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Top 5 Best Police Scanners Handheld and Fixed – Reviews & Buying Guide

If you want to stay on top of events taking place in your community, you can’t beat a police scanners for instant information. A lot of what takes place each day in your area will never make it to the evening news. With a police scanner, you can keep up with current events and who knows, now and again, you may even be able to lend a hand in case of an emergency. As a major plus, you will always know exactly what is going on with the roads and the weather. Whatever is taking place in your area, you will always be the first to know!

Not sure where to start in your quest for the perfect police scanners handheld and fixed? Below you can view comparison tables which make it a breeze to scan over features and prices for top models.

#1 Uniden BCD436HP HomePatrol Series Digital Portable Police Scanner


  • Easy to program;
  • Great reception.


  • Getting started may be challenging.

Now, our next scanner is a rather expensive one.. that’s a fact. The Uniden BCD436HP HomePatrol Series Digital Portable Police Scanner has all the bells and whistles you’d need, and some additional tech that makes it stand out from many others. So, lets dive into what matters with this unit.

Right away, you’ll notice an incredibly high price tag for this single unit. At just under 500 dollars, its not for the budget oriented buyers. However, for someone looking for enhanced dynamic memory with narrowband receptions and location-based canning.. this is the one get. S.A.M.E weather alerts with USA/Canada radio databases, along with fire tone-out alerts. Close Call RF captures early communication frequencies, even if your scanner isn’t yet tuned for them. In addition, it has about 4gb of memory for call storage. 

This is a great product for both law enforcement, and for any other type of situation that demands urgent attention. If you’d like to learn a lot more about this, as well as what over 2,000 other have reviewed, click the button below.

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#2 Uniden HomePatrol-2 Phase-2 Digital Scanners With Pre-Programmer Database


  • Easy to setup and use;
  • Comes with lot of accessories;
  • Nice detailed user interface.


  • Screen takes a while to respond sometimes;
  • Power users require some modifications.

Taking a step forward with some nice technology, we have the most recommended police scanner and programmed database. Number one best police scanner we have, is Uniden HomePatrol-2. This portable device is like the new smartphones, with a touchscreen to do all your selections.. no more physical buttons to push.

It features a database and firmware upgrade capabilities. Using a true USB cable, you’ll be able to update the database. By simply typing in your zip code, you’ll be able to find channels in local areas. Communications to apache 25, Phase 1, Phase 2, x2-tdma, Motorola, eddas and ltr trunked systems.

Lastly, live weather alerts for your local area are enabled swell as instant replays. Learn more about it by click the button below.

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#3 Uniden BC365CRS 500 Channel Clock/FM Radio Scanner with Weather Alert


  • Weather alert;
  • Compatible with narrowband;
  • Attractive Design.


  • Difficult to use;
  • Few functions.

A simple scanner, with few, but strong functionalities, the Uniden BC365CRS is something to consider if you’re looking for a small exposure to the radio world. This police scanner is not a state of the art device, but it will do its job simply and efficiently.

What we liked about this Uniden product is the 500 channel memory, allowing you to save preferred frequencies and listen to them whenever you want. Other than that, it is narrow brand compliant, and it has a weather alert system, though not as advanced as the S.A.M.E. system.

Reinforcing the idea that this is a scanner for the “chill” radio amateur, it also has alarm clock functions, FM radio receiver, and 30 slots to save your favorite local radio stations. While we like its versatility and the fact it’s perfectly capable of tapping into local agencies’ frequencies, this device surely lacks in the features department if we pit it against market competitors.

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#4 Whistler WS1080 Handheld Digital Trunking Scanner


  • Digital & Trunked;
  • Compatible with P25 Phase 1 and 2;
  • Recording capabilities.


  • The software is complex & hard to use.

A modern, well-rounded handheld police scanner, with a few innovative ideas and a weirdly shaped antenna. This is the Whistler WS 1080, but let’s see how it fares against our testing and online scrutiny.

A digital, trunking option, this police scanner features compliance with Phase 1 and Phase 2 protocols, a multifunctional keypad, and most interestingly: a recording function. Press a button and your receiver will start recording both what you say, and what’s being said on the line. End the recording and your scanner will have a Windows – compatible file ready to upload to your PC.

The biggest plus of this device is the fact the digital and trunking builds are very well made, ensuring a large coverage, as well as satisfactory sound quality over the long distance.

Other than that, we were happy that it’s compliant with Phase 1 and Phase 2, and we have to give a shout out to the recording capability.

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#5 Uniden BC75XLT: Public Safety Scanner, Racing Scanner with 300 Channels


  • Location-based;
  • PC programming port;
  • Compatible with Narrow Band.


  • Few slots for saving channels (only 300);
  • Reported problems with the battery.

A handheld, ergonomic design with a large antenna and a pretty complex system, the Uniden BC75XLT is a well-made police scanner. It’s good for people who want to use a compact device.

The main features include coverage of both VHF and UHF frequencies, Close Call RF for location-based scanning, and a storage of up to 300 channels. Other things to mention are its compliance with narrowband and a PC programming port.

This device’s main advantage is the aforementioned PC ming port, which makes the entire process of setting up your police scanner much easier. One secondary benefit is the location-based scanning, due to the RF technology, a scanning type which although may malfunction at certain times, is quite the plus for a device that’s been built for mobile use.

The downsides of the Uniden BC75XLT are two, but they are not to be neglected. The first problem is the low amount of memory, which only allows for a storage of 300 channels. In contrast, market competitors offer a memory that stores anything in between of 500 channels, and up to thousands of channels.

The second problem is a rather low battery life, corroborated with the occasional sudden, unexplainable drop in energy. The experts we’ve consulted let us know about these battery issues before the actual testing, as it’s a pretty known issue, but both ourselves and our focus group noticed these problems nonetheless. Other than that, we were happy with the device’s capabilities, especially how easy the process of programming becomes when you can use your PC.

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P25 Phase 1 and 2

You’ll read about Phase 1 and 2 a lot if you’re browsing for a police scanner. The full name of these “phases” are APCO P25 Phase 1 and Phase 2. And they’re protocols for the encryption of radio frequencies. To put it a bit more simply, you can view Phase 1 and 2 like languages a scanner can or cannot speak. The more it can speak, the better, and the more languages your police scanner can speak, the larger the number of frequencies you’ll find with intelligible transmissions on them. Besides all of these types of police scanners, while browsing for a scanner you should consider the legal status of radio usage in your country/state. It’s usually not hard to find this out, there are a lot of radio amateurs societies all over the globe that willingly share this information on their website.

Frequently Asked Question (FAQ)

Q. Is it legal to own a police scanner?

A. Yes, it’s legal to own a police scanner — and it’s legal to listen to what is being broadcast. However, in a few states, it isn’t legal to use a police scanner while driving.

Q. What can I listen to on a police scanner?

A. These devices may be called “police” scanners, but they scan far more than just police communication channels. Depending on how close you are to other agencies and the type of system your scanner uses, you might be able to pick up broadcasts from fire departments, emergency medical services, air traffic control, schools, hospitals, malls, stores, weather alerts, and more.

Final thoughts 

New Real spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing police scanners to recommend the best picks for most consumers. All in all, listening to local police departments and volunteering firemen while they did their work was pretty fun. Figuring out how police scanners work and what every little slang term was admittedly hard. But in the end, it was all worth it. There’s a certain type of magic switching between frequencies, always curious because you never know what you may hear.

Alex Anderson
Alex Anderson
Our lead experts-analyst, Alex Anderson, has reviewed hundreds of electronics devices, automotive gadgets, and other products in more than 10 years. He a journalist, software trainer, and sometimes Web designer. Alex writes news stories, columns, and reviews for us and other popular sites and publications.


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