Yaesu FT-65R Dual Band 2m/70cm Radio Review

Yaesu FT-65R

The Yaesu FT-65R is a Chinese made dual-band radio at about half the price of their famous FT-60R. How does it stack up? Read on to find out!

Yaesu has made some fantastic radios in their day, including the current FT-60R and FT-270R, two of my favorite radios. While inexpensive Chinese radios have taken over the handheld market, they have decided to wade into the market with a few new radios such as this Yaesu FT-65R at a much lower price point than their FT-60R.

First, the Yaesu FT-65R in my opinion is not meant to compete with radios like the Baofeng UV-5R, but to give you a stepping stone between those $40 Baofengs and the $160 FT-60Rs. Putting this radio at around $85 does just that.

So what do you get for your money with the Yaesu FT-65R? To start with, if you pick up the UV-5R, FT-65R, and then FT-60R you will see a clear progression of quality and heft. I would say that you get a much larger jump in quality from the UV-5R to the FT-65R than from the Yaesu FT-65R to the FT-60R.

Looking at the screen you will see one area where the Yaesu FT-65R outshines it’s older brother the FT-60R, sort of. The numbers and symbols are sharper, clearer, and use no spaces like on the older FT-60R. The light blue backlight is also nicer than the old orange, although it is nowhere near as evenly lit.

The bad part of the screen on the Yaesu FT-65R is that it is smaller than the FT-60R which is unfortunate. If they had made it the same size they would have had a real winner.

Programming the Yaesu FT-65R is a little different from other Yaesu classics and more like the traditional Chinese radios available today. Instead of having an F key and then secondary functions right on the keypad (in a different color, usually orange) you press and hold the F key on the side under the PTT button and hold it. Then a menu pops up and you can use the arrow keys to scroll through the options. This makes it far slower and more cumbersome to program from the keypad in the field than the FT-60R.

Just like the FT-60R, the Yaesu FT-65R can be programmed in the freely available CHIRP software so that portion is nice and easy.

The battery on both is about the same size while the Yaesu FT-65R has more power, it also has a seriously terrible latch system which is a pain to release under regular conditions, and in the dark and particularly in emergency conditions, it will make you want to put the radio in a blender. The old clamp system on the FT-60R is wonderful even if you are in the back of a truck at night driving down a dirt road.

The weak point in the Yaesu FT-65R is the transmitted signal. The audio sounds like you are talking in a can, in many cases has a loud hum, and just plain sounds like trash. I can forgive a lot in a radio that is not supposed to be a top of the line radio, but it is sad that they failed here when so much more of the radio is so very good.

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Photos

Yaesu FT-65R Test Results:

Screen readability Excellent
In-hand feel Very Good
Included antenna Very Good
Construction quality Very Good
Belt clip Very Good
Programmability Good
Transmit audio CLICK TO LISTEN
Maximum power output (2m/70cm) 3.1 watts/3.5 watts
Size 265 * 62 * 48 mm
Actual weight 9.8 oz
Yaesu FT-65R manual CLICK TO DOWNLOAD
Programming software CLICK TO DOWNLOAD
Yaesu FT-65R Overall score
Yaesu FT-65R VNA Antenna Test
Yaesu FT-65R VNA Antenna Test
Yaesu FT-65R SRD spectrum analysis
Yaesu FT-65R SRD spectrum analysis
If you are interested, click here for an article on how I test radios.

 

FEATURES:
  • Three Selectable TX Power settings (5 W (High)/2.5 W (Middle)/0.5 W (Low))
  • Supplied with 1,950 mAh Li-Ion Battery pack
  • 3.5-Hour Rapid Charger Included
  • Quick Recall Key
  • Four User Programmable Keys for Quick Access to Favorite Functions
  • Compact Design
  • Rugged Construction
  • Meets IP54 Rating For Dust/Water protection
  • MIL-810-C, D, and E
  • Very Powerful Audio Output and Clear Audio from the Big Front Speaker – 5 Watts Output
  • Large Built-In White LED Flashlight
  • Alarm
  • Quick Home Channel Access
  • Programmed VFO Scan
  • Memory Scan
  • Priority Channel Scan
  • Weather Alert Scan
  • WX Channels with “Severe Weather” Alert
  • FM Broadcast Receiver Also Built In
  • ARTS (Automatic Range Transponder System)
  • DTMF Operation
  • CTCSS/DCS Operation
  • Busy Channel Lock-Out (BCLO)
  • Battery Saver Function
  • Automatic Power-Off (APO) Feature
PROS:
CONS:
  • Excellent screen
  • Well built
  • Good speaker output
  • Battery release is horrible
  • Poor transmitted signal

Conclusions

The Yaesu FT-65R is kind of an odd bird, blending some of the inexpensive Chinese radios with the high-end of the Japanese radios. As hard as it is, the radio needs to be judged on its own. Sure, comparing the Yaesu FT-60R vs FT-65R shows that the 65R is far less of a radio, but it is far more of a radio than radios like the Baofengs. That really only matters when talking about where it fits in price-wise.
On its own, the Yaesu FT-65R is a good radio at its price point. If you want something a lot nicer than the cheap Chinese radios but really don’t want to spend over $150 on a handheld radio, and don’t need digital modes, this might be the perfect radio for you. On the other hand, for $50 more you could get the Yaesu FT-70DR or the FT-60R, both of which are superior radios in virtually every way, particularly in audio quality.
If you think this radio is interesting, you might also check out my Yaesu FT-65R vs FT-4XR article.
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I hope you enjoyed my Yaesu FT-65R review!

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