While there are a wide variety of options when it comes to listening to audio these days, sometimes you want to eschew all of the complexity of the modern world and return to a simpler time. Maybe, you need something you can listen to in a place that does not allow smart devices like working in a labor field. Whatever the reason, this need can easily be fulfilled by the best AM FM pocket radio.
Of course, figuring out which AM FM pocket radio is the best. One will depend primarily on how much you are willing to spend and what you want to use it for. There are a number of digital AM FM pocket radios. But these have a tendency to add complexity that you might otherwise be looking to escape. On the other hand, most analog AM FM pocket radios offer very little beyond their basic function (READ MORE: Step-by-step Guide for Choosing Best Portable Radio CD Players).
Best AM FM Pocket Radio 2018
Finding the best AM FM pocket radio can be difficult if you do not already know what you need. That is why we have put together a list of the 5 best AM FM pocket radios, highlighting what situation each one is best suited for. Then we provide a helpful buyer’s guide. So you can find the best AM FM pocket radio that is right for you.
|Telescopic||4.7” x 2.75” x 1.5”||6.75 oz||Analog|
|Telescopic||4.6” x 2.75” x 1.2”||3.2 oz||Analog|
|Telescopic||7” x 3.5” x 1.4”||2.24 oz||Analog|
|Embedded||4.2” x 2.5” x 1”||4 oz||Digital|
|Sangean SR-35||Telescopic||4.85” x 2.75” x 1.2”||5.9 oz||Analog|
1. Sony ICFP26 – Best AM FM Pocket Radio (Editor’s Choice)
Sony has been a power player in the electronics industry for about as long as there has been a consumer electronics industry. They have been able to ensure that their products achieve a standard too high for most other companies to reach. In this regard, the Sony ICFP26 has accomplished this task again. Though it has some fairly glaring and unfortunate caveats marring an otherwise stellar product.
- Has a carrying strap
- Is a less expensive AM FM portable radio
- Has a P26 chip
- Gets great reception
- Is easier to use
- Included optional earbuds
- Has the exceptional battery life
- Is larger than most
- Is heavier than most
2. Vondior – Best AM FM Portable Pocket Radio (People’s Choice)
Not all AM FM pocket radios need to have loads of bells and whistles to accomplish what you expect of them. In fact, one of the biggest draws of a pocket radio is the fact that it should work effectively without bogging you down in loads of complexity. The Vondior does this well but is perhaps more surprising for the fact that it comes from a company that manufactures a veritable grab bag of different products.
- Is easier to use
- Has solid reception
- Uses high-quality components
- Is a reasonable size
- Is a lighter AM FM pocket radio
- Has decent sound quality
- Is more expensive than most
- Does not have many features
3. Philips AE1500 – Best AM FM Pocket Radios (Best Price)
Much like Sony, Philips has made a name for itself manufacturing high-end electronics that simply outperform many of their less known competitors. That being the case, Philips definitely made it a point to do the same with the AE1500 though. There are a handful of aspects that could be done better especially the size of this “pocket” radio and the fact that the tuning can be a bit finicky, even if the reception is otherwise solid.
- Is easier to use
- Is a lighter AM FM pocket radio
- Has decent sound quality
- Offers stereo headphone playback
- Gets decent reception
- Has automatic gain control
- Is a larger AM FM pocket radio
- The tuner is incredibly sensitive
4. C. Crane – Best AM FM Digital Pocket Radio
There is really no getting around the obvious when it stares you in the face and we would be lying if we would not say that there is virtually no other AM FM pocket radio that we reviewed that offers as many, let alone more, features than the C. Crane. On top of that, even the AM FM pocket radios, which share features do not do much to offer legitimate competition to the AM FM pocket radio we declare as the best performing out of all the models we saw.
Top of the Class
- Comes with memory settings
- Offers NOAA weather band
- Has a removable belt clip
- Has a digital alarm clock
- Best sound quality reviewed
- Is a smaller AM FM pocket radio
- Easily the most expensive AM FM pocket radio reviewed
- Not the easiest to use
5. Sangean SR-35 – Best Sangean Pocket Radio
Though the company may not be as well-known as a Sony or Philips, Sangean has actually been making high-quality radios for over 4 decades. In that time they have found a great mix of qualities at reasonable price points. That said, arguably one of the better qualities of this brand is that they stand behind their products.
To be fair, this AM FM pocket radio does not actually offer the best sound quality out of all the other AM FM pocket radios on our list. It provides the best sound quality out of any product that is not 3 times as expensive as the next most expensive product reviewed. This begins with a speaker that puts out a solid 1.2W RMS which is great at this size. Even better, this AM FM pocket radio can push as many watts into the provided earbuds that some radios push through their built-in speaker.
- Has solid sound quality
- Is easier to use
- Comes with earbuds
- Wider frequency range than most
- Has backlit display
- A less expensive AM FM pocket radio
- Is a larger AM FM pocket radio
- Is a heavier AM FM pocket radio
Best AM FM Pocket Radio Reviews – Buyer’s Guide
Considering you have no other means of supplying an input signal to actually get some type of playback at all, the reception of a AM FM pocket radio should be seen as the most important aspect far more important than sound quality, which will often be inherently constrained beyond the ability of either you or the manufacturers to improve too terribly. Even further, the reception of your AM FM pocket radio will be a vital consideration regardless the reason you have one. Those who wish to use their AM FM pocket radio for listening to music will be just as reliant on the AM FM pocket radio’s ability to pick up a clear signal as those who are using it specifically for updates when the power goes out or on a trip to the great outdoors regardless the length of time they intend to be there.
This consideration can be more or less important depending on where you are using your AM FM pocket radio. For instance, if you have a pocket radio so you do not have to worry about smartphone service coverage areas when you are hiking. But still want the ability to keep track of potential major events or weather patterns, you are likely going to want to opt for a pocket radio with a telescoping antenna so as to best receive the errant transmissions.
Conversely, a telescopic antenna is a bit simple in terms of how it receives a signal with little to no differentiation. As such, those types of antennae are prone to picking up interference from a variety of other devices that generate strong electromagnetic fields. In the wilds, this is not much of an issue. But in a more densely populated area like a city, this can make the reception a bit inconsistent. In this case, you will likely prefer a component-based antenna which naturally filters out competing signals that are not radio waves.
Most of the different AM FM pocket radios do not provide too terribly information concerning their circuitry one way or the other. This will still play an important role in terms of how well the AM FM pocket radio can pick up radio waves. The primary component that will influence the radio wave reception is the transistor.
The best radio transistors are manufactured in Japan. And any AM FM pocket radio that is either manufactured in Japan or uses Japanese transistors is liable to make it a point to advertise that fact. Similarly, some AM FM pocket radios have specific chips soldered onto their circuit boards for either the explicit purpose of boosting the antenna’s reception or by providing a more advanced filter to distinguish, which electrical signals are radio waves and which are merely interference.
Nearly all AM FM pocket radios are powered by batteries, but the type of battery used can carry some important implications for the user experience of the AM FM pocket radio. There are significant differences in how a pocket radio will respond to an AA battery compared to an AAA battery. Though, it is important to note that both an AA and an AAA battery will provide the same exact voltage.
The difference between the two batteries hinges more on the amount of power the batteries can provide and the current that they can push. Basically, the AA battery will be able to power a device longer and push a greater current than the AAA. Of course, AAA batteries are smaller that means you can often fit more of them in the device.
The primary difference between whether a device uses AA batteries or AAA batteries. It will be more about its current consumption. While this may seem a minor difference, this can actually spell important effects in regards to the reception of the AM FM pocket radio as the device with more energy to use on hand can often better power the transistors used in receiving the radio wave signal.
Some people simply want something playing in the background to serve as a sort of white noise, while others are more discerning and particular about what their AM FM pocket radio plays. For the latter group, the ability to quickly navigate the different radio stations might be a feature worth devoting additional money and complexity towards. This is where a pocket radio’s memory would come into play.
Essentially, the memory of a pocket radio is almost without exclusion used to keep track of your favorite radio stations. It also necessarily requires the radio to have a bit more advanced of a user interface, which decreases its ease of use. In fact, AM FM pocket radios with programmable stations will almost always use a digital tuning station as opposed to the analog roller dial.
Ease of Use
One of the primary reasons someone would likely choose an older form of technology over the more advanced options available today is the ease of use. Thankfully, AM FM pocket radios have a tendency to be far easier to use than most other types of technology today. However, this generally is due to a lack of more advanced features that would require a more complex user interface.
This dichotomy is so pronounced that is can be seen as almost an inverse proportion. Essentially, the more advanced a device is and the more features it offers, the more complex the user interface. As such, the easiest AM FM pocket radios to use are also, unfortunately, the most simple with the fewest number of features. In this case, the intended purpose of the AM FM pocket radio will generally determine whether you prefer it to be easier to use or more feature-laden.
When you are relying on a product roughly the size of a paperweight to listen to music on, you should expect some technological limitations when it comes to the audio quality. AM FM pocket radios are often able to utilize a couple playback methods some of which can far surpass others. Of course, that may not actually be your primary concern when selecting a portable radio and can potentially be seen simply as an area where you can trim the fat and the price of your purchase.
With a product that is little bigger than your hand, the laws of physics will ultimately confine your options with a pocket radio in terms what you can expect from a built-in speaker. Without the ability to provide a wide, deep cone, the speaker on a pocket radio will only be able to provide so good of a sound quality. Aside from the fact that most AM FM pocket radios only have a single speaker. Which necessitates the use of a mono fidelity, the smaller speaker will also severely limit a pocket radio’s ability to replicate bass. Thankfully, most AM FM pocket radios also have an alternative method of playback. That can potentially offer excellent sound quality in stereo depending on the AM FM pocket radio. And your willingness to spend more money to purchase quality peripherals.
You would think that even at this point in technological advancement people seeking a classic style of technology would still demand a headphone jack so they could enjoy listening to their music without disturbing those around them. Thankfully, manufacturers of AM FM pocket radios pretty much ubiquitously feel the same. Almost all of the products in this market provide you an aux 3.5 mm jack to listen to the radio with headphones.
Since most AM FM pocket radios are not really designed for impressive playback quality. The fidelity of their speakers is generally preordained. Mono playback fidelity is the standard especially considering the speakers themselves are rarely more powerful than a handful or two watts. That said, headphones definitely offer the opportunity to provide a better playback fidelity than the constraints of acoustic physics allows with the embedded speaker. In this case, you will still not be able to achieve surround sound quality. But you can comfortably expect to find stereo though even this quality is actually a bit uncommon for a product of which one of the primary seller features is its simplicity.
No discussion about AM FM pocket radios would be complete without examining how well that moniker applies to the actual product. More impressive sound systems are intended to be large and take up an entire entertainment system. AM FM pocket radios have the opposite requirement. Instead, they must provide the maximum amount of value in the most compact size they can. That said, with the need for a receiver and generally a speaker as well, the size limitations of a pocket radio often run up against the laws of physics and miniaturization.
The most AM FM pocket radios come in a fairly similar profile package. There are a few measurements that stand out, which can truly differentiate the products from one another. For instance, the thickness on the AM FM pocket radio will have the widest range of divergence. While you are ideally looking for a AM FM pocket radio that is no more than 1” thick. You can find AM FM pocket radios that are as little as ½” thick. Similarly to thickness, the width of a pocket radio can also vary a bit more than the height. While the difference in size may seem small, your pockets will notice the difference between a pocket radio that is only 2 ½” wide compare to a pocket radio that is 3”+ wide.
Similar to size, the weight of a pocket radio matters more in terms of its portability than its actual functioning. Of course, if you opt for AM FM pocket radio, then portability is likely an important factor. A pocket radio of small dimensions will not feel significantly more convenient to carry around if it weighs as much as a lead ingot. That said, the weight of a pocket radio will rarely exceed a threshold where it becomes legitimately uncomfortable.
There is a fair range of weight between different products. This difference often does not provide any indication about its potential features. As such, there is little to no reason to consider AM FM pocket radio that is on the heavier side as being more capable than one. That is lighter though the heavier AM FM pocket radio may be made out of more durable materials.
What is the best AM FM Pocket Radio?
In the end, there really is no AM FM pocket radio that will universally be the best AM FM pocket radio for all people. It really comes down to what you expect from your AM FM pocket radio and the general situations you intend to use it. That said, there are two AM FM pocket radios that stand out above the rest.
If you are looking for the best AM FM pocket radio we suggest going with the Sony ICFP26. Which features far more features and options than many of the other AM FM pocket radios we reviewed. It also provides good reception due to a P26 chip for additional boost and filtering capabilities.
Of course, if money is not an issue, you can always opt for the best AM FM digital pocket radio that we reviewed with the C. Crane. The list of features on this product put pretty much all of the other AM FM pocket radios to shame. And allow it to be used in a wide variety of situations that none of the other AM FM pocket radios we reviewed can hope to compete with.