Icom vs Yaesu Aviation Handheld Radios: Which is Better in 2023?
2.7k views | By Senne Vandenputte | Last updated on February 14, 2023
In a previous guide, we already covered the basics of handheld aviation radios, why you should always take one with you, and which handheld radios are best.
A handheld radio is an indispensable part of a pilot’s flight bag. Not only does it improve safety, but it can also be a great money-saving tool on the ground for (student) pilots. But with so many different models available today, it’s not easy to determine which model will be best for your needs.
Icom vs Yaesu
There are many different aviation handheld radios on the market today. Icom and Yaesu make the two most popular brands of these handheld aviation radios. Both companies have been in business since 1954 and 1943 respectively, so they are both very well-established companies with a lot of experience designing electronics for this industry. But which is better? And is one really better than the other?
In this article, we will look at some features of each brand’s most popular models, to help you decide which one is best for your needs.
First known as Inoue Electronics, Icom has been in business since 1954. From 1964 onwards, the company traded under the name of Icom Inc.
Headquarters in Osaka, Japan, Icom is a globally operating company in the radio equipment industry, in the areas of amateur radio, land mobile radio, marine radio and aviation radio.
Popular Icom Handheld Aviation Radios
Some of the most popular models of Icom aviation radios include the Icom IC-A16 and IC-A16B, which are an upgraded version of the older A14 and A15. The former A6 and A24 series have recently been discontinued as well and replaced by the newer Icom IC-A25C and Icom IC-A25N.
Below, you can find some of the recent Icom radio models:
$295.00Buy now on Amazon
$364.66Buy now on Amazon
$456.99 $478.41Buy now on Amazon
Headquartered in Tokyo, Japan since its establishment in November 1943 when it was founded as “YNOSCO”.
Popular Yaesu Handheld Aviation Radios
Some of the most popular models of Yaesu aviation radios range from the basic FTA-250L to the FTA450L and FTA-550L. Yaesu’s top model is the FTA-750L, its largest and most advanced aviation handheld radio.
Below, you can find some of the recent Yaesu radio models:
$276.29 $330.00Buy now on Amazon
$232.59 $259.34Buy now on Amazon
$299.92Buy now on Amazon
$379.00 $385.36Buy now on Amazon
Main Differences Between Icom and Yaesu Handheld Radios
As you can see, both Icom and Yaesu offer some great handheld aviation radios, with very similar features. With both brands, you also have a choice between comm-only or including navigation functions as well.
Now, what does set them apart? Let’s explore some of the main differences between both handheld radios brands. Icom vs Yaesu!
Icom vs Yaesu: Price
First, let’s look at how the prices compare. Icom’s top models are a little more expensive than its Yaesu counterparts. For example, Icom’s top model is the Icom IC-A25N, which features COMM+NAV and Bluetooth, and can be purchased for around $429. Icom’s entry model is the Icom IC-A16, which you can buy for less than $250.
Yaesu’s top model, the Yaesu FTA-750L can be purchased for around $369. Its entry model, the Yaesu FTA-250 is available for less than $210, although we would recommend going for the next Yaesu model, the FTA-450L which features a much larger screen and more functionality for about $40 more.
An important side note is that Yaesu’s radios do not include Bluetooth, while Icom’s top models do.
Icom vs Yaesu: Functionality
As mentioned above, most modern aviation handheld radios offer similar functions.
Depending on the specific model, some radios include navigational functions, which are offered by both brands. Of course, those radios are more expensive than their comm-only counterparts.
We will look at the general specifications of the radios later, but one of the main differences we noticed instantly when it comes to functionality is Bluetooth. Icom’s two main models (IC-A16 and IC-A25) both offer a Bluetooth-enabled version: the IC-A16B and the IC-A25N (comm+nav).
Having a Bluetooth-enabled aviation radio makes it very convenient to pair your radio to a Bluetooth headset. The IC-A25N even allows you to use an app to create a flight plan on your smartphone and then import it into your radio. Such exciting times with all this technology!
Next, let’s look at some of the navigation functions. If you’re not looking for comm+nav radio, this might not be a dealbreaker for you, but nonetheless it’s good to consider this as well.
Wile both Icom and Yaesu’s top models include nav functions, they don’t necessarily have the same functionality. While the Icom IC-A25N features many handy navigational abilities, it does not have any ILS localizer or glideslope built-in, unlike the Yaesu FTA-750L. If you’re specifically looking for an ILS back-up, this might be a good reason to go with Yaesu’s top model.
Apart from these points, both brands are quite comparable functionality-wise.
Icom vs Yaesu: Specifications
Next, let’s look at some of the specifications of both brands’ models.
If you’re holding a model of both brands, there’s one thing you will instantly notice: size and weight. This becomes even more clear when you look at the numbers: the lightest Yaesu radio weighs about 10.6 ounces, with the other models all weighing 14.5 ounces. Except the more compact FTA-250, all Yaesu radios measure 2.4″ x 5.2″ x 1.3″.
In contrast, Icom’s IC-A16 weighs just over 9 ounces, with the IC-A25 coming at 13.6 ounces. At 2.1″ x 4.4″ x 1.3″ for the A16-series and 2.3″ x 5.8″ x 1.3″ for the A25-series, the Icom models are both smaller and lighter in general.
Another (slight) difference we can notice in the specification data of both brands is the TX (transmitting) output power. While the Icom models all have a 6 watt TX output, the Yaesu models’ TX output is slightly lower at 5 watts.
Icom and Yaesu Aviation Handheld Radios Comparison Table
Below you will find a full comparison table between both Icom’s and Yaesu’s models. This should help you make an informed decision!
|Icom IC-A16||Icom IC-A16B with Bluetooth||Icom IC-A25C||Icom IC-A25N||Yaesu FTA-250L||Yaesu FTA-450L||Yaesu FTA-550L||Yaesu FTA-750L||Yaesu FTA-850L|
|Size (inches)||2.1" x 4.4" x 1.3"||2.1" x 4.4" x 1.3"||2.3" x 5.8" x 1.3"||2.3" x 5.8" x 1.3"||2.1" x 4.1" x 1.2"||2.4" x 5.2" x 1.3"||2.4" x 5.2" x 1.3"||2.4" x 5.2" x 1.3"||5.91" x 2.56" x 1.57"|
|Battery type||2400mAh Lithium-Ion||2400mAh Lithium-Ion||2350mAh Lithium-Ion||2350mAh Lithium-Ion||1950mAh Lithium-Ion||2000mAh Lithium-Ion||2000mAh Lithium-Ion||2000mAh Lithium-Ion||2200mAh Lithium-Ion|
|Submersible||IP67 Waterproof||IP67 Waterproof||3 ft. up to 30 min.||3 ft. up to 30 min.||IPX5 Water Spray||IPX5 Water Spray||IPX5 Water Spray||IPX5 Water Spray||IPX5 Water Spray|
|TX output||6 watt||6 watt||6 watt||6 watt||5 watt||5 watt||5 watt||5 watt|
|Display type||LCD||LCD||LCD||LCD||LCD||Dot Matrix||Dot Matrix||Dot Matrix||TFT Color Display|
|Display size (inches)||.375" x 1.125"||.375" x 1.125"||1.5" x 2.0"||1.5" x 2.0"||.5" x 1.38"||1.7" x 1.7"||1.7" x 1.7"||1.7" x 1.7"||2.4"|
|Flight planning apps||No||No||No||Yes||No||No||No||No||No|
|Automatic noise limiter||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Direct 121.5 mHz access||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Alkaline battery case||No||No||Optional||Optional||No||Included||Included||Included||Included|
|Cigarette lighter adapter||Optional||Optional||Optional||Optional||Included||Included||Included||Included||Included|
|Warranty||3 years||3 years||3 years||3 years||3 years||3 years||3 years||3 years||3 years|
|Buy now on Amazon||Buy now on Amazon||Buy now on Amazon||Buy now on Amazon||Buy now on Amazon||Buy now on Amazon||Buy now on Amazon||Buy now on Amazon||Buy now on Amazon|
Which brand and model is best for you depends on a number of things. Each of the above-mentioned models is a great aviation handheld radio, perfect for any pilot. If you’re looking for an advanced handheld radio that’s lightweight, compact and has Bluetooth functionality, Icom’s IC-A25 series is a great option. If you’re looking for a more budget-friendly option, with or without navigational functions, Yaesu offers a few great radios that are easy to use and have a conveniently large screen.
In the end, it all depends on what you want, need and can afford. Good luck!
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About the author
As a 27-year-old digital entrepreneur, glider pilot, private pilot and tow plane pilot, Senne is passionate about aviation. He started gliding at age 14 and flew his first solo in a glider at 15. After getting his PPL about 10 years later, he mostly spends his weekends towing gliders into the air. When not flying, he runs his marketing & web design business, fun projects like Hangar.Flights, scuba diving, traveling and enjoying the outdoors.