Which small radio should you buy?

The world is full of ways to listen to music, radio shows and podcasts these days. But when there’s no Wi-Fi signal available, you might be glad to have a more traditional way of listening. With a small radio in your home or car, you can tune into music, talk shows or traffic and weather reports at any time. So, what’s the best small radio to pick up?

Types of small radio

Radio stations operate on different sound frequencies, or amplitudes. The frequency they use affects how far the signal travels and the quality of sound that arrives through your speaker. The main types of radio waves are:

  • AM radios: AM radio stations can transmit over a relatively large distance. However, this affects the sound quality. That’s why most talk stations can be found on a radio’s AM setting.
  • FM radios: An FM signal won’t travel as far as an AM signal. However, it provides a much higher-quality sound, so most music-radio stations are found on FM frequencies.
  • Shortwave: The strength of a shortwave frequency is so strong, you can use it to listen to broadcasts thousands of miles away. It’s not a standard frequency on small radios, so you would need to look for a model that includes it.
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: If you need a small radio to keep up with weather reports, this frequency is the one used by weather stations. Many small radios that come with shortwave capability also have NOAA bands.

Small radio features

There are lots of extra features you can look for beyond access to your favorite radio stations. 

  • Sound output: Most pocket radios have a small speaker, but you can look for a headphone jack if you want the option of private listening. If you’ve got wireless headphones, you can get a small radio with Bluetooth capability to connect them.
  • Power sources: Although most small radios are powered with batteries (usually AA or AAA), you can also pick one up that can be plugged in. That way, you can continue listening even when the batteries run out.
  • Size and weight: Some small radios are compact enough to fit in a jacket pocket. Others are slightly bigger and heavier, which can also make them sturdier. 
  • Sound quality and signal strength: If you’re in an area with bad signal, a radio with a stronger, longer antenna can improve signal strength and sound clarity.

12 best small radios to buy

Best Panasonic Portable AM-FM Radio

Panasonic Portable AM/FM Radio

For those who don’t want complicated controls or additional functionalities, the large dial of this high-quality radio is easy to use. It can be powered with an AC adapter or AA batteries and has a headphone jack for private listening.

Sold by Amazon

Best Prunis J-160 Portable Retro Transistor Radio

Prunis J-160 Portable Retro Transistor Radio

Built with a fashionable retro look, this radio has a wireless Bluetooth speaker so you don’t need to be limited to its AM/FM and shortwave channels. Tablets and smartphones connect easily with its intuitive design features.

Sold by Amazon

Best Vondior Portable Digital AM-FM Radio

Vondior Portable Digital AM/FM Radio

This portable digital radio is ideal for trips to the beach or out on a hike, providing excellent reception both indoors and outdoors. It takes AAA batteries and can be used with or without headphones.

Sold by Amazon

Best Fuhongyuan Portable Pocket Radio

Fuhongyuan Portable Pocket Radio

With excellent signal reception, this AM/FM radio can be used anywhere. It provides high-quality and high-volume sound either through the speaker or by using headphones.

Sold by Amazon

Best DreamSky Portable Radio

DreamSky Portable Radio

This long-lasting radio has excellent energy efficiency. Its four AA batteries let it last up to 55 hours or you can use an adapter to plug it in. The sturdy rectangular design keeps the radio steady on any surface, making it ideal for a boat trip.

Sold by Amazon

Best Nextron Portable CD Player and Radio Boombox

Nextron Portable CD Player and Radio Boombox 

Portable and stylish, this AM/FM radio with a stereo sound system lets you listen to the radio while cooking, cleaning, in the garden or enjoying a picnic. You can use the headphone jack or take advantage of the Bluetooth connection for wireless headphones.

Sold by Amazon

Best ByronStatics Vintage Portable Radio

ByronStatics Vintage Portable Radio

This inexpensive, quirky retro radio is perfect for lovers of ’50s fashion. You can power it with an electrical outlet or batteries, and the manually adjustable knob makes it easy to scan for stations.

Sold by Amazon

Best Sunhai Portable Wireless Radio

Sunhai Portable Wireless Radio

Connect this high-tech radio to other devices with Bluetooth to stream your favorite online playlists in HD sound. The lightweight design and small size mean it can be carried to parties, the beach, around the home or while traveling.

Sold by Amazon

Best Flyoukki Portable Headset Radio

Flyoukki Portable Headset Radio

This headset comes with an FM-only radio built in, so you don’t have to worry about separate radio and in-ear listening devices. The headphones are noise-reducing and the automatic search and store feature means you can find and save your favorite stations at the touch of a button.

Sold by Amazon

Best Vondior Portable Pocket Radio

Vondior Portable Pocket Radio

A great choice for people looking for a handheld, pocket-sized and long-lasting radio. It can pick up AM and FM stations and offers users a break from modern technology with its traditional functionality.

Sold by Amazon

Best Jimeng Portable Radio

Jimeng Portable Radio

This compact portable radio has excellent sound quality. It’s built to be robust and has a long antenna that provides superior reception. Powered by a battery or power cable, it can be used at home or outdoors.

Sold by Amazon

Best Emerson SmartSet Alarm Clock Radio

Emerson SmartSet Alarm Clock Radio

Enjoy the dual functionality of a digital alarm clock and an AM/FM radio in this compact but sturdy device. You can even set the radio’s alarm so you wake up to your favorite station.

Sold by Amazon

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Lauren Farrell writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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