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Best AM/FM Portable Radios Review 2020 – Buying Guide

Posted on the 24 May 2020 by Palmgear @PalmgearBlog

Radios are some of the commonly used devices on a day-to-day basis. Even with advanced technology, radios are still included in our daily lives. However, radios have evolved with technology to assure you of multi-functional applications.

Today, you can find portable radio models that let you carry them wherever you want. Others even come with a USB port, which allows you to listen to your favorite jams.

Nevertheless, there is a challenge when you are looking for a good AM/FM portable radio. For you to buy the best AM FM radio, you should consider a few top models. Plus, it is important to follow a proper buying guide to help you with that.

We shall be covering all that in this article.

Let's walk through together, shall we?

Our Best Portable Radios (FM and AM) Reviews

With hundreds of AM FM portable radios out there, it becomes challenging to choose one that would suit you. However, we broke it down to make work easier for you. Here are the top 10 portable FM/AM radios you should consider buying.

1. Panasonic RF-2400D AM/FM Radio

Best AM/FM Portable Radios Review 2020 – Buying Guide

The first member of our best portable AM FM radio squad is this fella from Panasonic. Everyone knows Panasonic is a veteran brand in the radio world. They are known to deliver top-quality radios that offer everything that a standard radio would offer plus more.

This is one AM/FM radio that comes with some amazing features. First off, it comes in at 1lb and measures 22.8 by 7.8 by 10.8 inches. That makes it portable enough since it won't exhaust your hands even if you carry it for a long time.

Furthermore, this is a retro-looking radio with an AM/FM tuner. The FM frequency range is 87 to 108MHz with a 50kHz step, while the AM frequency range is at 520 to 1730kHz with a 9/10kHz step.

Another point of focus is the 4-inch speaker that is audible enough. We loved the sound quality, too, especially for its size. By the way, there is a precise station tuner that assures you of high-quality sound with clarity. Luckily, the tuner display and knob are large enough and very much easy to use.

If you want to listen to the radio on your own, you can hook your 3.5mm earphones or headphones in the available port. This radio runs on four AA batteries, or you can plug it to a socket outlet.

Keep in mind that you will have to purchase the batteries separately. Luckily, it is easy and cheap to get good AA batteries even at your local store.

Carrying it around is easy because it comes with a large handle to help you with that. So, this radio might not have a lot of features like other FM/AM radios out there, but it still does the needed job of an AM/FM radio.

2. Sony ICF38 Portable AM/FM Radio

Best AM/FM Portable Radios Review 2020 – Buying Guide

Sony is a reputable brand and one of the best in audio and visual products. This portable radio qualifies as a best AM/FM radio if you don't want one with a lot of features.

One thing that made us go for this one is the fact that it comes in a convenient ultra-compact design. It means that you can easily slip it into a jacket or shirt pocket. The radio also comes with a 3-5/8 inch speaker that is loud enough for its size.

Typically, you can listen to this radio in the office or for that tailgate party while enjoying a decently good sound quality. There is also a tone control switch that lets you choose the sound quality of the radio.

Whether you want to listen to your FM channels or the AM channels, the radio lets you do that with the flick of a switch. Tuning the radio is easy breezy, and you get a LED tuning indicator too. With the tuning indicator, you will know if your tuned channel is receiving signals to the fullest.

Of course, there is a telescopic antenna that increases the range and offers you a solid reception.

You can either use the radio directly from an outlet or remotely with four AA batteries. Keep in mind that the batteries are not included - you will have to buy them separately. Ideally, you should use Sony batteries to get a long playtime.

3. Avantree SP850 Portable FM Radio

4. Sangean WR-11 Wood Cabinet AM/FM Tabletop Radio

If you are the kind of person that values the look of a radio along with its functionality, you'd consider this as one of the best portable radios.

Okay, this wouldn't be the right pick if you want a handheld radio, but you can easily take it wherever you wish without a problem. The radio measures 9.38 x 6.75 x 4.68 inches, which is bigger than most units on this list. In terms of weight, this baby weighs around 5.2lbs. It comes with a design that is meant to be placed on a table.

The solid MDF cabinet and a real walnut veneer finish make this radio a charmer. You can be sure of it brightening the table with its elegant blend of color.

Besides that, the radio offers you an aux input for hooking it to other sources like an iPod or an MP3 player.

Concerning the AM/FM feature, you get a tuning LED indicator to let you know if you are tuning the radio precisely.

There is a 3-inch full-range speaker of 6.5 watt, which comes with a deep bass compensation, along with a large magnet. Besides that, the radio comes with an acoustically tuned cabinet that enhances the quality of sound.

You also get a 3.5mm jack for hooking up your headphones when you want to listen to the radio privately. Furthermore, you get a record-out jack that lets you connect the radio to a recording device.

Even with the myriad of features and sturdy construction of this radio, you can still be sure of enjoying a seamless user experience.

5. RunningSnail Emergency Hand Crank Self-Powered AM/FM Radio

6. Running Snail Solar Crank 2000mAh Power Bank AM/FM Radio

7. Sangean PR-D5BK Am/FM Portable Radio

This radio has been featured in most portable radio reviews, and it is due to its stylish design, along with the features onboard.

The radio is a little bigger in size compared to other models on the list. It comes in at 2 by 10 by 5.35 inches and weighs around 2lbs. If you want a handheld radio to carry it wherever you go, this wouldn't be a good pick for you.

There are two speakers on board, which add to the weight. But on the flip side, this assures you of enough volume for you to enjoy your favorite radio station.

Each speaker is 2.5 inches big, and they deliver excellent stereo audio performance. Luckily, there is a selectable stereo/mono switch that lets you choose what suits you best.

If you want to enjoy the radio to yourself, you can hook up your earphones or headphones for some personal listening.

Besides that, the radio comes with a 200mm Ferrite AM antenna bar that boosts the overall AM reception. Plus, there are ten preset memory stations, five for AM and five for FM. Even better, there is a PLL synthesized tuning system that offers stereo audio performance and incredible reception.

This can also work as your alarm. Here, you will set the preferred time for the alarm to go off, which will then power on the radio to the previous station, or it will sound off the buzzer. There is also a sleep timer on the radio.

The easy-to-read, backlit LCD display will show the current radio station, time, and even the battery level. This way, you will know if it is time to recharge the radio.

8. Studebaker SB2000TS Teal/Silver Retro Portable AM/FM Radio

We won't fail to include this unit in our portable radio reviews. It pops out with a colorful theme that makes it easy to find if you are looking for it in a dark room. Also, it would suit you if you are a fan of colorful devices.

This one comes in at 1.5lbs, which is typically heavier than most units. Besides that, it measures 7.28 by 3.35 by 5.5 inches. Nevertheless, it is still portable enough for you to use it at home or at the office. As long as you don't have to carry it in your hands as it plays, you will enjoy working with this radio.

It features a 2.25-inch premier speaker that has a 350mW output power. We found it clear enough, and the sound quality was good in general. Carrying it around is easy, thanks to the foldable handle. Whether you want to take it to the garage or at the park with you, you can comfortably do so.

This is one of the easiest to use radios you will find out there. It only comes with two knobs (volume and tune), along with a switch to power it on. Anybody can use this radio. However, it might not be fully appreciated by the young guns. That is because it doesn't come with a display to show the current station.

You can power it with an AC 120V cable or with four C/UM-2 batteries. The batteries are purchased separately.

9. DreamSky Portable AM/FM Radio

10. Retekess V115 Portable AM FM Radio

We wrap up our portable AM FM radio reviews with this radio from Retekess. This might be the last product, but it is definitely one of the best.

The compactness of this radio lets you use it with ease. It only measures 4.7 by 3.1 by 0.9 inches. That is even smaller than some phone models. It weighs only 7.1 ounces hence making it lightweight and easy to carry it around. You can actually fit the radio in your shirt's pocket without any problem.

Even with its small design, this radio comes with plenty of features and functions. Along with the FM/AM functionalities, this radio supports aux input, along with the TF card slot. This way, you can listen to your songs saved in the TF card while on the go.

The speaker was audible and clear enough. You can use the radio as a loudspeaker through a USB cable or connect it to your mp3 player. Luckily, it comes with a number pad to let you key in the track number on the TF card for you to enjoy it whenever you want to listen to your favorite song.

There is a backlit display, and you get three languages onboard. You can choose between English, Spanish, or Chinese. This radio lets you record directly into a memory card with multiple record quality options.

It comes with a rechargeable Lithium battery of 1000mAh that you can charge using the USB cable from any source.

Portable Radio Buying Guide for Newbies

Now that we have given you a list of our top portable radios reviews, the process of buying one has become easier for you. However, you are not fully settled to step out there and buy the right portable radio that will serve you accordingly.

Here is a couple of things you need to consider when you are searching for a good portable AM/FM radio to suit you;


The first point, which is also the most obvious one, is the size of the radio. For a radio to be considered portable, it must come in a compact size and should be lightweight enough for you to carry it around. When choosing the size of the radio, you should consider how you intend to use it.

If you want a radio for hiking, then I would suggest that you go for a handheld AM FM radio. Such a radio can easily fit in your pocket, and it will be easy to carry with you. Alternatively, the radio should comfortably fit in the pocket of your backpack without any problem.

But if you want a radio for camping or fishing, it doesn't have to fit in your pockets. However, it should be easy to carry from the house to the camping site or lake without being too bulky. Consider one with a carry handle to give you an easy time when moving with it.

Probably you just want to use the radio in the office or at home when relaxing in the yard. Here, you can go for a slightly bigger radio that would suit your situation accordingly.

Source of Power

The power source is another factor that you will need to consider. Also, this depends on where you intend to use it. For those playing the radio in an office, you can easily plug it into the socket-outlet to power it on. In this case, you won't have to worry about the battery life of the radio.

If you are going camping, there are options for you to choose from in terms of the power source. You can choose a battery-powered, solar-powered, or electricity-powered unit. In this case, you might want to have a generator and a converter if you will be going for the electricity-powered unit.

Keep in mind that all the radios that we have featured run on batteries. Even if you are choosing a battery-powered FM/AM radio, you should consider if it is rechargeable or one-time use.

For the non-rechargeable batteries, they should be long-lasting enough. It can be costly to always purchase new batteries if you don't go for those that last for long.

With the rechargeable batteries, you don't have to worry too much about their longevity since they can easily be juiced up. However, there is a point of concern in it as well. You have to consider how and where you will be using the radio.

If you are going hiking and you choose a radio with rechargeable batteries, they must last for long enough to serve you as you hike for hours. But if they are solar-powered or self-charging, you shouldn't be having a problem.

But for the harsh and survival situations that will see you in the woods for a couple of days, I recommend that you go for the solar-powered or the self-charging radios.

Build and Stability

As you are going through the portable AM/FM radios, you should always consider the construction. Keep in mind that these radios will go through tough conditions compared to the regular radios. For example, a radio taken for hiking or for survival conditions must be strong enough.

The radio must come with sturdy construction for it to withstand the harsh conditions. Since you will be carrying the radio on the go, it needs to come with a strong build. Remember that the radio might drop, you might knock it into hard surfaces, or it can even get in contact with water.

If you are fishing or kayaking, the best choice should be a waterproof radio that can easily survive the splashes or even submerging.

Consider choosing a radio with inbuilt shock absorption to prevent it from breaking down too easily. Ideally, go for radios from reputable companies, which happen to produce high-quality products.

Generally, choose a strong radio or one that is built to perfectly withstand the conditions or how you intend to use it.


Do you prefer a digital radio with buttons and numbers for you to key in the desired frequency or track number? Maybe you are a retro-type of person that prefers the turn knobs when controlling the radio.

Generally, it is important to choose one with controls that are easy to use. A simple radio will be easy to use, and all you will need to do is turn the dial to tune in to your favorite station and turn the volume knob as you wish.

If you get one with an LCD screen, it will be easier to operate it since you will easily view the radio station. Also, digital radios are more accurate when it comes to tuning to a specific station.

No matter what radio you choose, make sure that it is easy for you to operate it or the person you are buying it for.

Speaker/Sound Quality

Being a portable radio, you want to ensure that it does have a speaker that is audible enough and one that has a good sound quality. The sound quality will be determined by the size and quality of the speaker, along with how good the radio can pick up signals accordingly.

With a good telescopic antenna, you can be sure of the radio capturing the signals appropriately for it to deliver proper sound quality.

If you are out camping, you will want a radio with a sizeable speaker for it to be audible enough. A handheld or pocket radio wouldn't be a good pick for camping purposes. Keep in mind that some radios would sound better when the sound is set at around 80%. If you set it at 100%, the sound quality might drop.

Choose the radio with the right speaker size based on the intended audience and use. If you were fixing the roof or fishing alone, a pocket-size radio wouldn't be a bad pick.

Most of the radios with good sound quality come from Panasonic and Sony. Either way, just make sure you test the sound quality of the radio and that you are contented with it.

Extra Features

There are several other features that you should consider when choosing a portable radio.

For instance, if you want to listen to more than just the FM/AM radio stations, you can hook up your micro SD or connect the radio to your phone or mp3 player.

In that case, consider getting a radio with features like Bluetooth connectivity. This way, you will easily hook it up to your phone, laptop, or other Bluetooth devices. Mostly, such radios will also work as a speaker.

Some come with auxiliary inputs that allow you to connect them to your mp3 player or phone for you to enjoy your favorite tracks. Others also come with an SD card slot for you to put in your memory card to play your songs wherever and whenever you wish.

In terms of the extra features, it is not a must to go for one with the most features. As long as the radio can play the AM and FM stations comfortably and with good sound quality, you should be good to go.

Don't forget to choose one that features a convenient carrying handle or strap. If possible, consider having a radio that comes with a 3.5mm jack for you to listen to your music personally.

Always go through the portable radios reviews in detail to learn about the experience that the users had when working with the radio you wish to buy.

How It Works

The Amplitude Modulation and Frequency Modulation (AM and FM), were first used in the early 90s, and they are the most common radio frequencies used today.

The working mechanism of the two is somewhat different.

Amplitude Modulation Mechanism

With the AM system, it will entail a station producing signals at an unbroken frequency. In turn, the system will alter the strength of the signal so as to change the signal amplitude. That is why it is called an amplitude modulation (AM) system. The amplitude alteration will reflect the audio data that is being sent.

Conversely, you will have to tune an antenna to the frequency of the waves in the air for you to catch the signal and the radio to play the speech or music. By the way, AM signals can also be used for transmitting video signals.

Furthermore, radio amateurs and aviation still use AM signals. This is because AM systems can transmit multiple signals on the same frequency. Also, AM signals can be picked up at the lowest strength. They tend to cover more distance because of their high wavelength.

Frequency Modulation

The FM systems use constant fluctuations and amplitude of the carrier frequency to transmit sound. Keep in mind that the carrier frequency will depend on the right or left audio signals. In terms of sound quality, FM tends to be better than AM signals.

Generally, most FM channels are stereo, whereas AM channels are mono. However, FM systems cannot receive multiple signals on one frequency. But on the positive side, FM radios will be less prone to interference when on a specific channel compared to AM radios.

Another major difference is that AM is specifically analog technology, while FM transmits digital data. This is done by changing the carrier frequency within a narrow value range. FM signals are usually used for transmitting the sound of analog television.

Maintenance Guide

Maintaining a portable AM FM radio is not different from how you would handle your regular radio. Here are some points to help you when handling your portable radio;

Above all, follow the necessary care and maintenance guide offered by the manufacturer.

Frequently Asked Question

1. What is the difference between FM and AM Band?

The main difference between the two is that AM is analog technology, whereas FM transmits digital data. Most digital radios come with FM frequencies only. Also, the frequency of the carrier radio signal of an FM radio will vary, whereas an AM band is the amplitude of the alterations.

2. Which is the best portable FM/AM radio?

A radio that perfectly meets your needs will be considered the best portable radio for you. Not every radio will suit every person.

3. Can I use my phone radio car instead of a portable radio?

Normally, portable radios will have better reception for the FM and AM signals. That is why they are better preferred for phones and car radios.

4. Where should I place the radio?

Ideally, place the radio on a flat platform that is stable enough and where it can receive the signals to the maximum. Avoid placing/storing it in a stuffed place.

5. How can I improve the reception of my portable AM/FM radio?

Some of the ways of improving your radio reception include choosing a better location, ensuring you use a good radio antenna, placing it away from other electronics and devices, and choosing a stereo FM radio.

Final Words

There you have it, folks. Now you can step out and shop for the best AM FM portable radio on your own. Keep in mind that a good radio isn't the one that has multiple features but one that offers good reception with good sound quality while attending to your needs accordingly.

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