The Icom IC-A16 replaces the classic IC-A14. The IC-A14 was a very popular and one of the best handheld aviation radios for some time, but wasn’t without its faults, especially when it comes to the needs of the modern pilot.
Note that there’s also a Bluetooth version of the A16 called the Icom IC-A16B. It can be a little tricky to set up, but it’s more than worth it if you want a hands-free operation, or be able to pair the transceiver with a Bluetooth-capable aviation headset to serve as a backup radio without having to fiddle with adapters and jacks.
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Regardless of price or NAV/COM functionality, the Icom IC-A16 has the best battery life of any transceiver bar none. Given its comparatively low price, it’s surprising that the A16 manages to provide 17 hours of operation with its powerful 2400 mAH Lithium-Ion battery.
With its IP67/IP54 dust and water rating, along with meeting MIL-STD 810 Standards, the IC-A16 can take a lot of abuse. Icom is confident enough that the radio can handle the harshest environments, including temperature extremes, water, and shock to offer a 3-year warranty.
Channels & Ease of Use
The IC-A16 has 200 channels with 10 memory banks, which should be more than sufficient for practically all pilots.
When it comes to ease of use, the screen may be a little on the small side but is still easy enough to read, especially with its LCD backlight for nighttime operation. Icom clearly spent some time designing the keypad navigation system, as cycling through all the options is intuitive without requiring much of a learning curve.
The adjustable microphone gain setting, button for 121.5MHz emergency channel, side tone function, and low battery indication with beep alert also make the experience of using the IC-A16 an enjoyable one.
With its built-in 1500mW speaker, the IC-A16 is comfortably the loudest aviation radio on the market. This may not sound like a big deal but is invaluable for making sure you can hear everything in a noisy cockpit environment.
If you’ve ever experienced the struggle and frustration of trying to communicate when you can’t easily hear everything, you’ll know just how valuable a loud audio output can be.
The ANL (Auto Noise Limiter) for noise reduction is another welcome addition too.
As is typical of Icom, they haven’t gone big when it comes to accessories with the IC-A16, though this has the benefit of keeping the price down.
The box includes an AC adapter, belt clip, and hand strap. A cigarette lighter adapter and alkaline battery case can be bought separately, though.
Icom IC-A14 vs IC-A16
Compared to the IC-A14, the IC-A16 is very similar in size, though has a larger, easier to read screen; is waterproof with an IP67 Waterproof rating; has 8.33kHz and 25kHz channel spacing (compared to just 25 kHz with the A14); has a much louder speaker (1500mW vs 700 mW); and 20% great output power (6W vs 5W).
Icom IC-A16 vs IC-A25
Compared to the IC-A25C, the Icom IC-A16 has a better battery life (17 hours vs. 10.5 hours); fewer channels (200 vs 300); is lighter (9.1oz vs. 13.6 oz.); more compact; doesn’t have quick-charge capability; and doesn’t have an Intelligent Battery System that monitors the health and status of the battery.
Compared to the IC-A25N (which has the same specs as the A25C stated above), the IC-A16 is just a COMM-only model, so doesn’t have GPS, VOR Navigation, or a Course Deviation Indicator (CDI). The IC-A25N has Bluetooth capability while the IC-A16 does not (the IC-A16B does, though).
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