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 Lockdown, many of us returned to radio to help us get through isolation, 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 - view on Amazon UK
• Best portable radio with Bluetooth: Roberts Rambler Mini - view at Roberts Radio
• Best portable radio for sound quality: Roberts Revival Mini - view at Roberts Radio
• Best portable radio under £50: Roberts Play 10 - view at Roberts Radio
Due to the ongoing digitisation of the beloved radio, stations are joining the new-fangled and crystal-clear DAB radio, Already, there are 54 stations 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
1. JBL Tuner 2
Best overall portable radio
First, we have the JBL Tuner 2, which is a top-rated radio on Amazon. Portable, this JBL model
- 12 hours of playtime
- FM and DAB for versatility
- Easy-to-use backlit LCD display
- No auxiliary or headphone jack
Compact wind-up radio
If you're out in the sticks and need a reliable radio for broadcasts, we recommend this versatile
- Charges by crank, solar and USB
- Complete with a built-in flashlight
- Tunes into AM and FM stations
- No additional features
Compact portable radio
Looking for simplicity? You can't go wrong with the Roberts Sports 925. It's a portable FM and AM
- Easy scroll tuning and volume
- Built-in speaker and headphone jack
- Features AM and FM stations
- No additional features
Best portable radio with Bluetooth
Take a trip back to the 70s with the Roberts Ramble Mini. This classic radio style has been
- Bluetooth streaming
- Rechargeable and portable
- Impressive full-range sound
- No alarm feature
Budget portable radio
Fancy a pocket radio? This personal Bush Personal in Black may come in handy for listening to
- Easy-to-use LCD display
- Up to 10 hours of battery life
- Headphone jack for private listening
- Battery-powered, not included
- Very basic, no DAB
Best portable radio for sound quality
Whilst small in size, this portable Roberts Revival Mini is mighty. It's big on sound, style and
- Acoustically tuned wooden casing
- Auxiliary headphone or speaker input
- Portable, compact and classic design
- No Bluetooth or alarm feature
Best portable radio under £50
For simplicity, we recommend this budget-friendly Roberts Play 10 DAB radio. With DAB, DAB+ and
- Portable battery power or mains plugin
- Six stations preset for your favourites
- A headphone socket and FM capabilities
- 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
- Offers DAB/DAB+ and FM radio
- Auxiliary headphone input
- 10 station presets for favourites
- 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.
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 in-built 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 is 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.