Three handheld radio models -- the RDR2500, RDR4280, and RDR1520 -- are arranged together beneath DTWR's logo and tagline, "We Know Radios, So You Don't Have To!"

These Are the Unrivaled Two-Way Handheld Radios You Should Buy

Because there are a lot of options out there when it comes to two-way handheld radios, you may find it difficult choosing the right ones for you and your team. We’ll go ahead and help you narrow that scope by telling you which brand to use, and that’s RCA. While any choice from their catalog will serve you well, here are the models you should consider, and our reasons why each can be important based on the specific needs of your business.

Entry-Level Model: The RDR1520

Don’t be fooled by the label. Entry level doesn’t equal low quality. In fact, there are really only three main differences between the RDR1520 and the other models from this list: slightly less power, no option for a screen, and a lower IP (ingress protection) rating. But what this unit may lack in these areas is more than made up for by a lightweight, durable design, which also makes it the perfect two-way radio for less strenuous labor associated with education, hospitality, or any office environment.

Here’s a further breakdown on why you should consider the RDR1520.

Coverage. Three watts can still pack a punch based on the area you need to cover.

Sound quality. Thanks to X-Sound+, you’ll always have crystal-clear audio when sending and receiving.

No screen? No problem. If you aren’t interested in all of the bells and whistles that radio screens may offer, this could be the best option for you.

IP rating. Even if it may not be built for the harshest conditions, the RDR1520 is still highly durable. With an IP54 rating, that means limited resistance to dust, water, and other contaminants.

Looking for units that offer more power and a few programmable functions? Let’s talk about RCA’s mid-tier option next.

Mid-Tier Series: The RDR2500s

If you’re already familiar with RCA, you won’t be surprised that this series made our list. The RDR2500s have been fan favorites of this brand for a very, very long time. Here are the main reasons for their popularity.

Coverage. Whether it’s across wide open spaces or several floors in a single building, your signal will always get through.

Durability. Each model under this series can survive plenty of bumps, scrapes, and falls, and still work like brand new. We even did a drop test to prove it! (That’s definitely more than the average recreational walkie-talkie or cell phone could ever survive!)

Sound clarity. You’ll always hear your team loud and clear, which improves workplace performance and avoids unnecessary distractions. If you’re ever concerned about surrounding noise interference, or you want your workers operating practically hands free, make sure to couple these units with compatible earpieces

Battery life. Most teams depend on 10 to 12 hours of radio use from a single charge. The RDR2500 easily surpasses that. If you need even longer performance, we also offer an ultra-high-capability battery upgrade.

These units have the perfect balance of world-class quality and affordability that are able to meet the needs of the majority of our customers. The upgraded RDR2550 also offers a 16-character display and seven (7) programmable functions.

However, if you need the toughest 2-way radios that RCA has to offer, then you should definitely check out the RDR4200 series.

High-End Series: The RDR4200s

When it comes to the RDR4200s, we’ve got two words for you: intrinsically safe.

Not sure what that means? In a nutshell, it’s protection for the electrical components of these radios, because electricity is intrinsic to (a natural part of) their use. 

To qualify as intrinsically safe, two-way handheld radios must be designed in such a way they meet:

  1. Military specs for durability, vibration, and shock resistance.
  2. Requirements for each class of hazardous environment, including
    1. Flammable vapors and gasses (Class 1)
    2. Flammable dust (Class 2)
    3. Flammable fibers (Class 3)

It’s also important that these radios include excellent sound quality and the best available warranty, as they’re often used in the most dangerous working conditions. We’re talking chemical plants, oil rigs, coal mines, lumber yards, and grain mills, to name a few.

Important note: If you need intrinsically safe radios but decide not to purchase them from RCA, always make sure that the handhelds that you consider are labeled IP67.

Because all models under the RDR4200 series are designed with military-grade durability, they can take a beating. You remember the RDR2500 fall test we mentioned above? Well, one of these units can be run over by a car and still work like nothing happened. Plus, they still cost 30 percent less than any comparable models on the market today.

Features That All RCA Two-Way Handheld Radios Include

While we’ve talked about individual benefits for each radio model, it’s important to highlight a few that are pertinent to all RCA handhelds.


We’ve met plenty of people who hesitated to purchase RCA radios because they were concerned about compatibility. Specifically, they had older units from other brands, and they thought our units wouldn’t be able to communicate with them. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Thanks to RCA’s RadioSync technology, our radios can talk with radios from any brand, so we already know that the ones we have will work with those you own. You can even watch this video about how easy it is.

Still Use Analog Radios? We recognize that while most businesses have opted for the latest digital radio technology, there are still plenty of customers who prefer to use older analog units. RCA’s handhelds can talk with those too, as long as the units you purchase from us offer mixed mode — in other words, the ability to swap from analog to digital frequencies with the flip of a switch.

Taken together, these features allow compatibility with any legacy radio network, and give you the flexibility, convenience, and affordability to phase out older models.

Emergency Alerts

Regardless of where you work, your radios should come with alert features that will notify your team members when someone’s in trouble. That’s why all RCA handheld radios can be preprogrammed with the following two safety features.

Lone Worker

This feature involves a timer that becomes active when a worker turns on their radio. Every 10 minutes, that worker must interact with their radio in order to avoid an alert. They’re also given a two-minute warning to remind them.

General Emergency Alert

This is the most versatile, manual option that RCA offers for emergencies. All it requires for activation is the simple push of a button — either an orange one that comes on the tops of any models in the RDR2500 and RDR4200 series, or any of the programmable side buttons on the RDR1520. This alert can be applied in situations where workers are in trouble and need to send immediate, network-wide warnings, including fires, acts of nature, or suspicious on-site activity.

Honorable Mention: Man Down

This feature comes standard only in the RDR4200 series, due to the specialized sensor it requires. As the name implies, it’s an alert that kicks in when a worker falls. Their radio will either register a lack of movement, or that the unit itself has suddenly turned horizontal, prompting it to “chirp” and activate a timer. The worker then has a full minute to deactivate that timer if there is no emergency. Otherwise, an alarm is sent to team members’ radios so that they can respond.

When You’re Ready To Purchase

Have you decided which two-way handheld radios you want to buy? We’re standing by to take your order! We’ll answer as soon as you dial — no convoluted phone trees, unreturned voicemails, or hour-long hold times just to ask a single question. Call us today at 888.299.6340, and get immediate assistance from one of our award-winning customer service representatives.

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