10 Best DMR Radio Reviews: Top Dual Band Handheld and Digital Mobile Radios of 2021

The best DMR radios in the market are dual-band handheld and mobile radios. The clearest communication, security, and simple operation make them hot selling two-way radios. But finding a quality Digital Mobile Radio(DMR) is not that easy. There are a lot of products in the market and you can’t know which will work best for you. You might need expert advice to get the right DMR for you. But you don’t have to worry. We have tested 30+ radios to bring you the top 10 best dual band DMR radios in 2021. Our recommendations come from leading brands like BTECH, Anytone, BaoFeng, etc. The testing has revealed that the best and most advanced dual band DMR radio is BTECH DMR 6X2. It is the right choice for advanced radio users. We have reviewed all the 10 top picks so that you can choose the right DMR based on your requirement, budget, etc.

Best DMR Radio Reviews

The top 10 DMR to buy in 2021 are:

  1. BTECH DMR-6X2- Best DMR(Dual Band) in the Market
  2. AnyTone AT-D878UV- Best Premium DMR Radio
  3. Radioddity GD-77- Top Choice for Business Use
  4. Baofeng DM-1701- Best Budget DMR
  5. TYT MD-380- Best Single Band DMR
  6. Retevis RT90- Best Mobile DMR Radio
  7.  Ailunce HD1- Feature-rich HT DMR
  8.  TYT MD-9600- Best Waterproof Handheld DMR
  9. TYT MD-UV380- Top Entry Level DMR
  10. Retevis RT84- Cheap Choice
  • Multiple power settings (7W VHF/6W UHF, 5W, 2.5W, 1W)
  • Versatile dual-band handset
  • Stores 4,000 Channels and 200,000 Contacts
  • Built-in GPS and audio recorder

2. AnyTone AT-D878UV

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  • Built-in Bluetooth
  • Customizable display
  • 6-watt UHF and 7-watt VHF transmit power
  • 200,000 digital contact list capacity

3. Radioddity GD-77

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  • It functions well with hotspot/repeater
  • Dual-band capabilities
  • 1,024 channels and 10,921 individual contacts
  • 18-months warranty

4. Baofeng DM-1701

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  • SMS function Dual-mode (DMR and analog modes)
  • Includes PTT earpiece and programming cable
  • Lifetime free update and support
  • Includes USB Programming Cable
  • Color LCD, built-in CTCSS/DCS
  • Compatible with MotoTRBO
  • Utilizes Time-Division Multi-Access (TDMA) technology

6. Retevis RT90

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  • Supports audio recording for up to eight hours
  • Compatible with Motorola tier 1&2 radios
  • Emergency alarm and VOX
  • Dual time slots

7. Ailunce HD1

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  • Long standby time
  • Group call function for secure team communications
  • IP67 Waterproof
  • 3,000 channels and 200,000 contacts

8. TYT MD-9600

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  • In-built GPS and VOX functions
  • Fully upgradable firmware
  • Compatible with MotoTRBO Tier II
  • 3,000 channels 10,000 contacts

9. TYT MD-UV380

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  • Up to 3,000 channels
  • Includes programming cable GPS functions
  • Dual-mode digital/analog transmit

10. Retevis RT84

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  • True dual-slot DMR radio
  • Up to 3-miles talk range
  • High capacity battery
  • Supports general and silent alarms

1.       BTECH DMR-6X2

BTECH DMR-6X2 is the best dual band DMR radio to buy in 2021. It is a well-built handset, which shows in its build quality and design. It has a fantastic display, which holds the entire DMR database. With the latest update, you can also choose between black and white or blue screens. The DMR comes with GPS and recording features. As a fantastic all-rounder, it is an ideal handset for reliable communication.

BTECH DMR-6X2
DMR-6X2 is the most advanced radio that BTECH has put out yet. It is the right of choice for amateur and commercial use, with a fairly intuitive user interface.

Pros

  • Extended battery life
  • Loud and clear audio
  • Bright display
  • Includes programming cable

Cons

  • The sound is too loud

In terms of audio performance, BTECH DMR-6X2 ranks at the top. TX and RX audio on the unit is pretty fantastic, with no squelch on analog. Besides the build quality and audio, the radio is also pretty feature-rich:

  • Programmable side keys
  • Tier 1 and 2 Compliant
  • Large, TFT color display
  • Upgradeable firmware

You also need easy-to-use software when it comes to DMR technology. Fortunately, BTECH’s CPS software is pretty great in that area. There’s also plenty of support in terms of instructions on how to program the transceiver. In conclusion, DMR-6X2 has a good value and is perfect for all your DMR/analog needs!

2.       AnyTone AT-D878UV

The best premium DMR radio to buy is AnyTone AT-D878UV. Although a bit costly, it is a high-end DMR transceiver that comes with advanced features. The best features of the radio are the Bluetooth connectivity and APRS transmit. The radio also offers a maximum range for any HT with its 7 Watt power. The dual-band DMR has a sleek design, rich audio, along with a handful of smart features.

AnyTone AT-D878UV
The AnyTone DMR radio offers premium features at a premium price tag. This is the ideal DMR for advanced users.

Pros

  • Multi-color and easy-to-read display
  • Superior build quality
  • Large battery capacity
  • Clear and crisp sound

Cons

  • Programming takes a bit getting used to

The multi-color display is the best part about AT-D878UV, making information accessible, easy to read, and clear. Construction-wise, this is a solid piece of gear. Another notable feature is that there is plenty of memory storage for channels, talk groups, and contact IDs. Furthermore, AT-D878UV’s audio quality is outstanding, and the battery seems to last forever. This dual-band DMR radio is perfect for use outdoor, all thanks to its waterproof construction.

As DMR technology can be slightly complicated, you need software that is easy to operate. Bridgecom’s programming software (Windows-only) is free and a pleasure to use. Let me cut to the chase. If you’re willing and prepared to put in the work required by a dual-band DMR radio, the AT-D878UV worth every penny spent!

3.       Radioddity GD-77

The best DMR to get for business use is Radioddity GD-77. It’s a dual band dual slot DMR which is incredibly impressive for its size and price. The Tier 1 and Tier 2 compliant radio is a good first DMR to own. Compared to the rivals, the sound is some next-level stuff for both DMR and analog

Radioddity GD-77
Radioddity’s GD-77 is a fine business DMR that is also a good choice as first DMR!

Pros

  • Solid and rugged
  • No-frills, easy programming software
  • Durable belt clip
  • Audio is rich for both DMR and analog

Cons

  • Minor firmware bugs

If you’re looking for a premium DMR-capable radio, you are spoilt for choice these days. With a plethora of options, one that stands out the most is Radioddity’s GD-77. Here’s why:

  • Promiscuous mode
  • Updatable software
  • Quick dial features
  • Dual-time slot tier 1 & 2

This dual-band radio works just as well for amateur use as it does for commercial purposes. It operates on both VHF and UHF bands and comes with a variable frequency oscillator to fine-tune the frequencies. Additionally, the radio boasts a capacity of 1,024 channels, allowing you to communicate with multiple groups within your range. With Radioddity, you get a flawless system with no-frills programming software. However, we did face a few minor firmware bugs, but those got resolved through the periodical updates.

Overall, if you want to get started with DMR without spending much, this radio is the way to go! I’m completely satisfied with the incredibly sturdy construction and receiver sensitivity on the Radioddity GD-77.

4.       Baofeng DM-1701 – Low-cost option

Baofeng DM-1701
Touting smart features like SMS, DTMF, VFO, and manual programming, BaoFeng DM-1701 is bound to please most people! It boasts the characteristics of a high-end DMR radio but without the premium cost!

Pros

  • Solid hardware construction
  • Easy to use programming software
  • Bright and easy to read display
  • Decent sound quality and battery life

Cons

  • Slightly low volume on the DMR side

Competing with elite transceivers like BTECH DMR-6X2 and AnyTone AT-D878UV, BaoFeng DM-1701 doesn’t disappoint. It performs well in both analog and digital modes. On the whole, it’s a sleek system with dual-band capabilities and multiple other pros. You receive the usual accessories like an antenna, desktop charger, wrist strap, and belt clip in the package. Also included with the DM-1701 is a free programming cable.

As with any standard radio, this one also comes with multiple power settings. I recommend setting the handset at 1-watt with your DMR hotspot to save battery. You can use 2-watts near a repeater and 5-watts if you are on edge.

In terms of exterior, the radio appears to be ruggedly built and well-made for the price. The display is bright and quite easy to read, too. The volume is strong too! The BaoFeng DM-1701 also impresses with its battery life, which I found to be quite long-lasting. My only con would be the lower volume on the DMR side. Other than this minor drawback, it’s a solid all-rounder at a low price point.

5.       TYT MD-380 – Best single-band

TYT MD-380
MD-380’s combination of sturdy construction and fantastic sound at a lower price make it an irresistible single-band DMR radio purchase.

Pros

  • Inexpensive
  • Awesome range and sound quality
  • Well-built and tough handheld unit
  • Compact and lightweight

Cons

  • Programming is cumbersome

TYT offers an affordable way to jump into DMR without committing hundreds of dollars! The MD-380 is a UHF transceiver with a range and sound quality like that of a high-end device. One exciting feature of this TYT radio was the extendable antenna, which delivers exceptional signal coverage. You’ll have no trouble reaching people on the other side. Construction-wise, it feels quite strongly built. Having dropped the unit a few times, I can safely say that it won’t crack or break that easily. It’s also quite lightweight and durable, perfect for everyday commercial use. 

Overall, programming this radio does seem a bit complicated; however, Tytera offers plenty of customer support. You can also look for help online or within local radio groups. If you need a device that holds well in hand and delivers quality audio, buy this DMR radio! Here’s what you can expect from the TYT MD-380:

  • Priority scan and voice prompts
  • Built-in CTCSS/DCS
  • Color LCD
  • Text messages

6.       Retevis RT90 – Mobile DMR

Retevis RT90
The Retevis RT90 is a hugely satisfying mobile DMR performer in so many areas. Between functioning and quality, it makes plenty of sense!

Pros

  • Software is easy to work with
  • Clear transmissions
  • Exceptional range
  • Brand tech-support

Cons

  • Lacks remote head

The RT90 mobile transceiver by Retevis is well-made and worth the extra cost, as long as you’re looking to use DMR while on the road. If you’re after a DMR rig that is different and a little bigger, you must check this one out. RT90 is a flexible mobile unit that delivers excellent voice communications and a path to rich and crisp digital voice communications. Versatile and powerful, RT90 combines the best of amateur radio functionality with the latest digital and analog technology!

In terms of tech support, Retevis is completely reliable and prompt. The best part, though, is that you won’t need any help with this device. The software with this radio was quite easy to work with, and I could reach repeaters 50-miles away! The only downside, however, is that the software is not compatible with Mac computers.

7.       Ailunce HD1 – Rich-featured HT

Ailunce HD1
Ailunce HD1 has it all. The sleek and slim design makes the handset feel super-premium, while the internal specs make it customers’ top choice!

Pros

  • Impressive build quality
  • Extraordinary battery life
  • Easy to setup
  • Crisp and loud sound

Cons

  • Scanning could be quicker

The Ailunce HD1 is the perfect DMR radio for all kinds of adventures. With a lightweight exterior and top-notch specs, it’s currently one of the unbeatable transceivers. This handset offers cutting-edge features like waterproof construction, high-capacity batteries, and a clear display at a mid-range price point. Other functions that you may expect are GPS and SMS.

This extremely practical model delivers amazing results regardless of the surrounding environment. The range is certainly impressive for its size and price. To make it even better, it’s got an emergency alarm to prepare you for unforeseen situations.

The best aspect that makes HD1 worth buying is the incredible battery life. It lasts close to 160-hours on standby, making it an ideal choice for outdoor activities. You can achieve almost all function settings via the keypad without connecting Ailunce HD1 to a computer. It helps save time and effort!

  • Secure team communications via group call
  • Dual-time slot
  • DTMF keyboard dialing
  • Edit/delete priority contacts via keypad

8.       TYT MD-9600 – Waterproof mobile transceiver

TYT MD-9600
MD-9600 excels at delivering crystal-clear audio and smart features. It is a polished bit of hardware, both inside and out!

Pros

  • Clean transmissions
  • Sturdy PTT
  • Decent RF sensitivity
  • Simple to use while driving

Cons

  • Slow scan

You can probably tell we’re big fans of TYT when it comes to DMR radios.It is a splendid radio overall! I love the fact that MD-9600 operates on DMR and analog. The gear is constructed with quality parts to deliver equipment that lasts long.

The highlight for me was the ample storage capacity it offers. Additionally, the microphone supplied with the radio seems to work well. MD-9600’s speaker is capable of delivering squelch-free and loud audio output. Another good feature is the sharp and colored LCD, which displays all relevant information.

This mobile DMR rig turned out to be better than what I had anticipated. It took a while to get used to the programming; however, it won’t take users long to get comfortable thanks to the resources available online. I believe TYT MD-9600 is well worth the price given its solid hardware, dual-band function, and user-friendliness!

9.       TYT MD-UV380 – Entry-level HT

TYT MD-UV380
TYT MD-UV380 matches high-end DMR units but without the premium cost. It offers every ounce of perfection in a reasonably-priced package.

Pros

  • Well-constructed
  • Fast scan rate
  • Very clear audio
  • Easy to program

Cons

  • Volume is not very high

Here’s another great pick by TYT as a potential DMR radio for beginners. It comes in-built with GPS for location reporting. Here’s a look at some of its notable features:

  • 1-year warranty
  • Multi-colored LCD
  • Private and group call functions
  • Remote kill/stun/activate

As is visible from the design, this is a well-built handset made for commercial use. In my opinion, this is a great little radio for amateur purposes. I love the ease of use it offers. I had anticipated a low scan on this radio; however, much to my surprise, it excelled in that area. 

My only complaint regarding the MD-UV380 is the volume. It’s not as high as I would like, which is why I recommend adding in an ear set. Besides that, it delivers outstanding value for money and is a DMR unit to go for when looking for entry-level radios.

For the price, you cannot beat this dual-band radio by TYT! It has made its way as our favorite go-to handheld DMR-capable transceiver for its exceptional sound quality and overall performance.

10.   Retevis RT84 – Budget-friendly DMR radio

Retevis RT8
The Retevis RT84 is the latest addition to the growing number of affordable DMR radios. It offers a less expensive alternative to high-end options such as Ailunce HD1.

Pros

  • Fairly easy programming
  • Excellent audio reports
  • Compact design
  • Excellent customer support

Cons

  • Stiff antenna

Retevis has managed to carve a special place for itself within the radio industry. This low-cost handset delivers bang for the buck by offering a vast range of features. The two-way handset includes 3,000 channels and 120,000 contacts.

The transmissions are loud and crystal-clear, great for noisy environments, such as vehicles and outdoor use. The sensitivity is just about appropriate in both DMR and analog modes. Battery and range-wise, it is stellar! Compared to the TYT UV380, RT84 is an inch taller but works pretty much identically in terms of programming and general operations.

My only issue with the Retevis RT84 was the stiff antenna. I recommend switching to an external whip for a seamless experience. Besides that, I find it an accomplished package – it is simple to operate, and everything works as promised! However, if you need a technologically advanced device, we wouldn’t recommend the RT84.

Why should you get a DMR Radio?

There’s nothing that comes close to Digital Mobile Radios when it comes to reliable communication. Here’s why you should consider investing in DMR:

  • DMR radio gets the job done no matter where you’re communicating at – construction site, guarding property, or working at a local park.
  • The highlight of the DMR technology for me has been the increased security, greater power efficiency, and extended battery life.
  • When switching from analog, you’ll find the digital audio quality to be far superior.
  • Besides transmitting voice, DMR radios are capable of data applications like SMS, GPS, and telemetry.
  • The most remarkable benefit that DMR offers is the use of TDMA technology. It enables two independent simultaneous talk paths.

DMR Radio Buying Guide

Bands

One of the primary buying aspects one should consider includes radio bands and frequencies. The most common frequency band on DMR is UHF. However, you can also find dual-band DMR transceivers to operate on both UHF and VHF frequencies.

When purchasing single-band (UHF) equipment, make sure to check whether it can cover the amateur band (420-450 MHz) without modifications.

Backlit display

DMR radios do not always come with screens. You can find displays on most dual-band transceivers with a choice between LCD and TFT.  When it comes to radios’ display, we believe backlit screen an absolute necessity. It’s the only way to view information effortlessly regardless of the light conditions.

You may also compare the screen size. We do not recommend displays smaller than 1.5-inch, as they can be uncomfortable for radio operators.

Programming cable and software

Radio programming is a vital part of DMR radios. That’s why most users prefer purchasing devices that come supplied with programming cables. Buying one separately can be a hassle as you’ll need to find one that is compatible with your radio’s brand and model.

Additionally, some brands provide free-of-cost programming software for their radios. Others, however, charge customers for subscriptions and updates. Since DMR technology is for commercial use, keyboard programming is typically not permitted.

Hence, you must pay extra attention to the programming software and cable when looking into purchase options.

Channels

Another buying factor to consider is the number of channels, contacts, and groups your device offers. Most users prefer a DMR radio that allows at least 16 channels and 100 contacts.

However, we recommend rigs that offer up to 4,000 channels, 10,000 talk groups, and about 200,000 contacts for practical experience. BTECH DMR-6X2 ticks all those boxes and delivers an efficient experience!

GPS and Bluetooth

Some DMR radios feature in-built GPS technology. Some professional networks have a timeslot and are connected to server-based dispatch apps, which enable location reporting

You may want to note that the GPS in DMR radios doesn’t support Amateur Packet Reporting System (APRS). Moreover, having this function turned on can cause the battery to drain fast.

Besides GPS, you can also find Bluetooth connectivity in some of the high-end DMR models. The Bluetooth technology allows the device to connect to a wireless headset for hands-free operation.

Moreover, you can also find Bluetooth-enabled headsets that allow data transfer and programming through a wireless connection.

Portability

DMR radios are available as portable and mobile units. Mobile DMR transceivers are your best option if you’re planning on using the radio while on the road. However, if you want a portable and low-powered device, then a handset isn’t too bad, either!

FAQ

What is DMR radio?

DMR is an International radio standard to offer digital communication using simple to use and cost-effective equipment. The biggest advantage of digital mobile radio is that operators are not limited to a single proprietary brand or model. It’s highly useful for individuals who like being outdoors or staying coordinated when organizing events. Overall, DMR radios work similarly to analog devices, except with more enhanced audio quality and reduced communication lag in transmission.

Does Yaesu make a DMR radio?

Yaesu is a leading brand in the world of radios and is synonymous with premium quality transceivers. Yaesu’s VXD-R70 is a fantastic DMR option for users looking for a high-power VHF/UHF rig. It features 16 channels, analog/digital modes, and narrow-banding.

What is the difference between D-Star and DMR?

DMR is suitable for commercial use. It covers a vast range starting from a few hundred meters to a few hundred kilometers. DMR is a recent, innovative introduction, perfect for businesses.

On the other hand, D-Star is for users of repeaters looking for local and non-commercial communication. This fascinating radio system performs remarkably well by allowing users to communicate through digital voice and data messaging.

In terms of the interface, D-Star is fairly easy to use and also quite flexible. However, one thing to note is that the D-Star technology can be expensive.

Does DMR require a license?

When it comes to operating DMR, most users don’t need to obtain a license. However, you need a User ID, which is essential in programming the transceiver and accessing the local system.

What is the range of DMR radio?

DMR uses Very High Frequency (VHF) and Ultra High Frequency (UHF) bands. Its range falls under the 136-174 MHz and 403-527 MHz frequency spectrums. DMR transceivers are typically able to reach up to a few hundred meters; however, this is highly dependent on your equipment and infrastructure.

How do I get started with a DMR?

Here’s how to get started with a digital mobile radio:

  1. Before getting started, you must verify that your location is within the DMR coverage area. You can check the coverage through a DMR repeater map.
  2. Instead of a license, what you need is a Subscriber ID that is essential in radio programming. We recommend against transmitting with a DMR radio unless you have obtained a Subscriber ID and programming it in the radio.
  3. Purchase a DMR radio with accessories like programming cable and software.
  4. Program the radio via a compatible USB cable and software.

How do I get DMR radio ID?

To obtain your Radio ID, you will need to register at https://www.radioid.net. After that, you need to upload the official FCC documents and government documents with your callsign. Once you complete the registration, you will receive an email, usually within 24 hours, with your radio ID.

Conclusion

Although relatively new, DMR is a great technology to venture into. It boasts premium audio quality, extensive range coverage, and a straightforward user interface. Moreover, you do not require a license to operate DMR radios. If all these features interest you, you’ll find the best dual-band DMR radios here. With both portable and mobile units, we hope you find a device perfectly suitable for your needs. Our top choice is the BTECH DMR-6X2 for its outstanding functioning. However, if you’re a budget buyer and need a DMR transceiver without breaking the bank, Retevis RT84 and BaoFeng DM-1701 are great picks, too!

Last update on 2021-09-21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API