Uniden R3 Review: This Great Radar Detector Still Delivers The Goods

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Uniden R3 Crash Course

  • Although an older radar detector in Uniden’s lineup, the R3 is still a trusty driving companion with solid range detection.
  • All Threat mode displays up to four radar bands in the immediate area, organizing them by signal strength.
  • The Uniden R3 is a great option if you want to buy your first radar detector but don’t want to spend too much.
Uniden R3 3
Uniden R3
What's Great
Easy Install
Few False Alerts
Long-Range Detection
Not So Great
Lackluster Display
No Directional Alert Arrows
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Our Review Process for Radar Detectors

Automoblog is a member of the Radar Detector and Countermeasures Forum to ensure truth and accountability when covering radar detectors. 

Whether we receive a radar detector from a manufacturer to review or purchase it with our own money, there are four main points we consider, listed below. Our primary driving areas with any radar detector include the Detroit metro and the Ohio Turnpike.

  • False Alert Filtering: While no radar detector is entirely immune to false alerts, units that prioritize a quiet drive, alerting only when absolutely necessary, receive an extra feather in their cap during our review process. In and around Detroit, we deliberately drive past shopping plazas, industrial areas, places with digital signage, and other locations with sources of non-police radar while evaluating a given radar detector. These locations can and will produce a false K band alert. Some radar detectors do better than others, as they have embedded technology to address and mitigate alerts caused by non-police radar.   
  • Range Detection: During our radar detector evaluations, we drive roadways in the Detroit area with regular high-volume traffic. Our go-to roads include Woodward Avenue, Telegraph Road, I-696, and M10 during afternoon rush hour. In these areas, we are looking for the most advanced notice possible of police radar. We pick high-volume traffic times as law enforcement vehicles in Michigan are often nondescript Ford Explorers and Chevy Tahoes, which blend in easily in traffic and can be hard to spot visually. Our friend Vortex Radar from the Radar Detector Forum has the most comprehensive range testing, documenting everything in charts and graphs. We often follow his guidelines when it comes to range detection.
  • Price & Value-Added Features: We look at the cost of each radar detector versus the amount of features it offers for the money. Examples of value-added features include Bluetooth connectivity, segmentation filters, and directional arrows.
  • Ease of Use: The best radar detectors should provide a seamless user experience, whether you are a first-time user or have owned a radar detector for years. Ease of use becomes more critical in our evaluation process as the price and feature set of the radar detector in question increases. One of the selling points of the Uniden R3 is its ease of use.
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Uniden R3 Review Summary

Although it’s now an older offering in Uniden’s lineup, the R3 is still one of the best radar detectors for its retail price (about $300 on Amazon, not counting any deals or discounts). Granted, you can spend about half that on something like the Cobra RAD 400i, but the Uniden R3 is better all around regarding range detection, false alert filtering, and customization options. 

During our review of the RAD 480i, we felt like it struggled on I-75 through Michigan and Ohio with false alerts, especially in road construction zones with digital signage. Although we like the price point of the RAD 480i, the Uniden R3 is simply a better option, even if you are spending a bit more. 

The Uniden R4, released in October 2021, is the upgraded version of the R3. During our review of the R4, we found it does have an edge over the R3 in some areas, but the R3 is still a good radar detector overall, especially if you are looking to buy your first one. 

Below, we cover the features and walk through the settings menu of the Uniden R3. We will also share some insights from our drive as we go.

Uniden R3
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As an Amazon Associate, Automoblog earns from qualifying purchases.

Trustworthy radar detector with high marks of approval from owners on the Radar Detector Forum.

All Threat mode displays up to four radar bands.

Simple display makes it a great option for first-time radar detector users.

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, a carrying case, 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. Although the photos here as part of this review show the double suction cup mount, we do prefer the single mount. The single mount is a bit larger and is less apt to move when going over bumps.

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 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 Uniden R3 to also announce Ka-band frequencies.

All Threat Feature

The Uniden 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 through 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.

Uniden R3
Our Uniden R3 on I-696 eastbound near Novi, Michigan. On the left side of the display is our current speed and direction of travel. In the center is the “scanning bar” graphic. To the right is the sensitivity mode (Highway in this case). We are using the blue display, but you can change the color in the settings menu. Photo: Alex Hartman.

Sensitivity Modes

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. You can further optimize the R3’s sensitivity levels to your liking through the Advanced Mode. 

Here in Detroit, while driving locally with the Uniden R3, we opt for City mode and turn the X bands off via the settings menu. Conversely, when we travel to Sandusky via I-75 and on the Ohio Turnpike, we switch to Highway sensitivity – but still with the X bands off. Having the X bands turned off will help reduce the number of false alerts.

The thing to keep in mind is what law enforcement is using in your area. Where we are here in Michigan, it’s mostly Ka bands, save for some K band radar used by smaller municipalities. That said, we are okay with turning the X bands off, but always be aware of what radar bands law enforcement near you uses. It will most likely be Ka since that’s the most common today, but it’s not always a guarantee.

Quiet Ride

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.

Marking & Muting

The Mute Memory and Mark Location features are an excellent addition to the Uniden R3. 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 with a guaranteed radar source (like a red light camera, speed trap, or any other place you know patrol cars commonly sit). 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.

Uniden R3
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As an Amazon Associate, Automoblog earns from qualifying purchases.

Trustworthy radar detector with high marks of approval from owners on the Radar Detector Forum.

All Threat mode displays up to four radar bands.

Simple display makes it a great option for first-time radar detector users.

Should You Purchase The Uniden R3?

In this general price range (about $300) of the radar detectors we have reviewed and currently own, only the Cobra RAD 700i outperforms the Uniden R3. In essence, this could be an unfair comparison since the RAD 700i was released in 2023 and the R3 in 2017. The RAD 700i benefits from newer technology, especially in terms of false alert filtering, but it’s the only one we would potentially recommend over the Uniden R3. 

If you like Uniden products in general and are okay with spending a little more, the R4 has proven to be a nice update to the R3. During our review of the R4, we found it took everything good about the Uniden R3, from range detection to false alert filtering, and turned it up a notch. 

Otherwise, despite its age, the Uniden R3 is still one of the best. With a simple display, quick installation, and good range detection, the R3 is an ideal choice if you are looking for a reliable and trustworthy radar detector that won’t break the bank. If you purchase an R3 and have questions, join us on the forum, and we can point you in the right direction. 

Carl Anthony is the Managing Editor of Automoblog and the host of AutoVision News Radio and AutoSens Insights. As a respected automotive industry thought leader, Carl has appeared on numerous podcasts and radio shows, including Wrench Nation, Cars Yeah, The Car Doctor, and Brains Byte Back, in addition to appearing as a regular contributor on MotorMouth Radio on WHPC 90.3 FM. His work can also be seen and heard 24/7 on the Automoblog YouTube channel.

Radar Detectors FAQ

Are Radar Detectors Legal?

Using a radar detector in a privately owned passenger vehicle is legal in the U.S., with the exception of Virginia and Washington D.C. Radar detectors are illegal in commercial vehicles. See this guide to radar detector laws for all 50 U.S. states if you have additional questions.

How Do Radar Detectors Work?

While proprietary technology can differ between each radar detector manufacturer, think of a standard radar detector in terms of receiving and deciphering.

Every radar detector has a “horn” or antenna (sometimes more than one) and an internal microprocessor. The antenna picks up or receives the police radar gun, and the microprocessor deciphers it, ultimately showing on the display screen important info like signal strength and band type.

Radar detector manufacturers build on that basic principle with their own hardware and software to achieve increased detection range with fewer false alerts.

Will My Radar Detector Alert to Laser Guns?

Yes, all radar detectors will alert to police laser guns, meaning your radar detector is also a laser detector by default.

Some radar detectors are compatible with an accessory called laser shifters, but those are different from laser jammers, which are illegal in some states. Police laser guns use a technology called lidar, which stands for light detection and ranging.

What Is The Best Radar Detector For Me?

The best radar detector for you will depend on where and how you drive and how much you want to spend.

If you love having the latest and greatest gadgets, you might enjoy the features a high-end unit will provide. By contrast, if you only need a gentle reminder of police radar in the area, you can find something more basic but still of good quality.

Popular radar detector manufacturers today include Cobra, Escort, Radenso, Uniden, Valentine, and Whistler. Some high-performance radar detectors, like the Escort Redline 360c, are compatible with a smartphone app that shares user-generated alerts.

I Saw a Police Car, Why Didn’t My Radar Detector Alert?

Sometimes, a patrol car will have its radar gun off, meaning there is nothing for the radar detector to alert to. Traffic officers also use an enforcement strategy called “Instant-On” radar, where they only use their radar gun at certain times (think like the storied image of the officer on the motorcycle hiding behind the billboard).

If this happens, traffic officers will only target one vehicle at a time. Most high-quality radar detectors will alert to Instant-On radar with plenty of advanced notice, although it’s still possible to get a ticket via Instant-On if you are not careful.

Photos: Alex Hartman.