The Best Walkie Talkie

Updated on 11 April 2023

After 13 hours of comparing and analysing 27 popular walkie-talkies and testing 8 of them, we have come to the conclusion that the Motorola T42 currently offers the best value for money.

This comparison is certified 100% impartial and follows our selection process.

Our choice, Best budget

Motorola T42

Despite its lack of features, this model is pleasant and easy to use thanks to its compact design. In addition, it performs well for its price, both in range and sound quality.

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Motorola T42

These two walkie-talkies, powered by two AAA batteries (not included…), feature a convenient power mode and offer up to 18 hours of battery life. The LCD allows you to navigate between functions (dial tone, channel group synchronisation, keypad lock, mute, scan function, PTT timer, listening mode…) but unfortunately, as it is not backlit, it is not readable in the dark. In addition, it lacks some functions (no torch, no emergency calls, no Roger Beep). Apart from that, it is a very easy-to-use and handle model, as it is the most compact and lightest we have tested. As such, it fits well in small hands and is suitable for both adults and children. On paper, it has a range of 4 km in free field and 16 channels. In our intensive coverage tests, it performed well, especially in buildings, where the range was convincing. In addition, we found the volume sufficiently loud and the voice quite audible, which gives it a good sound quality for its price. Finally, each walkie-talkie comes with stickers for personalisation and a removable belt clip.

 

 

Best mid-range

Retevis RT24

Easy to use, these walkie-talkies focus on a simple and solid design, as well as good signal pick-up and surprisingly good listening quality at the expense of certain options.

£ 55.65 on Aliexpress

Retevis RT24

Their excellent build quality allows them to withstand the harshest of weather conditions. They are a little bulky in the hand, but we found them easy to use thanks to the PTT button on the side, the indicator lights and the two knobs that make them easy to hold. Although they lack some functions (no display, Roger Beep, Scan, etc.), they have some interesting options (Scrambler, BCL, VOX, Squelch, Time-Out, etc.) that allow clear communication. We regret, however, that some settings have to be made in the software. These include 16 channels and subcodes to prevent the reception of extraneous signals. What surprised us most? The excellent coverage inside buildings and the powerful sound. The maximum range in open space is 2-3 km and in our tests, they performed very similarly to other more expensive models. They are powered by a rechargeable battery and come with a charging cradle. Battery life is between 8 and 12 hours (depending on use), but the power save mode and indicator lights allow you to monitor battery life better. Finally, there are some nice accessories included.

 

Best high-end

Midland G9 Pro

Popular in the hunting world and suitable for outdoor use, the G9 Pro benefits from a practical dual power supply and is ideal for professional environments.

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Midland G9 Pro

From a design point of view, it is a little heavier (157g) than other models, but it sits well in an adult’s hand and is weatherproof (IPX4). In terms of options, we find the essential ones (5 ringtones, emergency call, VOX, San, keypad lock, vibration, sidetone, etc.), no more, no less. The LCD screen is large and backlit, which allowed us to see it well at all stages of the tests. We also found it easy to use. In terms of performance, it has a double PTT button, 32 channels (16 + 16 pre-programmed) and a large number of private codes, which allows excellent reception and avoids extraneous signals. Its maximum range is 12 km in open country, 4 to 6 km in woodland and 1 to 2 km in buildings. Thanks to its large antenna, we had a very good signal through the floors of a building. Finally, it has a practical dual power supply (4 AA batteries or an optional rechargeable battery), which gives it an autonomy of 12-36 hours. The brand also offers a range of accessories (charging cradle, wall charger, belt clip, headphones, etc.).

 

Budget alternative

Retevis RT388

Although they are more prone to interference than others, they offer good value for money and decent performance. In addition, they are easy to use and offer clear sound.

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Retevis RT388

The best thing about the Retevis RT388 is its value for money. They are more than just a toy, as they have a backlit LCD, ten ringtones, a torch (quite dim), a scanner, VOX, a keypad lock, etc. They are suitable for leisure use and their compact, lightweight design makes them particularly suitable for children. Each also has a detachable belt clip. Although the nine buttons can be a little daunting when it comes to making certain settings, they are relatively easy to use thanks to the single Talk button for transmission. In terms of performance, they offer eight channels and 99 CTCSS/DCS for a maximum open-air range of 3km. However, during testing, we found that the range was reduced to around 500m in the city centre and did not exceed three floors inside a building. As for sound, communication was clear enough. What did we like least? The power supply… It relies on 4 AAA batteries (not included), whose autonomy does not exceed 6-16 hours.

 

Our selection

Our choice, Best budgetBest mid-rangeBest high-endBudget alternative
Motorola T42 Retevis RT24 Midland G9 Pro Retevis RT388
Despite its lack of features, this model is pleasant and easy to use thanks to its compact design. In addition, it performs well for its price, both in range and sound quality. Easy to use, these walkie-talkies focus on a simple and solid design, as well as good signal pick-up and surprisingly good listening quality at the expense of certain options. Popular in the hunting world and suitable for outdoor use, the G9 Pro benefits from a practical dual power supply and is ideal for professional environments. Although they are more prone to interference than others, they offer good value for money and decent performance. In addition, they are easy to use and offer clear sound.
£ 25.96 on Amazon £ 55.65 on Aliexpress £ 71.78 on Amazon £ 22.99 on Amazon

 

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How did we do the test?

For more accurate results, the walkie-talkies were tested by both children and adults. First of all, we looked at ergonomics (size, weight, etc.) and ease of use (practicality of buttons). We then tested each of the functions available and assessed the quality of the screen in different environments.

To check the coverage and range of each device, we carried out several tests at different distances, both indoors and outdoors (in a multi-storey building, in the city centre, at home, in the countryside, etc.). This allowed us to assess the sound quality (power, clarity of voices, etc.). We also took into account the power mode and autonomy of each device. Finally, we tested their robustness and the accessories supplied.

 

How to choose a walkie-talkie?

Walkie-talkies seem to have disappeared somewhat in recent years, especially with the evolution of mobile phones. However, they are still the most reliable solution for communicating in the middle of the forest or areas with the uncertain network coverage.

Talkies Walkies

To help you choose the model that best suits your needs and/or requirements, here is a buying guide outlining the main criteria to consider:

  • Handling: This is influenced by the size and weight of the device. In general, it is preferable to keep it light and compact to ensure a good grip. If it is intended for a child, make sure it is easy for them to grasp and understand how it works. Also, the higher the price, the more complex it will be to use.

Talkies Walkies

  • Signal reception quality: performance in terms of listening quality revolves around the number of communication channels, the private codes and the frequency of the model. The higher these values, the better the transmission and the greater the range. Some environments are particularly susceptible to interference, but the best components are able to counteract this. The dual TT button transmits at high and low power.

Talkies Walkies

  • Functions: several functions can be found in the same walkie-talkie. The “Roger beep” announces the end of each call with a beep, making it easier to talk. Other features such as the LCD or the LED light are more than welcome. The VOX key allows hands-free operation. The scan function automatically searches for channels. Finally, the use of a dual channel allows you to talk to 2 people at the same time. Emergency calls are also a common option.

Talkies Walkies

  • Charging and autonomy: some devices are sold without batteries. Traditional alkaline batteries are neither the most practical nor the most economical. Fortunately, most devices use lithium batteries that can be recharged via USB (which we think is the best option). Others offer a choice between traditional or rechargeable batteries. In terms of autonomy, it must be able to last for the duration of your trips. Ideally, it should last for more than 12 hours.

Talkies Walkies

  • Resistance: this partly guarantees the versatility of the model. Many of them are certified with a protection rating. The IP consists of two numbers, one indicating the level of protection against solid particles such as sand and dust (from 0 to 6), and a second one communicating water resistance (from 0 to 9). It is also necessary to check the robustness to counteract violent shocks.

Talkies Walkies

 

Other models we recommend

Motorola T82 Extreme (£79.56 upon publication): good ergonomics for professional environments and outdoor/mountain sports. They are easy to use and offer a wide range of features, some of which are advanced (easy pairing, emergency button, dual channel control, etc.). Their hidden display has low power consumption and can be read in the dark. In terms of design, they are robust (IPX4) and a little larger than others but fit well in an adult’s hand. They have 16 channels and 121 private codes. The advertised range is 10 km outdoors, but we never achieved this in our tests. It was difficult to get more than 400 metres of coverage in the city centre. Inside the building, it did better. However, we found the volume of voices a little less powerful. In terms of endurance, the dual power supply (2 AA batteries or rechargeable battery) is very practical, and the battery life is satisfactory. Finally, it comes with several useful accessories.

Midland C1180 XT70 (£97.00 upon publication): a multi-purpose model. These walkie-talkies have a backlit LCD and are powered by a rechargeable battery, which gives them a good battery life. They are comfortable to hold and easy to use and offer all the typical features for this price range, plus the Baby Sitter function, which is very useful for keeping an eye on a baby. On the downside, there is no emergency call function. In terms of performance, they have good reception with a large number of channels and a range of up to 12 km outdoors, which is a good signal. In the city centre, however, they showed their limitations (a range of only 400 metres). Also, although the volume is good, we found voices a little less audible, although this did not prevent us from understanding the communication. Finally, several accessories (belt clips, earphones, stickers, etc.) are included with the purchase.

 

Other models tested

Baofeng UV 5R 8W (£29.99 upon publication): The signal is reliable, the functions are practical and it comes with a lot of accessories. However, it is so difficult to use and program that it is only suitable for professionals who are already familiar with such devices and configurations.

Midland XT10 (£49.00 upon publication): These two walkie-talkies are easy to use and hold thanks to their compact and lightweight format. However, their power mode is impractical and the battery life is rather short. In addition, we detected some weaknesses during our tests in the city centre and inside the building.

 

 

Translated by Ramsés El Hajje

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