I have been looking forward to this radio for quite some time and its finally here! The Retevis RT3S Dual Band DMR & FM Handheld radio is the successor to the RT3 (Tytera MD380) and that radio was only able to operate on the 70cms Amateur Radio band. The RT3 was a huge favourite with amateurs that use DMR as it was actually the very first DMR Radio I ever owned so it has a special place in my heart.
The RT3S is identical on the outside and is quite similar in the menus etc.. Let’s start by having a good look around the radio.
Like I said the radio is identical to the RT3 but for those who are not familiar we will have a closer look. On the top of the radio we have the Antenna, channel selector knob and volume on/off switch to the right. The Channel selector is one of the things that has changed on the new radio, the old one used to only rotate to 16 positions but now the knob rotates a full 360 degrees. This is a fantastic addition and proves very useful indeed when navigating the menus and searching through the channels. This now allows you to have more than 16 channels in each zone, the radio also allows you to program 3000 channels instead of the 1000 that was on the previous version.
Moving to the left hand side of the radio we have the 3 rubber buttons. The two user programmable buttons either side of the orange accented PTT button. These have a really nice feel to them and I especially like the PTT button as it’s not too hard to press so will be really good for people with dexterity problems, the radio also features a VOX function so can alleviate the need to even touch the radio at all whilst in a QSO.
On the right hand side we have the socket for accessories and program cable. This is the common Kenwood style connector and has been tried and tested over several years now, works very well.
The front of the radio sports the Retevis brand logo at the very top above the very nice sounding audio speaker, this sounds really nice and I never have had any issues hearing any stations when outside for example.
At the back of the radio we have the belt clip attached to the 2000mah battery, this is the same as the previous RT3 model, I would have liked to see this attached to the main body of the radio because if you want to take a spare battery out on a field trip for example you would also need your screwdriver to move the clip with you, not ideal but certainly not a deal breaker.
The Display on this radio is beautiful and its one of its best assets, its super bright and I have no trouble viewing the display outdoors in bright sunlight. The menus on the RT3S DMR radio are also very similar to the previous model but has some added features including Contacts CSV, Private and group call match and in my case the GPS settings.
The build quality is very good on this radio, I have dropped it several times and there’s not even a mark on it, Retevis have done a fantastic job with it and I can see it being around for a very long time yet, I have taken this radio out portable many times since I have owned it and its been perfect! The reports I have received from other operators have been great, one even said that it was “the best audio he had ever heard on DMR”, the FM side of things will not disappoint either as this sounds really punchy both on transmit and receive.
The radio comes with a charging cradle, PC Programming cable and a very well written user manual, the PC software is also free with all Retevis radios so you don’t have to worry about any hidden costs.
This radio has two firmware versions, one allows you to record up to 8 hours of audio, this is very useful if you wanted to record a contact you have had to maybe send to the other user so they can hear how well their radio sounded for example. The other firmware version allows you to store up to 120,000 DMR contacts in the radio, this is the one I use as it’s a really nice feature to be able to see the name and location of the person your chatting with.
This radio has just been released and I’m sure over time we will see a lot of optimizations as we have seen with the Ailunce HD1, I have not come across any bugs as yet and the radio has performed really well and I have really enjoyed using it! If you are looking for a cheap dual band FM & DMR radio then this would be an awesome choice, the RT3 was a fantastic radio and now it has been made even better with the RT3S! Don’t hesitate and take the plunge, you won’t be disappointed!
Thanks very much for reading this review of the Retevis RT3S DMR & FM Dual Band Handheld radio, I really hope it has helped you decide if this is for you. Please check back often for more Ham Radio reviews!
A few of you have asked me to explain how you can put the DMR contact database into your radio, its quite easy so here is how we do it, First we need to visit this website to download the CSV file. Once we have the Contacts (I selected MD380 as my radio as the RT3S had not been updated yet) we need to go into the Computer Program Software for your RT3S and click on Program at the top and click Write Contacts
You will then see this pop up window..
Now Click on Import and select the CSV File that you downloaded earlier and then click Write.. Wait for a few minutes until its finished then your done, you have to write the DMR Contacts separately from writing your codeplug to your radio.
Hopefully this has helped and of course you can message me and I will try to help if I can.
If you also watched my YouTube video I mentioned that I would put the RT3S GPS Factory Firmware on here so you can choose what firmware you want on your radio, either the 8 hours audio recording or the 120,000 contacts. If you need this then please click here for the files, please note I cannot accept any responsibility for any damages to your radio, it is always best to check on the Retevis resources page for up to date information.
If you would like to purchase this radio you can directly from Retevis by clicking the logo below..
Retevis RT3S DMR Programming Guide Video