Baofeng BF-E90 440MHz Handheld Radio Review

Baofeng BF-E90

Baofeng BF-E90 Review

The Baofeng BF-E90 is a small, pocket-sized, 73cm 440MHz radio just starting to appear online (as of this writing it is only available directly from China and not available on Amazon, although that should change soon). It appears to be a cheaper model of the BF-T1, missing some of the buttons and the screen. The BF-T1 wasn’t a great radio, but it was pretty nice for something the can fit in your shirt pocket and not look like a radio.

Can the Baofeng BF-E90 do the same thing? Let’s look.

The first thing we notice about the Baofeng BF-E90 is that it is small and light, one of the smallest and lightest radios in its class. This is good for throwing into your bag or putting in your shirt pocket, but a little too small to fit into my hand well.

Of course, the Baofeng BF-E90 isn’t a radio I would really spend a lot of time talking on so the feeling in my hand is not as important as it would be with a more serious radio.

The belt clip is remarkably good for its size, I like it a lot better than the one on the BF-T1. Not that the Baofeng BF-E90 needs a beefier clip, but it is a lot easier to get on and off your belt or whatever else you want to clip it to. I find it is great to clip on to the strap of a bag if you are carrying, or clip it to the outside of your front pants pocket. The spring-clip makes this a whole lot easier.

When I started playing around with the Baofeng BF-E90 I expected to find some functionality with the MENU and EXIT buttons on the front, and I am still trying to figure them out. I have been unable to make them “do” anything and there is no mention of them in the so-called manual.

On other radios from Baofeng of this type, there is a second knob on top to allow you to change channels. This Baofeng BF-E90 removes that and gives you an up and down arrow on the front which does the same job. In fact, I much prefer this approach to the knob as it is less likely for me to accidentally change the channel I am working on. The voice used in this radio makes it perfectly clear which channel I am on.

When it comes to performance, the Baofeng BF-E90 doesn’t fair very well. The transmit power was so low I had to triple check my connections and power meter to make sure there wasn’t a problem. There was a problem, the radio is just weak. My best result was .4w, that’s right, point four watts on high power. Low power barely moved the needle on my meter.

When looking at the spectrum, the Baofeng BF-E90 has a pretty good output signal. Cleaner and smoother than the BF-T1 by a pretty good amount. Of course, that is easy to do when you have half the power and a mic that has its gain turned way down. So far down that the received audio is far too quiet, albeit quite clear. If you want to use this radio in a noisy area, even with an earpiece, it may be difficult to hear.

Programming with CHIRP is straightforward and easy as the Baofeng BF-E90 uses the standard BF-888s connection settings and a standard Baofeng programming cable. Just like the 888s, the default frequencies are illegal for use in the US and appear to be a collection of commercial and emergency frequencies. Keep this in mind if you purchase the radio, you will need to program it before using it, and of course, you will need an amateur radio license.

A bright spot is that the antenna that they ship with the Baofeng BF-E90 is a monoband antenna that is actually reasonably good for its size. No, it is no Diamond SRH77CA, but for the price and size, it is pretty remarkable. Most of the antennas I test on these cheap Chinese radios are dual, tri, or even quad-band (yes on single-band radios) and are pretty miserable, even when taking into account size and price.

 

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Photos

Test Results:

Screen readability N/A
In-hand feel Acceptable
Included antenna Good
Construction quality Good
Belt clip Good
Programmability Good
Transmit audio CLICK TO LISTEN
Frequency accuracy 446.000 @ 446.000
Maximum power output (2m/70cm) N/A / .4 watts
Actual weight 3.9 oz
Radio manual N/A
Programming software CLICK TO DOWNLOAD
Overall score
Baofeng BF-E90 VNA test
Baofeng BF-E90 VNA Antenna Test

 

Baofeng BF-E90 spectrum analysis
Baofeng BF-E90 spectrum analysis

 

If you are interested, click here for an article on how I test radios.
FEATURES:
  • Frequency Range : 400-470MHz
  • Channels : 16
  • Power Output(L/H) : 2W
  • Power Supply : 3.7V 1500mah Li-ion Battery Pack
  • Dimension : 113 x 53 x 25 mm (including antenna)
  • Weight : 105g(including battery)
  • Charge port: Micro USB
  • Audio port: K type
PROS:
CONS:
  • Small
  • Light
  • Nice belt clip
  • Removable antenna
  • Cheap, really cheap
  • Weak power output
  • Weak audio output
  • Virtually no functionality without software

Conclusions

Between this Baofeng BF-E90 and the Baofeng BF-T1 I would have to go with the latter. I just can’t find a lot of reason to save a little money and go with this radio.

If I really needed to save money I would probably go with the ArcShell AR6 over the Baofeng BF-E90 as it is all around a nicer radio. But then the ArcShell won’t really fit in a shirt pocket and weighs a little more.

I guess I would have to say that, in my opinion, you should steer clear of the Baofeng BF-E90 unless you have a specific reason for using it. I think the BF-T1 is all around a better choice even if it does cost a little more money.

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I hope you enjoyed my review of the Baofeng BF-E90!

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