Marius Lubbe ZS1ML

I want to share with you my experience with the Retevis RT3S (, a dual band DMR and FM handheld radio that I have been using for quite a while now. I have been interested in DMR for some time and I was looking for a radio that could offer me both digital and dual analog modes, as well as functionality. I decided to give the RT3S a try and I have to say that I am very impressed with it.

Some of the features that I liked about this radio are:

  • Display. It is a large and colorful screen that shows all the information you need, such as frequency, mode, channel name, battery level, signal strength, and coordinates. The display is also very bright and easy to read in any lighting condition, even in direct sunlight. The backlight can be adjusted to your preference, and it also has a night mode that reduces the brightness.
  • Audio quality. The speaker is loud and clear, and I have no trouble hearing the stations even in noisy environments. The microphone also picks up my voice well and I get good reports on both DMR and FM. The radio also has a VOX function that allows me to transmit hands-free, which is very convenient when I am hiking or driving. The radio also supports Bluetooth earpieces, but I have not tried that feature yet.
  • The function. The radio has a built-in receiver that can send and receive location data on DMR. This is very useful for emergency situations or for tracking your friends or family members. You can also see the distance and direction to other stations on the display. The radio can also be used to program repeaters based on your location, which is very handy when you are traveling.
  • Programming the radio. The radio comes with a programming cable that works well with my Windows 10 laptop. The programming software is like other Chinese DMR radios, and it is easy to use once you get familiar with it. You can program up to 3000 channels and 10,000 contacts, which can be upgraded to 120,000 contacts if you need more. You can also import and export contacts and channels from other radios or from online databases. The radio is also rumored to supports over-the-air programming (OTAP), but I have not tested that feature yet.
  • Battery life. The radio has a 2000 m/ah battery that lasts me all day on a single charge. I usually use the radio on low power (1 watt) for DMR and medium power (2 watts) for FM. The radio also has a true 5-watt high power option, but I usually use low or medium power, unless I need more range. The battery also has a very welcome, power saving mode that extends the battery life even more.
  • The build quality. The radio feels very solid and sturdy in my hand and it has survived several drops without any damage. The buttons are easy to press, and the knobs are smooth to turn. The antenna is flexible and durable, and it provides good reception on both bands. The radio also has a 2-pin Kenwood style mic connector that works with many accessories, such as headsets, speakers, or microphones.
  • Dual band feature. This radio can operate on both VHF (136-174 MHz) and UHF (400-480 MHz) bands, which gives me more options for finding repeaters or simplex frequencies. The radio also supports dual watch, which means that I can monitor two frequencies at the same time, one on each band. This is very useful for keeping in touch with different groups or networks.
  • Compatibility. The radio is compatible with DMR tier I and tier II, which means that it can work with DMR repeaters in the US and around the world. It also supports various DMR features, such as group call, private call, text message, encryption, emergency alarm, etc. It also works well with analog modes, such as FM, CTCSS/DCS, and DTMF.

Retevis RT3S DMR Walkie Talkie Digital, Dual Band 3000 Channels, GPS DCDM DTMF, Recording Function, Amateur Radio, Compatible with MOTOTRBO Tier I and II (Black): Electronics & Photo

Some of the drawbacks that I noticed about this radio are:

  • The belt clip is attached to the battery instead of the radio body, which makes it inconvenient to swap batteries if you have a spare one.
  • The radio does not have an IP67 waterproof rating like some other models do, which means that it is not suitable for wet or dusty environments.
  • The radio does not have a roller ball interface like the RT82 does, which makes it easier to navigate through the menus and settings.
  • The radio does not have an FM broadcast receiver like some other models do, which means that you cannot listen to music or news on your radio.
  • It is easier to program the codeplug via software, rather than the front buttons. Personally, I prefer using the software, but some people insist on being able to so using the buttons.

These are all nit-picking issues and will have no impact on the performance, usability or quality of the radio.

In conclusion, I think that the Retevis RT3S is a great dual band DMR radio that offers many features and functions for a reasonable price. It is easy to use, has a great display and audio quality, supports functionality, has a long battery life, has a good build quality, works well on both digital and analog modes, and is compatible with many repeaters and accessories.

I highly recommend this radio. It is very versatile, and I am especially excited about the fact that advanced users can load the fantastic opensource firmware from Open-GD77. Keep an eye on my blog posts as I am planning a side-by-side comparison with Open-GD77 and the factory default firmware in the near future.

Finally, the best part is that this radio costs around a $100 USD on Amazon or Retevis website, which is a bargain for such a versatile and reliable device. It also comes with a one-year warranty and excellent customer service from Retevis.

In South Africa this radio is available from ZS1X – RadioSmart Solutions 084 552 8573,

I hope you enjoyed this review and found it helpful. If you have any questions or comments about this radio or DMR in general, please leave them below and I will try to answer them as soon as possible.


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