Listening to the radio is a wonderful way to feel more positive, relive memories or allow your imagination to take you somewhere else. And while streaming services and audiobooks are becoming popular, it is the radio that continues to reach the highest number of listeners.
From your home office to your garage, on a camping trip, or barbeque, there are many great ways to tune in. That’s why, in this post, we’re going to take a look at some of the best portable radios available to buy.
Best Portable Radio Comparison Chart 2020
4 AA Batteries
Sangean PR-D18BK Portable Digital Radio
4 AA Batteries
LYNEX Hand Crank Emergency Portable Radio
Solar Hand Crank
3 D Cell Batteries
Jimeng Portable Radio
4 D Cell Batteries
Byron Statics Portable Radio
3 AA Batteries
Studebaker SB 2003 Retro Portable Radio
4 C batteries
The Best Portable Radio Reviews 2020
1. Panasonic RF-2400D AM/FM Portable Radio
- RF 2400 AM/FM Analogue Tuner: Frequency Range FM 87 to 108MHz (50kHz step) AM 520 to 1730kHz (9/10kHz step)
- 10 centimeter Speaker and Ferrite Antenna for good sound
- Audio System Power Output (RMS): 770mW Max other power source battery DC 6V (R6/LR6, AA, UM 3) x 4, AC 120 V, 560Hz
This is a simple, traditional, portable analog radio with really easy functionality and great sound. It comes with an adaptor cord and the option to use batteries. It has a mono headphone socket and a large analog dial for easy scrolling.
An impressive feature of this portable is its ability to pick up FM and AM stations easily, even with the antenna down! Its frequency Range is FM 87 to 108MHz (50kHz step) and AM 520 to 1730kHz (9/10kHz step).
With a single speaker, it seems reminiscent of a transistor radio. Despite the lack of stereo, the sound is very good.
Another neat little feature is a little finger-sized ridge that sits at the top of the carry handlebar. This helps it conveniently hang from any position, or be carried around on your finger, making life easier while you work or play.
The very large tuning knob and easy-to-view dial make it a great idea for seniors. Also good for those who may otherwise struggle with a smaller button or digital features of modern radios. It’s a simple as it gets to turn on and tune in!
As this is an analog radio, there is a restriction in getting into the usual digital channels. More accuracy may be needed with tuning and there’s a risk of station crossovers. Some people may prefer this kind of traditional approach.
We also found the adaptor cord coming from the size to slightly enlarge the size of the radio. This was a very minor point in an otherwise solid portable.
Overall, this is great for those who prefer a traditional approach to radios. You can rely on simple technology and avoid the need for any modern digital features such as Bluetooth.
- Traditional, simple analog radio with no tricky features
- Picks up stations really well, with clear and good sound
- Simple turning knob and dial
- Adaptor cord included plus ability to run on batteries
- Easy to transport and use in most settings
- Analog means you can’t access some of the digital stations
- Adaptor cord running out of the side may only work for kitchen use
2. Sangean PR-D18BK Portable Digital Radio
- 10 station presets (5 FM, 5 AM) with adjustable Tuning steps, auto seek stations, adjustable sleep timer and snooze function
- 2 alarm timer, wake by radio haws (Humane wake system) or buzzer
- Easy to read LCD display with backlight
For a modern take on a classic style, this is a compact, lightweight and attractive portable radio suitable for any workspace or bedside table.
It comes with 10 pre-set stations, which made it super-easy for us to tune into our favorite channels. There are also 5 presets each for AM and FM, with the function of an auto-seek which picks up the active stations across each band. We liked the adjustable tuning function too.
One of the things about the PRD-D18 we liked the most was its ability to pick up stations easily. It has a very long, retractable antenna which made the reception perfect. For a single speaker, we were delighted to find a high-quality sound, especially on FM.
With just 4 AA batteries we got this thing up and running straight away. The battery power status indicator helped to make sure we were stocked up on power. If preferred, you could look to get the AC adaptor separately.
A really nice touch is the LCD display and backlight, which lights up the clock so you can see it from a distance. This makes a good alarm clock, too, if you want to keep it in your bedroom overnight.
On the slightly negative side, it doesn’t come with an AC adaptor so the battery life gets used up quickly. This is something to consider if you’re someone who gets a lot of use out of a portable radio. Extra sets of batteries will be needed to keep it running.
Settings on the clock and alarm were also a little complicated. It was a little challenging to navigate through the features.
With a simple design and protective bumper, this is a really smart digital radio with a quality sound. It’s also small enough to take anywhere and sturdy enough to endure a few bumps.
- Really attractive design, with durable protective bumper
- Great quality sound for a single speaker, especially for FM stations
- The extendable antenna picks up stations easily
- Very small, lightweight and versatile to any setting
- 10 pre-sets meant getting to your stations quickly
- No AC adaptor included, so a lot of batteries needed
- Clock settings could be easier to use
3. LYNEX Hand Crank Emergency Portable Radio
- Hand crank emergency radio: 2000mAh rechargeable battery provides up to 12 hours of light or 4-6 hours of radio time.Hand crank could provide power for your radio anytime in case of emergency situation like earth quake, hurricane, tornadoe, storm and so on.
- 3-way to charge: Despite of the Micro USB charging, this emergency radio could be charged by Solar charging, Manual hand crank to provide power for battery,you can always crank the radio for minutes then use the radio's features!
- A weather radio: Ability to receive weather forecasts and emergency news broadcasts from NOAA and AM/FM stations, get up to obtain the latest weather and all hazard information for your area.
We found an emergency portable radio that runs on power provided by a hand crank, but also through solar and USB. USB is used to charge both to and from other devices like a mobile phone.
It comes with tuning and volume knobs, a small dial, and FM/AM settings with NOAA radio (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). This feature enabled us to get hold of all the latest weather and hazard information.
We loved how small, light, and versatile this radio is. It travels well and fits in most pockets. It also offers many features that you need for outdoor adventures like hiking, backpacking, or visiting new places with friends.
Two of the great features we like the most are the powerful flashlight and SOS alarm. The alarm is extremely loud – just what you’ll need when you need to get some attention! The flashlight is super-bright and perfect for any camping trips.
For a multi-functional unit, this little portable doesn’t hold back on the quality of sound. When it comes to its principle feature – the radio – it performs really well. This little one gets surprisingly loud and we didn’t find any issues with crackling or distortion.
The battery will never die with this radio. It does mean you’ll need to keep it charged up though. This can be done either through a regular USB wall-charge, or with the hand crank or solar, although it’ll take longer.
Some of the features may not be what everyone is looking for. Not everyone will need a flashlight and SOS alarm, so it may not be particularly purposeful for everyone.
In any situation or setting, the multiple features of this compact versatile radio can be operated for up to 6 hours. You can easily rely on the simple but ingenious crank, UBS port, or even solar to power it.
- Unique and highly versatile, multi-charge and multi-purpose radio
- Picks up all the latest weather information
- Small, light and easily transportable – perfect for backpacking
- Powerful flashlight and loud SOS alarm
- Great quality of sound
- Management required for battery power – crank, solar or USB
- May not be suitable for those who just want radio
4. Retekess TR604 Portable Transistor Analog Radio
- Great sound quality that is loud and clear; featuring a 3.5inch speaker; selectable low or high tone; and precise; easy tuning
- FM AM 2 band receiver; 87-108MHz FM; 520-1710KHz AM; when listening to FM; please pull out the 24inch antenna to obtained the best reception; when receiving AM; you can get the optimum reception by rotating the direction of the radio
- Standard 3.5mm earphone jack allows you to listen without disturbing others; the world of music can be heard with any headphone with a 3.5 mm plug
This is another traditional-style transistor radio that has an analog tuning capacity and great, simple features. The dial is easy to read and has a really classic style. However, this actually runs as a DPS radio and not analog, which opens up the number of stations you can reach.
Sound on this is top-rate and can get up to louder volumes without compromising on tone quality or clarity. It has a 3.5-inch single-speaker with the option between a base drive or a treble tone. We found this offer a really strong sound when tuned to FM.
It looks great, has a clean black finish, and also features a 3.5mm headphone jack.
It’s pretty small and easy to carry around, with a carry handle that makes it a nice portable in most settings. Again, this is one that may appeal to the elders – a classic look with a modern, digital twist.
It comes with an AC Power cord that runs from the back of the radio. Some people may prefer this to run from the side. It’s worth noting that you may not be able to run it flush against a wall. It can also run on 3 x D batteries, which you’ll need to get hold of.
When tuned to AM stations, we did experience a little problem. There was a lot of crackling in the reception. In general, though, we had no problems using the FM reception.
Although it runs as a digital – DPS radio – it still has those classic analog features. So, you won’t get any clock or alarm, or any light to see the dial or stations at night.
This is a pretty inexpensive radio for what you get. It’s a quality DPS internet radio with classic analog features and traditional dial.
- Traditional transistor-style look with modern DPS tuning on FM / AM
- Good price for digital radio with a classic look
- Easily transportable and suitable for seniors
- Excellent sound and at louder volumes
- Runs on both AC adaptor and batteries
- Some crackling on AM stations
- No digital features such as clock or light
5. Jimeng AM/FM Portable Radio
- 【CLASSICAL FM/AM ANALOGUE TUNER】 Frequency range: 87-108MHz FM, 520-1730kHz AM. Strong reception with this AM FM radio(such as NPR, classical music, baseball game, news station...). Long antenna in this transistor radio will strengthen the FM signal in somewhere with weak reception. Good quality of AM receiver inside the portable radio.Just keep one to take you to the old days!
- 【TWO DIFFERENT TONE MODES】 High/Low two tone modes setting by the transistor radio will gives you different sounds experience. Party time, camping, outdoor and noisy place with the portable radio high tone mode. Leisure time, relaxing, sleepy with low tone.You just can find this special function with our AM FM radio in the radio market.
- 【TWO TYPES OF POWER SOURCE】 AC-110V-50Hz power of the AM FM radio include the power cord, widely installed in room, kitchen and living room. 4x DC-1.5V batteries for emergency, camping, gardening and carrying around with your portable radio. Low power allows this transistor radio to keep running for a long time(Batteries not included). Never worry about the power issue.
This is a very high quality, classic all-around portable transistor radio with an AM/FM analog tuner and a black finish. It has a long AM/FM antenna for accessing a better-quality reception from the farthest points.
We found it great to have the choice of high or low tone modes. This gave us the option to accentuate louder noises – perfect for parties or outdoor events. The low tone works very well for personalized leisure activities or background sounds.
We found this had a very solid, clear sound on almost every station. This is mainly thanks to the big, single speaker. We didn’t find we had too many issues with static, distortion, or fading. Overall, the tone and quality of the radio are excellent.
What we really loved about this one was the tuning. For an analog, it is surprisingly easy to pick up accurate broadcasts. The large tuning knob makes this really easy to do.
Because it’s a simple radio, with no additional digital features, the battery life doesn’t get drained as it could do with other models. It takes x4 D batteries, but also an AC power cord that plugs in from the side. This makes it the perfect option to sit up on the wall in a kitchen or desktop.
The analog-style of this product means it sometimes misses out on the quality and range of stations of digital radio. Like others, it may suit the older generations quite well.
This is not the cheapest portable radio we found available. Although it seems to deliver a very solid experience – it looks and sounds great – it’s a little overpriced compared with others.
In short, this is a solid transistor radio with optional tones. It’s not the cheapest available but delivers a great experience for analog.
- The classic look and great all-round analog transistor radio
- Choice of high or low tones works very well
- Good clarity of sound on most stations
- Easy tuning thanks to a solid knob
- Battery life is good – also has AC power cord
- Misses out on some of the quality and range of digital radio
- A more expensive clock compared to others we reviewed
6. Byron Statics Radios Portable AM/FM
- Easy To Use: Plug and play radio. Large, easy to read dial. big tuning knob pattern anti-skid design easy to adjust for station.
- Portable Radios: Byron Statics radio has a carrying handle. use 4 AA batteries (not included) or included AC adapter (5V 0.3A).
- Stable Reception: Adjust the knob slightly to get the best signal. little to no static, and little to no frequency shift.
This is the first of two retro-stylized portable radios we looked at, to find the best portable radios. This one does a great job of taking you back to the 1950’s style of Americana. It has a cute, vintage look and feels that includes a large dial display and tuner knob that sit together.
For an analog radio, surprisingly we found the sound quality to be very strong. It picks up a lot of stations with its simple, single dial tuning. It just requires a careful hand!
This radio is extremely simple to use. There are just two other buttons apart from the dial – the volume control and a switch to turn onto FM or AM radio. FM channels gave a very good reception.
The simplicity is also apparent with the option of either the AC adaptor of 4 AA batteries in the back. This keeps it light and easy to use.
The thing we liked the most with this product is the design. It has an easy-to-use handle for carrying, styled to give a retro-feel. It will look great in any vintage-style setting! The speaker sounds run out of a 1950’s-style grill on the front, which is cool.
We did find the dial is pretty tricky to turn, to tune into exactly the stations you want. It may be that we’re a little cack-handed, but it requires a careful sleight-of-hand to really get the tuning you need. The stations are quite close to each other!
It’s an inexpensive radio, compared to most of the others we’ve looked at, so price and quality are probably aligned.
This radio has such a wonderful retro-look. It’s cute and sounds great. It may not come across as high-quality as some others, but it’s great value and delivers.
- Cute, vintage-style 1950’s retro analog radio
- Very strong sound quality
- Simple to use – tuner knob and dial are key aspects
- Just 4 AA batteries or AC adaptor needed
- Attractive design that could fit nicely into stylized interiors
- Tuner dial needs careful precision to get the right stations
- Look and feel matches price
7. Studebaker SB 2003 Retro Portable Radio
- AM/FM Analog Radio
- 3.5mm Headphone Jack
- Aux-in Jack
Our second retro-radio is another simple AM/FM analog that comes in a few colors, including black and red. It has a look like that feel reminiscent of a 1950’s car grill. There are also three knobs on the front. Together, these combine to give the feel of a car dashboard.
The 3” speaker sits inside this little portable, and gives out a brilliant sound through the front grill. When it is well-tuned, we found the sound to be clear, crisp, and good quality.
A particular feature we liked was that you can use the headphone jack and aux-in jacks at the same time. This is perfect if you want to link up a phone and run in through the radio to listen on headphones.
At 8 inches long and 6 inches high, this is a pretty compact little retro radio. The carry-handle makes it easy enough to move around. We found that it fit really well in our kitchen and really brightened things up!
With its red and black color and retro design and single dial and knob, it looks great in most settings. It added a cute and special vintage aesthetic in most rooms we used it in.
The slight problem with this one was that the AM reception was not always good. We found it picked up quite a lot of static. This could depend on where you live though.
When we cranked this one up, we also found some vibrations were coming through from the grill. It was not a big problem really, but something to note.
Overall, this little radio is super-charming, looks, and sounds great on FM. It also has a classic retro feel.
- 1950’s car-grill/dashboard retro feel analog radio
- The headphone jack is a good feature, can be used with aux-in jack
- Compact and easy to carry around
- Sound is very good, clear and crisp
- A great aesthetic that complements most rooms
- AM reception picked up a lot of static compared to others
- Felt some vibrations from the grill at higher volumes
What to Consider When Buying a Portable Radio?
Globally, radio is still the most popular way for people to consume music, news updates, interviews, and informative podcasts.
When it comes to making your radio portable, the prevailing popularity of portable radios is largely down to the invention of the transistor radio, which was first sold to consumers back in 1954. With several advancements in technology since then, you’ll need to decide which features, styles and technological developments will be most important to you.
Whether it’s to enjoy radio at home, work, or on trips, parties, and adventures, we’ve created a guide to help you.
We’ll show you now which are the key components to consider when buying the best portable radio:
Analog or digital
There are obvious differences between these two. Digital radio tends to offer clearer signals and will filter out background noise. It also, generally, gives you access to increased coverage. It’s worth noting that a lot of digital radios will also be able to use analog channels.
By extending the antenna to reach local stations, analog offers listeners a highly authentic experience. There are obvious drawbacks, however, if you live in more remote areas where you may struggle to gain clear enough signals.
DAB or AM/FM
Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) can offer a superior listening experience over AM/FM channels, where it uses less bandwidth. This is often the case when listening with headphones, for example. However, there are still plenty of AM/FM stations available and this still remains a popular choice for most radio fans.
Clearly, everyone wants to get the best possible sound for their listening experience. With AM/FM dials, a single, mono speaker can often be enough to get the quality you need. Stereo speakers tend to offer a better sound but may end up being too big to be portable.
Look and feel
Portable radios are a great way to show off your design aesthetics, or personalize your listening tastes with different styles. Maybe you prefer a standard AM/FM dial? Or do you like a more modern, colorful take on things with plenty of digital aspects?
Clearly, how easy a radio is to transport around will be a key factor in choosing the best portable radio. For some people, having something that can move around the house is just fine. Others may want something more versatile, say, for use inside or outside, or when washing the dishes or fixing the car, for example.
You may also want to think about how often and how far out you want to go with your radio.
Many portable radios have options for both batteries and AC cords or adaptors. With technological advancements, it’s now possible to get options for USB ports or even solar. USB ports also give you the choice of playing MP3’s through the radio speaker.
Battery life is key when considering how much you want to use your radio. If the battery life is good, you can rest easy knowing you can rely on a set amount of time.
- Headphone option – Having the option to listen in a more personalized way is something to consider, especially if you live with others. Check that your radio has a headphone jack, as not all of them will.
- Clock – Do you prefer to use your radio as an alarm clock? Or to remind you of the time? There are some great features for this, so consider how important it is.
- Flashlight – If you plan on using your portable for longer excursions, like camping trips or hikes, a flashlight could be a welcome accessory. It could also save you space in your backpack.
- Telescopic antenna – Particularly with AM/FM radio dial, getting a great reception can be a challenge. If you do plan to take your radio further out, consider the size and length of the antenna. You’ll need it to pick up the best quality out there.
- Weather radio – For the travel-minded, adventurers should consider if they need to get regular updates on weather conditions. This is especially useful if you’re on an expedition and need live updates to plan your route.
Buying the best portable radio relies on knowing exactly how you plan to use one.
For us, there is a clear winner. For versatility, range of features, the convenience of travel, and still a great quality sound, its NPanasonic RF-2400D AM/FM Portable Radio.
We love this because no batteries are required, it squeezed neatly into our bags, and still the quality of sound was superb. Although it offers more than just a radio, the sheer number of options available on this device means it’s our winner.