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The more I read about the Uniden R4, the more I want one. Announced in October 2021, the R4 is built on a new platform with two LNA’s (Low Noise Amplifiers) to increase the overall range. Not that Uniden radar detectors ever lacked in the range department, as both the current R3 and R7 are highly respected among enthusiasts for their overall performance.
Despite the R4 being readily available on Amazon, I ordered a Uniden R3 instead. The R3, as you can imagine, is less expensive than the brand new R4, and most of what I read on the forums is still positive about the R3. Although I plan to buy an R4 eventually, I decided to take a few weeks to cruise around the Detroit metro with my new-to-me Uniden R3.
Uniden R3: Quick Take
The R3 is still one of the best radar detectors, and it’s nicely priced at $299 on Amazon as of this writing. While some units from the competition are half the price, they are also half the radar detector compared to the R3 in terms of long-range detection, false alert filtering, and customization options. The Uniden R3 is lightweight and easy to install, making it the perfect “grab and go” radar detector.
Uniden R3 In-Depth: What It Offers
The Uniden R3 comes with a 12V DC power cord with an RJ11 connector, hook and loop tape for dashboard mounting, and an owner’s manual. Included are two different windshield mounting brackets. There is a larger single suction cup bracket and a bracket with two smaller suction cups. No matter how you mount it to your windshield, the R3 packs a lot of punch for being such a small unit.
360 Degree Radar & Laser Protection
The Uniden R3 will alert you to X, K, and Ka radar bands and laser (LiDAR) guns. The R3 can also detect POP transmissions, but the factory setting for this feature is off (the jury is still out on POP radar as its quick burst nature is prone to errors, and thus, law enforcement is unlikely to rely on it solely to issue a ticket).
The R3’s OLED display will show the frequency when a particular radar band is detected. The corresponding signal strength indicator moves from green to yellow, then red, depending on how close you are to the threat. Audible alerts are also issued, with the tones becoming more rapid the closer you are to the radar source. For fun, I set my R3 to also announce the frequency of Ka bands.
The R3 will simultaneously detect up to four radar bands and show each of them visually through the All Threat feature in the settings menu. The strongest signal is designated as the priority, showing front and center on the OLED display. Other signals appear in the left corner by way of a little digital chart. Below this digital chart is the type of radar band, followed by signal strength bars that ascend vertically the closer you get to the source.
Beyond the standard radar bands, the Uniden R3 picks up any nearby red light and speed cameras. The R3 will show camera or traffic light icons and the corresponding distance (in feet) to the alert.
Like other popular radar detectors, the Uniden R3 has City and Highway modes. In City mode, X and K band sensitivity is reduced to prevent false alerts, while Ka bands stay at full sensitivity. In Highway mode, all bands go to full sensitivity to give you the most reaction time on the open road. Through the Advanced Mode, you can further optimize the R3’s sensitivity levels to your liking.
The R3’s Quiet Ride feature, accessed through the menu settings, mutes X and K bands under a pre-set speed. Likewise, the Auto Mute feature is handy, which reduces the volume of the audible alerts after a few seconds.
The Mute Memory and Mark Location features are an excellent addition to the R3, and I found them especially helpful in metro Detroit. Since the R3 has a built-in GPS, it can remember locations where you know the alerts are false. I have used the R3’s Mute Memory feature around shopping plazas or while driving through some of the more industrial areas of the Motor City.
When you encounter an alert you know to be false, press the Mute/Dim button on the unit or the Mute button on the power cord. You will then see “Mute On” appear on the display. Press one of the aforementioned buttons again to save that location to the R3’s memory.
The Mark Location feature works similarly; only you will use it for areas where there is a guaranteed radar source. When entering this area, press the Mark button to save that location. The R3 will issue a voice prompt to remind you when you are getting near said location from now on.
You can save up to 500 locations each for the Mute Memory and Mark Location features.
Should You Purchase The Uniden R3?
Currently, my favorite setup is the Escort MAX 360c with the M2 Dash Camera, but I don’t need to run such heavy equipment each time I drive. And I don’t know what it is, but Escort’s app integration is often hit or miss, which hinders the experience with their radar detectors.
So I started looking for a “grab and go” style radar detector, something I could quickly toss up on my windshield without worrying about a Bluetooth connection.
I initially looked to the Cobra RAD 380 and 480i, and while both of those radar detectors have their perks, they really pale in comparison to the Uniden R3. Granted, the R3 is more money, but the performance easily justifies the extra cost. What stands out is how trustworthy the R3 is versus the Cobra units, especially the 480i, which tends to alert to . . . well, just about everything. After a while, it’s impossible to tell the difference between a real threat and a false alert with the 480i, a problem I’ve never had with the R3.
I’m sure the new R4 is fantastic, but if you are looking for a little radar detector that is easy to use and highly reliable, the Uniden R3 is an obvious choice. As of this writing, it retails on Amazon for $299.
Carl Anthony is Managing Editor of Automoblog and a member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association and the Society of Automotive Historians. He serves on the board of directors for the Ally Jolie Baldwin Foundation, is a past president of Detroit Working Writers, and a loyal Detroit Lions fan.
Thanks to its exceptional false alert filtering, the Uniden R3 is one of the most trustworthy radar detectors. Drivers can customize nearly everything about their R3, from the display color to the sensitivity of individual radar bands.
Although its big brother, the R4, is now available, the R3 is still a top-notch radar detector for the money.