Logo Ryan Petris

The Baofeng Mystery

Posted on July 16, 2015 in Technology tagged Amateur Radio

Radios Standing
BF-F9 V2+ (left) and BF-F8HP (right)

Update: I have since taken the BF-F8 HP completely apart and the backing appears to be painted aluminum, not plastic, and have updated this article accordingly.

I’ve gotten into amateur radio recently and therefore have been looking into a lot of different handheld radios. Within the amateur radio market, Baofeng is generally the cheapest and is a good bang for the buck, however there’s a lot of question over what the “real” radios are as Baofeng is a Chinese manufacturer. Specifically, the two largest resellers of Baofeng radios are Baofeng Tech and Foscam (i.e., baofengradio.us). First, to settle the fact that they are both authorized resellers as Baofeng, in a recent press release explaining their renaming to Pofung, referred to both companies as “authorized distributors,” and therefore they both sell “official” Baofeng radios (Foscam as mentioned as “baofengradio.us”).

The two specific radios that seem to be the source of all this talk is Baofeng Tech’s BF-F8HP and Foscam’s BF-F9 V2+; they both use the same radio internally however they have different casings, of which Foscam’s is the same case as the UV-5R V2+. The BF-F8HP also comes with a higher capacity battery, a better antenna, and a better manual, however I’m more concerned with the actual quality of the radio.

Now on to the fun part. I’ve purchased and thoroughly looked at both radios, and I’ve made the following findings/conclusions:

  • The BF-F8HP does not have the word “Baofeng” anywhere on the device, and the only places on the radio that mentions “Baofeng” or “Pofung” at all are the sticker on the front (yes that’s a sticker). “Baofeng” appears engraved or printed on the BF-F9 V2+:
    • The faceplate
    • Between the light and battery release
    • The backplate
    • The back of the battery
    • The belt clip
  • The BF-F8HP is not FCC Part 90 certified while the BF-F9 V2+ is. While this doesn’t really matter for amateur radio, it does show that Baofeng (i.e., the real Chinese company, not a distributor) sanctions this model as a “real” Baofeng radio.
  • The BF-F9 V2+ has a metal backplate, while the BF-F8HP has a plastic painted backplate. As far as I know, this doesn’t affect the functionality or performance of the radio, however the original UV-5R also had a metal backplate and, in my opinion, replacing that with plastic makes it look more “cheap”. Additionally, the screws holding the BF-F8HP together are coarse-thread screws (being that the backplate is plastic) vs. the fine-thread screws holding the BF-F9 V2+ together (as the backplate is metal).
  • The battery supplied with the BF-F8HP was a higher capacity (2100mAh vs the normal 1800mAh), however the polarity markers on the back of the battery are swapped! While the battery still operates normal and is actually the correct polarity, this is a huge oversight and really shows the “quality” of the BF-F8HP. Lastly, the battery also does not say “Baofeng” or “Pofung” anywhere on it, and the “Baofeng” engraving on the back of the battery is not there, indicating that it is not an official Baofeng battery.
  • The manual of the BF-F8HP is made by Baofeng Tech, not Baofeng. It is, however, a more detailed manual than what comes with any other Baofeng radio.
  • The BF-F8HP comes with the better antenna that originally came on the UV-82, whereas the BF-F9 V2+ comes with the original UV-5R antenna which isn’t that great. The new antenna, however, is one of the better (if not the best) short sma-female antennas.
  • The battery on the BF-F9 V2+ doesn’t want to go in all the way with the belt clip.
  • Both require wide programming cables to be shaved down to fit properly in the speaker/microphone cutout.

In short, while the BF-F8HP comes with better accessories (i.e., the antenna, manual, and battery), the BF-F9 V2+ seems like a better radio. Everything that makes the BF-F9 V2+ worse than the BF-F8HP can be replaced, whereas what’s wrong with the BF-F8HP is the radio itself. I hope this clears up any confusion that anyone might have with Baofeng Tech and Foscam, and that anyone reading this doesn’t fall down the rabbit hole with them like I did.

Lastly Baofeng Tech is the company that claims Foscam is a “scam” made from older remanufactured parts; this claim is made nowhere else except those that are citing Baofeng Tech’s website. Meanwhile, Foscam is maintaining their its integrity by not getting into this fight. As stated at the beginning of this article, they are both authorized resellers/distributors of Baofeng radios cited by Baofeng themselves.

The following are the pictures I took of both radios.

Face Comparison BF-F9 Top BF-F8HP Top BF-F9 Under Clip BF-F8HP Under Clip Battery Comparison BF-F9 Battery Terminals BF-F8HP Battery Terminals Antenna Comparison