The Baofeng UV-5R5 is an interesting variant on the popular UV-5R. I was not very impressed with its improvements but maybe you will be. Read on to see why!
Just from the pictures of the Baofeng UV-5R5 I wanted to try it if for no other reason than I really liked the lime green letters on the keys on the front. Even in crummy pictures, I could see they were easier to read than on a standard UV-5R so I wanted to see how the rest of the radio stacked up.
Since the keys on the front of the Baofeng UV-5R5 are what initially drew me to it, let’s start there. If you put this radio up against most of the other Baofeng radios that have the blue letters on the keypad this one is indeed far easier for my old eyes to read. If you move up to the two green keys with white letters however, that just doesn’t work and they are much harder to read. The should have made the letters on the two green buttons on the Baofeng UV-5R5 black instead of white.
I also do not like how the VFO/MR key no longer has a ridge around it. This makes the Baofeng UV-5R5 harder to slip in and out of a pocket. It seems like such a little change, so insignificant until you have to live with it. Amazing.
As for the keys, buttons, and knob on the Baofeng UV-5R5, they all seem like the same ones that are on most other Baofeng radios, working very well and as you would expect. These buttons, keys, and the knob is probably the most carried over parts from all their radios because they work well and so far have been very reliable.
The one big detractor from the Baofeng UV-5R5 is the faceplate around the LCD. Not only is it shiny and I really don’t like shiny on a radio face, but it also is mounted in such a way as to cut off the bottom of the letters and numbers on the LCD. When I first saw this I wanted to write it off as a defect in the individual radio, but I saw the same thing on another UV-5R5. Of course, the radio is still perfectly usable, it is just a little annoying.
My next problem with this radio is the antenna. For whatever reason, they decided to include a strange antenna with the Baofeng UV-5R5 and if you look at the VNA test results below you will begin to see what I mean. Yes, there are two dips around the 145Mhz mark but that isn’t what worries me. In 99% of my VNA tests, because of the way I test them, the marker for 145Mhz is to the right of the prominent dip for that frequency. When I now see it with the Baofeng UV-5R5 to the left of that dip that tells me that this antenna is not resonant at 2m worth a flip in comparison to other antennas I have tested.
Baofeng UV-5R5 programming either from the keypad or the freely available CHIRP software is exactly the same as any other Baofeng radio. In fact, it has the exact same menu options as my BF-F8+ and UV-5R.
If you compare the Baofeng UV-5R5 vs UV-5R there isn’t just that much difference. Much like when I compared the UV-5R vs UV-5RA. It is a good, reliable, inexpensive radio. It feels pretty good in the hand and is a great value for a beginner’s radio.
The Baofeng UV-5R5 is a good radio, but I think you would be better served by buying a different model of the UV-5R. Personally, I think the BF-F8+ is the best variant of this radio currently available.
On the other hand, if you bought the Baofeng UV-5R5 or just really like that lime green button colors (it is cool on the lower keypad), there is nothing wrong here. Use it and enjoy it!