The best portable radio: top 10 to take on the move
Radios are some of the most versatile listening devices that we have.
Not only does your radio let you explore a bunch of channels from Koss FM to Kiss FM, but you can also find devices that are small enough to carry with you on the move.
The portable radio might have been around for several decades now, but it’s growing more impressive by the day, with new models and features to suit every budget.
With the right radio, you can stay connected to everything from HD and FM broadcasts, to Wi-Fi internet streaming and so much more.
If you’re looking for something durable and versatile for your listening needs, then you’ve come to the right place.
We’ve put together a list of the best portable radio devices on the market today, ranging from modern high-tech solutions, to pocket-sized powerhouses.
Let’s get going!
1. Sangean HDR-14 pocket radio (best pocket radio)
When it comes to pocket-sized radios, Sangean is a brand that has something for everyone.
Whether you’re looking for something rechargeable that’s great for a camping trip, or the best portable FM radio for signal, Sangean is there to deliver.
Today, we’re looking specifically at the Sangean HDR-14 HD AM/FM radio.
This HD radio makes it easy to find the channels that you most want to listen to, with 40 presets available to browse through. There’s also support for emergency alerts too.
For around $85, you get a lot of high-level functionality from Sangean, including:
HD radio with digital and analog AM/FM
Real-time date and clock
Alarms and timers
Sleep and snooze function
I/O hacks for headphones
AC adapter or battery power
The easy-to-read display tells you everything you need to know about things like channel frequency and call sign. What’s more, there’s the option to plug this portable radio in with an AC adapter, or just use batteries.
Though this isn’t the most advanced portable AM FM radio we’ve ever seen, it’s great for anyone in search of simplicity and reliability.
2. PRUNUS J-125 portable radio (best Walkman style)
Remember the Walkman? It was one of the most popular products in the Western world for a little while. If you want that kind of retro vibe, but none of the functionality problems, try the PRUNUS J-125.
This excellent pocket radio is super lightweight, and small enough to fit in your pocket. You could even pop it into an armband and wear it at the gym.
Despite a tiny footprint (and a small price tag), the J-125 comes with quite a few impressive features to discover. There’s a lock button so that you can make sure that you’re not accidentally skipping between channels when you’re walking or running.
The back-lit LCD screen shows you the time, and there’s a timer included too.
There’s something uniquely charming about the Panasonic RF-2400D AM/FM radio.
We’ve reviewed this item before here on Radio Fidelity, highlighting its benefits as both an AM and an FM radio. Although this device would look good on a bedside table or kitchen counter, it works well as a portable radio too.
This portable AM FM radio comes with a large frequency range, a 10cm antenna for tuning, and a fantastic speaker volume, despite its tiny size.
You can listen to your favorite programs using the 10 cm speaker, or just plug in your headphones and go from there. One thing we particularly like about this device is how easy it is to use.
With a tactile tuning knob and plenty of large buttons, it’s a good choice for people of all ages.
Sony is another company that’s very well-known in the audio technology space. You’ve probably had your own CD player or Bluetooth speaker from the company in the past.
We’ve covered a couple of Sony devices here on Radio Fidelity before. When it comes to delivering the best portable radio review, we decided to focus on the ICF-P36.
The P36 is the next step up from Sony’s previous ICF-P26 pocket-sized radio. The product is small enough to fit into most pockets and backpacks, and it comes with both a loudspeaker, and a headphone input for private listening.
The external FM telescoping antenna is particularly good on this device, helping you to achieve a better signal.
6. Sony portable radio/ stereo (best for Bluetooth)
Most of the best portable radio reviews we’ve conducted so far have focused on simple devices that you can take with you on the move.
Although a lot of consumers prefer to keep their audio tech as basic as possible, there are going to be people out there who want something more advanced. That’s where the Sony portable Bluetooth radio comes in.
This system isn’t nearly as small and compact as many of the other products that we’ve covered so far, but it’s still lightweight enough to take with you to a picnic or camping trip.
The device features a battery life of 26 hours, making it one of the most resilient portable radios that we’ve looked at for energy.
If there’s one thing we really love here at Radio Fidelity, it’s a radio with retro vibes. There are a lot of options out there that can take you back to the golden days of radio in a heartbeat.
When it comes to the best portable radio with style, it’s hard to go wrong with the Studebaker SB2000TS. This attractive portable AM FM radio comes with everything you need to listen to your favorite stations and spruce up your home.
Although we love seeing this device sitting on a coffee table or atop a bedside cabinet, it’s a portable radio first and foremost.
The battery power lasts for several hours, enough to get you through the day. Additionally, you get a resilient handle for carrying your radio too.
Despite a great look and a few handy features, like an Aux-input for your MP3 player, the Studebaker is affordably priced at around $25.
For that price, you get features like:
Aux input to plug your MP3 player in
Battery powered portability
Tactile tuning features
Microscopic antenna for better reception
Option for AC power
Stunning retro design
Portable handle included
The Studebaker is another portable radio that might not blow your mind with futuristic features.
There isn’t any access to Bluetooth, although you can play your own tunes with the aux-in cable. We couldn’t find any preset options either.
But, if you’re looking for a radio that shows off your style at home or on the go, this is it.
8. Eton Elite portable AM FM radio (best for fine tuning)
If you want an amazing portable radio, but you don’t want to compromise on excellent tuning and audio control, then you’ll love the Eton Elite portable AM/FM radio.
This powerful device is one of the more expensive options on our list, but it has a lot to offer for its price-tag.
As well as being Bluetooth-ready, the product comes with an LCD display for fine-tuning your connection to AM and FM radio signals.
Unlike many of the best portable radios that we’ve looked at so far, the Eton is one of the few products to come with features that allow you to adjust your EQ. You can control things like bass and treble at the touch of a button.
Whether you’re listening to the radio, or streaming your own music, you can’t go wrong with the Eton.
You don’t have to be the adventurous type to want the benefits of a portable radio.
One of the most common reasons to shop for this kind of product, is that you need a way to stay connected to your favorite channels when you’re out exploring. For that purpose, the Midland ER310 is an excellent option.
With this device, you can choose from multiple power sources, including a solar panel, and a hand-crank for emergency situations.
The rechargeable battery can provide up to 32 hours of radio operation, which is the longest we’ve seen from a wide selection of portable radios.
What’s more, this item also comes with a bunch of extra features too, like NOAA weather scanning, and an emergency flashlight.
Finally, if your need for the best portable radio comes from your passion for travel, then the Eton Elite Traveler could be the ultimate product for you.
This international radio allows you to tune into your favorite AM, FM, or short and longwave station. You can set the spacing and frequency with precise tuning, to ensure that your station comes in loud and clear.
This fantastic device comes packed with extra features to make your life easier, including a clock and alarm, as well as a sleep timer.
The LDC display is easy to read, and there’s an FM telescopic antenna too. With the 6V DC adapter, you can either plug your device into an outlet, or use AA batteries instead.
Auto tuning storage is included with this product, to make it easier for you to find the channels that you need. One fun feature of the Eton Elite traveler is that it also comes with a world and local time setting, so you can stay on the right wavelength wherever you go.
There’s no one-size-fits-all strategy to buying the ultimate portable radio.
Some people will prefer a system that offers advanced features like Bluetooth streaming, or even smart assistant access. Others will just want a radio that they can rely on when they’re traveling or exploring the great outdoors.
With a little luck, the various portable radio reviews that we’ve covered above will give you a good insight into some of the top performers on the market. Here are some components that you can think about when making your choice:
Listening options: If you’re going to be using your portable radio on the bus to work, you don’t want everyone to be forced to listen to your music. Having a headphone input as well as a loudspeaker is a good option here.
Durability: The amount of durability that you need in your radio will depend on what you plan on using it for. If you’re taking your device hiking or camping, then Sangean DT-400W might be a good choice for you. There are more rugged choices out there if you need a radio that can hold up well in emergencies.
Connectivity: Do you just want a portable AM FM speaker, or do you want something that you can link to the internet or stream music through Bluetooth? More advanced features usually come with a higher price tag, so keep that in mind.
Frequencies: AM and FM radio frequencies are the most common among portable radios. You may be able to find a handful of products that come with DAB connections too. In emergency radios, NOAA functionality is usually a must-have. You can find this in the Midland ER310 mentioned above.
Battery life: When you’re on the move, you won’t always have access to an outlet where you can stop and charge your device. Because of this, a good battery life is crucial. Ideally, you’ll need at least 10 hours, but if you can get more, that’s even better. The Sony Bluetooth portable speaker we reviewed above can deliver over 20 hours of life!
Power options: Speaking of battery life, how are you going to keep your device powered up? Is outlet charging your only option, or can you use batteries too? If you opt for an emergency radio, you might be able to use hand cranks and solar panels to tap into extra energy.
Durability: Most portable speakers will be designed to withstand the occasional knock and bump. However, some products are more rugged than others. Make sure you look for features like waterproofing and dust-proofing if you need a device that can handle tougher conditions.
Depending on your budget and the kind of company you buy your portable radio from, you might be able to find some additional features too.
For instance, a USB port or aux-in cable could allow you to play your own music on your portable device, even when Bluetooth isn’t available.
If you choose a particularly advanced radio, then it could come with Bluetooth connectivity built-in, which means that you can stream music straight from your favorite apps on your phone.
Other possible extras could include a telescopic antenna, which allows you to get a better quality of frequency when you’re searching for channels, or an auto-scan feature that makes finding programs easy.
Some emergency radios come with flashlights for emergencies, and alarm clock or timer settings so you can use them as a bedside clock as well as a radio.
Which portable radio is right for you?
For music, talk shows, and even news stories on the move, there’s nothing quite like a portable radio.
You will need to do a little bit of homework before you’re confident in your choice. With so many portable radios to choose from, it’s easy to get overwhelmed.
The good news is that our reviews above should give you all the information you need to make the right decision.
For emergencies, we recommend the Midland ER310 for its sensational battery life and amazing performance. If you’re looking for retro appeal, try the Studebaker, a radio so attractive you’ll love showing it off.
Finally, if you want something great for international travel, stick with the Eton Elite Traveler.
What’s your favorite portable radio right now? Let us know in the comments, or join the conversation on social media.