Products & Product Reviews

View from the Customer: What do Hams Say About the Icom ID-52A Handheld Transceiver?

As we’ve discussed at length in previous posts, there are many ways to choose the ham radio equipment that’s best for your needs. This includes reading expert reviews in publications like QST, consulting the active operators at DX Engineering, getting all the fine product details by poring over instruction manuals which are available digitally at, or, best of all, giving the gear a hands-on test run if you have a generous ham friend nearby.

If sampling the gear isn’t possible, the next best thing is depending on folks who have made the investment, set up or installed the equipment, used it, and then rendered their honest opinions. When these reviews are universally positive, it’s a good indication that you’re making a wise purchasing decision. Reviews also often note equipment quirks to watch out for as well as operating tips, limitations, and whether the product is worth the price.

From time to time, OnAllBands will be offering customer reviews on products they have bought from DX Engineering. Today we’ll be looking at the Icom ID-52A VHF-UHF Multi-Function D-STAR Handheld Transceiver. Below is a sampling of opinions. You can view all of them at the link above.

Great Radio

“The look and feel are second to none, with typical Icom quality. The two features that I really like are: 1. You can program the near repeaters in the radio along with GPS to receive local digital and FM repeaters wherever your location may be. 2. I like that you can run the radio on a USB power source and charge the battery. I already own a high-capacity power bank to use for this radio. The radio has very good sound for an HT and feels good in the hand. I like larger handhelds with bigger screens and this is one of them. I believe you get what you pay for with this.”

Top Notch Handheld

“Excellent build quality—feels great in your hand. A nice update to the very long in the tooth ID-31/ID-51 handhelds. The color display is easy to see and looks cool. Excellent clear and loud audio quality. Works great on VHF/UHF FM and D-STAR digital mode. I highly recommend it to anyone wanting a new handheld radio.”

Great HT

“I love this HT. It falls in line with what you’d expect from Icom. The interface is very nice and is one of the selling points for me. I also like that it has a micro-SD card slot and can record my contacts. Makes it much easier to keep track of contacts when out and about. I also really like the scope when monitoring frequencies. This radio is much better than my other HT. I did discover an issue with the radio, which I hope they fix. When the Weather Alert is enabled, it will cut out for about a second while it checks for weather alerts, continuously every 10 seconds or so. Which is really annoying while receiving transmissions because you’ll miss part of what people are saying. I just leave the setting off to avoid the issue. This isn’t an issue for me. I highly recommend this radio.”

Fantastic Radio

“This radio is truly a five-star radio. Like any other radio, once you get a little comfortable with it, you will find it a breeze to program, including D-STAR. The audio output of the ID-52A is outstanding and I have been told that my audio sounds as if I am using a base station. Yes, it is a bit pricey, and yes, I am disappointed it does not do APRS, but outside of that, I consider it well worth the price.”

Best in HTs

“This radio features D-STAR and GPS. Both functions are well laid out. The GPS takes some time to acquire the satellites the first time but does very well indoors.”

Pricey But Definitely Worth It!

“This radio is very sturdy. The receive and transmit audio is strong and great quality. Very easy operation and programming. I have the ID-31, ID-51, and Kenwood TH-D74, but the new ID-52 is my favorite!”

Excellent Quality, Ease of Use, and Screen Size

“What a great dual band HT. Easy to use, menus are not difficult, and memories are easy to load. Finally, I have an HT where I can easily read the screen without searching for my glasses. Buttons are easy to work and GPS will come in handy for POTA activations since it gives you the grid square for your location. The automatic QSO recording is handy for situations where you need to review a message for accuracy. It’s certainly pricey but it has a lot of features for the price.”

Great Radio so Far!

Just got it and it’s fantastic! Color display may not be as bright as a lot have said but not a problem for me at all! Haven’t got a chance to put it through its paces yet. I’ve gotten good audio reports and that’s good news. It does seem more sensitive on the aircraft frequencies; I like going to the airport and listening in. Also great for air shows. Easy setup for D-STAR. Price is a little high but it’s new—hope price will drop soon to get more people to sample this great radio!”

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