/>
X
Tech
Why you can trust ZDNET : ZDNET independently tests and researches products to bring you our best recommendations and advice. When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission. Our process

'ZDNET Recommends': What exactly does it mean?

ZDNET's recommendations are based on many hours of testing, research, and comparison shopping. We gather data from the best available sources, including vendor and retailer listings as well as other relevant and independent reviews sites. And we pore over customer reviews to find out what matters to real people who already own and use the products and services we’re assessing.

When you click through from our site to a retailer and buy a product or service, we may earn affiliate commissions. This helps support our work, but does not affect what we cover or how, and it does not affect the price you pay. Neither ZDNET nor the author are compensated for these independent reviews. Indeed, we follow strict guidelines that ensure our editorial content is never influenced by advertisers.

ZDNET's editorial team writes on behalf of you, our reader. Our goal is to deliver the most accurate information and the most knowledgeable advice possible in order to help you make smarter buying decisions on tech gear and a wide array of products and services. Our editors thoroughly review and fact-check every article to ensure that our content meets the highest standards. If we have made an error or published misleading information, we will correct or clarify the article. If you see inaccuracies in our content, please report the mistake via this form.

Close

These walkie-talkies connect to your phone and even offer weather alerts

The best walkie-talkies can now sync with a smartphone app, have privacy codes, NOAA alerts, and ranges up to 35 miles. With this in mind, ZDNET found the top options to stay in communication. For Halloween activities especially, walkie-talkies are great for kids.
Written by Allison Murray, Staff Writer
Motorola Talkabout T800 Two-Way Radios | Best walkie-talkies overall
Man on his smartphone with a walkie-talkie clipped to his chest
Motorola Talkabout T800 Two-Way Radios
Best walkie-talkies overall
View now View at Amazon
MOICO Walkie-Talkies | Best budget walkie-talkies
A yellow and black walkie-talkie with a light beam coming out of it against a black background
MOICO Walkie-Talkies
Best budget walkie-talkies
View now View at Amazon
Wishouse Rechargeable Walkie-Talkies for Kids | Best walkie-talkies for kids
Little kid on the floor with three colorful walkie-talkies in front of them
Wishouse Rechargeable Walkie-Talkies for Kids
Best walkie-talkies for kids
View now View at Amazon
Midland 50 Channel Waterproof GMRS Two-Way Radios | Best rugged walkie-talkies
Two walkie-talkies on a car tire
Midland 50 Channel Waterproof GMRS Two-Way Radios
Best rugged walkie-talkies
View now View at Amazon
Topsung Walkie Talkie | Best four-pack walkie-talkies
A blue and an orange walkie-talkie plugged into a charger
Topsung Walkie Talkie
Best four-pack walkie-talkies
View now View at Amazon

You may think walkie-talkies are a thing of the past since we have smartphones, but there are always situations where cellular connectivity is limited, or you may not want to buy your kid a smartphone just yet.

Walkie-talkies are great for communicating within a specific mile range, and while their primary function is just that, modern-day walkie-talkies have features like smartphone apps, severe weather alerts, flashlights, and more.

We've rounded up the best walkie-talkies to help you communicate from anywhere easier. 

Must read:

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Great range
  • Connects to a smartphone app for more features
  • Access to offline maps
Cons
  • Takes a long time to charge
More Details

Specs: Range: Up to 35 miles | Waterproof: IPX4 | Channels: 22 | Privacy codes: 121 | Battery: 14 hours

The Motorola Talkabout two-way radios are a top pick thanks to their unique features. Along with up to 35 miles of communication range and a long battery life of 14 hours, these walkie-talkies also connect to the Motorola Talkabout smartphone app to enable communication options beyond push-to-talk. Connecting your device to the app allows you to send messages, locations, and more over the radio frequencies.

These walkie-talkies also have weather alerts from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, along with the ability to use offline maps. 

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Comes in a four-pack
  • Affordable
  • Hands-free option
Cons
  • Lower range
  • Battery life could be better
More Details

Specs: Range: Up to 3 miles | Waterproof: N/A | Channels: 22 | Privacy codes: 99 | Battery: N/A

With this budget option, you'll get a pack of four walkie-talkies for less than the average price of two from MOICO. These walkie-talkies have a hands-free operation, thanks to voice-operated transmit (VOX) technology. This allows you to use these devices to communicate even if you're busy hiking or carrying something.

These walkie-talkies have six adjustable volumes and 10 call settings so that you can customize the sound to your liking. In addition, they have a built-in backlit LED display and a flashlight to provide better visibility at night. 

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Multiple charging options
  • Wearable lanyard and belt clip
  • Seven color set options
Cons
  • Changing the channels can be hard
  • Limited range
More Details

Specs: Range: Up to 20 miles | Waterproof: N/A | Channels: 22 | Privacy codes: 121 | Battery: 7 days

If you want to stay in touch with your little ones, these walkie-talkies for kids are a great option with kid-friendly and safety features. They come with a built-in flashlight and a wearable lanyard and belt clip, so your kids have less chance of losing them.

You can also charge these walkie-talkies in different ways to ensure they are always powered: either rechargeable AA batteries or through the included USB charger. Plus, you can set up separate privacy channels for your family.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Whisper mode
  • NOAA weather alerts
  • Impressive battery life
Cons
  • Takes a long time to charge
  • Range limits seem to differ a lot
More Details

Specs: Range: Up to 36 miles | Waterproof: JIS-4 | Channels: 50 | Privacy codes: 142 | Battery: Up to 24 hours

These walkie-talkies from Midland are a durable and rugged option for those who need walkie-talkies for more intense situations or outdoor activities. They are splash-resistant, have a long-lasting battery life, an SOS siren, and NOAA weather scan and alerts so you can be alerted when severe weather is approaching.

Their range is also impressive: you can get up to 36 miles total; otherwise, you can get 6-10 miles with partial obstructions and 1-5 miles in more urban areas. In addition, a handy whisper mode picks up your voice even if you speak quietly and alerts you to incoming calls with vibrations.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Come with an ear piece and mic set
  • Fast charging
  • Weather alerts
Cons
  • Range varies between the walkie-talkies in the pack
More Details

Specs: Range: Up to 20 miles | Waterproof: N/A | Channels: 22 | Privacy codes: 121 | Battery: N/A 

Those who need multiple walkie-talkies should consider this four-pack. They come with NOAA weather alerts and have drop protection making them a durable option. These walkie-talkies charge super-fast (three hours for a full charge) and have overcharge, over-voltage, and short circuit protection in the included USB charger. 

Other features include an auto scan function, VOX technology, a keypad lock, a backlit LCD screen, and more. 

What is the best walkie-talkie?

In our opinion, the best walkie-talkie is the Motorola Talkabout two-way radio since it has a great range and battery life and can even be connected to a smartphone app for special features.

Walkie-talkie

Price

Range

Channels

Motorola Talkabout T800

$98

Up to 35 miles

22

MOICO Walkie-Talkies 

$41

Up to 3 miles

22

Wishouse Kids Walkie-Talkies

$50

Up to 20 miles 

22

Midland 50 Channel GMRS Two-Way Radios

$70

Up to 36 miles

50

Topsung Walkie-Talkies

$80

Up to 20 miles

22

Which walkie-talkie is right for you?

While any of these walkie-talkies make great communicating devices, it ultimately comes down to how you plan to use them, if you need them to have durability, how far of a range you're looking for, and what price you're willing to spend.

Choose this walkie-talkie...

If you want...

Motorola Talkabout T800

The best overall option. 

MOICO Walkie-Talkies

Budget-friendly walkie-talkies. 

Wishouse Kids Walkie-Talkies

Walkie-talkies to keep tabs on little ones.

Midland 50 Channel GMRS Two-Way Radios

Rugged walkie-talkies with severe weather alerts. 

Topsung Walkie-Talkies

A four-pack of walkie-talkies that charge fast.

How did we choose these walkie-talkies?

We know there are a lot of walkie-talkies to choose from, so we combed through popular sites reading reviews (both good and bad) and noting the top-rated walkie-talkies for different categories/needs. We considered price, size, and special features when making our final picks.

What is walkie-talkie range?

The range of a walkie-talkie is the distance that two walkie-talkies can work between each other. The range varies considerably based on obstructions. For example, if you're in a heavily wooded area or an urban area with lots of buildings, the range will be less than if you were in an open field.

The maximum range listed on most walkie-talkies is the number if there were no obstructions, so expect less range than this number when using your walkie-talkie in an average setting. 

Are there alternative walkie-talkies worth considering?

Here are a few other options to look into: 

Editorial standards