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AM/FM radio is still very popular, despite the growth of DAB radio. Many people find AM/FM radio has better signal with less interference than DAB radio.
Another advantage of AM/FM radios is that they are usually very easy to use, without lots of complicated features. They’re also less power hungry than DAB radios, so you can save money on batteries.
Here’s a roundup of some of the best portable AM/FM radios available in the UK.
Best AM/FM Radios in the UK
1. Roberts R9993 3-Band Portable Radio
Made by British radio brand Roberts, the R9993 or Classic 993 is a small portable radio with a classic design and an intuitive layout. This radio offers LW, MW and FM.
This radio is very similar to the Roberts R9954, or Classic 954. One difference between the two radios are that the R9993 takes 4 x AA batteries whereas the R9954 takes 4 x C batteries. The R9954 also has a tone control knob, which the R9993 lacks.
- LW, MW and FM bands
- Dial tuning slider
- Headphone jack
- Takes either 4 AA batteries (not included) or mains power
- Power indicator
Dimensions: 20 x 13 x 5.5 cm
Weight: 420 g
- Good battery life, especially compared to a digital radio
- Better reception on AM than most radios
- Sturdy construction
- Clear sound
- Small and easy to carry around
- Can be hard to tune into a frequency precisely
- Power lead isn’t always included
- Doesn’t save any presets
The Roberts R9993 is one of the best-selling portable AM/FM radios in the UK. It’s a very straightforward and reliable radio, with a classic feel. Read our full review of the Roberts R9993 here.
2. Duronic Hybrid Radio
The Duronic Hybrid has a built-in rechargeable battery which you can charge by winding the hand crank or leaving the radio in the sun to charge via solar power. This makes it a good choice if you’re looking for something portable that won’t require you to change the batteries all the time.
- AM/FM radio
- Headphone jack
- 33 cm telescopic aerial
- 3 ways to charge the built-in battery: Solar power, winding the hand crank, USB cable
Dimensions: 13 x 7.3 x 4.1 cm
Weight: 203 g
- Small and light—very portable
- Can be charged just by leaving on a window sill
- Cheap to run—no need to buy batteries
- Good for camping and travelling
- Sound is quite tinny
- Can be tricky to tune into stations precisely
If you want something small and cheap to run, the Duronic Hybrid is ideal.
You should be able to keep it charged up just by leaving it on a sunny windowsill, which makes it very convenient when compared to other portable AM/FM radios because you don’t need to replace any batteries.
It’s also a good radio to take camping or fishing for the same reason. Read our full review of the Duronic Hybrid here.
3. Panasonic 2400DEB-K Portable Radio
The Panasonic 2400DEB-K is a straightforward and inexpensive radio that picks up AM and FM stations. It’s light and easy to carry around the house.
- AM/FM radio
- Mains or battery powered (takes 4 AA batteries)
- Tuning strength indicator
- Telescopic aerial
- Headphone jack
Dimensions: 24.8 x 14.4 x 11.2 cm
Weight: 399 g
- Straightforward and easy to use
- Light and easy to carry
- Batteries last a long time
- Reception can be unreliable
- Doesn’t save preset stations
This radio can be difficult to tune in accurately, and if you move the radio around while listening to it you might have to keep adjusting the tuning.
4. Sony ICF-C1PJ Portable FM/AM Clock Radio
The Sony ICF-C1PJ is a very stylish AM/FM clock radio with a useful clock projection feature that projects the clock display on the ceiling so it’s easy to see the time while you’re in bed.
- AM/FM radio
- Dual alarm clock
- Sleep timer
- Clock projection with adjustable angle
- Nature sounds
- Battery backup to keep the clock accurate
Dimensions: 11.5 x 10 x 10 cm
Weight: 625 g
- Useful clock projection feature
- Stylish cube design
- Alarm gets louder gradually
- Relatively expensive for an AM/FM radio
The Sony ICF-C1PJ is a stylish and well-made clock radio. It’s quite pricey for an AM/FM radio, and the main reason to buy it is for the useful clock projection feature which lets you see the time without rolling over in bed.
5. ZesGood Portable Radio
The ZesGood Portable Radio is a very small and light AM/FM radio that’s ideal for listening to while fishing, camping or just walking around the house or the garden.
- AM/FM radio
- Takes 2 x AA batteries
- Headphone jack
- 14-inch telescopic aerial
Dimensions: 11.5 x 6.5 x 2.5 cm
Weight: 141 g (boxed)
- Small, handheld design
- Long battery life
- Easy to use
- Good radio reception
- Sounds quite tinny
The ZesGood Portable Radio doesn’t offer many features or amazing sound quality, but it’s very easy to carry around and has good battery life, so it’s great for listening to in the garden or while fishing or camping. It’s also the cheapest radio on this list (at the time of writing), so it’s a good choice if you want something simple and inexpensive.
6. Sony CFD-S70 FM/AM Boombox
The Sony CFD-S70 is one of the few products still available on the market to offer AM/FM radio, a CD player and a cassette player. It could be a good choice if you still have a large cassette collection and don’t want to switch to digital alternatives.
- AM/FM radio
- CD player
- Cassette player
- Saves 30 preset stations (10 on AM and 20 on FM)
- Mains or battery powered (6 x C batteries)
Dimensions: 31 x 21.2 x 14 cm
Weight: 1.9 kg
- Cassette player is useful
- Easy to use
- Compact design
- Power lead comes loose easily
- Cassette buttons aren’t very easy to distinguish from one another
This product is a good choice for those who aren’t big fans of modern technology and want to enjoy AM/FM radio and tapes rather than switching to DAB/internet radio and online streaming. If you want something with AM/FM radio, a cassette player and a CD player, it’s one of the few products still available that ticks all the boxes.
7. PRUNUS J-160 Retro Portable Radio
This easy-to-use little machine is ideal for use indoors and outdoors without any hassle, and the lit tuning window means you can use it at any time of day too.
- AM, FM, and SW radio
- Bluetooth speaker
- Handy rechargeable battery
- 270° tuning window
- Supports USB drives and TF cards
- 10m Bluetooth range
- 3W built-in magnetic speaker
Dimensions: 13 x 7 x 9 mm
- Rechargeable battery saves money in the long-term
- 8-to-10-hour battery life at lower volumes
- Supplied with USB cable
- Weighs just 383 grams for easy portability
- Good sound quality considering its small size
- Battery life is just 3 hours at full volume
- No headphone jack
The Prunus J-160 is an ideal choice if you need a portable radio offering AM and FM connectivity. The rechargeable batteries will save you money on disposable ones in the long term, and this little radio offers the best of modern tech too.
Choosing an AM/FM Radio
Here are a few things to think about when choosing an AM/FM radio.
Most AM/FM radios on the market right now cost between £10 and £50. For £10-£30 you can get a basic portable or pocket radio without any special features. AM/FM radios with a CD player or other extra features will typically cost around £30-50.
Size and portability
AM/FM radios are usually quite small and portable, with the option to power them with batteries or the mains. You can also choose a pocket radio if you want something to put in your pocket while gardening, walking or exercising etc. Pocket radios are small and light and use earphones/headphones as an aerial.
You might want to consider the following features:
- Headphone jack – If you want to listen to the radio privately, make sure it has a headphone jack.
- Batteries – Most portable AM/FM radios take AA or C-size batteries, though some have a built-in rechargeable battery. Consider which would be most convenient for you. If you don’t have a battery recharger and don’t want to keep buying batteries, a built-in battery might be more convenient.
- Digital or analogue tuning – A digital display means you can tune into a frequency precisely, whereas with an analogue display you might have to spend more time fiddling with the tuning to get the best reception. However, lots of people prefer an old-fashioned tuning dial to a modern digital display.
- Presets – Being able to save preset stations means you won’t need to spend a lot of time retuning the radio. Lots of radios allow you to save the frequencies of your favourite stations so you can access them quickly.
- Alarm – An alarm could be useful if you use the radio in the bedroom or the kitchen. Check whether the radio you’re looking at has an alarm if this would be a useful feature for you.
Understanding AM, FM, LW, MW and SW
One of the confusing things about AM/FM radios is the number of different acronyms used. What’s the difference between, AM, FM, LW, MW and SW? Here’s a brief explanation of what these terms mean.
AM stands for “amplitude modification”. It transfers information by varying the amplitude of the carrier wave. It’s the oldest method of transmitting radio broadcasts and while FM and DAB are now more popular, several stations still broadcast on AM in the UK.
AM broadcasts are segmented into different broadcast bands: MW, LW and SW.
MW stands for “medium wave”. It ranges from 526.5 kHz to 1606.5 kHz. The UK’s most popular AM radio station, BBC Radio Five Live, broadcasts on MW using frequencies 693 and 909 kHz.
LW stands for “longwave”. In Europe it refers to the frequencies from 30 to 300 kHz. BBC Radio 4 is available on 198 kHz longwave, though most people listen to it on FM.
SW stands for “shortwave”. It uses the highest frequencies, and while it isn’t precisely defined, frequencies range from at least 1.7 to 30 MHz. Shortwave radio is useful for long-distance broadcasting as it allows radio waves to be refracted or reflected by the ionosphere, travelling beyond the horizon.
FM stands for “frequency modulation”. It’s a method of transmitting radio broadcasts that involves varying the frequency of the carrier wave to transfer information. Up until recently, FM was the most popular way to broadcast and receive radio in the UK, though DAB is now starting to take over.
Should you still buy an AM/FM radio in 2021?
You might be hesitant about buying an AM/FM radio because the UK government has previously expressed an intention to switch analogue radio off at some point in the future.
However, in 2020, the government ministers announced that this isn’t going to happen until at least 2032. As part of this announcement, Ofcom is renewing all commercial analogue licences (which had been due to expire in 2022) for another decade.
The uptake of DAB radio in the UK has been relatively slow, and it’s even possible that internet radios and other streaming devices will overtake DAB radios in popularity before analogue radio is switched off.
Most new radios that are available in the UK in 2021 come with analogue and DAB functions, which may make a more future-proof option for some consumers.
Some of the reasons you might still want to buy an analogue radio in 2021 include:
- Better battery life – some portable DAB radios are incredibly power hungry
- Familiarity – you can stick to what you know
- LW, MW and SW programming – some stations or broadcasts are still only available on LW, MW or SW
If we had to pick just on of these radios to recommend it would be the Roberts R9993. It’s one of the UK’s most popular AM/FM radios for a reason; the Roberts R9993 is well made, affordable and easy to use.
For some more radios to consider, see these articles:
If you’re ready to make the switch to DAB radio, see the best DAB radios here.