Battery-powered radios can be useful if you are travelling or going out for the day and won’t have access to a power supply. Instead of needing to plug the radio into the mains to power it or recharge it, you can simply take however many batteries you need.
There are lots of reasons why you might want a battery-operated radio. You might want something to listen to while gardening, camping or on the beach, or something to have on hand in case of emergencies.
Here are some of the best battery-powered radios available in the UK in 2018. Please note, portable radios are almost always sold without batteries included, so you will need to buy batteries separately.
Best Battery-Powered Radios (UK 2018)
1. Roberts Play
Battery type: 4 x AA
The Roberts Play is a straightforward and reliable FM/DAB/DAB+ radio that takes four AA batteries. One of the best things about this radio is that it has a built-in battery charger so if you use rechargeable batteries it will recharge them while the radio is plugged into the mains.
One of the main downsides of battery-powered DAB radios is that you need to replace the batteries quite frequently (more frequently than with an AM/FM radio), so having a built-in battery charger is very useful.
The Roberts Play is quite compact and light, measuring 16 x 10.5 x 3.5 cm and weighing 387 g, so it’s a good choice for travelling or the beach. It doesn’t have a lot of features, but does let you save 10 preset stations and has a headphone jack for private listening. Read our full review of the Roberts Play here.
2. Majority Little Shelford
Battery type: 4 x AA
This DAB radio from British brand Majority has a stylish retro design and offers great value for money. It has a lot of features for the price including Bluetooth, the ability to save 20 preset stations, a dual alarm clock, a sleep timer and a headphone jack.
You can power this radio using the mains or with four AA batteries. It’s very portable, measuring 17 x 13 x 10 cm and weighing 762 g, and there’s a useful handle for carrying it around.
Like with many portable DAB radios, batteries the battery life is unlikely to exceed 10 hours, so it’s best to use the mains whenever possible. You can plug this radio into the mains using a mobile phone microUSB charger, which is quite convenient if you’re travelling. You can also plug it into a powerbank.
This radio has good sound quality for price, and should be more than adequate for listening to on the beach, while camping or while travelling.
3. Roberts R9993 3-Band Portable Radio
Battery type: 4 x AA
The Roberts R9993 is an inexpensive AM/FM radio that has better battery life than DAB alternatives. This radio is quite a contrast to the Majority Little Shelford reviewed above: it’s an analogue radio with only the most essential features. It could be a good choice if you want something simple and straightforward and don’t need advanced features such as Bluetooth.
This radio takes four AA batteries and can also be plugged into the mains. It’s very portable, measuring 20 x 13 x 5.5 cm and is easy to carry around from room to room. It has three radio bands: LW, MW and FM, and tuning is done via an analogue dial rather than a digital display.
As you might expect from a small radio, the Roberts R9993 is fairly quiet and doesn’t have a lot of bass, but it’s a good simple radio for using around the house and while travelling.
This radio doesn’t have many features except for the radio itself and a headphone jack, but if you want something straightforward it’s a good choice. Read our full review of the Roberts R9993 here.
4. Majority Shelford II
Battery type: 4 x C
The Majority Shelford II is another affordable retro DAB radio from Majority. As you might have guessed from the name, it’s bigger than the Majority Little Shelford measuring 25 x 15 x 10 cm, but it’s still quite portable.
Size isn’t the only difference between this radio and the Little Shelford reviewed above. The Shelford II doesn’t have Bluetooth, and takes four C batteries rather than AA batteries. This radio has a dual alarm clock, a sleep timer, a headphone jack and can save 20 preset stations.
Like with most DAB radios, the Shelford II’s battery life isn’t great so it could be expensive to run unless you have a battery recharger.
The Shelford II has an attractive retro design and is easy to use, but it’s not the most reliable radio and some buyers have had issues with it not picking up enough DAB stations.
5. Goodmans Canvas
Battery type: 4 x AA
The Goodmans Canvas is a small, portable FM/DAB radio that can be powered by the mains or four AA batteries. It has a sleek design, measuring 18.5 x 11 x 5.7 cm and weighing 350 g.
The Canvas is a very straightforward radio that doesn’t have a lot of features except for a headphone jack. Batteries are unlikely to last more than about 10 hours, which is fairly standard for a portable DAB radio.
This radio is straightforward and easy to use, though it feels quite cheaply made. Read our full review of the Goodmans Canvas here.
Battery-Powered Radios vs. Rechargeable Radios
The radios reviewed here all take replaceable AA or C batteries rather than having a built-in rechargeable battery. Here are some of the advantages of this kind of battery-powered radio:
- Batteries are quite cheap and easy to replace
- No need to plug the radio in to recharge it—simply replace the batteries. A radio you needed to recharge via the mains wouldn’t be very useful while camping unless you had a power bank.
However, radios with a built-in battery also have their advantages, the main being that you don’t need to keep buying new batteries. The Roberts Play offers a good compromise between the two as it takes regular AA batteries which is recharges (if they are rechargeable batteries) while the radio is plugged into the mains.
If we had to pick just one of these radios to recommend it would be the Roberts Play. It’s a high-quality portable FM/DAB radio with one rare and very useful feature—a built-in battery recharger. This means you will save money by not needing to buy new batteries, and won’t have the hassle of using a separate battery recharger.
If you want something specifically for emergencies, it might be better to choose a wind-up radio. Wind-up radios don’t need any batteries as you can power them just by winding a handle, and they often come with useful extra features such as a torch and alarm siren.
If you’re interested in radios with a built-in battery, see our roundup of the best rechargeable DAB radios.