Two-way radios and walkie talkies look like much the same thing on the surface. They both allow two people to talk to each other when face-to-face isn’t possible. They are extremely convenient and offer communication at the push of a button.

However, although the two terms are often used interchangeably, it is vital to know the difference. Get it wrong, and a hobbyist will be spending unneeded money on a business-grade model, or a business will come up short with something that can’t get the job done.

We know that both can send and receive radio signals. Here we look at the pros and cons of two-way radios and walkie talkies, exploring where one is inferior or superior to the other, and highlighting the different features or benefits.

It is fair to say that the use of the different names is mostly down to marketing, but there is more to the story than just this.  

Two-Way Radios 

Technically speaking, the term two-way radios cover any device that can receive and transmit radio transmissions. However, two-way radios are aimed at business users and can be handheld, fixed, or mobile, such as those fixed to a desk, worn by the user, or fitted within a vehicle.

Two-way radios are typically high-end models that are rich in features. Users can talk and listen simultaneously, and they are used across large commercial sites, event spaces, hospitals, and of course, in security.

Compared to a walkie-talkie, a two-way radio is generally tougher with a more robust build quality. They might be IP certified for water ingress and dust, making them ideal for factories, building, and manufacturing sites.

A 2-way radio will cost more and may operate on several or unique frequencies to ensure no interference. Ofcom licences powerful models.  


Walkie talkies are handheld portable two-way radios, and it is the handheld part that defines walkie talkies. You can walk around one because they are never fixed in place or built-in to a car, for example.

Sometimes the walkie-talkie phrase is linked to low-end or basic models, but this is not always the case, and there are high-end devices that carry the phrase. The models you see on the high street are typically for non-commercial use and geared towards the outdoor and leisure markets.

Sometimes with lower power and a shorter range, walkie-talkies cost less, and you cannot transmit (speak) and receive (listen) simultaneously. They are licence free and usually operate on one pre-programmed frequency. This does mean that the user can experience interference if someone else is using one nearby. 

The takeaway here is that in most instances, two-way radios are for commercial use and walkie-talkies are for leisure use. There are exceptions to the rule, and if you need further guidance, our friendly team is here and ready to help.