Baofeng DM-5R Plus Dual Band DMR Radio Review

Baofeng DM-5R Plus

The Baofeng DM-5R Plus is a dual-band (2m/70cm) DMR radio based on the venerable UV-5R. It is also, as of this writing, the cheapest way to get into DMR out there at under $60.

Baofeng’s UV-5R is probably the most popular handheld radio of all time. It is hard to find someone in this hobby who doesn’t own one or hasn’t played with one. This gave me high hopes for the Baofeng DM-5R Plus as the cheapest Baofeng DMR radio. I should also be specific here, this is the Baofeng DM-5R v3 2018 model.

When I received the Baofeng DM-5R Plus it came in a box with accessories that looked just like UV-5Rs I have received in the past. They added a programming cable, a larger battery, and what looks like a nicer antenna. It seriously looks like a UV-5R with a new sticker on the bottom front. Don’t bother with the Baofeng manual, if it is even there it is useless.

Once you turn the Baofeng DM-5R Plus on, however, you do not see the same screen. It is close, but the font is smaller and thicker than on their other products. Then the fun really begins as you see a completely different menu system that is substantially slower than all my other Baofeng radios.

I am wondering if there is not a single company that makes software for a lot of these DMR radios as the main display and menu structure on the Baofeng DM-5R Plus is incredibly similar to the Radioddity GD-77 and both of those radios remind me a lot of the menus on the TYT MD380.

Both the Radioddity and TYT radios are about $30-$40 more expensive than this Baofeng DM-5R Plus and while the Radioddity has a slightly larger screen so it is easier to read it is otherwise no better of a radio. The TYT however has a lot of advantages over both the other radios, not the least of which is a much bigger nicer full-color screen.

One nice thing is that if you have used the Radioddity DMR software, you have a general idea of the Baofeng DM-5R programming software, just make it a little worse and you know what to expect. How is it worse? Just start with some items in the list on the left not being translated to English and go from there. I have to admit, this is the first time I have used any Baofeng programming software.

As you can see the programming software is probably provided as part of the deal from whoever they buy the radio firmware from as it is almost identical. Except of course for the whole Chinese writing thing. That aside, the software works well enough and I really did not have any issues using it to program analog and digital stations.

If you are sensing at this point that I am not a fan of the Baofeng DM-5R Plus, you are correct. I had really hoped it would be basically a UV-5R with DMR capabilities. It falls far short of that mark on many fronts. If you really want into DMR cheap, and plan on using it in your shack connected to a hotpot then it might be a reasonable choice for you.

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Photos

Baofeng DM-5R Plus Test Results:

Screen readability Good
In-hand feel Good
Included antenna Very Poor
Construction quality Good
Belt clip Good
Programmability Poor
Transmit audio CLICK TO LISTEN
Maximum power output (2m/70cm) 2.6 watts / 2 watts
Size 303 * 58 * 43 mm
Actual weight 7.6 oz
Baofeng DM-5R Plus manual CLICK TO DOWNLOAD
Programming software CLICK TO DOWNLOAD
Baofeng DM-5R Plus Overall score
Baofeng DM-5R Plus VNA Antenna Test – Click to enlarge
Baofeng DM-5R Plus SRD spectrum analysis – Click to enlarge
If you are interested, click here for an article on how I test radios.

 

FEATURES:
  • DMR Tier I & II with MOTOTRBO
  • 64 groups ,1024 channels
  • 2000mAh high-capacity Battery
PROS:
CONS:
  • Cheapest DMR radio out there
  • Familiar and proven design
  • Includes upgraded battery
  • Includes drop-in charger
  • Includes programming cable
  • Uses UV-5R accessories inc batteries
  • Horrible signal output
  • Terrible antenna
  • Poor programming software
  • Poor menu system on the radio

Conclusions

If you are wanting to get into DMR digital radio as cheap as possible, the Baofeng DM-5R Plus is the radio for you. The antenna is junk on 2m but most hotspots are on 70cm anyway. I am not sure I would replace the antenna even though it feels like it will come apart any second, mainly because the analog signal the radio produces is so horrible a new antenna probably won’t do any good anyway.
All of that being said, it does just fine on DMR. Want a cheap way to add DMR to your ham shack and don’t plan on spending a lot of time using it? Then the Baofeng DM-5R Plus might be the perfect solution but if it was something I was going to carry I believe I would look elsewhere.
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I hope you enjoyed my Baofeng DM-5R Plus review!

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