For our Baofeng BF-888S review, we put this handy 2-way radio to the test. Well priced and fairly popular, the radio boasts being simple and convenient to use. We’ll dive in deeper to see how well it performs on these claims, and how useful this radio actually is. As a budget option, the Pofung/Baofeng BF-888S is enticing enough to be seriously considered.
Baofeng BF-888S Pros And Cons
- Excellent value for money
- Great audio quality
- Simple to use
- Useful accessories included in the box
- Good battery life
- Charger runs only on mains power
- Some technical skills required for Baofeng BF-888S programming
- Build quality could be better
- Questionable longevity
Baofeng BF-888S Specs And Features
Build Quality And First Impressions
The appearance of the Baofeng BF-888S is strikingly similar to the Retevis H-777. Come to think about it, their names are similar too! I’ll stop comparing the similarities, but yes, both these devices could very well turn out to be twins separated at birth.
Build quality of the Baofeng BF-888S leaves something to be desired. It has a solid plastic casing that should work well. However, it is unlikely to live through a few dings and falls. What comes to the rescue of this two-way radio here is the fact that it is pretty cheap. Often, the radio is available in a pack of multiple units, with great overall value.
The design is fairly clean and the radio is easy to operate. You can imagine using these at home, work, or a campsite to keep in touch and have easy communication.
Accessories In The Box
It may be a budget option, but the Baofeng BF-888S walkie talkie doesn’t skimp out on included accessories. Even if you purchase a pack with multiple radios, each will come with its accessories included.
In the box, you’ll find the antenna, belt strap, hand strap, desktop charger, and headset. A manual is included as well. As you can guess, the antenna is a rubber ducky. It is okay at its job, and given the intended use, there is little point in replacing this antenna.
The belt strap is made of plastic. Do not expect it to last long or handle rough use. However, as long as you don’t put much force against it, the strap will stay intact. The headset is an average piece included with the budget radio. It does its job, but it can get uncomfortable. If you intend to rely on the headset, consider buying a different one.
Baofeng BF-888s Battery And Charging
Power comes from a 1500mAh Li-ion battery pack. Baofeng says the battery is good enough to provide eight hours of backup. That could be considered fairly accurate. The use time is slightly lower, but it’s not a dealbreaker.
To charge the device, simply place the Baofeng BF-888S into the charging cradle/dock. An LED light comes on to show the device is charging. A drawback here is that conventional mains-powered sockets are the only way to charge the BF-888S. The dock remains operational in a range of 100-240V, so it can be used practically anywhere in the world, provided you have the right sockets with you.
I would have preferred a 12V car charger to come along, at the very least. On a positive note, the walkie talkie can stay operational while on the cradle.
Additional Features Of Note
There are a few other interesting features that make the BF-888S noteworthy. The VOX function can be employed to use the device hands-free. Not having to press the PTT button to transmit can be useful in several circumstances.
A battery save feature can be tapped in to help conserve battery, ensuring the radio stays active for longer. Other features include a time-out timer, a flashlight, and an emergency alarm.
Review — Baofeng BF-888S In Use
Programming The Radio
Since there is no screen and few programming options, it makes better sense to use software to program the device. Baofeng programming software is freely available and can be used to setup the device. However, I’d suggest a better option is using CHIRP for Baofeng BF-888S programming.
Chirp is open-source, freely available software that includes configurations for many popular devices, including the 888S.
Another thing worth pointing out is that you should buy a good quality programming cable. A good quality cable might end up being more expensive than this Baofeng walkie talkie, but it will make your life easier. Knockoffs can save you a couple of dollars, but they’re not worth the pain.
Baofeng BF-888S Frequencies
Baofeng BF-888S UHF radio operates in the frequency range of 400-470MHz. You need a license to transmit at these frequencies. Baofeng BF-888S frequency chart mentioned also includes GMRS, which needs a license from the FCC for transmission. Unlike conventional ham radios, a license for GMRS does not require applicants to take a test. However, licensing is mandatory.
This is also one of the reasons programming the device is important. You should make sure you are transmitting only in the frequencies you are licensed to use.
Baofeng BF-888S Range And Power
Range and power must be given their place of honor in our Baofeng walkie talkie review. The company says that the power of the transmitter used is less than or equal to 5W. That’s technically correct because practically, the power available is 2W.
In terms of range, you can expect the BF-888S to cover a distance of 1-2 miles. I’d put that number closer to one mile, just to be on the safe side. This is obviously not a radio you take along hunting or skiing. However, it is useful for use around the home, office, or a campsite.
Sound Quality And Communication
There are two rotary switches besides the antenna at the top of the devices. The corner switch can be used to turn the device on/off and manage its volume. The next switch can be used to navigate through the 16 available channels. Your communication partner/group should be on the same frequency/channel to communicate effectively.
As you move through the channels, a synthesized voice lets you know what channel is in use. Since there is no screen for such information, you must rely on the voice to inform you of the channel in use.
As long as you are in range, the sound quality is good. The radio is loud, and the sound is crisp and clear. When using the headset, you will notice some loss of quality in reception as well as transmission. That problem can be fixed by using a better headset/earpiece.
Receiver selectivity is good, but not particularly impressive. If you are in an area with high airwave traffic, disturbance is tough to avoid.
Baofeng BF-888S — Yay Or Nay?
Going through this Baofeng BF-888S review, you will notice that the device has a lot to offer. But then again, it does have several severe limitations as well. The biggest draw is the relatively cheap price, which makes this Baofeng two way radio at least worth a try. I think if you have the right expectations from this device, it is unlikely to disappoint. There’s a clear set of what it can, and cannot do. Paint within the lines, and you will appreciate the Baofeng BF-888S.