For those of us who have used radar detectors since the 70s, the brand name Uniden should ring a bell, and you might ask yourself “Don’t they make radar detectors?”. But you might not be aware that Uniden has created capable windshield mount devices throughout the past several years, under the radar.
We think that it’s safe to say that with these two radar detectors, the R1, and the R3, Uniden will no longer be a “sleeper” manufacturer within the radar detection industry. In 2020, Uniden released a newer version of those, make sure you don’t miss the Uniden R7 review.
And in this Uniden R1 VS R3 review, we want to give you the full rundown on how both detectors can be beneficial for you. We’ll even explain their differences in detail, so you know what product you’re getting and why. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the review!
Uniden R1 VS R3 Comparison Table
Behavior and Utility of the Uniden R3 VS R1
Bright Full-Color OLED Display
The Uniden R1 (full review here) and R3 have a multitude of display settings: DIM, DIMMER, BRIGHT, DARK, and off. The DARK mode is a nice feature for stealth driving. On this setting, the screen remains off except for a red dot flashing at the bottom left hand of the screen.
One of the things we’d like to see changed is a slower flashing dot. In our opinion, it flashes too quickly. It’s better to see a slower fast on-off rate for about one second, just like our heartbeats instead of a 100-yard sprint.
We would also like to see the brightness levels apply the backlit front-facing buttons and an automatic dimming feature which tailors the brightness level of the backlit buttons and the screen to ambient lighting conditions.
Useful Information Provided at First Glance
With the Uniden R3, Uniden provides a lot of information on your display, including your current direction of travel and speed; the current time of day; and the sensitivity setting of your detector; and the time of the day – courtesy of GPS satellites; the frequency of primary detection and the band of police radar; up to 3 different police radar bands with their own signal strengths.
No other detector comes close to providing such information, especially in a readable manner. For those that are interested in knowing the alternator/battery voltage of their altitude, you can have that information at your fingertips.
The two front buttons, MARK and DIM/MUTE on the Uniden R3 or the DIM/MUTE and CITY on the Uniden R1 have a backlight which makes it easy to read during the evening. But it can also be disabled for people who want less attention to attracting experience.
Great Tonal & Audio Quality
The alert volumes and voice qualities of the Uniden R1& R3 are very discernable and exceptional. The sound levels can be very loud and remain clear. While the alert tones are distortion-free and easily recognizable. The voice augmentation feels natural and not “synthetic”, unlike other detectors.
The Ka-band’s alert tone was a bit off-putting. First, it’s chirping sound is something we’d attribute to more X-band type alerts. After a short period, this feature grew on us and we’re perfectly fine with it.
The Uniden R3 and R1 have three sensitivity settings: CITY, CITY2, and HIGHWAY. Highway mode places the detectors in its maximum sensitivity for all radar bands: K, Ka, and X.
CITY mode reduces the K band sensitivity which reduces the falsing of K-band door openers that you’ll discover around town. But it can also reduce the range that your detector might alert to the K-band collision avoidance filtering that still makes it through the filtering. Interestingly, the sensitivity is so high, that even if its neutered on the K, the R3 and R1 provide an ample amount of sensitivity.
CITY 2 not only reduces the K-band sensitivity but also disables the X-band if the band isn’t disabled within the menu configuration. No matter what sensitivity setting you to choose, the detections to the laser and Ka-band aren’t impacted in any way.
Unlike the R1, you can adjust the R3’s sensitivity by pressing the MENU button on top instead of the R1’s front. Our preference would be for the R3’s MARK button to be tasked to do both the changing of sensitivity and the marking of locations.
Like the MENU button, you can toggle the R3’s sensitivity by pressing and holding onto the button for a short period. This feature mirrors the DIM/MARK button’s behavior. The right button can be labeled as MARK/CITY. This arrangement would make a more consistent experience for both R1 and R3 detectors.
Speed-Sensitive Alert Muting
The R3 can mute detection alerts when you’re driving below a certain speed. This feature is amazing and can make a very quiet detector around town. We suggest setting the threshold speed at 45 mph. Read our Uniden R3 setting up guide for more information.
Anything below this speed and the detector will remain quiet. You can have the R3 configured so that it doesn’t make alerts on your drive to work and there are around 6 stationary sources of radar, which would cause your detector to alert and you won’t have to lock them to have a quiet commute.
Alerting to Police Radar
Both the R1 and R3 do a good job of alerting you to radar detections. Visually, you will be shown the frequency, the primary detector radar band, and the signal strength with five bars of various colors indicating the relative proximity and levels.
The voice annotations are clear, the tonal and volume characteristics are distinct, and the duration of the trailing alerts after its radar detection is superior when compared to its competing brands such as Escort or Beltronics, which have are too long in duration to be useful.
The dynamic range is very good, so you’ll get a sense of how close you are to the radar source, which is an important trait that communicates how you should react.
(LIDAR) Alerting to Police Laser
One aspect that could use improvement is the alert durations of the police laser. Unlike the sharpness and quickness of the R1’s and R3’s alerts to radar, detections to the laser last too long. The R1 and R3 will alert you for around 11-12 seconds in total whether the detection is short or lasts as long as 5 seconds.
With shorter alert durations, you can get a better sense of how long you’re being targeted or if an officer is having an issue finding an aiming point to track your speed.
Packaging and Workmanship
Both the Uniden R1 and R3 are well constructed. Their exterior casings have tight seams and feel comfortable to hold in your hand. The menus are well-spaced, large, and have a tactile feel towards them.
The Uniden’s both have superb packaging, starting with the carrying case that’s capable of holding everything that’s with the doctors, which is a lie.
Uniden offers two unique mounts in there based on their respective packages: A sticky cup mounting cup with a ball-type head that allows for a variety of angles and as well as a dual suction cup mounting bracket.
Also, Uniden provides a coiled light power adapter, which has an RJ-11 jack and included a push-button for locations and muting alerts and a USB power port to charge the device with your smartphone.
We wish that Uniden provided a USB to Mini-D cable to connect the detector to your computer to update your detector’s firmware, and with the Uniden R3, its photographic-enforcement database.
Signal Lockout and Muting
With the press of the button, both the R1 and R3 can mute alerts. But it provides a nice feature too, UNMUTING. Generally, with other detectors, it stays muted until the signal is lost and the detector finds the next detection.
With the R3 and R1, we like the fact that you can press the MUTE button again and have the detectors alerting once again. Do we often use the MUTE button this way? No, but we like the nimbleness of it.
The R3, like other GPS detectors, can manually lockout radar sources by the geolocation. Once you drive by the source again, but the detector will stay muted.
Sensitivity to Police Laser
Anyone that tells you that the ability of a radar to detect police lasers is not important, is either trying to sell you expensive laser jammers, and don’t have a clue of what they’re talking about or both.
Besides benefitting from the effectiveness of a police laser absorbing veil coating, even if you don’t have this protection on your vehicle, suggesting that it’s not important if the detector isn’t able to alert the instant-on-radar, especially if you’re the one being targeted without any prior warning.
The sheer performance of the R3 and R1 has redefined what we believed is possible in a radar detector. Both of these detectors have a 6dB range and possibly more increases in sensitivity than other radar detectors in existence, whether it be a windshield mount or remotely installed detectors.
The range of both the R1 and R3 is quite mindblowing. You’ll routinely get detections at twice the distance in comparison to the Escort Max 360 and the Escort iX, and the advanced detections are about 50% range than other devices. It’s not that these detectors aren’t great in their own right. It’s just that the R3 and the R1 are noticeably better. You can read our full radar detectors comparison to get to know the top models in the market today.
Signal Rejection and Filtering
Reduced K-band Falses
Uniden detectors are making progress with each update in their firmware. For instance, it now offers a K NARROW mode, that focuses the detectors on the 3 main K-band detectors in North America: 35.5 GHz, 34.7 GHz, and 33.8 GHz.
Like with its K NARROW feature, why search for police radar at a frequency that can’t be found? Abroad, where the other frequencies are used, the standard Ka WIDE model is the main one to use.
In both the K NARROW and the K settings, there’s always a possibility of a small improvement in reaction time and performance to the quick trigger I/O. The good news is, even when sweeping a full KA WIDE band, the performance doesn’t drop. So this is more of a filtering benefit instead of a performance once, which is still a great advantage.
So that covers the main differences. Besides those differences are its two relevant options. Here are some of the other differences that we’ve noticed.
- The R3 has a darker chrome top while the R1 has an all-black top cover.
- The R3 uses GPS to shut down the detector automatically if it’s been idle for a while. This is handy when your detector is plugged into an always-on power source.
- The R1 displays your vehicle voltage. The R3 allows you to change the display to show the altitude, compass, or speed.
- The R1 has a “City” button that allows you to switch between Highway and City Modes. With the R3, you can do this by pressing the Menu button on top for more than 3 seconds.
- The R3 automatically dims the display at night since the GPS automatically knows the time of your location.
- You can’t disable the R1’s heartbeat scanning display while the R3 lets you replace it with the GPS tool.
- The R3 has a “Mark” button which manually marks a GPS location so you can be alerted the next time you’re in the area.
We believe that the R3 and the R1 are the best detectors by Uniden you can use today, regardless of their price.
If any detector that could benefit from having directional arrows, both the R3 and R1 do. Their sensitivity is high, and its filtering is good, it would be nice to know where that signal of the police radar, from miles away. Imagine a GPS enabled Uniden device, that’s exactly what an R3 is and it’s simply amazing.
If you have any questions or comments about the Uniden R1 or R3 tell us in the comments below.