Baofeng BF-F8HP Dual Band Radio Review

Baofeng BF-F8HP

The Baofeng BF-F8HP is a newer, upgraded, and more powerful version of Baofeng’s famous UV-5R radio. Or is it?

The ads are everywhere on Amazon, eBay, and other online sellers claiming the new Baofeng BF-F8HP is the upgraded version of the UV-5R driving tons of people to buying it instead of the venerable UV-5R since it costs just a tad more. I mean, who doesn’t want a new and improved radio?

That is probably why my book on the Baofeng UV-5R is my best seller followed closely by my book on the Baofeng BF-F8HP. Everyone goes looking for the 5R and some see the ads for the F8HP and buy it instead.

You see where this is going, right?

Yep, you guessed it! Not one single Baofeng BF-F8HP I have ever used, including the few I have bought, has ever lived up to that hype. Let me explain.

The first thing I should probably tell you is that I have never opened either radio up to look at the electronics. I could not really care less if the electronics in the Baofeng BF-F8HP and the Baofeng UV-5R are the same or different. What matters to me is how the radios perform, so that is where I will concentrate.

To start with I have pressed every button and turned the knobs on both radios too many times to count and the only difference I have even been able to tell is that for whatever reason the side buttons on the Baofeng BF-F8HP click at a slightly higher pitch than on the UV-5R. That’s right, they sound slightly different.

In your hand, the two feel identical, probably because even when measured with a digital micrometer, they are within a tenth of a millimeter of each other in every way I could measure. Even the clips are identical so your hand wraps around exactly the same on the Baofeng BF-F8HP as on the UV-5R.

Turning on the Baofeng BF-F8HP beside its brother shows the exact same screen, with the backlight in exactly the same place. Scrolling through the menu options reveals identical menus with identical options. Nothing new to see here.

Now you are saying that sure the Baofeng BF-F8HP looks, acts, and feels the same, it IS the same, just upgraded! Well let’s put that to the test, shall we?

Hooking them both up to my power meter I see the Baofeng UV-5R putting out 3 watts at 146.52Mhz while the Baofeng BF-F8HP puts out a whopping 4.9 watts. What? No, that has to be wrong, unhook everything and try it again. Same results. That has to be a fluke on just the 2m band, what about 70cm? Baofeng UV-5R pushes the needle to 1.4 watts at 446.000Mhz while the mighty Baofeng BF-F8HP buries the needle at 2.5 watts.

So I dig around and find a cheap $30 GY561 power meter. Low and behold! The F8HP shows over 11watts! Of course, the UV-5R shows about 8watts so it seems this little meter reads them both as high.

That same cheap meter shows my Alinco DJ-MD5 at 12watts and my Kenwood TH-D74 at 11watts, both of which are way wrong. LOL! So the only way I have been able to get a Baofeng BF-F8HP to transmit substantially more wattage than its little brother the UV-5R is to use a $30 eBay power meter.

Yes, the Baofeng BF-F8HP is indeed higher power than the UV-5R, but nowhere near what they claim (not at all surprising) and honestly, not enough to get excited about.

But the hits don’t stop there with the Baofeng BF-F8HP either, take a look at the transmissions coming out of this thing. Not only is the transmission dirtier than the UV-5R, but they are also noticeably off frequency. True, they are not off frequency much, but it seems to me if the radio was better, newer, and all that jazz it should be closer to on frequency than its predecessor, no?

How about the transmitted audio quality of the Baofeng BF-F8HP? Check it out for yourself as the MP3 file is down below. Spoiler alert! It is noticeably inferior to the UV-5R. Sad.

This certainly is not the best Baofeng radio out there, not even in the top five, maybe a Baofeng BF-F8HP antenna upgrade would help but I can’t see buying Baofeng accessories just to make it behave like the advertising says. Heck, my Baofeng waterproof UV-9R Plus is a far better radio at almost the same power output!

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Photos

Baofeng BF-F8HP Test Results:

Screen readability Good
In-hand feel Good
Included antenna Very Good
Construction quality Good
Belt clip Good
Programmability Good
Transmit audio CLICK TO LISTEN
Maximum power output (2m/70cm) 4.9 watts / 2.5 watts
Size 263 * 58 * 44 mm
Actual weight 7.6 oz
Baofeng BF-F8HP manual CLICK TO DOWNLOAD
Programming software CLICK TO DOWNLOAD
Baofeng BF-F8HP Overall score
Baofeng BF-F8HP VNA Antenna Test
Baofeng BF-F8HP VNA Antenna Test
Baofeng BF-F8HP SRD spectrum analysis
Baofeng BF-F8HP SRD spectrum analysis
If you are interested, click here for an article on how I test radios.

 

FEATURES:
  • Upgrades from our Previous Generation UV-5R
  • Twice the Output Power (8 watts up from 4 watts output) (so they say, I call BS)
  • New Hardened Durable Radio Shell (feels exactly the same to me)
  • V-85 High Gain Antenna (Twice the Antenna Performance) (again, tests fail to show this)
  • USA Support + In-depth User Guide Included (not in any language I can read)
  • High / Med / Low Power Settings (8W, 4W, 1W)
  • 65-108 MHz(Only commercial FM radio reception)
  • VHF: 136-174 MHz(Rx/Tx)
  • UHF: 400-520 MHz(Rx/Tx)
  • Broad (Wide) / Narrowband (Narrow) Selectable
PROS:
CONS:
  • Uses the same accessories as UV-5R
  • Uses the same programming as UV-5R
  • Only slightly more power than cheaper UV-5R
  • Same feel as cheaper UV-5R
  • Worse audio than cheaper UV-5R

Conclusions

I am sorry but just save your money and buy the UV-5R, there is absolutely no reason to buy a Baofeng BF-F8HP unless you find one for less money than a UV-5R. Even then, spend the extra money and get the UV-5R, just say no to the F8HP.
Let me be really clear here, the Baofeng BF-F8HP is not a bad radio, not at all. In fact, for the money, it is a very good radio. It gets two stars in my rating because everywhere you look, it claims to be something it just isn’t. The other problem is that it costs more than the UV-5R and is not as good of a radio, which makes it a very bad purchase if you have the choice. If you can’t find a UV-5R or were given this radio as a gift, no problem! You can have a lot of fun with this radio!
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I hope you enjoyed my Baofeng BF-F8HP review!

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