Icom ID-52A Review

The Icom ID-52A is a stellar UHF/VHF, and D-STAR handheld transceiver (HT). You’ll pay a pretty penny for it, but it’s a worthy successor to the well-regarded ID-51 series. Let’s get into the details and discuss what you need to know about this radio in our Icom ID-52A overview.

Good

  • Fantastic TX and RX performance – The Icom ID-52A may only have up to 5 watts of output power, but it makes amazing connections, and has a superior range to the Icom ID-51A, especially with the right antenna. It also supports true simultaneous dual-receive mode on UHF/VHF, VHF/VHF, and VHF/UHF frequencies.
  • Loud and clear speaker – The built-in speaker is punchy and plenty loud on VHF, UHF, D-STAR, and FM modes. Of course, you also have the option of plugging in a speaker or headphones, or using a Bluetooth headset.
  • Streamlined and simple user interface – Hams who have owned an Icom radio will be able to pick up and use this HT right away. And even if you’ve never used an Icom unit in the past, the manual and documentation make it easy to get a grasp on the basics.
  • Works with most ID-51 accessories – The ID-51’s batteries and most of its accessories are fully compatible with the ID-52A, making this a good option if you want to upgrade.
  • Great Bluetooth functionality – The Icom ID-52A can pair with Icom’s RS-MS1A mobile app, which unlocks tons of great features on your mobile device. It also works with Bluetooth headsets.
  • Clear, bright, bold color display – The 2.3-inch, 320×280 pixel screen includes a full-color waterfall display, which is the first of its kind in a handheld radio. Previously, waterfall displays were confined to mobile transceivers and base stations.
  • IPX7 waterproof – Naturally, you want a pricey radio to hold up to the elements. The ID-52A doesn’t disappoint. It’s IPX7 waterproof, which means it should be able to be submerged in up to 1 meter of water for 30 minutes.

Bad

  • Somewhat dim display – The ID-52A’s screen is pretty, but not the brightest under direct sunlight. If you regularly use your radios in the full sun, you may have some trouble seeing the display clearly.
  • No APRS support – Given the price, APRS support would be great. The Icom ID-52A has tons of D-STAR features that help make up for its lack of support, but this HT still may not be a good choice if APRS is one of your “must-haves.”

Bottom line

Yes, the price tag is high. But you do get a lot of radio for your money with the ID-52A. This tiny titan has amazing UHF, VHF, and D-STAR performance, and is versatile enough that you’ll be discovering new features for years to come. It’s durable and robust, too, with water resistance and long battery life, as well as the ability to charge via USB and still use the handset simultaneously. The ID-52A is a great successor to the ID-51 series, and sets the bar pretty high for VHF/UHF/ D-STAR HTs that are sure to be released by Icom’s competitors in the future.

Product Specs

Frequency coverage (MHz)
Version
Transmit
Receiver (Working Range)
Broadcast
ID-52A
144–148,
430–450*
A Band: 108–174, 225–479*
B Band: 137–174, 375-479*
Type of emissionF2D, F3E, F7W
ModeDV, FM, FM-N, WFM*, AM*, AM-N*
*(WFM, AM and AM-N are Rx only)
No. of memory channels1000 memory channels, 4 call channels, 50 scan edges,
100 skip channels, 500 broadcast stations,
2500 repeaters, 300 call signs and 300 GPS memories
Frequency Resolution5, 6.25, 8.33*, 10, 12.5, 15, 20, 25, 30, 50, 100, 125 and 200 kHz
* Selectable depending on the operating band.
Operating Temperature Range–20°C to +60°C; -4°F to +140°F
Frequency stability±2.5ppm (-20°C to +60°C on the basis of 25°C)
Antenna impedance50Ω (SMA)
Power supply requirement
  Battery pack
  Alkaline cells
  External DC Power
7.4V DC (with BP-272), 7.2V DC (with BP-307)
5.5V (with BP-273)
10–16V DC
Current drain (at 7.4V DC)
  Tx High
Less than 2.5A
Rx AF Max.Less than 450 mA / 350 mA (DV/FM)
Less than 300 mA / 200 mA (DV/FM)
Dimensions (W×H×D)
(projections not included)
61.1 x 121.6 x 34.8 mm;
2.4 x 4.8 x 1.4 in (with BP-272)
Weight (approx.)330g; 11.6 oz (with BP-272 & antenna)
Modulation system
  DV
  FM, FM-N
GMSK reactance modulation
FM reactance modulation
Output power
(at 7.4V DC)
5W, 2.5W, 1W, 0.5W, 0.1W
(High, Mid, Low2, Low1, S-low)
Spurious emissionsLess than –60 dBc (High, Mid),
Less than –13 dBm (Low2, Low1, S-low)
Max. frequency deviation±5.0 / 2.5 kHz (FM / FM-N)
Ext. Mic impedance2.2 kΩ
Sensivity
  DV
  FM, FM-N
Less than 0.2 µV (at 1% BER)
Less than 0.18 µV (at 12 dB SINAD)
Selectivity
  DV, FM-N
  FM
More than 50 dB
More than 55 dB
Spurious rejectionMore than 60 dB
Audio output power
  Internal SP
  External SP
More than 750 mW (8Ω load)
More than 200 mW (8Ω load)
Receiver sensitivity
(Except amateur bands.)
Frequency range (MHz)

88.000-108.000,

108.000–136.991
137.000–142.000
142.005–148.000
148.005–174.000
225.000–259.995
260.000–354.995
355.000–374.995
375.000–399.995
400.000–479.000

137.000–148.000
148.005–174.000
375.000–399.995
400.000–479.000

FM/FM-N/WFM (12 dB SINAD)

Less than 1 µV (WFM)

Less than 0.18 µV
Less than 0.18 µV
Less than 0.32 µV
Less than 0.56 µV
Less than 0.32 µV
Less than 0.5 µV
Less than 0.5 µV
Less than 0.32 µV

Less than 0.18 µV
Less than 0.32 µV
Less than 0.5 µV
Less than 0.32 µV

AM/AM-N (10 dB SINAD)

Less than 1 µV
Less than 1 µV

Less than 1.8 µV*
Less than 1 µV
Less than 1.8 µV*

Expert reviews

  • In a first look at the Icom ID-52A, Jason from Ham Radio 2.0 had a positive impression of this radio. He liked the USB charging feature, the inclusion of a microSD slot, as well as the beautiful screen. He also praised the bulky and robust design, customizable screen, and intuitive menus. Overall, he said that he “really likes the radio.”
  • Ham Radio Crash Course took a first look at the ID-52A, and Shane really liked this HT from Icom. He liked the waterfall display and the Bluetooth functionality offered by the Icom ID-52A, and its strong digital, GPS, and D-STAR features. He also praised the IPX7 waterproofing rating and the build quality of the HT, as well as its overall usability.
  • In a review of the Icom ID-52A, YouTuber Andy Kirby also had good things to say about this radio. He loved the waterfall display, and said that alone was enough for him to recommend the radio. Andy was also impressed with the overall transmission and reception quality of this HT, and the ability to automatically scan for nearby repeaters using GPS, and the USB charging feature. He called it an “absolutely brilliant” HT despite its high price.

User reviews

  • On DXEngineering, the Icom ID-52A has a rating of 4.9 out of 5 stars, across a total of 12 reviews. Reviewers said that it had “excellent build quality,” “clear and loud audio quality,” and an “outstanding color screen.” However, a couple of people did mention having some initial difficulties programming the radio manually, and recommended a program like RT Systems for initial setup.
  • So far, only one person has reviewed the Icom ID-52A on Gigaparts, but they gave it 5 stars. They said the sound quality was great, and that the “menu structures and other features are identical or at least very similar” to other Icom radios like the IC-705 and Icom ID-5100, which made the radio easy to use. This user highly recommended the radio, saying that it’s “super simple to operate and learn.”
  • On eHam.net, it’s the same story – only one person has reviewed the ID-52A so far, but they also gave this radio a 5-star review. The reviewer said that it’s “an awesome amount of radio for your money,” that the “speaker is very good,” and that the “ID-52 is worth every dollar… and is a massive leap forward from the ID-51.”

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