A radar detector as acclaimed as the Uniden R3 will understandably generate the device that follows its steps with much hype. And this is what we have exactly seen with the R7, released last month and used now by many we perceive to be satisfied customers. The latter had improved performance on the R3, such as when it came to detection range and sensitivity, and this is owed to its additional features, directional arrows included.
With the arrival of the touted new king of radar detectors, is R3 relegated to a lesser status? Should you make the jump from R3 to R7, or skip the R3 altogether to equip your vehicle with the R7? Are the changes and improvements that drastic? While we believe in different strokes for different folks, we understand the appeal of a newer radar detector. And yet, being 200 dollars less than the retail price for R7 will make the R3 still a desirable option.
We took it upon ourselves to compare and contrast the R7 versus R3, and ultimately, to help you in deciding which radar detector to take. Here is a quick reference on the similarities and differences of the Uniden R3 and the R7 before we delve into the particulars:
Uniden R3 VS R7 Comparison Table
The new design is the most apparent of changes from the R3 to the R7. There is a bigger display and a seemingly different orientation, but curious enough the official manual for the R7 indicates the same dimensions and weight.
Both radar detectors use an OLED display, but the R7’s is noticeably larger to accommodate a new feature: the directional arrows. Previously seen on the Valentine One and the Escort Max Ci 360, the once patented addition is now also available on the R7.
The necessity of having one is contested by many radar detector users, considering the feature as a luxury, but there are also a sizable number from the community who wanted to see it on equipment other than the V1. Uniden R7 gives users the option to change the colors based on the band for convenience. Colors also indicate signal strength.
On the R3, the brightness can automatically adjust based on the time. While useful for many, those driving on places with higher altitudes may benefit more from the R7’s ambient light sensor, also present in the DRF8 and DRF9. This removes the need to manually adjust the brightness for better reading. When it comes to legibility, we see no difference between the two models.
Button placement is a little different on the R7. Most remain at the top, such as power buttons, menu and volume but then there are little changes. The mute button is placed in front for the R3, right below the OLED display, but the mute button is on the left side for the R7. This is an unusual choice based on other radar detectors but not one to bother us that much.
The port for the power cable, while technically not a button, is now on the right side, away from the view of the driver. It is also now for Micro USB instead of Mini USB. On the R7, the display is tilted to the left, which is good for right-hand traffic countries including the United States and Canada where Uniden markets its detectors the most.
The mount of the R7 VS the R3 is longer for a practical reason: the former is farther from the windshield. But this isn’t something new to Uniden as we’ve already seen it on older models, just not the R3. The suction cup for the R7 allows more mobility too.
Features – R3 VS R7
Two major features are added on the R7: a second rear antenna and directional arrows. While both radar detectors possess the same build, these aforementioned updates on the R7’s design are supposed to increase driving awareness and improve detection.
These will help identify not only the source but the location of the signal, which may not mean much to others but will be beneficial in conditions where visibility is slightly compromised such as at night and where there are many possible sources for a signal. The arrows come with voice alerts that will inform a user of the particulars even when not looking at its display.
The R7 will also come with automatic GPS lockouts. To be clear, this isn’t offered right off the box as it will take a firmware update after the patent for such technology expires. It isn’t hard to do manual muting, but in instances when the range of a signal is wider than expected, it can be helpful for the device to learn this on its own.
Unfortunately, the R3 will not receive this because its memory will not be able to accommodate it according to Uniden. This limitation also keeps the Mute Memory points for the R3 at 200. Meanwhile, the R7 can store up to 2000 points that will be shared by Mute Memory points and User Mark locations.
R7 will have wider K-band scanning capabilities than the R3 as it will be able to sweep down signals even lower than 23.9 GHz, which is also convenient for MRCD detection. Logically, this will make the R7 more sensitive and prone to false alerts.
False alerts filtering is one area considered to be a weakness for Uniden models, including the R3, but R7 recently released an update to block BSM signals from Acura and Honda, and other signals within the 29.194 to 24.204 range. This can pick up legitimate threats but thankfully police signals of this range are rare.
If you find these to be minor improvements, then you’ll be glad to know that most other features on the R3 and the R7 are similar. The functions allowed by GPS are carried over from the R3 to the R7 but with only little tweaks.
The R7 has shown improvements versus R3’s Performance, although the results tend not to prove a significant edge. The former is at least 1 dB more sensitive, but in the larger scheme of things, the R3 is not far behind in detection and range. The R3 and R7 have similar results on Ka 34.7 radar guns, and the R7 beats the R3 on Ka 33.8. Both have a significant lead over other radar detectors.
For those worrying that the directional arrows compromise the R7, you can find that this assumption is unfounded as it is still able to perform as great or even better than the major competition. Even the rear antenna for the R7 is excellent as it outperforms the Escort Max 360 as well as the V1.
Conclusion – The R7 or the R3 ?
There’s no going around the fact that the Uniden R7 is a beast, but such confirmation does not lessen the R3’s reputation in any way. The additional features for the former are useful of course, and if you’ve been begging Uniden as well as other models to feature directional arrows without compromising performance, then R7 is a great buy.
When it comes to range and general performance though, Uniden R3 is with the R7 at the top of Uniden. For something at least $200 cheaper than the new top of the range model, that is indeed a steal.