Not sure which Icom handheld VHF to buy? We look at the differences between the entry-level IC M25 and the feature-packed IC M93D to see which VHF may suit you.
Icom hold a unique reputation in the world of VHF radios, especially marine VHF. Used by rescue and emergency services who have learnt the radios are dependable, rugged and fit for purpose. Our two most popular Icom handheld VHF’s are the tried and trusted IC-M25 and the relative newly released IC-M93D.
Both compact, buoyant and easy to use but functionality wise with a few very key differences. Price wise there is about £110 between the pair with the M25 at £139.95 and the M93D is £249.95 but this is reflective very much of features. Cutting to the point, the biggest differentiation between them is that the M93D has built-in GPS and DSC. For many sailors, SUP owners or sea kayakers the extra safety and reassurance that DSC offers makes the £110 sensible extra spend. Both VHF’s are buoyant and both flash to show where they are when in the water, handy when you drop the VHF when hopping aboard a tender but still hard work to recover in a heavy sea under sail.
Equally, they are both waterproof to IPX7 (1 meter for 30 mins) and there is some anecdotal evidence that at least the M25 can last a lot longer in the water. Battery life on standby for the M93D is 9 hours (charging in 2 hours) and for the M25 is 11 hours (charging in 2.5 hours)
Both units fit nicely in the hand, the buttons feel different, the newer design of the IC93D has a lower profile and perhaps less chunky buttons, we have still found them simple to use but you do need to look more at what you are doing. This is perhaps a reflection of the greater number of controls needed on the more expensive unit. Of note is the M93D screen, it is easier to read and bigger, even with more information displayed it just feels more modern. Not that there is anything wrong with the M25 screen which is clean, simple and we have found especially good at night.
If you are not doing anything too adventurous, so maybe inland or sailing close to the coast, need a backup handheld or simply tender to mother ship the M25 represents good value for money is tried, tested and will serve you well. If you are venturing further outto sea, are likely cruising or paddling alone, short-handed or in harsher conditions then there are some unique features of the Icom M93D that we think you really should consider.
A VHF for years has been a communication device, a way to summon help, call up a marina or even grab a water taxi. DSC came along and certainly changed the world a little, it made the VHF a firm safety device that helped alert and locate. This new M93D is taking things a step further and at a price that just makes it seem sensible for a sailor, kayaker or SUP user.
Via DSC the M93D can say, "I need help and I am here", moreover, it can be automatically set to trigger a MOB alert. Those sailing will see it is an added bonus for crews where for example you are shorthanded sailing in the dark and may not notice a MOB, alerting others on board as well as nearby yachts. For the kayaker, pressing one DSC button could literally be a lifeline, a simple way to request help in a tricky situation.
There is a further benefit, you can put in basic waypoints and use the inbuilt GPS to navigate. Certainly, this is no chart plotter, think more old school GPS but that is often enough, as a backup, emergency or small boat sailor.
Which handheld VHF to buy is a choice that very much depends on where and how you will use it. Our suspicion is that for many more serious cruising sailors, where the handheld radio is both a backup, grab bag must have and in regular use, the extra cost is worth at least considering. Icom offers a 3-year warranty with both units for peace of mind and
|Feature||Icom M25 Euro||Icom M93D Euro|
|Waterproof||IPX 7||IPX 7|
|Flash on Float||Yes||Yes|
|Quake Function to Clear Water from the Speaker||Yes||Yes|
|Battery Life Standby||11 hours||9 hours|
|Charge Time||3 hours||2.5 hours|
|Transmitter Output (max)||5W||5W|
|Dimensions (cm)||5.6 x 13.4 x 3||5.7x 14.4 x3.8|
|Built-in Class D DSC with Ch70 Receiver||No||Yes|
|Waypoint & Navigation Function||No||Yes|
|Integrated GNSS Receiver||No||Yes|
|Dual Tri Watch Functions||Yes||Yes|
|Favourite Channel Function||Yes||Yes|