CB Radio vs Walkie-Talkie: What Are The Differences Between Them?

The main purpose of both a CB radio and a walkie-talkie is communication.

Well, now you must be wondering why I should use these things when I have my modern, technologically advanced smartphone, right?

This is because, no matter how advanced your android or iPhone is, they require sim connectivity in order to send or receive data, AKA calls and texts. Your city may have a strong sim network, but the moment you venture outside of the city, the signal starts to get weak.

This is where CB radios or walkie-talkies come into play. They are not bound by the network provided by your sim company. Sure, they have their pros and cons, but they are your only hope when the phone signal dies.

In this article, we will talk about the differences between them and which one you should carry around. So, let's jump right in.

CB Radio Vs Walkie Talkie: The Differences

Before we get into the technical terms and all that, you should know about the devices first.

If you know the basics, the pros and cons, it will help you understand which device will be better and what makes them different from each other.

What is a CB Radio?

CB radio or citizens band radio is a land mobile phone radio network that allows short distance and low power consumption communication. CB radio has been really popular since the 1950s.

The best thing about CB radios is that they do not require any license to use. We all know that you have to register your sim to use it, and that can be a lengthy process depending on the state you live in.

Even after going through so much hassle, your sim network can lose its connectivity on a road trip or the highway. Because you don't have to license your CB radio, you can start using it the moment you buy it.

CB radios do not need any licensing because they operate on a narrow frequency from 26.957 MHz to 27.283 MHz. This is a "free to use for all" frequency.

As they do not need any network coverage or connectivity, the range of the CB radio can be around 1 to 2 kilometers in urban areas. The range goes up to 5 kilometers when you are in an open spot like a highway.

Most of the modern CBs have up to 40 channels to communicate. You can choose between these channels for easy communication between your fellow driver friends.

Suppose you are stuck and need emergency service, but your phone is out of network. In such cases, a CB radio can help you.

Remember to use Channel 9 for emergency support. You will get local volunteers. Many CBS even provide weather updates. So now you won't have to be dependent on your cell phone for that.

Now let's talk about the downsides of CB radios. As they use a low power to operate, the range of communication is very low, whereas a cell phone can cover 10x more.

The surroundings affect the range as well. Usually, you'll get a range of 1 to 10 km depending on where you are.

They might be low-power devices, but they are not compact by any means. Most of the CBs are big and chunky. Some of them even require mounting, so you lose the power of portability.

Unlike walkie-talkies, If you want to get a good range, you will have to install a long antenna for CBS. There are some compact-size CB radios, but they have a very short communication distance.

CB radio communications are limited to themselves. You cannot communicate with people who are using different devices such as walkie-talkies or Bluetooth telephones.

As CBs have a narrow frequency, you will get a lot of signal interference. Sometimes the channels are not even family-friendly as anyone can access them.

Lastly, if you like to go on road trips alone, CB radios will help you a ton by keeping you busy with other people.

Unlike smartphones, where you talk with a single person, RBs will let you chat with groups. You can also get traffic information from drivers ahead of you.

Now that everything about CB radio is clear let's quickly take a look at the pros and cons so that you don't forget about them.

Pros

  • CB radios do not need any licensing, and they are widely available. So no hassle using them.
  • CB radios use an open-source network frequency that lets everyone join.
  • You can easily communicate between a range of 1 to 10 kilometers.
  • Most of the CB radios use only 4 watts which saves your power.
  • You can communicate regardless of the status of your network connectivity or signal.
  • You can get emergency services or weather information when your phone is out of signal.
  • You can talk with groups of people which keeps you accompanied while you travel alone.

Cons

  • They are very chunky and big, which makes them hard to carry around. You have to mount them sometimes.
  • Requires a long antenna (from 3 to 6 feet) to get a good range.
  • As anyone can join the channel, you will get lots of signal interference.
  • CB radios can only be used to communicate with CB radios.

What is a Walkie Talkie?

Walkie talkies are not only limited to truckers and road trippers. The reach extends to business or manufacturing companies as well.

Walkie-talkies are more reliable and consistent than smartphones. Because our smartphones require a sim network connection, you can face call drops when the signal is low.

Walkie-talkies do not have that problem. You can constantly talk without any issues.

Unlike a smartphone, where you can communicate from one device to another, a walkie-talkie gives you the freedom to communicate with multiple devices at once. This is great when you want to talk with lots of workers or drivers on the go.

As we have said earlier, CB radios are big and weigh a lot, which eliminates the portability feature. But walkie-talkies are small and compact.

You can keep them in your pocket, like your smartphone. Talking about that, walkie-talkies are more durable.

Some of the modern ones even come with IP68 certification, which means they are water and dustproof. Your walkie-talkie is less likely to get damaged when it hits the floor.

Walkie-talkies do not need any antenna like CB radios. This is because they run on a more powerful system.

The range of a professional walkie-talkie can go up to 25 kilometers. That's triple the range of a CB radio.

Walkie talkies operate on a frequency of 72-76 MHZ and 450-470 MHZ bands. This makes the audio quality slightly better than CB radios, as there is little to no interference.

But the problem arises when you go to buy a set of walkie-talkies. Yes, they are widely available like CB radios,, but walkie-talkies are illegal for the general public to use in a few states.

Even if they are legal, we can guarantee that you will have to go through licensing them. As said before, CB radios do not need any licensing. That's not the end.

Some licenses are limited to certain areas meaning if you can't use them when traveling. This can be tackled by using a traveling license, though.

Now let's take a glance at the pros and cons.

Pros

  • A strong and reliable network connection that does not have any call drops.
  • As walkie-talkies are lightweight, you can easily carry them around in your pocket.
  • They are durable enough to withstand hitting the floor, and some of them are even waterproof.
  • Walkie-talkies can cover a range of 2 kilometers to 25 kilometers depending on the environment.
  • Better audio quality compared to CB radios because of no signal interference.
  • Unlike smartphones, you can talk with multiple people at once.
  • Does not require long antennas.

Cons

  • The only downside of using a walkie-talkie is that you have to license them. Sometimes the license is limited to certain areas, so check that before going on a road trip.

Which One is Better Between CB Radio and Walkie-Talkie?

If you live in an area where it is illegal to use a walkie-talkie, or you just don't want to go through the hassle of licensing it, the only option is to go for a CB radio. Other than that, the answer is pretty simple.

Walkie-talkies are objectively more powerful. They can cover more distance, and they are portable.

The call quality is also better. CB radios lack all of these qualities. So, we recommend getting a walkie-talkie.

Final words

In an age where you can communicate with the world just by pressing a few buttons, a CB radio or a walkie-talkie might seem impractical.

Yes, they do not look as futuristic as your latest iPhone or Android phone, but CB radios and walkie-talkies have something these latest devices lack, which is independence.

Your smartphone is only as good as the network coverage you are getting. But the CB radio or the walkie-talkie you have will always provide stable communication. All you gotta do is stay in the range.

Now that you know which device to get, your road trips will surely level up with the clear and uninterfered call quality.

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