The Baofeng BF-F8HP Review: Handheld Power

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Walkie talkies are a great way to stay in touch with your team members who work on a job site. The only downside is that sometimes you have to run around looking for a clear space to communicate with them.

When I’m on the job site, I need a real solid performer that has long range performance capabilities. It’s why I chose the Baofeng BF-F8HP:

The Baofeng BF-F8HP is a fantastic little dual-band handheld with some awesome features which would be great for ham use. Even though it’s smaller than most ham radios, it still has power. Lightweight and easy to carry around.

The battery life is amazing at 11 hours on high power or up to 220 hours on 1W! This means you can easily go a whole week between charges if necessary and take it off the charger before bed each night, so your backup handheld isn’t likely to die in an emergency.

Pro tip: Charge once per day only. When reviewing it, we kept the screen brightness at 5-10%, and we’ve only had the radio for about three months now, so far so good.

Pros

  • Great battery life (can charge once per day, then put it on the charger at night)
  • High-quality audio reports
  • Lots of power for a small radio
  • The display is easy to read and matches VX-8R perfectly
  • Good stock antenna (SMA-Female)
  • Easily programmable by computer via USB

Cons

  • Only one power level – We wish there was a lower power setting as well
  • Buttons are nice and clicky but small for people with large fingers
  • Speaker volume is low at max setting.

Who It’s For

The Baofeng BF-F8HP is best for:

  • Those people wanting a solid handheld walkie talkie with good audio reports and good battery life (Greater than 11 hours on the road)
  • Amateur radio operators who want to bypass having to buy an amateur license and want a ham radio
  • Anyone looking for a small, durable backup VHF/UHF rig that won’t break the bank if they happen to lose it or step on it or drop it out of their car window or something.
  • Folks who want one device that can do everything – 2m FM repeater access and 10m FM simplex communications capability, APRS work, etc.

​What’s In The Box?​

  • BF-F8HP dual-band handheld radio
  • 1200mAh battery pack
  • Adjustable SMA antenna
  • USB programming cable
  • Belt Clip and Hand Strap
  • Earphone
  • IN-Depth Manual
  • Desktop Charger (110V)

Design & Features

The BF-F8HP has an aesthetically pleasing design. The look of the radio is much different compared to Baofeng’s previous radios. The front face contains a large speaker, with 3 round buttons below it; these three buttons are dedicated to powering on/off the radio (the center button), activating its display (the left button), and activating its flashlight (the right button).

Blue LED

Above these buttons is a blue LED which acts as both the power indicator light and the status light, depending on how long you hold down its associated key.

Switches

Two switches are located directly above this blue LED; one switch controls the squelch (a hardware function controlled by Baofeng), while another controls the VOX mode. Above these switches is a small screen which Baofeng claims to be a ‘real-time clock.’ The top of the BF-F8HP also contains an SMA connector for external antennas, as well as a built-in keypad.

Below the front face are two more switches and a PTT button that can be programmed however you prefer by using Baofeng’s programming software. The left switch controls the band (more on this later), while the right one controls whether Baofeng’s built-in flashlight turns on/off when this switch is pressed.

Ports

On the side of the BF-F8HP, there is a microphone jack and a micro USB port for charging this radio. Baofeng claims that the BF-F8HP’s battery will last up to 10 days on standby mode, 6 hours while transmitting, and 20 hours while receiving.

On Baofeng’s previous radios, there was an LED above the display, which indicated whether Baofeng was in transmit/receive mode or not. This LED has been replaced with a physical switch located close to the BF-F8HP’s PTT button; this allows you to quickly switch modes without having to press certain buttons multiple times or hold down another button while pressing another.

Aesthetic Design

While we do find this design aesthetically pleasing, there are some things we dislike about it. The BF-F8HP’s PTT button is a bit too close to the display, making it hard for me to press without repositioning my finger. We also don’t like how Baofeng designed a hardware function (the radio’s power) with a switch instead of an easily accessible button on Baofeng’s previous radios.

Additional Features

In terms of additional features, Baofeng has included some useful tools in the BF-F8HP. The radio contains three LED flashlight modes: strobe, SOS, and high light mode; this allows you to quickly illuminate objects far from you or use it as a distress signal if needed.

Performance

security guard with walkie talkie

​The BF-F8HP’s front display is an interesting addition to Baofeng’s line of amateur radios; however, the small screen makes it hard to read what you’re typing. The BF-F8HP doesn’t offer advanced features such as digital coding or encryption, and Baofeng has not added a public/private mode.

When compared to Baofeng’s previous radios, Baofeng has made some improvements with its new design. The BF-F8HP feels lighter than Baofeng’s previous models and includes a belt clip and rubber bumpers on each side of the radio.

The speaker on the BF-F8HP sounds clear and overall has a good volume for such a small speaker. Baofeng’s previous models sounded poorly compared to BF-F8HP; if Baofeng made their speakers better earlier, we probably would’ve bought one of Baofeng’s other models.

The BF-F8HP runs on the TYT firmware like its predecessors; however, the BF-F8HP seems to alert me faster than Baofeng’s previous radios. The fast alert rate makes it easier for me to hear traffic that usually goes over the airwaves, such as emergency traffic or repeater announcements.

We’re not too sure about Baofeng’s claims that this radio lasts ten days on standby mode. Baofeng’s previous radios lasted 20 hours on receive mode compared to BF-F8HP’s 20 hours, but BF-F8HP only lasted 6 hours while transmitting, which is half of Baofeng’s previous transmit time.

Specs

  1. Color: Black
  2. Tuner Technology: UHF, VHF
  3. Item Dimensions: 10.5 x 2 x 2 (LxWxH) inches
  4. Frequency Range: UHF, VHF, FM
  5. Battery: 1 Lithium-ion battery (included)
  6. Voltage: 7.4 Volts, 110 Volts
  7. Item Weight: 0.63 Pounds

Conclusion

Baofeng has done a few things right with BF-F8HP. Baofeng finally changed Baofeng’s poor speaker quality and included a belt clip/rubber bumpers on the BF-F8HP. While Baofeng increased BF-F8HP’s transmit time and included a flashlight on BF-F8HP, Baofeng opted to use a hardware switch instead of an easily accessible button for power mode. Baofeng should’ve either increased Baofeng BF-F8HP’s battery capacity or made the switchable to be pressed with ease.

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