The 5 best portable radios

(When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.)

Wherever you are, a portable radio will always come in handy.  Maybe you want to listen to some music while cooking in the kitchen or maybe you enjoy listening to your favourite radio shows while working on your car, doing some home improvements, doing yard work or working in the garden.

In this article, I review the best 5 portable radios:

If you don’t have time to read the whole article, here are my recommendations:

If you’re looking for an indoor radio that will sit on a shelf somewhere, I’d recommend the analogue Panasonic RF-2400D or digital Sangean PR-D18.

If you want a very small pocket-sized handheld radio for carrying around on walks or maybe listening to at sports events, I’d recommend the Sony ICFP26

What to look for in a portable radio

Size and weight

Usually we want a portable radio that is small and light! Be sure to check the dimensions and weight to ensure there’ll be enough room for it. In the detailed reviews below, I have included the dimensions (in inches as well as in millimetres) and I have also included the weight (in pounds and ounces and in kilograms)

Power source

By definition, all portable radios can be powered by battery. But be sure to check if the batteries are included? What batteries does it take and how many?

What about power cords? Can I plug the radio into a power outlet? Is the power cord included with the radio?

AM and FM ?

All of the radios will be FM but not all of them will be AM. Make sure to check.

Earphone / headphones jack ?

If you want to be able to listen to the radio with an earphone or headphones, then the radio will need a special input called a “jack”.  Most radios have them but not all of them have the earphone itself included. Don’t forget to check if that is important to you.

Manual tuning or auto-tuning ?

There are different tuning systems on portable radios. Some are old school – You tune them manually with a dial and there are no presets.

Other more advanced models will have auto-scan tuning where the radio will automatically change frequencies until it finds a station. Some radios will also have “presets” whereby you can save your favourite stations to an allocated slot so that you can quickly find them again later. 

It’s important to note that “automatic tuning” doesn’t necessarily mean a better sound quality. A radio with manual tuning can be just as good as a radio with automatic tuning. It’s just a bit more hassle to change stations!

The 5 best portable radios that we reviewed

Panasonic RF-2400D AM / FM Radio

This radio is simple to use with its analogue tuner display and large knob for changing the frequency. It’s sturdy and has a handle for easy carrying. The large speaker (4 inches / 10 cm) has a very clear sound.

Size  (W x H x D):     9.2 x 4.8 x 3.2 inches   (234  x 122  x 82 mm)
Weight:   1 pound   (450 grams)
Type of batteries:    4x AA  batteries
Batteries included? –  No
Power cord / AC adaptor? –  Yes. The AC adaptor cord is included.
AM:  520 – 1730kHz (9/10kHz step)
FM:  87 – 108MHz (50kHz step)
Earphone jack? –  There is an earphone jack (socket) on the radio in which you can plug an earphone. The earphone is not included with the radio.
Type of tuning:  Manual tuning with a dial. There are no presets.


Sony ICFP26 Portable AM/FM Radio

This is a “portable” radio in the true sense of the word! It’s very small and extremely lightweight (3 ounces). It’s what used to be known as a transistor radio.  This is the sort of radio to take to a ball game. This is old school technology that still works very well.   You can’t go wrong with Sony and this is the best transistor radio that we reviewed.

Size  (W x H x D):     2.74 x 4.69 x 1.5 inches   (70  x 119  x 38 mm)
Weight:   3.04 ounces   (86 grams)
Type of batteries:    2x AA  batteries
Batteries included? –  No
Power cord / AC adaptor? –  No. The radio is battery operated only.
AM:  530 – 1,710kHz
FM:  87.5 – 108MHz
Earphone jack? –  There is an earphone jack (socket) on the radio in which you can plug an earphone. The earphone is not included with the radio.
Type of tuning:  Manual tuning with a dial.  There are no presets.


Vondior portable pocket radio

This Vondior radio is very similar to the Sony ICFP26 mentioned above. It has reliable old-school and back to basics radio technology with analogue display and manual tuning that works very well. Remember, the advantage of this analogue technology is that the batteries will last much longer!  The batteries of this transistor radio will last several weeks.

This pocket-sized radio has great reception and sound quality for its size.

Size  (W x H x D):     2.8 x 4.7 x 1.1 inches   (71  x 119  x 28 mm)
Weight:   3.2 ounces   (91 grams)
Type of batteries:    2x AA  batteries
Batteries included? –  No
Power cord / AC adaptor? –  No. The radio is battery-powered only.
AM:  530 – 1600kHz  
FM:  87 – 108MHz
Earphone jack? –  There is an earphone jack (socket) on the radio in which you can plug an earphone. The earphone is not included with the radio.
Type of tuning:  Manual tuning with a dial.


Sangean PR-D18  AM/FM portable digital radio

The Sangean PR-D18 portable radio has digital tuning with auto-seek and 10 presets (5 FM and 5 AM) so that you can save the frequencies of your favorite radio stations and select them with the touch of a button. The time and alarm features also mean you can put it next to your bed and use it as a clock radio. It has a dual alarm so that you can set an alarm for 2 people at 2 different times.

The radio comes in a choice of four colour combinations: Gray/black, white/blue, white/gray or white/red.  It really is a good-looking radio and the best sounding portable radio in our review.

Size  (W x H x D):     6.5 x 4.2 x 1.4 inches   (165  x 107  x 36 mm)
Weight:   12.8 ounces   ( 363 grams)
Type of batteries:    4x AA  batteries
Batteries included? –  No
Power cord / AC adaptor? –  The radio can be powered by plugging an AC adaptor into a power outlet / socket. The AC adaptor cord is NOT included with the radio. It can be purchased separately.
AM:  520 – 1710kHz (9/10kHz step)
FM:  87.5 – 108MHz
Earphone jack? –  There is an earphone jack (socket) on the radio in which you can plug an earphone. The earphone is not included with the radio.
Type of tuning:  Auto-seek tuning with a digital display showing the frequency. There are 10 station presets (5 FM and 5 AM)
Other features:  The radio can be used as a clock radio with dual alarm.


DreamSky Portable AM FM Radio

This is a very small and lightweight AM/FM radio that you can put in a pocket or bag or just put it on a shelf indoors. It is perfect for taking camping or on a walk or hike due to its small size.  It has manual tuning with an analogue display. When the radio finds a station, an LED light comes on which is very helpful when looking for stations. The dial is a bit confusing at first, but you quickly get used to it.  This radio is very good value.

Size  (W x H x D):     5.9 x 4.7 x 1.2 inches   (150  x 120  x 30 mm)
Weight:   8 ounces   (227 grams)
Type of batteries:    2x AA  batteries
Batteries included? –  YES!
Power cord / AC adaptor? –  No. The radio is battery-powered only.
AM:  520 – 1730kHz
FM:  87 – 108MHz
Earphone jack? –  There is an earphone jack (socket) on the radio in which you can plug an earphone. The earphone is not included with the radio.
Type of tuning:  Manual tuning with a dial.  An LED light comes on when you find a station. There are no presets.


Conclusion

All of the radios in this article are very good. It’s difficult to say which one is best because they are all suited to slightly different purposes.

If you’re looking for an indoor radio that will sit on a shelf somewhere, I’d recommend the analogue Panasonic RF-2400D or digital Sangean PR-D18.

If you want a very small pocket-sized handheld radio for carrying around on walks or maybe listening to at sports events, the best small transistor radio is the Sony ICFP26

Leave a comment

Don`t copy text!