The Icom ID-52E Arrives

Far back in the mist of times best forgotten Icom announced the successor to their popular ID-51 handheld, the ID-52. Its taken well over a year to get here for various reasons that dont need going into, but on 10th of December 2021 it arrived in the UK and began shipping to customers. This is not a review of the ID-52 because I don’t do reviews. Or, well, maybe I do and it is. Just a little bit. A few of my instagram followers ask for a review so here’s the story so far.

How I got it

For those of us that had put in a pre order, or who had successfully managed to also buy one of the few available it meant the radio arrived on our doorstep sometime around the 13th of December. I had pre-ordered one from Nevada Radio and bought a second from Lamco (for M6FLJ’s Christmas present) on the weekend after they arrived.

The first one arrived on Tuesday (thanks Nevada!) and so was mine. Due to a busy time and work and some cancelled time off I didnt get chance to use it until today 18th December but a bit more about that later.

Two Icom ID-52s

Sarah’s one arrived the next day and for a brief few happy hours I had two, before I needed to wrap on up for Christmas.

I guess thats all well and good, but what you really want to know is what I think of the radio? OK then, here we go.

Out of the Box

First impressions, great quality look and feel its a bit bigger than the radio I usually carry (Yaesu FT3D) but not so much its a problem, it still fits easily into the pocket of a jacket.

Icom ID-52 and FT3D Size comparison

The screen is big, bright and easy to read and you have the option of a light or dark theme.

Icom ID-52

Programming

Programming is simple, the software is free on the icom download site and runs on windows, worth noting that the firm aware installed on the radio was the latest version at the time of publishing. The repeater lists were recently updated on the D-Star website here in the UK, once downloaded its easy enough to import the files into the programming software. You can also set most, if not all, of the Icom ID-52 settings values using the software.

Connecting the PC to the radio can be over a USB cable but it should be possible to connect over bluetooth. Uploading the settings to the radio takes just a few seconds.

Battery

The ID-52 shares the same batteries as the IC-705 so the additional battery I bought for that – the BP-307 – will work and will provide 12hours operation. It does make it a bit more bulky so i wont use that all the time, but the provided BP-272 battery does provide a respectable 7 hours or so operation so thats good enough for daily use.

ID-52 and BP307

I do like that the belt clip can be easily removed and put on another battery by uncoiling it, all of my other handhelds require removing small screws that eventually get dropped on the floor….

Bluetooth

Bluetooth provides the ability to control the radio from a computer or other device such as your phone. Apps for iOS and Android are available, I have found the iOS app to have a few bugs causing it to crash so waiting for an update on that.

We can also connect a bluetooth headset, I have the Icom one that I bought for the 705 and that works perfectly with the ID-52 providing audio, PTT and 3 programmable buttons (I use them for frequency or channel change and the third to toggle between VFO and Memory mode).

Antenna

It comes with a pretty standard looking antenna, I used it briefly to try the radio and was able to open my local 70cms repeater (around 25 miles away) from inside the house, something i have not been able to do with some other handhelds.

I replaced it with an NA771, will see if this performs any better that what I expect the stock antenna to do.

Operation

As I said before the large screen is bright and easily readable.

The buttons are a good size for fat fingers like mine and I had no problem using the radio including changing settings wearing gloves. it didnt take long for me to remember which button did what as there are only a few of them.

The menu is well laid out and easy to navigate using the D-Pad in the centre of the key layout.

Audio

Audio sounds good, even outside in windy conditions, I think I had the voile set at about 20% during my SOTA Activation today and I had no problem hearing anyone. I got good reports from my contacts so mic audio appears good too.

Practical Use

So in order to give the radio a decent test I packed it in my bag along with a portable HB9CV antenna and 3m mast and took a walk up to my local SOTA peak, Dunkery Beacon, the highest point in Exmoor Nation Park.

As we arrived the fog rolled in so we never got to see the amazing view from the top, so you will just have to trust me – its a great view 🙂

The ID-52 has an on board GPS that obtains a fix quickly, and automatically syncs the clock with the time from the GPS Satellites.

With the radio set at max power (5w) I used the voice recorder function to record and then send out my CQ message expecting to have to repeat a few times before getting a response.

I was surprised to receive a response on the second call from another SOTA activator. Picking a working channel is made simple by using the waterfall display which works really well.

That’s a piece of grass on the screen, its not cracked

I didnt make many contacts but that’s nothing new. The radio performed great, my first two contacts were SOTA to SOTA the first in the Peak District around 200 miles away and the second in central Wales about 100 miles, so I think its safe to say this radio works 🙂 I will be trying this again, maybe over Christmas when there may be a better chance of more operators being in their shack and not at work.

Conclusion

It’s been a long wait and its finally here. But is it worth the price? Yes of course it is. We have come to expect high quality radios from Icom and they have delivered once again in my opinion, I liked it so much I bought one for my wife and she’s so picky this is her first radio since becoming licensed six years ago!

There are many more things to try with the ID-52, today was just a couple of hours out to see how well it would work and I not disappointed, not at all.

The only thing missing is APRS but I have other radios that do that, and I think I may be able to use this radio with a Digipi if I can make up the audio cables. Stay tuned for more on that soon 😉

Ive become more interested in UHF and VHF since moving to Exmoor and there are many hills to climb and call CQ from and I fully intend to climb more especially as my ability to do so has improved no end since I have been here and got more exercise.

Catch you all on the air soon!

73

Mark – M0IAX