Baofeng BF-X3 plus Review
The Baofeng BF-X3 plus is another model in the UV-9x and BF-A58 family with two big differences: a claimed significantly larger battery and three working bands. Is that the only difference and is that really a big step forward? Let’s find out.
I will be mainly comparing this Baofeng BF-X3 plus to my Baofeng UV-9R plus to see how it stacks up as I have the most experience with it. Notes on the differences with the BF-A58 will also be noted where observed.
The first thing I notice visually about the Baofeng BF-X3 plus is that it lacks the shield around the volume knob that both the 9R and A58 have. This is sorely missed as when on my belt, radios without the shield tend to get their volume changed often as I move around. With that little shield that never happens.
The buttons on the Baofeng BF-X3 plus are much like the A58 in that they are white and blue. This is being a little picky but I much prefer the white, yellow, blue, and red of the 9R. Having those extra colors helps you orient yourself on the keypad quicker in poor conditions such as low light or in a storm.
Speaking of storms, the Baofeng BF-X3 plus claims to be IP67 waterproof. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t, but I can tell you that I have a lot more confidence in my 9R than this radio. The 9R has a special seal over the programming port and requires a special cable that does not penetrate the body of the radio, keeping the waterproof seal. This radio just has the same old little rubber flap which doesn’t feel waterproof at all.
With three bands, the Baofeng BF-X3 plus seems to pull one off on the old A58 and 9R, but as far as I am concerned, that is just a marketing trick as no one I know of actually uses the 220 band. I suppose you could say that band gives you some added privacy since there is virtually no one on it.
The price you pay for having that third band is that the antenna goes from the typical not-bad Baofeng antenna to a pretty horrible one. It tries really hard to be usable on three bands, and it is, but the capabilities it gives to the 220 band, it takes from the 145 and 440 bands.
The quality of the transmitted signal of the Baofeng BF-X3 plus is incrementally better than either the 9R or A58 which I think is due to a microphone that has been turned down substantially. While the audio it sends out is noticeably clearer with none of the edge clipping that both the 9R and A58 exhibit, it is substantially quieter. I think they went a little too far and should have left it up a little. The audio in both the A58 and 9R, while a little overdriven, was still pretty good and plenty loud considering the price point.
Speaking of price, the Baofeng BF-X3 plus can be found online for somewhere in the $40 range today, whereas the 9R is about $35.
|Transmit audio||CLICK TO LISTEN|
|Frequency accuracy||146.520 @ 146.521|
|Maximum power output (2m/70cm)||3 watts / 1.1 watts|
|Actual weight||9.2 oz|
|Programming software||CLICK TO DOWNLOAD|
Unfortunately, the Baofeng BF-X3 plus looks like another attempt to juggle things around and sell yet another radio. There is nothing special here, your money is better spent on a Baofeng UV-9R plus.
To recap, the UV-9R has a better clip, volume knob shield, appears much more waterproof, feels more rugged, has a multi-colored keypad, includes a better antenna, and is cheaper. I could go on, but why.