The price of DAB radios has come down a lot in the last few years, and there are now many affordable pocket DAB radios to choose from. A pocket/handheld radio is a great gadget to have for when you’re walking, jogging, commuting, gardening or just relaxing around the house.
Pocket DAB radios usually cost between £20 and £100, and normally offer FM as well as digital radio. Most people listen to pocket radios through headphones, which sometimes come free with the radio itself, and some of the radios reviewed here also have a small built-in speaker.
Read on for reviews of the best models available in the UK in 2018 or scroll down for an overview of what to look for in a pocket DAB radio.
Best Pocket DAB Radios (UK 2018)
Choosing a Pocket DAB Radio
Here are some things to look for when choosing a pocket DAB radio:
DAB+ is a more modern digital radio standard than DAB. Most of the UK still uses DAB, but the network could switch to DAB+ at some point in the future. Look for a radio with DAB+ so that it’s “future ready”.
- Newer models
Always look for the latest model of a digital radio as it will have the most up-to-date technology. For example, you should avoid buying the Roberts Sports DAB2 and instead buy the newer Roberts Sports DAB5.
- Key lock feature
A key lock feature means that you can’t accidentally change the channel or turn the radio off by knocking it. You select the station and volume you want, then lock the device before putting it in your pocket.This feature is really helpful if you’re listening to the radio while walking, running, cycling or doing any other physical activity.
- Small size
Not all “pocket” radios will actually fit easily into your pocket. Try to find out the product’s dimensions before you buy it to avoid being disappointed. Pocket radios can be as small as two inches long, meaning you can fit them comfortably in your pocket. The smallest pocket DAB radio currently for sale in the UK is the OXX Clip Pocket Radio. Most pocket radios are roughly 9 cm high, 5 cm wide and 2 cm deep.
- Battery life and recharging options
One of the most common complaints about pocket DAB radios, and portable DAB radios in general, is that they have poor battery life. If you’re used to listening to an AM/FM radio for weeks before changing or recharging the battery you will be disappointed with pocket DAB radios. Most pocket DAB radios have a battery life of less than 10 hours, and this tends to deteriorate over time. Nevertheless, some radios are better than others when it comes to battery life.
You should also consider recharging options: would you rather charge the radio via USB or use batteries? The radios reviewed below can all be charged from a computer using a USB cable, except for the Roberts Sports DAB5 which takes AA batteries.
- Positive reviews
Look for a pocket radio with plenty of positive genuine reviews. The radios listed here some of the top-rated handheld digital radios currently available in the UK.
Pocket DAB Radio FAQs
Here are some other frequently asked questions about pocket DAB radios and digital radio in general.
- Why buy a pocket DAB radio?
If you have a smartphone, you could use it like a pocket radio by using radio apps such as TuneIn. However, these apps use quite a lot of data, which can become expensive. Listening to the radio on your phone also runs down the battery quickly. Pocket radios offer you a convenient and easy way to listen to the radio for free (except for the cost of the radio).
- Can you get pocket DAB radios with Bluetooth?
At the time of writing, we couldn’t find any pocket DAB radios with built-in Bluetooth. However, it is possible to use wireless headphones with a pocket DAB radio if you have a Bluetooth transmitter such as this one from Taotronics. This is a small device that plugs into the headphone jack and transmits audio to Bluetooth headphones (or a Bluetooth speaker). While Bluetooth transmitters are small, having to keep both a pocket radio and a transmitter in your pocket isn’t an ideal solution.
- How long does the battery last on a pocket DAB radio?
Unfortunately, DAB radio is relatively power-hungry, so most pocket digital radios only have a battery life of around 10 hours or less. If you use the FM mode you will be able to listen for longer. Most pocket DAB radios are recharged by plugging the device into a computer using a USB cable.
- Do pocket DAB radios actually work? Won’t my pocket block the signal?
These radios are designed to work in your pocket and use the headphones as an aerial, so putting them in your pocket shouldn’t be a problem. However, DAB signal in the UK can be temperamental and is poor in some areas.
- Can I use a pocket DAB radio in my car?
Yes, pocket radios can be used in the car either by plugging them into your car stereo or just using with headphones. However, a more suitable option for the car would be a plug-and-play DAB radio adapter.
- Which stations can I get on DAB?
If you live in the UK, you will normally be able to receive all of the popular BBC and commercial stations such as Radio 4, Radio 5 Live, TalkSport etc. as well as at least 10 extra stations you wouldn’t get on an AM/FM. You can use the postcode search here to get a better indication of what’s available in your area.
- Can I use a DAB radio abroad?
Yes, but you will only get stations from that country (if the country uses DAB). All of the radios reviewed here offer both FM and DAB/DAB+, so you will be able to pick up local and national FM stations in the country you are visiting. We’ve published a few articles on listening to the radio abroad:
- Does DAB radio require WiFi?
No, DAB radio doesn’t require an internet connection. You use it just like you would listen to FM radio.
- Is DAB radio free?
Yes, once you own a DAB radio it doesn’t cost anything to listen to digital radio (except for the electricity costs of recharging your radio).
If we had to pick just one of these radios to recommend it would be the Majority Parkside-Go as it performs well and offers great value for money. If you have more money to spend, the Pure Move R3 has a more stylish design and comes backed by a 3-year warranty.
The radios reviewed above are some of our top picks, but there are plenty of other good pocket radios available if none of them appeal.
If you’re a runner, check out our roundup of the best pocket radios for running, which includes some DAB radios as well as AM/FM radios and MP3 player radios.
Here are a few other pocket DAB radios we have reviewed: