Walkie-talkies are convenient devices used by several people to communicate using radio waves. It’s truly wireless, and the best thing about it is that it doesn’t rely on any physical infrastructure to function, which means that they are perfect for emergencies and in situations where smartphones are deemed unuseful.
Since walkie-talkies offer a lot of power for its holder, some of their variants require a license to operate. It’s only applicable to people who use a broader range and very high frequencies. If you only use walkie-talkies that have a concise range, you don’t have to worry about any license to get. License-free ones are also cheaper and a lot faster to buy. You don’t even have to re-program the device to work, you just have to open it, and you’re ready to communicate.
In this article, I’ll feature some walkie-talkies that don’t need any license to operate. All are tried and tested by yours truly, and rest assured that every information I will be giving is accurate.
5 best Walkie Talkies without License
#1 DeWalt DXFRS300
DeWalt is one of my favorite walkie-talkie brands, and I’m always happy to hear when they release new models. For instance, when the DeWalt DXFRS300 was announced, I patiently waited for it to drop so that I would be the first to try. It offers a range of up to 250,000 sq. ft., which is a decent distance considering it doesn’t require any license to operate.
Its frequency range is 462 to 467 MHz, and has a power output of 1 watt. The DeWalt DXFRS300 is meant to be useful for everyday people, so its design and functionality are straightforward. It has a total of 22 FRS channels, which are all pre-programmed, so you won’t have to do any tinkering.
The battery life for this variant may last up to 18 hours only if it is fully charged. It operates using a 1,000 mAh rechargeable battery and doesn’t accept disposable ones. DeWalt also thought about businesses since it’s usually sold as a set when they made the device. Despite being a walkie-talkie that doesn’t require a license to operate, it’s still powerful enough to be used by multiple people at a decent range.
It has VOX functionality, which is a nice feature, especially if you’re into hands-free communication. A confirmation tone is also audible, which may be a minor feature to have been included, but it’s a good sign for people who are used to old-school walkie-talkies. Lastly, I have to talk about the feature that I like the most: the power-saving option. The DeWalt DXFRS300 will instantly reserve its energy if it hasn’t detected any activity for the next 10 seconds.
- Brand: DeWalt
- Range: up to 250,000 sq. ft.
- Power output: 1 watt
- Frequency ranges: 462-467 MHz (FRS)
- Battery: 1,000 mAH rechargeable Lithium Polymer Battery
- Size: 6.22 x 2.37 x 2.15 inches
- Weight: 0.66 lb (without batteries)
- Waterproof: yes (IP67)
- License needed: no
Pros of the DeWalt DXFRS300
- Great range
- No licensing or service fees required
- Unique, rugged, and ergonomic design. Even if you drop it frequently, it still works!
- Good volume control
- It is user-friendly
- It has a lifetime warranty.
- The battery charge is long-lasting
Main Plus: Group Walkie-Talkie
The DeWalt DXFRS300 is currently sold as a set and is the best option if you want a walkie-talkie for a business or organization. The devices can be charged altogether in a convenient recharging dock, and it’s as easy as putting them in a standing position.
Cons of the DeWalt DXFRS300
- Audio quality is not as crystal clear compared to other devices in its class.
- A design flaw breaks the antenna housing easily.
- Plastic clips behind the radio are not held securely, and repeated movement over time might weaken the tab.
#2 Midland LXT500VP3
Our next entry is the LXT500VP3 from Midland. It’s small and portable and doesn’t require much power to operate. It has a range of 24 miles, which may be a short measurement for modern-day walkie-talkies, but if you’re only using it for emergencies, then it’s more than enough. It has a frequency range similar to DXFRS300, 462 to 467 MHz. It’s mostly suited for personal purposes and family usage, so you don’t have to worry about being professional to operate one.
The Midland LXT500VP3 can last for at least 12 hours when you use its built-in rechargeable battery. I prefer devices that could last for a day, but I think this would do for its price. You may also use disposable batteries to power this device, perfect if you always carry this to communicate during emergencies.
The device can compensate for its low operation time since it has high and low power options which can be easily switched to one another. It is simple; setting it to low will decrease the broadcast range, while going for the high power option would give you an instant range boost.
- Brand: Midland
- Range: 24 miles
- Power output: 0.5 watt
- Frequency ranges: 462-467 MHz (FRS)
- Battery: rechargeable batteries or 4 AAA Alkaline batteries
- Size: 6.16 x 2.4 x 1.26 inches
- Weight: not stated
- Waterproof: no, but water-resistant
- License needed: no, FRS only
Pros of the Midland LXT500VP3
- Portable, conveniently fits in the pocket
- Selection for dual power
- Simple to use
- Search channels automatically
- A warranty period of three years
Automated In hindsight, this variant from Midland might be a weaker walkie-talkie because it doesn’t have any secrecy codes available. However, it does compensate through its automated channel scan feature, which is convenient for beginners and those who don’t know what channel they should pick.
Cons of the Midland LXT500VP3
- Few interface defects
- No weather station radio
- No privacy protection code
- Earpiece not included
#3 Retevis RT68
Retevis is another dependable walkie-talkie manufacturer. Their RT68 is one of those that got me hooked because of its high-quality performance despite a meager price of $15. It’s accessible and gives a chance for everyday people to own a walkie-talkie without holding a license or spending that much money.
While Retevis might not have indicated the range for this specific model, I can say that it can at least range from 20 to 30 miles, provided that you use it in an open area. When I tested it in an environment with obstructions, I could only make it work for at least 5 miles, which isn’t bad for a $15 walkie-talkie.
It’s equipped with a generous 1,200 mAh, which means that you can operate the device nonstop for 12 hours. It can be conveniently charged using a USB charger.
Aside from being a cheap entry-level walkie-talkie, the RT68 is also known for its 16 preset channels, which is an outstanding feature, considering that most people who would own this are beginners and those without experience programming a walkie-talkie.
The device can easily fit on one’s palm, and I like how it feels to the touch, maybe because of the material used. It’s durable, portable, and will increase your productivity if you plan to get it for outdoor activities.
- Brand: Retevis
- Range: not stated
- Power output: ≤ 2.0 watts
- Frequency ranges: 462-467 MHz (FRS)
- Battery: Li-ion 1,200 mAh
- Size: 4.57 x 1.97 x 1.38 inches
- Weight: 0.35 lb
- Waterproof: no
- License needed: no
Pros of the Retevis RT68
- Licensee-free radio, with no legal issues
- Compact design and easy-to-operate and set up
- High-quality built-in features with a Squelch function
- Highly durable and suitable for long-term use
- Impressive battery life
- Long-range- The long integrated fixed antenna extends, transmits, and receives range. It can also withstand shocks and hash collisions.
Main Plus: Cheap Outdoor Walkie Talkie
For its $15 price tag, I can personally say that this walkie is a must-have, especially if you’re into outdoor fun and activities. It can penetrate a lot of obstruction and keep the sound quality high.
Cons of the Retevis RT68
- Non-waterproof, which makes it difficult to carry in water areas
- You can communicate from channels 1 to 5 but cannot communicate with Retevis RT29.
- It doesn’t have the function of locking the channel selected by the user.
#4 Motorola T800
Motorola T800 might be an expensive license-free walkie-talkie for some people, but it’s currently one of the best entry-level devices that you may see on the market. The price tag has a reason since you can get up to 35 miles of coverage, which would still depend on the environment that you are in. It operates at 462 to 467 MHz frequencies, mainly reserved for beginner and family-friendly walkie-talkies.
The Motorola T800 has a convenient rechargeable battery pack that lasts half a day. If you’re planning to use it as a business walkie-talkie, you might have to also rely on disposable alkaline batteries since they could extend the battery life for up to a day. I have used this device for personal purposes, and I can attest that it is better to have a backup power source to make the most out of this purchase since the built-in battery isn’t enough.
Professionals can still use the Motorola T800 since it has GMRS channels. If you don’t have any license and have stumbled across this, you should stick with the FRS functionality since it would only get you in trouble.
- Brand: Motorola
- Range: 35 miles
- Power output: 0.5-2 watts
- Frequency ranges: 462-467 MHz (FRS/GMRS)
- Battery: NiMH Rechargeable Batteries or 3 AA Alkaline Batteries
- Size: 7.52 x 2.2 x 1.28 inches
- Weight: 0.47 lb (with batteries)
- Waterproof: yes (IPx4)
- License needed: yes, if GMRS channels will be used (FCC license)
Pros of the Motorola T800
- very nice functionality in the app
- straightforward to use
- battery life up to 14 hours
- weatherproof – it easily withstands the kind of water splashing
- good looking and functional design
- pretty clear and mostly static-free sound
Main Plus: All-in-one Safety Walkie-Talkie
Everything that Motorola releases is impressive thus far. The T800 is one device that I love because it offers many features for different types of walkie-talkie users, whether you have a license or not. It has plenty of built-in channels and those dedicated to weather alerts and emergency notifications.
Cons of the Motorola T800
- range and quality of communication going down in a place with many obstructions
- NiMH batteries require 11 hours of charging time
#5 Retevis RT18
Walkie-talkies are a big part of my life, and I only use those of high quality that would be helpful in my endeavors. For instance, I love using devices with a more extended range to go outdoors and never worry about getting lost safely. Still, I have several exceptions, and the Retevis RT18 is one of those. It has a very limiting range of only 1.5 miles, but Retevis is honest with this specification.
There are a lot of license-free walkie-talkies outdoors that are falsely advertised, with some manufacturers claiming that they could reach an insane range of up to 40 miles. Technically, it’s impossible to achieve with so many obstacles present in any environment, even in reasonably open ones like mountains. The Retevis RT18 has a rechargeable battery that I tested for only 10 hours. It’s fair; I’d say, because it is advertised to only work for up to 12 hours.
Before using the product, however, I recommend that you read the manuals first and look up whether it can be used in your location. It has a total of 16 channels that can be easily accessed and all of those are mostly presets, which means that there’s no programming needed to start using.
- Brand: Retevis
- Range: 1.5 miles
- Power output: 0.5 watts / 2 watts
- Frequency ranges: 462-467 MHz (FRS)
- Battery: rechargeable Li-ion battery
- Size: 2.05 x 0.55 x 5.12 inches (with fixed antenna)
- Weight: 0.18 lb
- Waterproof: no
- License needed: no (exclusive for FRS use only)
Pros of the Retevis RT18
- VOX feature is allowing me to use it automatically through voice or hands-free.
- Clear reception using the Squelch feature and the 50 CTCSS/208 DCS
- Two-way radio FRS frequency; Plus, less hassle as its license-free
- The lightweight design, easy to carry around
- Easier notifications of transmitting and receiving through the annular breathing light
- Convenient charging using its USB charging feature.
Main Plus: Portable
Despite having such a small range, the RT18 is still a worthy buy and one I would recommend if you’re on a budget because of its many features like VOX functionality and also squelch. Besides, the RT18 is very easy to carry, perfect for outdoor activities, or as an emergency communication device.
Cons of the Retevis RT18
- Retevis RT18 is not waterproof, unlike other Retevis FRS radio models.
- There are quite several precautionary measures to take note of in handling the batteries.
- Downloading software programs is quite a hassle.
How to Choose the Best Walkie-Talkie without a License
Walkie-talkies aren’t that expensive, but still, you have to consider the durability of the one you’re purchasing because it’s not efficient to buy another one as soon as possible. Besides, walkie-talkies are meant to last for a lifetime or at least for a decade. Even those devices crafted for people without a license should be of high quality, and to identify them, I advise that you look at the materials used. Plastic is fine, but it’s better that you look for a walkie-talkie composed of different materials so that the durability is ensured to be of high quality.
You may also use the brand name as an indication. Typically, those have better exteriors and software, such as Motorola, Retevis, and Midland. These devices mentioned in this article are from brands I trust the most, so hopefully, you got a good idea.
License-free walkie-talkies generally have a shorter range. They’re also being operated on much lower frequencies because those made for higher ones are reserved only for professionals. We’re looking somewhere along 20-30 miles of range, but some models have longer ranges, but those have higher price tags, which I wouldn’t say I like that much. The price addition isn’t that worth it, and I think it’s better to spend those extra bucks on different features like increased channels or longer battery life.
Walkie-talkie hands-free communication is all possible through VOX functionality. Even those with lower price tags have this, so there’s not much to consider when considering this feature. Just make sure that it can work on two modes: push to talk and VOX.
Suppose you’re considering buying a walkie-talkie for whatever purpose it is. In that case, battery life should be your highest priority because a device with top-notch features is nothing if it can be quickly drained. Pick a model that would last for at least 12 hours, and for me, that is the bare minimum. I find those that can last for at least a day more effective, mainly because I mostly use walkie-talkies for outdoor activities.
The power source is also a big deal. While modern ones use rechargeable batteries, I think it isn’t enough. I prefer walkie-talkies with a backup power source, such as disposable battery packs that could last for more than a day.
Weather & Emergency Alert
License-free walkie-talkies are primarily constructed to be cheap because manufacturers would like to strip down several features for their models. However, the emergency and weather alert feature is something that should never be taken away from walkie-talkies. Whatever purpose you have in mind, a walkie-talkie should always be able to function in emergencies. Pick a device that can tune in to channels that NOAA hosts. This weather service provider effectively broadcasts notices and alerts to walkie-talkies that are in the vicinity of their radio towers and satellites.
Why should I have a Walkie Talkie without a License?
For beginners in the walkie-talkie community, a license-free device is the best recommendation to have. I had gotten into that phase when I was still inexperienced and still learning the ins and outs of wireless communication.
These walkie-talkies will never get you in legal trouble. Specific frequencies, especially those higher, are only exclusive to professional operators. Some walkie-talkies can easily transition into these sets of frequencies and switch back into a more beginner-friendly mode. That’s why my best advice is to read every specification available before purchasing and ensure that you’re aware of the methods available. FRS should always be the default frequency setting for walkie-talkie beginners.
I also like license-free walkie-talkies because they are very affordable. They are great as emergency devices because they have a very long lifespan, even if you don’t use them regularly. Aside from that, you may find license-free devices that have a lifetime warranty, which is a big score and is a cost-effective solution if you want to have a long-term emergency plan.
License-free walkie-talkies are also available in sets. These bundles are primarily made for businesses and organizations operating with multiple people at once. It’s just a lot better when compared to buying them individually because you can easily save a lot of money, and aside from that, you may even snag a piece of valuable equipment like a massive charger dock for the whole set.
Conclusion – The five best Walkie Talkies without License
Walkie-talkies that can be operated without a license are generally less powerful than those crafted for professionals and veterans. Their range is significantly decreased, and you can expect to have a lower frequency range because of restrictions made by the government. Suppose you have never had a chance to touch a walkie-talkie before. In that case, license-free devices are your best choice because they are cheaper and much easier to operate, and can be easily activated within just minutes of opening the package.
They might be less powerful than the usual ones that I review, but I think they are an essential part of the walkie-talkie environment, especially for people who want to have a backup device if their main one fails. These models that I have covered are only a tiny fraction of all the license-free walkie-talkies out there, and if you’re not satisfied with their specifications, you may look forward to my next posts so that I can bring you more options.
To conclude, I will give my two cents about the best of all the bunch that I have just reviewed. I will give the Motorola T800 my stamp of approval, and it is one that I will recommend despite it being expensive compared to the others that I have included on this list.