In a world dominated by streaming services and custom playlists, a portable radio can seem a little old-fashioned. While it’s true that there are more modern and advanced options out there, having the best pocket radio still has its benefits.
Whether you’re camping or just trying to save data or battery on your phone, having a portable radio handy is a smart idea. You can keep up to date with important news and weather forecasts or just hang out with your favorite music station.
Best pocket radios are small, light, and easy to carry. You can throw it in your backpack, glove box, or as the name suggests, in your pocket. This guide will tell you exactly what you need to know about choosing the best pocket radio.
|Sony ICF-S10MK2 Pocket AM/FM Radio
|A Portable AM/FM radio fits easily into shirt or jacket pocket Supports AM and FM broadcasts Telescoping antenna Built-in speaker and mono earphone jack Attached carrying strap for convenience Operates on two AA batteries Dimensions: 4.67 in W x 2.80 in H x 1.18 in D Earphone connection
|Vondior AM/FM battery-operated portable pocket radio
|Comfortable tuning experience Access to AM/FM radio AA battery-compatible operation This flow continues for weeks Great sound performance Compact and durable Expandable antenna for better reception A headphone jack is included
|Digital AM FM Portable Pocket Radio
|Easy Pinpoint Tuning 10 FM / 5 AM Station Presets Digital Display Sleep Timer Powered by 2 AA Batteries (Not Included)
|Sangean DT-400W AM FM digital pocket radio
|Digital AM/FM/NOAA Public Alert Weather Radio with PLL Synthesized Tuning 19 Random Presets for AM/FM/WX with My Favorite Station Select Button Real Time Clock, Sleep Timer, Auto Seek and Optional 90 Minute Auto Shut Off Built-In Speaker with DBB (Dynamic Bass Boost), Large Backlit LCD Display and Stereo Headphone Output Removable Belt Clip, FM Wire Antenna and Earbuds Included, Uses 2 AA Batteries (not included)
|C. Crane CC Pocket AM FM and NOAA weather radio
|AM/FM and NOAA Weather Band Pocket Radio Excellent selectivity and sensitivity for its size, 5 one-touch memory presets Built-in speaker or can be used with the included headphones Backlight, Timer, Clock & alarm, Removable belt clip Runs (2) AA batteries
|Eton – elite mini compact AM/FM/shortwave radio
|Stocking stuffer bundle includes 7 items: Six Eton Elite Mini Radios and a car toy keychain. Car Toys is an authorized Eton dealer. Smaller than a cell phone, these radios fit in your pocket, making them a practical Christmas gift. Dimensions: 4.3″ x 2.7″ x 0.47″ (H x W x D); Weight: 6.1 oz Use the sleep timer to fall asleep to your favorite channel and set an alarm to wake up. Radios are powered by two AAA batteries (not included).
|BTECH MPR-AF1 AM FM personal radio
|MPR-AF1 Pocket Radio Silicone Covered Style Earpiece Earbud Style Earpiece USB Charging Cable Lanyard Easy-to-read Manual (written in the US)
|Sangean DT-180 AM / FM pocket radio
|PLL-synthesized digital tuning system 15 direct-recall presets—5 AM/10 FM Pocket size Auto seeks station Stereo/mono switch Connectivity technology: Radio Frequency Power source type: Battery Powered Included components: product, manual 15 presets LCD display Automatic tuning system Stereo headphone jack Tuning and low battery indicator
8 Best pocket radio review
1. Sony ICF-S10MK2 pocket AM/FM radio
For people who have long been interested in trying out different digital audio devices, Sony should be a well-known brand that still attracts a lot of attention today. The ICF-S10MK2 Pocket AM/FM Radio is a reliable device that lets you listen to a wide range of engaging talk shows, sports games, and music.
Using just a pair of standard AA batteries to operate like a portable analog radio, the brand claims the unit has up to 45 hours of battery life in AM mode and around 40 hours in FM mode. The radio is compact enough to quickly slip into your pocket. However, there is a carrying strap for added convenience.
You can listen to audio through the built-in external speaker or connect personal headphones to the mono headphone jack for better sound quality. The 100mW output power of this AM FM pocket radio allows for 10% harmonic distortion. When the instrument is set, the LED indicator lights up.
There is one particular issue with the right pocket radio tuning function that I would like to discuss. Whenever I try to tune in a particular station it pauses on that station for about 2 minutes then the frequency is lost, so it has to be tuned regularly. No matter what happens, this error should be fixed immediately.
Aside from the unwanted shift in the station’s frequency display, I think you’ll be impressed by the 45-hour AA battery life and 10% reduction in noise distortion. This Sony ICF-S10MK2 AM FM radio is one of the most popular and powerful radios available as a small portable device.
2. Vondior AM/FM battery-operated portable pocket radio
Promising excellent reception and incredible audio performance, the Vondior mini portable radio is a radio lover’s delight.
Designed to give you a break from relying on your phone and other digital technology, the Vondior stood out in our portable radio tests.
It provides easy access to AM/FM radio stations, and you don’t have to worry about running out of entertainment in the event of a power outage.
Vondior offers smooth and clean audio quality – ideal for receiving your favorite radio stations. The large built-in speaker means you can quickly fill a room with music.
This cutting-edge portable radio also offers a great alternative to draining your smartphone battery. According to Vondior, a set of AA batteries will last for weeks!
There’s a lot to like about the Vondior radio, from its headphone jack, so you can listen to music in private, to its slim and light design.
However, there are also a few problems. The tuning can be a little finicky at times, and you have to constantly extend the antenna to get the best range.
3. Digital AM FM portable pocket radio with alarm clock
This portable radio is about as tall and wide, but only as thick as half a pack of cigarettes. The body is strong and durable. Nice radio.
It doesn’t pick up the weak signal from distant AM stations like a car radio, for example, sometimes does, but it’s good for local reception at a reasonable distance on both AM and FM. (FM reception is just as good as any other radio.)
Comes with a headphone jack or use a built-in speaker. It features a foldable FM antenna and an internal AM antenna. The audio quality is excellent in speakers and headphones. It’s fully digital, so you don’t have to search forever for drifting stations.
The device comes with instructions that you can use to program the little booger to your heart’s content. I had no problems and it was really fun. All sorts of dandy characteristics.
As many and more than you will find in a good car radio. In a word, it is excellent for its purpose. Based on the design, I assume it will outlive you if you take good care of it. I would suggest that if you plan on storing it for a while, you take out the batteries and put them and the radio in a sandwich bag.
A note about AM reception: It’s best to keep the radio in a fixed position when cycling (which is why I clip it to my bike). Having it in your pocket (while pedaling) changed the orientation of the internal antenna, causing the signal (and sound) to produce a “wow” effect.
4. Sangean DT-400W AM FM digital pocket radio
From almost all Sangean pocket radio reviews, I see that the DT-400W digital pocket radio model is liked by many users, including me. There are 19 different random AM FM/WX station presets in this little box, you can press the button to select your favorite channel.
The built-in speaker is equipped with DBB (Dynamic Bass Boost) functionality, which has been confirmed by NOAA weather warnings. As well as informing you of local emergencies, these channels also provide general local weather information when planning a trip.
To extend the life of AA batteries, this portable radio can optionally be switched off automatically after a maximum of 90 minutes. The innovative PLL, synthesizer tuning stabilizes or recovers interrupting signals from noisy environments and reaches your ears optimally.
The large LCD display with built-in backlight is useful for users whose vision is slightly impaired in low-light conditions. The automatic station search makes using the Pocket AM FM radio even more convenient. The belt clip on the back can be quickly removed to attach this gadget to your belt or pocket.
The most notable problem this digital radio is currently facing has to do with impenetrable instruction manuals. When I pressed and held a certain option button, the words “PER 30” appeared on the screen, but this is not explained at all in the manual. I expect the brand to answer that question kindly.
In terms of digital AM-FM radio in a compact size, I see great potential in this Sangean DT-400w device with a number of different additional features. The best thing about this product is the dynamic bass boost on the audio speaker and the PLL tuning synthesized for accurate reception.
5. C. Crane CC Pocket AM FM and NOAA weather radio
C. Crane CC Pocket is a premium portable, handheld radio that offers more features than most handheld radios on the market.
It’s priced higher than the other compact portable radios on this list, but it’s worth it. The build quality is solid and smooth, with a rubber cover around the rim of the radio. It adds another layer of protection and helps keep the radio in place when carried.
The front of the radio features an LCD display and five one-touch presets for accessing your favorite radio stations. With 5 memory buttons and more, the CC Pocket is arguably the best pocket radio money can buy. In total, the radio can store up to 25 presets in both the AM and FM bands.
The LCD display is relatively basic but very legible and uncluttered. It has a backlit display that works great in the dark. The best pocket radio also has a sleep function that you can turn on by pressing and holding the power button.
In addition to the standard AM/FM bands, the radio is your emergency equipment, as it has access to NOAA weather channels via the alarm mode. This feature isn’t common on small, mid-budget pocket radios, but anyone who spends time camping, camping, or walking in the woods will find it useful. You can further customize the weather alerts you want to hear.
As the radio is positioned as a premium pocket radio, a well-made belt clip and headphones are included. There aren’t many downsides other than the high cost of the radio. But like we said at the beginning of our review, despite the premium price, we think it’s worth your consideration.
C. Crane CC Pocket is a portable pocket radio. Built to withstand the rigors of hiking and travel, this unit also makes an excellent home radio for occasional use. It comes a little pricey, but it’s worth the money. If you’re looking for a premium pocket radio that’s both ultraportable and rugged, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better alternative.
6. Eton – elite mini compact AM/FM/shortwave radio
If you’re looking for a true hand-operated mini pocket radio that works reasonably well on shortwave, I highly recommend this Eton elite mini. In addition to the internal MW antenna, there is an additional telescoping antenna on top of the compact mini pocket radio for receiving FM/SW signals.
If you have a useful sleep timer, you can easily fall asleep without wasting your energy. I also really appreciate that this brand offers a hand-stitched, portable leather case for safely carrying the mini pocket radio.
Unfortunately, the lack of a micro USB power port, as stated in the product description, leaves me very disappointed. It’s basically a 3V plug that you’ll have to spend extra on. Although it’s not such a big detail, this brand should have equipped a shortwave radio with such a connector if it was indicated in the description.
I really appreciate the effort put into protecting Eton’s Elite Mini AM FM radio from unwanted external elements with a quality leather case. I don’t think you should ever hesitate to buy such a compact and well-protected device to effectively receive and listen to shortwave FM stations.
7. BTECH MPR-AF1 AM FM personal radio
Among the multitude of different reviews of pocket radios, undoubtedly, most underestimate the mini versions of these small radios. However, BTECH’s MPR-AF1 may change your mind as it automatically scans and stores your 58 favorite AM-FM channels in a memory bank.
It packs a powerful, long-life 500mAh Li-Ion battery that charges with less hassle than regularly replacing new batteries. There is an effective display backlight for use in the dark. In addition, the built-in clock shows the time when this pocket player is already switched off.
You can turn on mute with the power button. All large front buttons are organized and labeled with clear functions for easy understanding. With a functional key lock, the AM FM mini radio prevents your previous settings from being changed unexpectedly when you are on the go.
Considering the high-sensitivity ferrite antenna as an internal component, the top headphone jack can also be used as another long telescoping antenna. You can choose between two different types of earplugs: earplugs and silicone coated. There is a strap to secure the entire radio around your neck.
Unfortunately, this personal portable radio is currently facing a serious problem that it is unable to work with preset stations. The AM FM Gadget keeps going back to the factory preset station and that’s not very reassuring.
BTECH is a US-based pure wireless company, so the overall quality of the devices can be considered high. Amazing power and fantastic features are combined in this MPR-AF1 mini AM FM radio. So, this might be one of the best options to keep in your bags when you’re on the go.
8. Sangean DT-180 AM / FM pocket radio
The Sangean pocket radio, model code DT-180, has a minimal keypad that can be locked to prevent accidentally changing radio settings and interrupting listening. On the LCD screen of this compact pocket radio, you can easily see the battery level indicator and know exactly when to insert new batteries.
I believe that it is not necessary to be a pocket FM radio with Bluetooth to be reliable and have good AM FM reception. If you want to play some of your favorite stations, there are direct presets for 10 FM slots and 5 for AM. The set includes headphones from this brand.
This portable radio AM/FM weighs approximately 3 ounces and can be carried in small pockets. This radio’s signature DBB (Deep Bass Boost) sound takes the overall audio quality to a whole new level.
The signal strength of this pocket radio is displayed in the upper-left corner of the LCD screen. The real-time clock shows the exact time. Auto-off feature after 90 minutes helps extend battery life. It also includes adjustable channel tuning steps.
By far the biggest problem to solve with this portable AM-FM radio is the station select buttons on the top panel. They are made of soft plastic and cut off in the pocket. I can’t use the device because this button has been lost, and the additional cost of repairing such a small thing does not concern me.
I know it’s not uncommon for radio buttons to go wrong, but it’s better for a brand to work on this situation and fix it. On the other hand, the Sangean AM FM DT-180 radio received a lot of positive feedback as it packs a lot of useful features into a compact, pocket-sized package.
Benefits of having the best pocket radio
Pocket radios can alert you to dangerous weather conditions. These portable radios are an integral part of a comprehensive contingency plan.
These small battery-powered radios will alert you to dangerous storms, even if the power goes out. If you spend a lot of time camping or hiking in remote areas, a pocket radio will help you stay informed of changes in weather conditions and important news.
You have portable entertainment wherever you need it. A little entertainment can help pass the time in many scenarios. Whether you’re on a long drive, at the doctor’s office, or at a family event (if you don’t feel like it), you can tune in to a music or game station, put your headphones on, and tune in.
Pocket radios can be the start of a new hobby. Some radio hams want to see how far they can go out of range and still have clear transmissions.
There is a whole community of radio amateurs, some of whom prefer to tune in with small hand-held radios. You may find that your pocket radio becomes a gateway to an exciting new hobby.
The main types of radio waves for pocket radios
To receive radio waves, the radio must be equipped with a converter. There are four types of radio waves:
Frequency Modulation (FM)
Changes in frequency (speed of wave carrier signals) are caused by FM radio waves. They have a smaller range, but the music they produce is of great quality. FM signals are usually used to broadcast music. Today, all pocket radios have FM radio reception as standard.
Amplitude Modulation (AM)
To transmit AM radio waves, the amplitude (size) of the wave is changed. However, their sound quality is lower than FM broadcasting, which has a longer range.
Talk programs are the most common type of radio program on AM radio. All pocket radios today have AM radio reception as standard!
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
Weather forecasts and emergency communications can only be transmitted using NOAA radio waves, which are transmitted independently of AM and FM radio waves. Check if your disaster preparedness kit has an active NOAA radio.
Shortwave, when ions (positively charged atoms in the medium)
In the atmosphere interacting with shortwave radio waves, they can travel thousands of kilometers, far beyond the 100-mile limit for AM broadcasting. Shortwave broadcasters can receive local broadcasts and even broadcasts from other continents.
What should you pay attention to when buying a pocket radio?
PLL Setup. From reviewing handheld and pocket digital radios, I see that most of them include fine-tuning the channel. An upgraded version of a traditional pocket radio tuner, PLL (Phase Locked Loop) synthesizer tuning is included expressly for AM (1710-520 kHz) broadcast to improve overall performance.
With VCO (Voltage Controlled Oscillator) control, PLL tuning improves signal reception in this AM mode and its audio characteristics. This setting is continuously adapted to the frequency of the input signals.
If incoming data from a particular connection is interrupted due to excessive background noise, use synthesized PLL tuning. It can modulate, filter, stabilize, generate or restore the signals of these stations so that you can hear them without losing information.
Carrying accessories. The most common pocket radio accessories you’ll find are detachable carrying straps, lanyards, or belt clips. If you don’t have a pocket in your clothes, these are real lifesavers for keeping your AM FM radio close and out of sight.
In addition, by using the right radio carrying case, interruptions between workouts or chores are minimized. You can easily reach for it in the middle of a walk without putting your hand in your pocket. Most pocket radio packages include free shipping accessories.
Sleep timer. Regardless of battery type (disposable or rechargeable), should be saved by turning off the pocket radio when not in use. Whether you’re on the go or accidentally falling asleep, the built-in sleep timer on this portable AM-FM radio gives you peace of mind.
A typical radio off-timer counts down from 10 to 90 minutes, after which it automatically turns off the transistor unit. You probably don’t want to wake up with dead/dead batteries in your pocket radio, especially if it’s going to be on duty the next day. So this sleep timer should be activated.
Portable AM FM Radio buying guide
Before you search for the best portable AM/FM radio and read radio station reviews, there are a few important features to consider. Knowing what to look for should make your search easier, browse radio station reviews faster, and help you choose the best portable radio for your needs.
This reduces time spent searching for products that don’t meet your needs and narrows your search to make your overall radio listening experience more enjoyable.
Radios can do more these days: digital radios, alarm clocks, and even Bluetooth functionality are common in portable radios.
If you’re looking for a new portable radio, we’re here to help. Check out our buying guide for features, prices, and overall quality of the best portable AM/FM radios.
There are many different features that can be useful, but here are three key features that we think you should definitely consider:
Mono or stereo speakers
Sound quality is one of the most important criteria when buying the best portable outdoor radio. If you buy a mono unit, the radio will only have one channel. On the other hand, two channels are required to support stereo, resulting in cleaner, higher-quality sound.
Digital Audio Broadcasting (abbreviated as DAB) is a type of radio transmission that can provide more efficient use of bandwidth than conventional AM or FM bands. If you want to listen to radio stations with better sound quality, check if the radio in question is DAB compatible. It’s also a good insurance policy in case the AM/FM broadcast goes out in the future.
If you’re looking for small pocket radios, portability is probably one of your main concerns. Most portable radios are also known as pocket radios or travel radios. It’s important to note that if the size is a priority, FM AM pocket radios are much more common than DAB pocket radios, which are still making their way into the portable radio market.
Additionally, most portable radios have a 3.5 mm headphone jack. Some of them even come with headphones. This makes these headphone radios affordable and convenient to carry with you on the go.
In the past, Sony radios have been strong in the battery-powered pocket radio or small radio category, but with new competition from the CC. Concerning a pocket one, choosing a radio is no longer so simple. Both Crane’s CC Pocket and Sony’s ICFP26 (see above) are very powerful radios in a small size that can easily be carried in a pocket in our testing.
The battery life of a portable AM, FM, or DAB radio should always be considered when choosing the best product. While you can use the radio at home most of the time, there are times when you’re outdoors, and you’ll probably appreciate a longer radio life.
There are two main types of battery-powered radios: rechargeable radios and radios that use regular single-use A or AA batteries. The first advantage is that you can save battery costs in the long run, and the disadvantage is that you need a charger.
Most portable or small AM-FM radios run on batteries only. Only occasionally do you come across portable AM/FM pocket radios that have AC and DC power cords. Meanwhile, those designed to be carried around and used on a bedside table or couch will almost certainly have an AC adapter.
Waterproofing of the pocket radio is not common, and if any type of water resistance is required, a waterproof handheld radio is needed. Most of the time, waterproof radios are also dustproof, but when cheaper materials are used, the sound delivery of the radio can suffer.
What are the different types of pocket radios?
Pocket radio with manual control
Portable pocket radio only contains news and entertainment updates. It usually has the main interface and is powered by AA batteries. It’s really inconvenient to manage everything manually, but still has a great deal of simplicity, especially for sick people.
Digital pocket radio
A digital pocket radio has the same basic functions but is more advanced and powerful. It works with rechargeable batteries and most of them have the battery status on the LCD screen. There are often more digital keys, but the organization is clear and simple.
The main functions programmed for pocket radio detection are: detection timer, switch lock, digital station search, memory bank detection, etc. They are of the highest quality in radio assembly. This digital gadget can also be a Bluetooth pocket radio.
Why do you need a pocket AM FM radio?
Future moments of not receiving a smartphone signal or charging a laptop in an emergency. Instead, pocket radios work best for long walks. The pocket radio overtly captures the listening experience with AM FM output.
The AM FM Pocket Radio brings a retro feel that’s impossible to separate from public enterprise. In addition to the usual handheld device, there is a digital watch with additional functions such as an LCD display, Bluetooth connection, or an alarm clock, so you can use modern technology with a traditional device.
Compact AM and FM transistor radio for a variety of entertainment options and many real-time broadcasts. You can scan and recognize your favorite stations right on it. This device offers excitement or exercise without having to carry a smartphone.
Tips for using a pocket radio
Increase the height to improve reception. If you’re hiking or camping and can’t find the radio reception level you want, you can try moving up. Radio waves travel in the line of sight, so you may need to increase your altitude (or attach an external antenna if necessary) to get the best reception.
Keep batteries handy for emergencies. If your pocket radio is primarily used for emergency weather forecasting, waiting to check your batteries for lightning is a recipe for failure. Keep fresh batteries on hand and if possible, match your radio batteries with your flashlight batteries, so you always have the right batteries with you.
Use an external speaker to improve the sound quality. The best way to improve the sound quality of the pocket radio is to use an external speaker. Although this does not reduce static electricity, it does improve the sound quality of the built-in speaker.
You’ll need to plug an external speaker into the headphone jack and keep it charged (or keep batteries handy), but the improved sound quality will help you get more fun out of the little radio.
How to improve AM/FM/DAB radio reception
As with cell phones or TV radios, signal quality depends on a variety of factors that you can work with to work on your radio reception. The following are the main factors to consider when trying to improve admission quality:
Get rid of e-waste. Common devices that cause radio interference include CD players, DVD players, set-top boxes, video consoles, microwave ovens, dimmers, and monitors.
Choose the best place. Although the speed of radio transmission approaches the speed of light, brick, concrete, and steel structures can block radio waves. Try to make sure that there is no interference between the radio and the broadcasting tower of your FM music station.
A radio antenna looks good and makes the radio more portable if equipped with an internal antenna. At the same time, the antenna must be as long as possible physically to receive the best, so the external antenna is of great importance.
Stereo FM. Our current FM stereo system was developed in the 1960s to replace the more reliable FM band, which originally carried only a mono signal. Despite the sound quality, the mono signal is clear, stable, and strong.
Are pocket radios worth it?
Whether you’re on a camping trip or just trying to save data or battery on your phone, having a pocket radio is a smart idea. Stay up to date with breaking news and weather reports, or simply tune in to your favorite music station. Pocket radios are small, light, and easy to carry.
What’s the best AM FM pocket radio?
Among the wide range of different reliable radios available in the market today, the best pocket radio is made by Sangean. It is a major brand from the United States and is currently leading the radio market with a variety of optimized consumer electronics including AM FM Pocket Radio with Bluetooth.
What is the best-sounding small radio?
The best-sounding small radio is a Vondior AM/FM pocket radio.
Which pocket radio is best?
C. Crane CC Pocket is a premium handheld portable radio that has more features than most portable radios on the market.
Best pocket radios are sure to help your elderly family members stay entertained and listen to the news without having to explain a lot of complicated technology. I can guarantee that all of the featured radios on this list are worth the money spent for efficient AM FM reception and excellent performance.
What is your personal opinion about this article on the best pocket radios on the market today? I hope you find my personal buying guide as well as many tips based on personal experience when buying a radio useful. Thanks for reading, and I hope the pocket radio you want is the best.
Read also: 7 Best camping radio in 2022