Baofeng BF-88ST FRS Radio Review.

Baofeng BF-88ST

Baofeng BF-88ST FRS Radio Review

The cheapest FRS radios Motorola has are their T100 which go for about $29 a pair and sell like hotcakes. Baofeng entered this market, knowingly or not, with their Baofeng BF-888s radios for around $24. The problem was that those radios were illegal for most people to use and made no pretense about it.

Enter the Baofeng BF-88ST, pretty much a BF-888s with a non-removable antenna and pre-programmed frequencies for FRS.

I suspect they took the BF-888s and tweaked it a little to make the Baofeng BF-88ST. Since they were in there permanently attaching the antenna anyway it only made sense to make a couple of adjustments.

The first thing is that they cleaned up the transmitted signal substantially. It no longer looks like an overturned plate of spaghetti on the screen but more like a real radio. My opinion is that they dialed back on the mic gain a tad because the volume of the signal is lower, and there is a little less clipping. Indeed the audio sounds much better, albeit quieter.

I could not test the power output of the Baofeng BF-88ST as I could not connect my meter in place of the antenna. Judging from what I see in the spectrum, and how it act talking to other nearby radios, I would guess that the power output is close to the same as the BF-888s, around 1 to 1.5 watts.



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Test Results:

Screen readability N/A
In-hand feel Good
Included antenna Good
Construction quality Reasonable
Belt clip Good
Programmability N/A
Transmit audio CLICK TO LISTEN
Frequency accuracy 442.563 @ 442.5625
Maximum power output (2m/70cm) .5 watts (untested)
Actual weight 5.2 oz
Programming software CLICK TO DOWNLOAD
Overall score
Baofeng BF-88ST spectrum analysis
Baofeng BF-88ST spectrum analysis


If you are interested, click here for an article on how I test radios.
  • Frequency Range: FRS
  • Output Power: 2W/0.5W (High/Low)
  • Battery Capacity: 1500mAh Li-ion
  • Channel: 16 pre-programmed channels
  • Working Temperature: -10°C … +50°C
  • Squelch Selectivity: < 0.2 μV
  • Working Voltage: DC 3.7V
  • Audio Power: 1W
  • Pre-programmed for FRS
  • More power output than some FRS radios
  • Cheap (I don’t mean inexpensive)
  • No programming cable included
  • No ability to use standard batteries


Would I buy these Baofeng BF-88ST radios instead of something like the Motorola T100? Nope.

I know, you expected me say that they would be good if you were an amateur radio operator and wanted something that could do both amateur radio and FRS, right? Not even.

The Motorola radios are far superior in the transmitted signal, the audio quality is superior, better features right out of the box, they have an LCD screen, and use standard batteries. The only place the Baofeng BF-88ST has the upper hand, aside from being $5 cheaper per pair, is that you can buy a programming cable (there goes your savings, and then some) and add features that the Motorola radios just can’t do.

If I wanted something for amateur radio and wanted to be cheap, I would just get the BF-888s instead of the Baofeng BF-88ST because I could put a much better antenna on them to give them a little more range.

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I hope you enjoyed my review of the Baofeng BF-88ST!

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2 thoughts on “Baofeng BF-88ST FRS Radio Review.”

  1. Hi, I really appreciate this review.

    You said that you would prefer the Moto T100 over the BF-88st, but you do not say why. And I was unable to find a T100 review on your site. Do you have one?

    Also, you spec the BF-88st at 0.5 watts; is this correct? The OEM spec says 2.0 watts. In addition, your review states that you estimated the actual power output as between 1.0 and 1.5 watts.

    Otherwise, very helpful review. I have a friend who does car club road trips. He refuses to get a ham license, or even a GMRS license. So I am trying to find a good modern FRS radio to recommend over his old (but good) Midland LXT-114. Thanks.

    • I do, or have owned pretty much the entire range of Motorola FRS radios at some point in time. Yes, I do say why, right in the article “The Motorola radios are far superior in the transmitted signal, the audio quality is superior, better features right out of the box, they have an LCD screen, and use standard batteries.”

      I specify the radios at 2w on high, and .5 on low, and if I remember correctly all the FRS channels are programmed on low from the factory so .5w it is. When I talk about estimating the actual power output, I say “Judging from what I see in the spectrum, and how it acts talking to other nearby radios”. There is no measurement going on here, just a comparison with other radios I have laying around.


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