Review Baofeng GT-3 Mark II

Another Baofeng? Booooring… That’s what crossed my mind when I opened up the box with the GT-3 Mark II inside. Let’s be honest: apart from fancy looking cabinets there hasn’t been much progression.

So, is the GT-3 Mark II as boring as the rest of the Baofeng pack? Surprisingly, it’s not.

Old vs new. The Mark II antenna might have Nagoya roots (NA-666).

Look & Feel
As far as look & feel go, the GT-3 Mark II is still easily recognizable as a Baofeng variety. The orange accents make the radio look more modern, better even, although tastes differ. When compared to the first GT-3 version there aren’t many differences to spot, but the ones you do see are important.

  • Belt clip is molded differently, and clamps slightly better.
  • The UV-5R stock antenna has been replaced with a Sainsonic antenna specifically tuned to the amateur bands.

It’s no secret that I despise the short UV-5R stock antenna. It’s deaf, and better in converting RF into heat than into radiated energy. If you look at the picture below, you’ll see that the Mark II’s green LED is on, showing that it’s receiving the PI2NOS repeater in Hilversum. The old GT-3 stays silent. That has nothing to do with receiver sensitivity, but everything with the efficiency of the antenna.

Old antenna: no indoor reception. New antenna: good indoor reception.

Now here’s a mystery. The chips used in both the old an the new GT-3 are exactly the same. Both radios are equally sensitive. Performance however is not — the Mark II can cope much better with unwanted (strong out-of-band) signals than the first version. My theory is that the firmware has something to so with it, but I can’t prove it. Whatever the reason, the GT-3 Mark II surpasses the Baofeng UV-B5, although not by a wide margin.

RX audio
Typically Baofeng UV-5R – nothing special, but good and distortion-free.

Squelch levels
No improvements here, and I didn’t expect that anyway. Because the squelch design is based on noise levels, there just isn’t enough room to play with thresholds. The slightest whisper of a router, modem or switch will open up the squelch, even when the squelch is set to the maximum level.

If the squelch would have been based on signal strength, like a Yaesu FT-60 for example, you would be able to set any threshold you want. No such luck with this design.

TX audio
Here’s the good news: the GT-3 Mark II was not recognizable as the typical Baofeng. Most standard UV-5Rs lack enough punch and, more often than not, sound muffled. All this radio received from other hams were compliments, and believe me, there’s quite a bunch of nit pickers out there.

Harmonic suppression
Quite impressive on VHF, disappointing on UHF.

GT-3 Mark II VHF

GT-3 Mark II VHF: excellent.

GT-3 Mark II UHF

GT-3 Mark II UHF: disappointing.

Bugs & Flaws
I didn’t ran into firmware bugs. Some old flaws were fixed, such as the ’rounding down’ bug. When set to 12.5 KHz steps, the radio now correctly predicts the frequency you want to enter instead of rounding it down. No ‘listen to the beep’ bug either.

Programming cable
One annoying flaw is actually not the radio’s fault. Most programming cables have a connector mounted under a 90 degree angle, which is not the best way to do things. As soon as the body of the radio is slightly wider than, let’s say, a standard UV-5R, the 3.5mm and 2.5mm plugs won’t go in all the way.

The GT-3 Mark II’s body is wider. As a result the computer never sees the radio. The solution is to trim some plastic from the connector, as described at

Battery life
Impressive, really impressive, just like the standard UV-5R. Days go by without the need for recharging, and I’m a heavy duty user. Maximum battery capacity is reached after three consecutive cycles of being drained completely and charged completely, which is typical for Li-Ion batteries. Charging time is about 5 hours.

The GT-3 Mark II does away with some typical UV-5R weaknesses, while avoiding introducing new bugs or flaws. The receiver worked very nice; the front-end clearly improved (although it’s unclear why), and TX audio is great. Harmonic suppression with Baofeng radios always seems to be a matter of hit & miss.

The new antenna performs way, way better than the previous one. It is however a rather delicate design, prone to bend at the base. All in all this radio gets a ‘thumbs up’, and easily takes the #1 spot in the Baofeng product line.

29 comments on “Review Baofeng GT-3 Mark II

  1. Hi Hans,
    When you say “unwanted signals”, do you mean signals outside of the amateur bands or just a few channels away?
    The comparison between the two GT-3s, as far as the unwanted signals is concerned, has been done with their antennas attached to or by driving the two GT-3s via their antenna connector? In case that the test has been done with the antennas attached to the radios and the unwanted signals were outside of the amateur bands, then perhaps the Sainsonic antenna, that is specifically tuned to the amateur bands, has worked as a band-pass filter and so the better off-band perfomance.
    Thank you in advance for your answer.

    73 de sv1Anonymous

    • I mean strong out-of-band signals, which cause poor receivers to mute. For clarity I might have to edit that. The antenna was my first thought too, but to make a meaningful comparison I fitted both radios with identical antennas (the long ones supplied with the UV-82 and UV-B5). The second test was on one of my outdoor antennas; a situation in which my old UV-5R gives up.

  2. If it does not offer a big battery pack or an AA pack on the aftermarket it’s next to useless for disaster communications. I just do not understand why Asian radio designers don’t create a standard battery mounting system. I was going to buy one of the new “E-model” little radios that gets AM aircraft and HF too for $186 but not if it only has a small pack available for it.

    • Initial lack of accessories is a drawback of a new design. I’m pretty sure Asian manufacturers don’t want a universal battery system, just like Yaesu, Icom and Kenwood never agreed on something. Accessories = money. You don’t want competition.

  3. Clearly you understand Baofeng better than I. I bought uv5r, as usual, not much instruction included, and I’m new to ham! A lost ball in high weeds, but I can learn. I know it’s not an IC-2GAT (my first radio). The sensitivity is definitely missing! KD8OCU.

    • Actually, a Baofeng is *very* sensitive, much more sensitive than any old radio I ever owned. However, if receiver filtering is missing or inferior, high sensitivity is totally meaningless. The radio will quickly be overwhelmed by strong signals around you, most of which will be out-of-band. This can lead to a muted receiver, which can be mistaken for a lack of sensitivity.

      The original UV-5R manual is mostly useless. Download this one instead:

  4. I bought 4 Baofeng GT-3 Mark II off eBay, from different sellers.
    All 4 radios do not supply correct 1750Hz tone for repeaters, but they all supply a 2100Hz tone.
    Very dissapointing that you did not test such an important “must have”.

    • If you trust the manual to the letter (something you should not do with a Baofeng) you will get confused. PTT + Band = 2100 Hz. PTT + A/B is 1750 Hz. It took me just 60 seconds to figure that out.

      P.S. 1750 Hz burst tones as a way to open up repeaters was abandoned years ago, in favor of CTCSS. Not in your country?

      • This hobby assumes one to experiment, with Chinese stuff you must experiment. I hit the right button immediately. After all, there aren’t many buttons left after you discard the ones generating DTMF🙂

  5. My UV-5r is deaf with outdoor antenna (Hygain V2R) and mobile antenna (larsen) and wont receive any incoming signal but transmitting is excellent is this because of the “strong out-of-band signals” you mentioned?


    • Probably yes. It all depends on your location and the amount of RF pollution around you. The problem will hurt you the most when you live in the city; when living in the proverbial ‘middle of nowhere’ you might never notice it.

      My UV-5R can’t be connected to an outdoor antenna either, the receiver will collapse immediately. My (recently sold) Kenwood TMV-71 couldn’t handle it either, and this is an expensive dual-band radio. The Baofeng GT-3 versions do a better job.

      Mono-band handhelds from Yaesu, such as the FT-270R and FT-277R, won’t care. These are much more expensive, of course — about 3x the price of a Baofeng.

      • Hi Again Hans, yes i am living right in the middle of the cit. You said GT-3 mark II does a better job, but is it good enough that it doesnt become deaf at you location where Kenwood TMV-71 and Baofeng uv-5r receiver failed?

        My last question does single-band HT in general is better in handling strong out-of-bound signal than dual band HT?

        Many thanks.

      • You could run into a lousy Chinese mono-band too, but yes, mono-band transceivers are generally less susceptible to RF pollution. Whether the GT-3 MK II would do as well at your place as it does here, is hard to predict. The best advice is to borrow one and try it out.

      • Well you answer is spot on, i was thinking of getting the GT3 Mark II and wondering if the GT3 Mark II will handle noise better at my location. I guess the only think to do is to get one since none of my friend has one. I will keep my UV-5R though this is a really nice HT as it is.


  6. Pingback: Baofeng GT-3 Mark II en détail | Radioamateurs-France

  7. ?????????
    All my handhelds ( Baofeng ) run off an external (outdoor) antenna just fine ..
    I run a Vertical Dipole and SWR is almost 1:1
    I have had no issues .. For RF I use the clip on filters you can buy ..
    Just clip them onto the coax .. I added a balun to both my dipoles and noticed no difference to not having a balun .. The clip on filters were noticed right away .
    Both my dipoles handle 2m and 70cm just fine ..
    ( Actually I have 3 Dipoles , but never mind ) .. The 3rd dipole does not run a balun or filters , and is just as easy to live with as the other two ..

  8. Hans, do you think the new GT-3 is a better radio than the GT-5 or the UV-82? I have the 82 and I get nothing but compliments when I talk on the 2 meter nets. One ham thought I was running a 2 meter base station and was astonished when I told him what I was using. I have it hooked up to a 2m mobile antenna.

    • The GT-3 MKII is a better radio when used under more challenging conditions (e.g. RF pollution). If that’s not a problem where you live, don’t bother. For me, owning about every Baofeng variety, it was a blessing. RF pollution is very high here.

    • absolutly…I have GT-5 and GT-3 first generation…Gt-3 has most likely nf modulation, and better sound….I tested bouth with repeater and gt3 (no stock antenna) worked some km longer distance. If you dont need 2 PTT button i supossed GT3

  9. Hi, first of all, thanks for great blog, I’m really glad I’ve found it. I’d like to ask what’s the deal with this “inverse” display. From what I’ve seen, I guess it can have some benefits for “tactical” use during night (lower visibility). But on the other hand some people say that it’s really bad on sunlight especially when in stand by mode. What’s your opinion/experience? This is major difference between GT-3 and GT-3TP and I can’t decide which one to buy.🙂

    • I find the inverse display hard to read in low light, not in daylight. The GT-3TP has more power output, plus the conventional 3-color display.

Comments are closed.