Baofeng BF-888s 70cm Budget Radio Review

Baofeng BF-888s

The Baofeng BF-888s is an inexpensive 70cm radio which is one of the most popular cheap handheld radios in the amateur radio hobby.

These Baofeng BF-888s radios are not what you normally think of when you are talking about amateur radios as they are all but worthless without programming from the computer. You could, in theory, use them right out of the box if you were licensed in virtually every possible radio spectrum.

If you put aside Baofeng BF-888s frequencies that come pre-programmed with which are quite illegal, and just wipe the memory and program it from scratch, it is a fairly capable little radio for less than $20.

I was pretty impressed that when I opened the box I saw not just the Baofeng BF-888s and battery as I expected, but also a drop-in charger and earpiece. While the earpiece was pretty much junk, the drop-in charger was functional and a really nice perk.

Speaking of which, the Baofeng BF-888s battery might be small, but it is more than enough to keep the radio going for the afternoon outing to the antique flea market with the wife.

The Baofeng BF-888s charger is a drop-in type charger which I really like and works well but might need to be secured to the desk where you have them if you are like me in that you want to just grab the radio and yank it out with one hand. That will result in the radio and charging cradle both coming along for the ride.

One major downside is that there is virtually no manual. Sure, there is a little booklet (and that is being generous) that shows you how to turn it on and a few more functions, you are not going to be able to do anything legally with the Baofeng BF-888s without a lot of research online.

Once you figure out how to program the Baofeng BF-888s it turns out to not be as bad a radio as one might think. No, it will never replace a real amateur radio, but it certainly can be a bridge for someone who wants to get into amateur radio on the really cheap. Another fantastic use is for a club to purchase several of them and use them as loaners or training units for people learning the hobby. For their price, they are hard to beat.

The speaker in them is plenty loud enough and clearer than I had expected. When used with another Baofeng BF-888s they work well enough. When used with nicer amateur radios, even the Baofeng UV-5R, they start to show their shortcomings with some pretty terrible audio and some serious splatter all over the spectrum.

If you are looking for an emergency radio that will get your signal out when you really need it, look somewhere else. The signal coming out of these is a hot mess. If you want something to throw in your glove box and play with, maybe. Where it really shines is in a wide-open venue outside and you and your group of friends or family keep in touch. Oh, look! This vendor has the lamp you wanted sweety, come towards the food section, and hang a right, you will see me third table down.

Baofeng BF-888s programming is done using a standard Baofeng style programming cable and the Baofeng bf-888s programming software free download which is the standard CHIRP software. Since there is nothing fancy in the radio, programming is fast and straight forward but there is no Baofeng bf-888s programming manual to speak of.


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Photos

Baofeng BF-888s Test Results:

Screen readability N/A
In-hand feel Good
Included antenna Very Good
Construction quality Good
Belt clip OK
Programmability OK
Transmit audio CLICK TO LISTEN
Maximum power output (2m/70cm) N/A /1.2 watts
Size 212 * 57 * 47 mm
Actual weight 5.6 oz
Baofeng BF-888s manual CLICK TO DOWNLOAD
Programming software CLICK TO DOWNLOAD
Baofeng BF-888s Overall score
Baofeng BF-888s VNA Antenna Test
Baofeng BF-888s VNA Antenna Test – Click to enlarge
Baofeng BF-888s SRD spectrum analysis – Click to enlarge
If you are interested, click here for an article on how I test radios.

 

FEATURES:
  • 16 Channels
  • 400-470MHz
  • Low battery alert
  • CTCSS/CDCSS tones
  • Jacks for external speaker and/or mic
  • 1500mAh Li-ion battery
PROS:
CONS:
  • Works with CHIRP programming software
  • Standard Baofeng cable for programming
  • Includes drop-in charger
  • Extremely inexpensive
  • Can not program from the radio
  • Pre-programed with illegal frequencies
  • Terrible transmit spectrum
  • Low power output

Conclusions

The Baofeng BF-888s is a fantastic radio for what it is meant for which is a very cheap, disposable radio for two or more licensed amateur radio operators to use to keep in touch when you can not, or do not want to carry your real radios.
I originally purchased a pair of these Baofeng BF-888s for my wife and me to carry at large outdoor events where it was entirely possible that a radio could get lost, stolen, or damaged. It was also nice that they weighed almost nothing so I could carry it in a breast pocket or clipped to a collar.
I would never want a Baofeng BF-888s to replace one of my main radios, not even a Baofeng UV-5R, but for what it is intended for, it is a nice little radio.

 

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I hope you enjoyed my Baofeng BF-888s review!

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