7 of the best portable radios for on-the-go listening

Perfect for trips out of the house, a portable radio is a must.

A selection of the best portable radios

by Piper Huxley |
Updated on

Finding the best portable radio for your trip has never been easier, thanks to this buyer’s guide. A portable radio is perfect for those of you making the occasional trip who want to tune in with your favourite shows as it's something you can pop neatly into your luggage, making it ultra-convenient. Nights spent with friends in the garden wouldn’t be complete without some music. Ideally, a top-notch radio powered by a rechargeable battery will suit you best. Wherever you are, the radio will follow – providing cheer.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, we’ve had the radio in our lives, enriching us with music, comedy and (most important of all) company. During the Lockdown, many of us returned to radio to help us get through isolation and illness and support us through grief. Now, we’re back to this ‘new normal’, you’re probably wanting to take your shows outdoors with you. If you’re one of the 89 per cent of adults in the UK who tune in to the radio, a portable radio may suit your lifestyle. It’s safe to say: radio isn’t going anywhere.

Best portable radio at a glance

Best overall portable radio: JBL Tuner 2 - Buy now on Amazon UK
Best portable radio with Bluetooth: Roberts Rambler Mini - Buy now on Roberts
Best portable radio for sound quality: Roberts Revival Mini - Buy now on Amazon UK
Best portable radio under £50: Roberts Play 11 - Buy now on Amazon UK

Due to the ongoing digitisation of the beloved radio, stations are joining the new-fangled and crystal-clear DAB radio, Already, 54 stations are broadcasting on national DAB radio, says Digital Radio UK. Some old favourites such as Absolute Radio and Magic are accessible nationwide – not to mention some brand-new shows to tune into. To get the most out of what radio has to offer, we recommend a radio with FM and DAB.

Still a little undecided on what you’re looking for? Editor Stephanie Antony has written an in-depth guide on how to choose a radio, which we recommend reading. With a portable radio, you’re able to take your favourite stations out and about, maybe even connect your smartphone to and use it as a Bluetooth speaker. Some of you may prefer a wind-up radio, which is super-smart and powered by you.

Best portable radio

Best overall portable radio

The JBL Tuner 2, is a top-rated radio on Amazon. Portable, this JBL model gives you 12 hours of playtime, with a 3.5-hour charge time. Easy to use, with a backlit LCD display, you can save your favourite stations. Plus, there are no fiddly features to be confused about.

A customer commented that it's very easy to use: "The simplicity is good, very easy to tune and use, and doesn’t need any more fancy features. JBL are really back."

Users seem to agree that, equipped with the Tuner 2, you're good to go for long nights outdoors and trips away, due to its waterproof casing. However, there is not a headphone or aux jack for private listening. For out-loud listening, consider taking this on a tech-free trip away...

Pros

  • 12 hours of playtime
  • FM and DAB for versatility
  • Easy-to-use backlit LCD display

Cons

  • No auxiliary or headphone jack

Compact portable radio

A portable FM and AM radio, this pick is plain and simple. With no fuss or fancy features, it gives you the essentials of a portal radio in a handy, compact form with the simplest of functions - for the easiest of use. Scroll easily through stations and enjoy up to 60 hours of playback.

A customer commented that they "get clearer reception" on this model than a DAB, which makes this fuss-free pick a good choice. However, they add that it doesn't produce rich, crisp sound.

Looking for simplicity? You can't go wrong with the Roberts Sports 925. We love this tiny Roberts model; it's perfect for those of us who can't stand clutter and would love to take it on the go.

Pros

  • Easy scroll tuning and volume
  • Built-in speaker and headphone jack
  • Features AM and FM stations

Cons

  • No additional features

Best portable radio with Bluetooth

Roberts Rambler Mini
Price: £69.99 (was £79.99)

www.robertsradio.com

This classic radio style has been reimagined by Roberts Radio. This time, it's small, simple and rechargeable. Forget the days of lugging around the radio, this lightweight model is rechargeable and Bluetooth-compatible. Old design, new tech. There's no alarm feature, unfortunately. But...

A customer commented that it "combines retro style with modern technology", which is what we love about this model, too. And, with the portable and rechargeable design, it's useful and convenient. They add that it "fits perfectly in the decor of my home", which is good news for us stylish bunch.

Take a trip back to the 70s with the Roberts Ramble Mini. For those of us who love a throwback to a decade we grew up, this is the radio for you. It's stylish and nostalgic, but you aren't losing any crisp sound from a modern radio. Tune into Absolute Radio 70s and just chill; It's all peace and love...

Pros

  • Bluetooth streaming
  • Rechargeable and portable
  • Impressive full-range sound

Cons

  • No alarm feature

Budget portable radio

Fancy a pocket radio? For ease of use, with a clear display, you can save up to 20 of your favourite stations for a quick switchover on this Bush radio. We'd recommend grabbing some headphones for some private listening. Slip into your pocket and take it around with you for company.

A customer commented: "I bought it so I could listen to the football when I'm fishing." Lightweight and portable, this simple Bush pick is perfect for convenience and ideal for private listening with headphones. They add that the instructions helped with set-up and now it's "pretty easy to use."

This personal Bush Personal in Black may come in handy for listening to tunes or your favourite presenters, as you do the gardening outdoors or are in town doing some shopping. If you're looking for comfort on the go, the Bush Personal is a great pick - plus, it's super budget-friendly. However, this pick only picks up FM/AM channels, with no DAB or DAB+ coverage.

Pros

  • Easy-to-use LCD display
  • Up to 10 hours of battery life
  • Headphone jack for private listening

Cons

  • Battery-powered, not included
  • Very basic, no DAB

Best portable radio for sound quality

Revival Mini
Price: £134.95

Whilst small in size, this portable Roberts Revival Mini is mighty. Enjoy the wide variety of stations from the DAB, DAB+ and FM wavebands. It's been made acoustically tuned in wooden casing for supreme retro sound - making it ideal for those who love to reminisce on the good old days...

Customers commend this model for its compact nature and great sound. One commented they they were so pleased that "[they] bought another for [their] motor home." Plus, if you prefer to have a retro look to your home, this stylish and nostalgic radio is a great choice. They add: "You can store your favourite stations as well wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this great-sounding radio."

It's big on sound, style and features - so, perfect for those of us who are keen to explore the limits of our radios. Charging or batteries, the choice is yours. From DAB to FM to headphones to smartphone connection, it's a special modern, retro pick. Choose from Dusky Pink, Duck Egg or Midnight Blue. However, there's no Bluetooth or alarm feature to take advantage of...

Pros

  • Acoustically tuned wooden casing
  • Auxiliary headphone or speaker input
  • Portable, compact and classic design

Cons

  • No Bluetooth or alarm feature

Best portable radio under £50

Roberts Play11 DAB/DAB+/FM Digital Radio - Black - Portable Radio - Headphone SocketRoberts / Amazon
Price: £49

For simplicity, we recommend this budget-friendly Roberts Play 11 DAB radio. With DAB, DAB+ and FM, this portable wonder is the perfect size for your home and beyond. It's simple, a great size and has a backlit starburst display to search for digital radio channels with ease.

A customer commented that they were hesitant to order as the Play 20 was disappointing. However, this version has "a fairly compact aerial and intuitive controls." They added that the rechargeable nature and decent battery life were great as it "makes for less clutter around the house."

Though it doesn't have Bluetooth, you can pre-set your favourite stations. If you can live without Bluetooth and built-in battery charging, you'll not go far wrong with this model.

Pros

  • Portable battery power or mains plugin
  • Six stations preset for your favourites
  • A headphone socket and FM capabilities

Cons

  • No Bluetooth capabilities or alarm feature

Pocket-size DAB radio

Pocket-sized, this portable Roberts SportsDAB5 is ideal if you're looking for a radio with a wide range and breadth of stations, to suit your many tastes. Tune into the world of digital radio to enjoy crystal clear shows and save your favourite 10 to the built-in presets.

A customer commented that this was "one of the best radios [they have] ever had." They explain that the radio picks up all the stations in their area, the battery lasts well (for over 15 hours) and is easy to program. Sounds perfect for those of us a little scared of tech. It's an intuitive, pocket-size wonder.

Battery-powered and made for headphone use, this is great for on-the-go. Though the battery-powered aspect may not suit all, the model is ideal for private listening - made only for earphones.

Pros

  • Offers DAB/DAB+ and FM radio
  • Auxiliary headphone input
  • 10 station presets for favourites

Cons

  • Battery-powered may not suit all
  • The model is designed for earphones

Verdict: What is the best portable radio?

Looking for a safe option? Look no further. The JBL Tuner 2 is a great choice for trips out and is a top-rated radio on Amazon. Portable, this JBL model gives you 12 hours of playtime, with only a 3.5-hour charge time. Aside from battery life, you're prepared for trips, due to its waterproof casing. Plus, it's very user-friendly.

However, if you desire high-tech Bluetooth and auxiliary capabilities, we recommend the Roberts Rambler Mini. A classic radio style has been reimagined by Roberts Radio. This time, it's smaller, simpler and rechargeable, too.

FAQs

What do I need to look for in a portable radio?

To find the best portable radio for your lifestyle, you’ll need to look for:

Size – can be on the smaller side, or lightweight at best; ideally, you can move it around.

Battery life – should be on the longer side for trips, preferably rechargeable via battery or USB.

Audio quality – needs to come into play. Even a portable radio needs to reproduce all sounds.

Connectivity – may be important for you. Aside from the built-in speaker, what else do you need?

Additional features – can range from water-resistant to a bump-proof casing, perfect for travellers.

What is DAB/DAB+ radio?

Essentially, DAB is digitally transmitted sound. Soon, radios that use traditional radio waves (FM) will be phased out in favour of DAB radio – as their range will be wider and sound quality is arguably better. With time, you won’t be sitting there trying to find the exact wavelength of a show, it’ll be automatic.

What is the difference between DAB and FM?

Thanks to audio tech brand JBL, here are the differences between these two types:

As mentioned above, DAB is transmitted digitally. You may be familiar with FM sound, which is sent through radio waves, which are influenced by the area you’re in. Even so, the range of the DAB is “much wider, and because it is digitally transmitted, the quality is also better,” says JBL. As radio waves are not involved, there are no static noises that we’re all acquainted with. JBL claims that you’ll have this crystal-clear sound “even in the remotest corner of the country.”

Much like a TV, digital or DAB radio is a receiver for channels, where you can easily switch between stations “instead of having to scan for the exact wavelength (FM) that matches your location.” Sounds perfect. It removes any kerfuffle of adjusting settings to find a station in your area. Additionally, many DAB radios have extra features such as Bluetooth connectivity.

This is the future of radio…

What is Medium Wave (MW) and Long Wave (LW) radio?

The BBC provides clarity on what these wavelengths mean:

“AM, which stands for Amplitude Modulation (AM) is the oldest radio broadcasting system in the UK. The term AM is commonly used to cover both Medium Wave and Long Wave. All AM radio stations broadcast in mono.”

Piper Huxley is a Homes, Garden and Wellness Product Writer for Yours, an all-rounder who will write on anything from décor to wellness. When not scouring the net for the best home bargains, Piper is listening to a musical soundtrack and tending to her houseplants.

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