Baojie BJ-318 (U/V) Review: Worse Than Baofeng?

Noah Krasser
14 Comments

If you ever searched for Chinese radios on platforms like Aliexpress you have probably seen a Baojie-brand mobile radio at some point among all the Baofeng HTs.

There are generally two types of this radio: The BJ-218 with a standard LCD-Display and the BJ-318 with a TFT-color-display. There isn't any other difference between these models as far as I'm concerned.

Both models cost about the same at around 60 dollars including a programming cable on Aliexpress. But I already found the BJ-218 being sold on Amazon for more than $100!

Let's go straight to the pros of the radio and what makes it look promising:

Pros

TFT-Color-Display

Obviously the TFT-color-display is probably a big part of what makes this radio look interesting.

Power

25 Watts is a nice amount of power. According to the manual it pulls nearly 10 amps at that power though. Power steps are 5W, 10W and 25W.

Active cooling

The radio even has a cooling fan on its back.

Illuminated buttons

I'm a big friend of illuminated buttons myself, especially on mobile radios for night use.

The color tint is a greenish-yellow. All in all I think the color is quite pleasant. The brightness can't be changed, but it's very comfortable as is; even while driving at night.

The buttons on the DTMF-microphone are illuminated as well in a very nice amber color. I'd prefer the buttons on the radio to have the same color.

Extensive mode selection

It is possible to select memory and VFO-mode for the A and B-frequency individually. Even better: You can also switch between displaying the programmed channel name or the channel frequency.

This is a big pro over Baofeng-radios for example.

Sturdy mounting bracket

The mounting bracket is really nicely made. The radio is secured in place by two screws on each side. One screw acts as some kind of pivot point, still allowing it to tilt and the other one completely fixes it in place.

Cons

Well then, before you get all excited let's take a look at the cons:

Microphone is pretty quiet

The first time I used it people told me I'm extremely quiet.

It took some time to figure out the correct way to talk into the microphone. I have to completely press it against my mouth

If I get lazy and move away for even a quarter inch I'm immediately getting called out on my bad mic discipline.

As always with China microphones: The sound quality and loudness can be improved by removing all the junk the Chinese build around their microphones on the inside and by drilling up the mic hole. I haven't tried it yet, but there reports that this indeed works.

But be sure to still have some kind of pop protection e.g. a layer of textile between the mic hole and the capsule.

Deafening beeping sounds

All the beeping sounds on this radio are absolutely eardrum-rupturing. Especially the power-on-sound. It can even be heard outside of the car from many meters away (with closed doors of course).

I'm a friend of key beeps as well, but it's the same with them. Every keypress creates a beep so loud, it's already inducing ear pain.

The key beeps can be turned off, but I don't know about the power-on-tone. Haven't tried it out, but there is a chance it's linked to the key beep setting.

S-Meter is a fancy-looking "BUSY"-indicator

This is one of the biggest disappointments with the radio: The S-Meter is complete and utter fake. The only purpose it serves is showing "3" when transmitting on low power, "6" when on medium power and "9" when transmitting on high power.

As soon as the squelch opens up it shows S9 continously (nice feature for contests though HI). When the squelch is closed it shows nothing.

TFT-Display is just show

Another big disappointment is the realisation that the TFT-display is not really much better than the LCD-version.

In general I think that LCD-technology is superior to TFT, at least in this area.

The display is small and the font is even smaller. It's hard to read from a distance and it's obviously bright because of the screen backlight.

There isn't really much more information displayed on the TFT compared to the BJ-218 with the LCD. You just see the indicators for W/N, power level or tone squelch settings for both A and B at once. But that's it. Enormeous whitespace on all of the display.

My guess is they wanted to "go with time" and make the radio look modern so more people buy it. It's the same shitty firmware the BJ-218 has with support for the TFT-display being lazily added.

BUT WAIT, it gets worse...

Receiver just stops working randomly

Keep one thing in mind: The next three issues including this one, are not limited to my specific radio I got. There are countless reports of the same problem over and over again. Following issues are the norm, not the exception!

The receiver sometimes crashes seemingly random. It just stops receiving. When that happens the S-Meter "Busy-indicator" also lights up continously but no sound can be heard. I think even normal interference (QRM) can cause this.

Pretty annoying if that happens without you noticing immediately. And it's not even something that only happens rarely.

After restarting the device it works again.

"Modulator" stopped working once too

Once it even happened that the radio sent out a carrier but didn't modulate an audio signal on it. It just transmitted empty carriers. The receiver still worked this time so the other station was able to point out the malfunction.

In this case a restart also "fixed" it.

Goes crazy when transmitting next to it with another radio

HF easily radiates into the BJ-318 and messes things up. The display begins displaying all kinds of strange artefacts and usually the receiver dies after a few seconds.

As always: Restarting fixes it.

Speaker pops

The speaker pops whenever sound starts and stops playing. It's just a sign of poor quality.

Very prone to interference

Interference breaks through the squelch all the time. Sometimes it even stays open for a prolonged time while blaring out some rattling interference noise. It's god awful.

The keys are soft and weird to press

I don't know how to describe it, but the keys feel "mushy". They are made of really soft rubber and as such also compress a lot when you click them.

They are not really standing out from the housing too, to begin with, so that's what makes it a bit awkward to press the keys.

Something is wrong with the squelch

Listening to weak signals is a pain on the BJ-318. Something is not quite right with the way the squelch is handled. It must be a too low (or probably non-existent) hysteresis or delay.

Sometimes the squelch opens and closes multiple times a second.

Chirp only supports the BJ-218

There is no option for the BJ-318 in Chirp. But it can be programmed using the BJ-218-option.

The character limit for channel names remains at 7 though! I haven't found any other free programming software, so it seems you can't even take advantage of the space on the TFT.

What's good to know

Text-color can be changed

The text-color can be changed for A and B individually. Available colors are black, purple, green, red and blue. Though different viewing angles on the TFT make the color tint shift dramatically.

Starts on power-on

If the radio was turned on before cutting electricity it will automatically turn on again when electricity is turned on.

So, switching on the ignition in the car will start it. I don't know of a radio that doesn't act like that but I just confirm that it works on this model.

Channels are programmed for A and B individually

There is not an option to make programmed channels available for both A and B as far as I'm concerned.

Conclusion

The Baojie BJ-318 is a god-awful radio. Stay away from it as far as you can. It's the worst radio I ever had, even worse than any Baofeng. Baofengs at least work.

If you absolutely want a Baojie-radio, for whatever reason that is, you are probably better off buying the BJ-218 with LCD-display.

The BJ-318 is probably only made to look modern and the TFT is implemented with the least possible effort.

The BJ-218 is also the only one I found being sold on Amazon. Maybe that means the BJ-218 is still more robust than the BJ-318, which perhaps didn't pass quality checks.

If you have further questions about the radio, please feel free to ask them in the comments and I will do my best to answer them.

Alternative

An alternative would be the Leixen VV-898 in the same price category. It's probably the best dual-band mobile radio you can get for under $100. A review like this is coming soon. It's also the only radio under $100 I found that has an actual, working S-Meter.

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14 comments on “Baojie BJ-318 (U/V) Review: Worse Than Baofeng?”

  1. CHIRP fully supports the BJ-318 and no longer is a BJ-218 mode dependent since April 2021. For a $50 radio I don’t think is as bad as you make it out to be. it has some flaws, but then most radios at that price point do have their own quirks. The beeps can all be silenced, including the start up/power on from the menu settings. The microphone quality can vary greatly- mine works very well with no changes required, but my friends microphone did need drilled out as the plastic speaker “hole” had the injection molding flashing filling it.

  2. I bought one and never had a problem with it. But do know it not a high end radio. All radios even high end radios have there problems. Unless your talking about radio from the 1980 and back in the old days. Thore radios had no problems. But thores radios did not have computers build into them either. Most computer controlled radios have there share of problems. Radios that don't have computer control don't have problems.

  3. Thanks! Saw this on Banggood for $50 and was wondering if it was a good upgrade from a baofeng, looks like it isn't!

    1. Thank you Michael; glad it helped. As bad as Baofengs are, they are still better than a Baojie. I would recommend you a cheap Yaesu-HT or a Wouxun-radio; Anytone if you want an affordable mobile station. They've got very clean signals and are nice to operate.

  4. wow you really dont like them do you, TBH i have had none of the problems you report and use the two BJ218 I have constantly, The only downside I have found is that the fan doesnt kick in but sorted that by fitting a fan to the case and can run it as I want

  5. There must be some good and bad ones out there. I own the 318, and never had any issues with it except with the mic. I made the hole a little bigger now no more of the low voice issue. I personally like the radio, I've owned it for 4 months now.

  6. Hi Noah and everyone reading. Has anyone tested their BJ-318's Tx power? I have two of these radios and the meter reads around 18-20W for UHF which is about expected. However, VHF is only 1-3W on high power. I have tested using various antennas and dummy loads with similar results. I have experienced similar issues described in this article on a few occasions (receiver stops working, weird artifacts on the display, requiring restart, interference prone) and would be able to put up with it, but the fact these radios (at least the two I have) only Tx 1-3W on VHF makes it rather pointless to use when my handhelds put out anywhere from 2-6x that amount.

  7. I have a BJ-218 and only found this site as I was searching for the schematic diagram and found nothing. Even the Chinese manufacturer hasn't replied! I then searched for BJ-218 low TX audio and read your review. There is awful CPS software because I wasn't successful with Chirp. (Chirp needs lots of work on it as it is about as unfriendly as the BAOJIE software - Look at RT Systems software for example.) Anyway, Chirp doesn't have any standard codeplugs (why not?) so you can write the Codeplug in advance and upload. No you have to fanny about trying to download first. What if you already have a working Codeplug? Chirp wont let you open it and load it to the radio... anyway, rant over - I hate Chirp)

    So I have very low audio from the microphone. I have made a lead so I can use the radio as a APRS iGATE or PACKET BBS. Feeding it from the PC soundcard.... no TX audio? Is it wired correctly? Yes! Hmmmm. Insert an inline audio booster (which I have for boosting my PC, phone or tablet audio for those low audio Youtube videos) anyway, its x10 and works well inbetween my Phone and Speaker. So I make some leads and insert it in the Mic line. I am not bothered about impedances as I am very sure with my phone, playing a loud audio rack on full volume and with the booster, I should get transmitted audio? Yes I did it works - but awful. I turn to the microphone, its a cheap nasty electret with a standard (probably the problem) FET amplifier. Yes it is low volume even shouting into the microphone hole very close(nearly eating) it. This is a cheap Chinese radio problem, its the same with the Boafeng and clones... rubbish tx audio. Compare to a higher end Chinese radio like a Wouxun or an Anytone and you can immediately hear the difference. SO what's the answer? Well, until my new oscilloscope arrives and I try and reverse engineer the BJ-218 board, it will be re-assembled and put into storage.

  8. The manual is written in unfathomable Engrish, they need to use a human translator not Chinese Groogul or we just won't take the seriously! I have wrestled with the so-called programming software - its crap. Binned the stupid lead and deleted the software. I made my own lead from a USB-TTL converter and connected TX, GND and RX data to mins 2,4 and 5 of the RJ45 and used Chirp. Done, no more crashes. Since its deaf on received compared to other radios on the same antenna AND it is only 10w, its basically useless so I though I would use it as a Packet TXRX for my node. Good grief, trying to get it working with the TNC.... Pain in the a55 - ended up using a Baofeng UV5R (EU filtered version) which just works. Then I though I will use it for my AllStar Node... Need a COS signal, need the circuit diagram (You call it Schematic) . The only thing I can think of is sensing the LED that lights when a valid CTCSS signal is decoded and outputting that ... I wonder about changing the the 3.5mm Speaker socket from TS to TRS and using the ring for COS? Dave Pickering G7UAY

  9. I have a Baojie Bj-218 since August 2022 but the TX audio is not loud, I drilled a bigger hole without success and I try my Kenwood TM-V71 mic on this small radio with out success to get more TX audio. I bought this radios for the only reason smaller than most others models that's the only reason I bought this radio. This radio keeps old memories even I deleted everything with Chirp and a radio reset. I will use this radio only for listening or while somes tests with my others radios...

  10. Unlike other parts of the world, here in Brazil International Product Certification is required. We have to register in our name. I didn't find anything about the BJ-318 at the FCC and the CE is not mentioned anywhere (if it even exists). Would anyone have it from the European Community? Thanks

  11. I had one of this radios , and it made me angry each time i switch it on. It was really annoying , so i choose to use it as a target for my Beretta 10 mm.
    Never again , Baoshit.
    Your review is very good.
    Cheers.

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