Motorola MR355R Review

Motorola MR355R Review


Power output:

FRS: .380 Watt
GMRS: 1.32 Watts (Note: This is a drop in power from last years models)

A GMRS license is required for use on all GMRS Frequencies. Shared FRS/GMRS frequencies can be used
without a license on low power only.

Features and functions:

FRS and GMRS operation
Vibrating Call Function
CTCSS and DCS operation
Weather radio with alert function
VOX operation
QT technology
Emergency Alert
Dual power with USB charging capability
LED flashlight
Scan function with lockouts
Repeater Operation
Key lock to prevent accidental setting changes
USA-only approval.


This 2009 model has most of the functions of previous years models. As no surprise
performance was very similar. This review, however is geared to the new user
who has no experience with the Motorola series.

The newest, most exciting feature is repeater operation! To my knowlege, this is the first
consumer-grade radio to have this capability. A repeater is a special base station that
simultaneously receives and retransmits a signal from a mobile or portable station to
give additional range. This is accomplished by the use of frequency pairs, rather than a single
frequency. Radios must have the capability to use these pairs. This model does.

NOTE: Many GMRS repeaters are “closed” This means they are private to the owners or require
memberships. You must be prepared to provide your GMRS call sign (assigned with your license)
and any other information requested by the owner. Fees may be required.

Operational Description:

All operation is controlled via the “Menu” button, with the exception of the flashlight and emergency
alarm. Press the menu button the required number of times to select functions.

I will address unique features of this radio only. The manuals provide more detail.

This radio has both CTCSS and DCS selective squelch. CTCSS covers codes 1-38, DCS on 39-121.
These codes can be used both in normal and repeater operation. These are commonly known as interference elimination codes

The QT system is a proprietary system that is similar to CTCSS/DCS, except it allows “extra” codes to help
eliminate interference from non-Motorola radios. These can only be used with Mororolas with this

Repeater operation: Enabling repeater operation from the main menu gives you access to 8 additional
channels 15R through 22R. These correspond to the 8 FCC allocated repeater pairs. When manually
scrolling through channels, you will see the normal 22 channels, plus the added repeater channels, indicated
by the “R” icon.

The emergency alarm is activiated via the red button on top. Press and hold until the alarm sounds.
This alarm is audible through the speaker and also activates the transmitter. Since the radio transmits,
it is unwise to use this unless you pre-arrange with others that this is an emergency alarm. Please
consult the manual for full information.

Operational Review

This is what you want to see… “How well do they work”

Here is what I discovered:

Sound Performance: Generally audio output sounded clear with no difficulty to understand.
Volume levels are sufficient, except you may experience problems in crowded areas. The volume
with earbud use could be louder; but is sufficient to overcome most crowd noise.

Call tones: Not usually mentioned… There is an option to disable them. Good to keep your
kids from annoying everyone. However, if you want to annoy people, they included some rather
idiotic call tones, such as a laughing man and a couple animal sounds. Very unnecessary. They
do have a few “real” call tones, however.

Vibrating alert: Very weak. I need a good kick, and these do not have it. You may not notice them.

Battery Life: Exceeded the 6 hour test time I allocated. These have the same battery packs and
chargers of previous models. You ought to get a days use out of them.

Durability: I believe these radios are sturdy enough for daily use and occaisional dropping and
moderate abuse. They feel solid and look well constructed. They are not waterproof.

Operational Range:

Home to car: .5 miles
Car to Car: Not tested
Open area to house: .75 miles
Open area to open area: 1 mile
Open area to car: .5 miles

Repeater operation:

These are consumer radios, not commercial grade. Those familar with commercial radios will
not be pleased with performance. You will not make a downtown repeater in a large city from
the suburbs. Ranges to a repeater depend largely on the construction of the repeater. Some
systems are very high profile with high-gain antennas and are mounted in very high locations.
Some systems are low-profile and have poor coverage even with the best equipment trying to
get into them.

I was able to get into a downtown repeater, standing on the roof of my house. At 40 foot
elevation, I hit a system about 12 miles away. I do not know the characteristics of the repeater.
I will update as I get more data.

** Update: In Cincinnati on vacation, we were able to make a repeater system several miles away from its location.
This is a high-profile repeater. Too bad no one else was on. Needless to say, with a good system these radios will work well.


All in all, I thought these were excellent radios. I base this on the fact they do what they
are designed to do. All functions work well. Operation is simple and straightforward.
The menu system is easy to navigate. I prefer a noncomplicated menu system. Ranges were
iffy on this model this year. Perhaps the lower power had something to do with it, or the fact the trees are in
full bloom. At any rate, nothing impressive.

What I liked:

Sound quality. I was able to understand all traffic.
Repeater capability. While I use none personally, I like the flexibility.
Flashlight function: Handy if you need a small light
Durability: They look built to survive

What I did not like:

Those call tones! Sorry. A laughing man? Animal sounds? Not a good decision to
include these.
Communications ranges below average for a GMRS radio
Volume levels could be a little higher.
Vibrating page: In my opinion, next to useless.
Emergency alarm. This provides a false sense of security, unless you have some
sort of pre-arranged system with friends and family.

I will give them a 3 out of 5 stars.

Thanks for the review- I think that these radios will due for my original intent- communication among motorcycle riders. I do like the possibility of repeater use. I was also pondering the possibility of using a mobile simplex repeater for ground use- I like the possibility of using the channel split so that those close enough together would not hear person-to-person transmissions, only those recorded and re-transmitted by the repeater-a much less costly system than a true duplex system- only a thought!

As allows a review of product that puts it into laymans terms. Thanks for the good job and keep it up.:slight_smile:

Updated today to indicate good coverage on repeaters, based on a good repeater system. hit a system over 10 miles away.

Does the 350R also have the repeater function?

I do not believe so.

Any updates on the repeater functionality?
I have the 350r (which is great) and might switch to the 355r if that repeater functionality is decent.

I don’t know if I put it in my original review (I will go see in a few and edit where needed).

I Did make a repeater many miles from where it was located. Sounded good both ways and I would say if you are in the same town as the repeater, you should be fine.

"I bought two sets of these. I think first we have to understand VHF (Very high frequency) and UHF (Ultra high frequency). The MR355R radios are VHF radios. No matter what the claim of these manufacturers, under normal conditions (obstacles, buildings, on the freeway,etc.) The general range of VHF at 5 watts (maximum GMRS wattage allowed by FCC) is 1 to 2 miles. VHF is good for line-of-sight (open areas with no obstacles). You’ll get more distance under ideal conditions like open area with a body of water. Unfortunately, in the Northwest (I live in Washington State) where there are trees, the range is about one mile in the woods. UHF is generally used for businesses. Because the inherent nature of UHF frequency waves, they go through obstacles a lot easier. Unfortunately, the range for UHF is short. That’s why they use UHF for business radios since communications are usually inside buildings. I found it laughable that Motorola claimed 35 miles for their MR355R/MR350R VHF radio. It was exactly as I expected; about two miles under most conditions for these radios.

I’ve been very happy with these radios. They’re great for camping. The LED light is nice. I had to use the restroom with no lights so this one saved me. Voice is clear. The battery life is not great, but works well under everyday conditions. It comes with a Nickel Metal Hydride battery. I left it on all day (with no communications) and the battery went down to two bars (out of three bars) so it wasn’t bad. Under heavy use, you’ll have to charge it daily. You can also use it with three AA batteries, but you won’t be able to use it with the charging cradles. I use rechargeable AA batteries for these too."

Actually, GMRS and these radios are UHF.