Retevis RB22 DMR 70cm Handheld Radio Review

Retevis RB22

Retevis RB22 DMR Radio Review

The Retevis RB22 is billed as a new generation professional radio with advanced digital technology features. At first glance, it appears much like many other Chinese DMR radios. Is it really a professional radio or just another cheap DMR clone?

The first thing I noticed about the Retevis RB22 is there is no keypad. This means you will not be able to program much of it from the keypad and will be required to use their software. The software is available for Windows only as far as I can find, leaving Mac and Linux users out. This is not uncommon today, particularly with radios marketed to businesses so I will not knock them for that.

If you approach the Retevis RB22 as a business radio, there is very little that can be broken off or hang on to something when you brush against an object. Anything that can bang into something seems like it could take a little punishment. Some radios seem like they would just shatter if you treated them roughly, the Retevis RB22 certainly does not fall into that category.

As for the software, the Retevis RB22 comes with (download from their website) DMR-capable software that looks pretty much like all the rest of the inexpensive DMR radio software out there. This probably means all these companies are using the same software skeleton and then tweaking it for their specific radios. This is not necessarily a bad thing as it means more people are looking at it and problems might be caught sooner. It also means that if you are reasonably familiar with the software for one radio manufacturer, switching to the software from another radio manufacturer is a pretty trivial matter.

Grabbing the Retevis RB22 feels pretty good. It has a nice heft and feels more than solid enough for daily use. Small enough to stay out of the way, but large enough to be easy to use makes the radio something I would have no issues carrying and using all day long.

The screen on the Retevis RB22 is a pretty low resolution which is a little disappointing, but it has enough pixels that reading it is not difficult. The colors and brightness are very good so the end result is a pretty nice display. In real-world use, I did not spend much time looking at the screen other than to verify that I was on the right channel which is easy to see. The screen does seem to stay on and not dim like most other radios although this did not seem to drain the battery.

I like the buttons on the Retevis RB22. They feel solid and have a good tactile response. I do not, however, like the knobs on the top as they seem overly stiff. I also could twist the volume knob and sometimes not see the volume indicator on the screen. This happened mainly when I was making a quick change making me think the software is just really laggy in picking up inputs from the volume knob and displaying them. It always changed the volume correctly so it seems to just be a display issue. It is possible that the stiff knobs are to keep them from being changed accidentally, and maybe in a commercial environment that is a plus. For me, personally, not so much.

What I will knock the Retevis RB22 for is that I can not find a replacement charger or battery, even searching the Retevis website. This is an absolute disaster waiting to happen for radios used in commercial environments which is exactly where the Retevis brochures are saying this radio is for. Not that an amateur radio operator would be happy about their battery dying and them not being able to source a replacement either, but at least it wouldn’t potentially shut down part of a business.

I should also mention that the belt clip on the Retevis RB22 seems pretty solid, and easily replaceable. Like the battery and charger, however, replacements mentioning this radio model are nowhere to be found. I have a suspicion that the same clip will fit many different radios so they may just not be marked yet for this radio.

Listening to the speaker the audio sounds pretty good, about as good as you are going to get from the tiny little speaker in one of these. The transmitted audio in digital mode was excellent, but not so good in analog transmissions. In this respect, the Retevis RB22 is not much different than most of the DMR radios in this price range.

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Photos of the Retevis RB22

Test Results:

Screen readability Good
In-hand feel Good
Included antenna Good
Construction quality Good
Belt clip Good
Programmability Good
Transmit audio CLICK TO LISTEN
Frequency accuracy 446.000 @ 446.000
Maximum power output (2m/70cm) 3.5 watts / .4 watts
Actual weight 9.2 oz
Radio manual CLICK TO DOWNLOAD
Programming software CLICK TO DOWNLOAD
Overall score Rating for the Retevis RB22
Retevis RB22 VNA Antenna Test
Retevis RB22 VNA Antenna Test

 

Retevis RB22 SDR spectrum analysis
Retevis RB22 SDR spectrum analysis

 

If you are interested, click here for an article on how I test radios.
FEATURES:
  • Frequency :400-480MHz
  • Channel Zone:16
  • Channel Capacity: 4000 Private Call
  • Group Call
  • All Call
  • Scan
  • DTMF
  • Revive
  • Battery Save Mode
  • One-touch Call
  • Remote Monitor
  • Call Alert
  • Records for 200 hours
  • Prompt Tone On/Off
  • Low Power Voice/Icon Prompt
  • Supports Voice Prompt for Channel Switching or Function-Option
  • Two Programmable Buttons for long pressing are available on the side
PROS:
CONS:
  • The Retevis RB22 is fairly solid build
  • Programming software works well
  • Includes programming cable
  • Very reasonable price
  • Nice color screen
  • IP66 waterproof/dustproof
  • 2-Year warranty on radio
  • No replacement batteries/chargers are available
  • No keypad on the Retevis RB22 (may be a pro for you)
  • 2-Month warranty on accessories

Conclusions

The Retevis RB22 has a lot of competition in the $100ish DMR radio field including the Baofeng DMR-V1, Baofeng DR-1801UV, TYT MD-UV380, Ailunce HD1, and even Retevis’ own RT3s. So the question is, is the Retevis RB22 the best one in the pack?

In my opinion, for amateur radio, the Retevis RB22 is not that great of a choice. For business radio, maybe the Retevis RB22 is something to consider.

I will absolutely say that the Retevis RB22 is a good radio that performs pretty much just as well as any other DMR radio in its price range. For amateur radio operators, radios like the Baofeng DM-1801 and TYT MD-UV380 have batteries, chargers, belt clips, and even cases available for them while also having a full keypad making some programming possible in the field. Not only that but both the Baofeng and TYT are cheaper in most cases than the Retevis RB22.

If you have a Retevis RB22, keep using it! It is a fine radio. If you are an amateur radio operator and haven’t bought one yet you might look into some alternatives before pulling the trigger on the RB22. If you are a business that needs DMR radios then the only real complaint I have is the lack of replacement batteries and chargers, which Retevis may fix. They may already have them for another radio that fits the Retevis RB22.

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Retevis RB22 book
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I hope you enjoyed my review of the Retevis RB22!

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