary know-how for purchasing the best portable radio.

Tips for improving AM/FM/DAB reception

You can improve the reception quality of your AM/FM/DAB radio signal by using the following tips.

  • Get rid of electronic waste: You must get rid of electronic waste within the nearby surroundings as it interferes with the radio signals and causes radio interference. 

Some commonly found electronic trash include TV boxes, microwave ovens, monitor screens, DVD players, etc.

  • Change the location of your radio: You should try to change the location of your radio and see if there is any improvement in the signal reception for any presence of steel, concrete and brick structures blocking the radio waves. 
  • Get external Antenna: Although the built-in antenna aid to an ergonomic radio design, having an external antenna vastly improves the reception.
  • Switch stereo FM to mono:  Try to switch stereo FM to mono FM on FM radio as it can better your reception by spending a very little amount.  

Buyer’s Guide

The present-day portable radio comprises an extensive set of features which makes your task to narrow down the search for selecting the best one quite tedious. 

Simply go through our elaborative buyer’s guide for making a perfect choice that suits your radio needs unequivocally.

Size

A portable radio is usually smaller in size so that it can be easily carried while traveling or simply moving around.  Depending on the purpose you would like to use the radio for, you would determine the size of your radio. 

If you intend to keep a radio at a fixed place in your home or elsewhere, go for a radio with a carry handle which is a little bigger as it would produce better sound quality. 

It would also cater to a larger audience by producing more sound. Also, the larger radio comes with more advanced features and they require more batteries too.

However, if you want to carry it around, you would want a smaller one that fits into your pockets easily. This one perfectly suits your needs if you intend to listen to the radio alone. It produces less sound and comes with fewer features. It also takes up less battery power. 

Therefore choose the size of the radio that matches the purpose you want it to achieve by using it.  

Power Source

The portable radio is generally powered by batteries with a smaller one needing 2 AA batteries and the larger radio needs 4 of them. There are some models available that are powered via a power cord. Again, it zeroes down to how you want to use a radio. 

If you intend to use the radio while traveling or outdoors, you must choose the one that is powered by batteries as you can always carry an extra set of batteries in case the existing ones run out.

If you intend to use the radio in your home or at a fixed location where a power source is nearby, you can choose the one powered by a power cord. Some models have internal chargeable batteries. 

Another point to consider is the type of battery you are using. Some batteries are expensive and last much longer. They not only promise long hours of non-stop fun but also save you the need of changing your batteries frequently.  

Stability and Robustness

A portable radio is meant for carrying around and used at outdoor locations. They are exposed to external environmental factors like water, bumps, and rough handling. This requires them to be strong enough to easily withstand any external jolts. 

Look out for the portable radios built from water-resistant and shockproof material. Also, ensure that added protection does not make them heavy to easily carry around. 

Usually, the portable radios from the branded company are made with good quality sturdy material that would keep the radio stable and robust in the rugged conditions.

DAB Compatibility

DAB stands for Digital Audio Broadcasting and it allows for better bandwidth usage than regular AM or FM spectrum. A DAB compatible radio provides higher sound quality radio stations.

Give preference to portable radios that are DAB compatible as it provides detailed and consistent sound without any crackling sound normally associated with AM or FM stations.

Speakers and Sound Quality

Good sound quality is the essential prerequisite for any portable radio to serve its intended purpose. The sound quality of the portable radio depends on the size of the speaker, the quality, and the ability of the radio to read the sound signals. 

The portable radio scores over the smartphone in picking up AM FM signals from miles away using their telescopic antenna and thus ensuring good sound quality. 

If you want your radio to serve a larger audience, choose the one with a larger size of the speaker as it produces more and better quality of sound. 

On the other hand, if you want to listen to the radio by putting on your headphones, choose the one with a smaller speaker size.

A mono speaker comprises only one channel while stereo support includes two channels for better and clear sound quality. Prefer stereo speakers over mono speakers.

The reputed brands usually employ high-quality speakers which produce excellent sound quality with their smaller sizes. Choose the radio which does not compromise on the quality of sound.

Controls

A simple radio comes with a lesser number of controls while the complicated ones feature more number of controls. Choose the one that suits your needs and ease of usage. 

The simple radios with the minimal controls of a power button, volume control, and a tuning scroll are the most commonly used by the yesteryear generation. They are long-lasting and require much less battery power.

The advanced radios feature more advanced level controls. They consume more battery power and offer more options to explore.

For example, an LCD screen for viewing the information you need presets for programming the radio and switches for shifting through the modes with AM FM radios are handy features to use. 

There are many other good-to-have features like alarm and torch in some radios. Choose the portable radio which features more usable controls that serve your needs.

Portability

The presence of a carrying handle determines the extension of the portability feature of the radios.

 The smaller size radios that you would like to use outdoors or during traveling, do not possess a carrying handle. They are meant to easily fit in the pockets or easy to pack in a bag. 

Some of them even have headphone connection or earphones included that allows easy accessibility on the go. The bigger size portable radios come with a carrying handle that allows you to easily move them from one place to another. 

Depending on your usage, you may decide if you prefer carrying a handle or not.

Headphones vs Speakers

The size of your portable radio and your intended usage usually determine whether you would like to use headphones or listen to it using speakers.  

If you are likely to use it outdoors for solitary listening in an external environment when wind or other noise might interfere with your listening, you would like to listen to the radio through your headphones. It is preferred in situations when you need to keep minimal noise.

If you have a larger portable size radio for serving a larger audience, you are likely to use speakers to produce clear and high-quality sound. 

Even in outdoor locations while traveling with your family or friends, the larger size speakers serve your purpose.

Some portable radios feature both speakers and headphone jacks. It is the most preferred choice as you can easily switch from one mode to another depending on the situation.

Available Presets

The simpler portable radios don’t have many options while the advanced ones feature many useful presets for added convenience and functionality. 

The presets allow you to tune into your favorite radio station instantly by pressing a button without any need for manually tuning. 

Although using the presets does not require much technical acumen, however, if you find them cumbersome then choose the radio that features a lesser number of presets.

On the other hand, if you are tech-savvy, you can work with a radio with a larger number of presets for keeping your radio in tune. 

Purpose

The purpose of your using a portable radio determines its features for you to consider before purchasing it. The different sets of activities spell different features you would like to have on your portable radio. 

For example, in case you would like to do any rigorous outdoor activity like hiking or backpacking then a pocket-sized radio that easily slips into your pocket or can be easily carried over your shoulder or packed with your bag; is preferred. 

However, if you are going for a picnic on a beach with family or friends, then portable radio with larger speaker rules over the others.

If you are occupied with activities like gardening or cooking, where your hands are likely to get dirty, use a portable radio with a carrying handle.

Thus, your purpose eventually determines the design of your portable radio. 

Antenna

The antenna captures a wide range of audio signals and picks up radio stations even in the remote locations for playing high-quality sound. 

This feature allows the portable radio to score over the smartphones who rely on good internet connection or headphones to act as an antenna to capture radio stations. 

A good and strong antenna with large extension captures good levels of signals and it is preferred over others. 

Additional Features

A portable radio comes packed with a large number of additional features. Check out the presence of these features in a radio. Some of them may be very handy for you. 

  • Rollcage is prepared from durable plastic material that absorbs shocks in outdoor portable radios.
  • LED screen allows you to view important information and helps in operating the radio effortlessly. It also displays the time.
  • The flashlight is a very handy feature, especially in outdoor or low visibility conditions.
  • Alarm Clock wakes you up on time and proves to be another handy feature.

In addition to these, other features include a USB port, Bluetooth, Weather Radio, Telescopic Antenna, Belt Clip, Carry straps, etc.

Top 7 Best Portable Radios

1. Saregama Carvaan FM/BT/AUX

Saregama India Ltd is the oldest musical label of the country that owns the sound recording and publishing copyrights of music in 14 varied Indian languages. 

It also produces TV content for channels in different languages and deals in music retailing business through CDs, Apps, and thematic music cards.

Saregama Caravan is a portable digital music player that comprises 5000 soul-stirring songs. You can easily jump from Kishor da pulsating hits to timeless Sufi tracks by simply turning a dial. 

What’s more, you may enjoy endless musical voyages with back to back original versions without any end. 

Main Features
  • 5000 handpicked pre-loaded ever-refreshing and soul-stirring songs 
  • Portable digital music player with advanced sound system and in-built stereo speakers
  • Digital music player doubles up as FM radio that allows users to easily tune into radio channels 
  • Features a USB port and allows Bluetooth connectivity
  • Comes with a rechargeable battery that provides a backup of 5 hours
  • New age speakers with 6W sound, clear treble, deep bass, and rich middle range
PROS (What we liked)
  • The music collection is categorized on the basis of music composers, singers, lyricists, and various moods of the listeners
  • High-quality stereo sound with built-in speakers do away with the need of buying new speakers 
  • The ergonomically designed body features a round knob for effortless maneuvering of the digital radio
  • Allows you to play your personal collection of songs by connecting your radio with your phone through USB port or Bluetooth 
  • Easy to switch from digital music player to FM radio 
  • The long-lasting battery ensures wireless connectivity
  • Fascinating retro-looks makes you nostalgic 
  • The vast content library also features 50 years of Ameen Sayani’s Geetmala countdown show
CONS (What we didn’t like)
  • Does not support Bluetooth headphones

2. Sony ICFP26 Portable AM/FM Radio

Sony is a legendary consumer electronic brand that enjoys a reputation for pioneering technological breakthroughs and superior after-sales service. It has an impressive distribution network of dealers and distributors in every nook and corner of the country. 

Sony ICFP26 Portable AM/FM Radio is the portable pocket-sized radio that allows you to enjoy the typical radio listening experience by tuning into its various AM/FM radio stations. What catches your undivided attention is its high-quality performance coupled with a simplistic design.

Main Features
  • Features AM and FM tuner 
  • Ultra-compact portable size radio that measures 3.8 x 11.9 x 7 cm
  • Built-in speaker 
  • Earphone jack for solitary listening
  • Runs optimally with 2 Lithium Metal batteries
  • LED tuning indicator
  • Allows FM radio reception through the telescopic antenna
  • Provides AM radio reception via in-built ferrite antenna
PROS (What we liked)
  • Allows you to choose from an extensive set of radio talk shows and music programs from numerous AM/FM radio channels
  • Can be easily carried anywhere as it smoothly fits into shirt, handbags or pockets
  • Offers superior sound quality with built-in speakers 
  • You can also enjoy enhanced sound clarity even in outdoor noisy surroundings by using the earphone jack 
  • Offers effortless and precise station tuning even in low light conditions 
  • The long-lasting battery ensures long hours of uninterrupted listening experience
CONS (What we didn’t like)
  • Absence of USB port and Bluetooth connectivity

3. Amkette Pocket FM Radio

Amkette is an established digital product brand that offers state of the art computing, data storage, wireless, and entertainment products. 

Its wide range of best-in-class product categories comprises a smartphone, TV, Laptop, and car. 

Amkette Pocket FM Multimedia speaker is a comprehensive speaker that comes packed with powerful FM Radio for awesome and uninterrupted listening experience at any time. 

Its ultra-compact design makes it your ideal partner for immersive entertainment at home or while traveling.

Main Features
  • All in one multimedia speaker with in-built Mp3 player
  • Allows to playback music through USB drive or SD card slot
  • High-quality FM radio with external antenna
  • Comes with 1800 mAh battery for long-lasting usage
  • Comprise an LED torch, digital clock, and backlit buttons 
  • Features emergency flashlight with robust torch
  • Comes with a 1-year manufacturing warranty
PROS (What we liked)
  • Offers multiple options of listening playback music via an MP3 player, microSD card, and FM radio.
  • Allows you to connect your PC or laptop via USB cable for playing music
  • The high-quality antenna offers superior reception for smooth and noise-less broadcasting
  • The flashlight offers the useful utility of lightening up the darkness by pressing a dedicated button
  • Easy to operate in dim or night conditions with backlight buttons
  • Allows 12 hours of non-stop entertainment with long-lasting battery life
  • Allows 8 hours of flashlight backup for going through dark hours
  • Compatible with both rechargeable and replaceable batteries 
CONS (What we didn’t like)
  • Smaller charger cable and absence of microUSB port 

4. Philips DL167/94 FM Radio

Philips is the pioneering health technology company that provides a wide array of appliances including home care, consumer health, image-guided therapy, health informatics, etc. It has been dedicated to delivering integrated solutions by employing advanced technology and deep consumer insights.

Philips DL167/94 FM Radio is an awesome portable music player for listening to varied radio chat shows, news, and musical programs by tuning into your favorite FM and AM radio channels. 

Its ergonomic table-top design makes it your portable partner that allows optimal frequency range to tune into practically any radio channel available.

Main Features
  • Compact and lightweight radio with tabletop design
  • Allows you to enjoy both FM and AM radio channels
  • Comes with circular tuning and volume  control that is easy to operate
  • Integrated telescopic aerial antenna for seamless reception of signals in the range of 20 – 1605 kHz AM and 88000 – 108000 kHz FM
  • R20 battery compatible for long hours of a musical treat
  • External power on and off button 
  • Features round loudspeakers for crystal clear sound
  • Comes with a warranty of 1 year
PROS (What we liked)
  • Offers crispy acoustics and superior sound quality with round loudspeakers
  • Optimal frequency range with telescopic antenna provides access to a wide range of radio programs
  • The tabletop structure is designed for providing ease and portability 
  • Allows you to customize adjustments for tuning and loudness with tuning and volume controls
  • Easy to fit on your desk or any other corner of your room
CONS (What we didn’t like)
  • Absence of power LED indicator allows it difficult to operate in dim light conditions 

5. SaleonTM rechargeable Radio

SaleonTM is a popular brand that offers a wide range of electronics and toy products. Some of its best-in-class products include Bluetooth speakers, toy cars, multimedia speakers, magic suction cups, radio, animal figures toys, etc. 

SaleOnTM Rechargeable Radio grabs your attention with its appealing nostalgic looks. 

The simplistic design with control buttons uniformly arranged on its outer body makes it your ideal partner for long hours of musical extravagance.

Main Features
  • Features built-in digital FM radio with a frequency range of 87.5-108.0 MHZ
  • It comes with an external BL-5C slot for recharging BL-5C Lithium Battery directly inside the unit.
  • User friendly LED display allows effortless handling of the radio
  • Battery standby capacity is 5 hours
  • Allows to playback music through USB disks and TFT-SD card
  • Features earphone jack for solitary listening 
  • Package includes 1 Aux cable and 1 Charging cable
  • The high-quality FM radio with external antenna
  • Package dimension measures 14.4 x 8.5 x 5.5 cm
PROS (What we liked)
  • Offers multiple options of listening playback music from different audio devices such as SD card and TF cards through line-in cable
  • The high-quality antenna provides excellent reception of signals  for streamline broadcasting
  • LED screen allows for a user-friendly interface 
  • Number keys for directly playing a specific song
  • Rechargeable batteries do away with the need of frequently replacing the batteries 
  • Can be connected with external speakers for catering to a bigger audience
CONS (What we didn’t like)
  • No Bluetooth connectivity and does not save the set channels 

6. Acekool Portable FM AM Small Pocket Digital Radio

Acekool is a famous electronics brand that offers best-in-class products across its wide-ranging product categories such as Car chargers, Sports and Action, Video Cameras, Fitness trackers, Cables, and electronics.

Acekool portable radio is a pocket digital radio that allows you to tune into FM and AM channels. 

What grabs our attention, at first sight, is its simple and cute design that easily slips into our shirt, handbag, and jacket pocket.

Main Features
  • Features ultra-compact design with product dimensions measure 8.4 x 4.8 x 1.2 cm
  • Extremely lightweight as it weighs only 141 gm
  • Runs on 1 500 mAh Lithium Polymer and rechargeable battery 
  • Allows you to tune into both FM, AM, MW as well as SW radio stations for accessing a wide range of radio programs
  • LED display that shows the selected frequency of the station and also the charging status of the radio.
  • Supports playing music through Mp3 player and SD cards.
  • Six buttons for increasing and decreasing volume, power on and off, and selection of AM/FM mode
  • The package comprises of earphone, charging cable, and a carrying bag
PROS (What we liked)
  • The lightweight and ultra-compact size makes it easy to carry around 
  • This pocket-size radio produces awesome sound quality
  • Allows you to set an alarm timer
  • Long external antenna extendable up to 1 feet for hassle-free broadcasting
  • Rechargeable batteries take only 1 hour for fully charging
  • Long-lasting rechargeable battery gives 6 hrs of playback in middle  volume and 3 hrs of playback in full volume
  • Allows you to save up to 30 AM/FM frequency bands 
  • LED screen displays a clock and allows for a user-friendly interface 
CONS (What we didn’t like)
  • Size of the speaker is very small

7. Sonilex SL-413 Rechargeable FM Radio

Sonilex is a well-known manufacturing and export company that delivers a wide range of high-tech products across its product categories including speaker with USB/SD card, mobile speaker, radio speaker series, Bluetooth speaker series, earphone, aux cable, and USB cable.

Sonilex SL-413 Rechargeable FM Radio is an excellent portable radio that allows you to enjoy the awesome musical experience with its simplistic old school features. 

Although it looks smaller, it delivers powerful sound quality without any hissing sound.

Main Features
  • Features a lightweight and portable design with product dimensions measure 17.9 x 12.2 x 6.6 cm
  • Runs on rechargeable 1 AA batteries 
  • Supports playing music through high-speed USB 2.0 
  • Allows you to plug-in SD cards with maximum memory capacity 32 GB
  • Features tuning into FM radio station
  • The LED screen size of 1.8 inches shows the selected frequency of the station 
  • 3.5 mm headphone is present 
PROS (What we liked)
  • Easy to carry around and place in a corner on a desk 
  • Plays good quality sound with Mp3 player
  • High-speed digital data transfer with USB 2.0
  • Long-lasting batteries allow playback time of 8 hours
  • Provides for noise-less and solitary listening through the headphone
  • Allows you to play your personal collection by using SD card and USB drives 
  • Consumes maximum power of 35W and thus causes less electricity consumption
CONS (What we didn’t like)
  • Does not feature Bluetooth connectivity

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How does AM/FM Radio work?

Listening to your portable radio is a better alternative in remote locations where the internet signals are weak. The portable radio uses AM/FM radio signals that are still relevant in the digital age.

A radio station sends AM and FM signals via electromagnetic waves and we need to tune in to different settings in our radio for capturing and playing them through the speakers.

Both AM and FM frequency bands differ in the manner the carrier wave is changed. The AM band is represented by the change in the amplitude while the FM band is represented by the change in the frequency of the carrier radio signals.

AM (Amplitude Modulation) signals are used for broadcasting music and transmitting video signals. Apart from the radio stations, they are also used in the aviation sector. 

The AM signals travel long distances due to greater wavelength and can be picked at even lower signal strength. They are primarily used for information radio channels.

FM (Frequency Modulation) signals are less prone to disturbance than AM signals and thus provide better sound quality than them. FM signals can be used for transmitting digital data and widely used by FM music channels. 

3. What is a transistor radio?

A transistor radio is a portable radio that is reduced in size to be easily carried in the pockets and used outdoors. 

It was invented in the 1960s and went on to become a highly popular electronic device across the world. 

3. Why do I need a portable radio if I can use my smartphone?

A portable radio allows you to listen to music, news, and other stuff by capturing and playing the radio signals transmitted by the radio stations. 

These radio signals travel to long distances and cover a much broader area than smartphone’s data signals.

A portable radio is an ideal choice if you are in remote outdoor locations where internet signals are weak. A portable radio is a much cheaper alternative to a smartphone for listening to songs and news. 

You don’t have to pay for internet data usage and subscribe to any music apps. Moreover, the quality of sound and speakers in the portable radio is much better in comparison to the smartphone.  

4. Which is better DAB VS AM / FM RADIO?

DAB (Digital Audio Broadcasting) provides better bandwidth usage than a regular AM or FM spectrum. 

A DAB radio offers better sound quality than AM/FM radio as it provides detailed and consistent sound without any hissing or crackling sound characterized by AM/FM radios. 

AM/FM radios score over DAB radios in the number of stations they cater to. They are also cheaper than DAB radios. 

As the times are changing, there is a progressive shift towards digital-only broadcasting with further internet penetration and sooner we would have all the stations start doing digital broadcasting.

Conclusion

Radio was a part and parcel of people’s routine lives in the last century and somehow it has managed to retain its charm even today. 

It has reinvented itself by embracing the various nuances of the advanced newer age technologies and emerged stronger than ever.  

Today, radio stations design programs that cater to niche audiences. Modern-day portable radio features digital radio, Bluetooth capability, USB port, SD card slots, alarm, torch, etc.

With radio, you can relive the nostalgia of yesteryears. Read our buyer’s guide and make a prudent choice by selecting the best portable radio as per your taste and budget.   

Megha Kothari
 

Megha leads the content strategy and oversees an amazing team of writers, editors, and designers, all having one goal in mind – to create brilliant content that helps people make the right purchase investment. When she is not working, you can find her enjoying making delicious food and planning her next travel.

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