How would an Icom IC-705 compare with the Xiegu G90?

Xiegu G90 with remote head detached.

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Paul, who asks:

How does the Icom compare with the Xiegu G90, besides lack of a built-in antenna tuner, and having lower transmit power, and a better screen?

Good question, Paul.

The G90 is a great radio for sure and has better specs and features than I would expect from a $450 transceiver. I’ve taken it on a number of portable field operations and love it. My full review of the G90 will appear in the August 2020 issue of The Spectrum Monitor.

Keep in mind that at time of posting (July 21, 2020) no one has really reviewed and compared the performance of a production run IC-705 with any other radio as of yet. I will purchase an IC-705 for review as soon as they start shipping in the US, but I don’t expect to be able to do that until September or October at best. So we can’t really speak about performance at this point.

What makes the IC-705 unique in the portable radio market is the number of features it will sport.

Here’s a short list of features the Icom IC-705 has that the Xiegu G90 does not have:

  • Attachable battery pack
  • Lower current drain in receive per Icom specifications
  • CW memory keyer with beacon mode
  • Voice memory keyer with beacon mode
  • D-Star mode with built-in WiFi to connect to Internet/hotspot
  • Built-in GPS
  • Built-in TX/RX recording
  • Broader receive range: 0.030–199.999 and 400.000–470.000 MHz
  • Multi-mode 6M/2M/70CM TX and RX
  • Touch screen display that is customizable
  • Built-in WiFi and Bluetooth
  • Native to digital modes–no external sound card interface needed
  • Frequency stability less than 0.5 +/- ppm in VHF/UHF, making it ideal to drive an amplifier for demanding tasks like EME

The Xiegu G90 actually has a few features that the Icom IC-705 will not:

  • Built-in (very effective) automatic antenna tuner
  • Antenna analyzer function [Update: Geoff notes “The Icom IC 705 does also have a VSWR Plot/analyser in the menu same as the IC7300 and iC 7100, page 9.3 in the advanced IC 705 manual”
  • 20 watts of output power (the IC-705 has a max output power of 10 watts using an external 13.8V battery source)
  • 10.8 kHz AM bandwidth (the IC-705 maxes out at 6 kHz per specs)
  • Detachable faceplate which will likely make mounting it mobile even a little easier than the IC-705 (although in truth both transceivers are very compact and should be easy to mount)
  • Side panels that protect the front faceplate and rear connections

At the end of the day, though, the Xiegu G90 is an excellent little budget transceiver. It’s feature-rich compared with other transceivers in this price bracket, but basic compared with the IC-705 or Elecraft KX3 or KX2.

The Icom IC-705 will have a retail cost well over two times that of the G90 but will sport features that no other QRP transceiver has up to this point. In fact, the list of features above is only a sampling.

If none of the unique features of the IC-705 appeal or apply to you and your operating style, save a little money and grab the G90. Or consider spending a bit more for an Elecraft KX2.

If you want an incredibly feature-rich transceiver and are comfortable with a price point in excess of $1100-1200 US (estimated at time of posting), you might delay purchasing until you’ve read a few user reviews of the yet-to-be-released Icom IC-705.

Thanks for your question!

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11 thoughts on “How would an Icom IC-705 compare with the Xiegu G90?

  1. Gerry Jurrens

    I’ve enjoyed my KX3 for 10 years! Great rig all-around. Warning: QRP is not everyone’s cup of tea. I bought an IC-7300 last Christmas and, except for the hugely more expensive Flex-6700 I bought & sold, is one of the best transceivers I’ve owned in 55+ years in the hobby. The hands-on ‘705 reviews by Eric on his HamRadioConcepts YouTube site are pretty amazing. Sure the ‘705 is big bucks, but I wonder if the price will drop like it did for the ‘7300. The KX3 is priced similarly, and, with certain desirable extras, can top out at nearly US$2,600! A friend of mine has the Xiegu and loves it. The fact that you can buy such a capable rig for the price is pretty appealing. I can’t wait for real-world side-by-side reviews (even vs. my KX3!)

    1. Thomas Post author

      Great comments, Gerry. Indeed, the IC-7300 is a fantastic radio!

      To me, the IC-705 looks like a very portable version of the IC-7300. Indeed, in many respects, it has even more features. I think I might use the IC-705 as an EME transceiver, even. It has the needed stability and frequencies.

      I’m a massive fan of the Elecraft KX2 and KX3 because they fit my personal radio needs so well. You’re right, though. If you fully configure the KX3, then add a KXPA100 amp with ATU? You’ve got some serious money ni the system. I purchased a KXPA100 used a couple years ago and absolutely love the thing. I even use it in the field now.

      There are always pros and cons of every radio, but I can tell already that the IC-705 will be a big seller. And I agree 100% that Icom will likely drop the price after a few months on the market. We early adopters pay a premium. Elecrafts prices remain pretty darn steady other than a few seasonal sales.

      I will certainly compare and contrast the IC-705 with the KX3.


  2. Mark

    It would have been good if Icom made a light version of the 705 without DSTAR which is useless to me and I don’t operate on VHF/UHF, make it a bit cheaper.

    Why Icom didn’t opt for a proper 12v battery is beyond me, even Xiegu can manage that with their excellent X5105, sure it’s not a 705 with fancy screen but it does the job very well and is very compact and the battery lasts many hrs.

    I have to admit, if I were spending that money, I’d get a Kx3, sure it has no fancy screen but there are enough videos on youtube to show it has batter filters and it’s got a quieter receiver too, a screen won’t do anything to make me hear a signal better. I feel the 705 would perform much like a IC-7300 and that does not have the best receiver but I suppose it’s a budget rig and a good starter rig but the TS-590SG beats it hands down and so does the Kx3 so I don’t expect the 705 receiver to perform much better than a 7300 but I suppose it is a QRP rig and not meant to be a base rig but the KX3 can perform just as well as an excellent base rig and QRP rig + it’s not made of plastic like the 705 but I’d be expecting the receiver to be pretty damn good at that price with none of the harsh audio the 7300 has but that would be wishful thinking.

    I want to like the 705 but I am really struggling, the price is just way too high and too many features not everyone will want or need, Icom should have went the Elecraft route and offer more features as options and lack of tuner is a big turn off for many, sure I can bring a resonant EFHW and that’s great until I hear a bad open that the Antenna isn’t resonant on and a really nice station I can’t contact because I have no tuner…….

    The G90 is a decent radio for the price, the receiver isn’t as good as my FT-891 but it’s still a decent rig, it does have a noisier receiver too, the FT-891 always amazes me when I listen to it, a real hidden gem of a radio.

    The panadapter is coming for the G90 also which should make it even more attractive, I think it is touch enabled too. There are videos on youtube.

  3. Guy Atkins

    One advantage the G90 may have is that it can still put out a full 20 watts of power with a DC voltage of down to 10 volts…that’s impressive. There is a video on YouTube showing this.

  4. John

    I’m a bit late to the whole bluetooth thing since I usually listen to music (another major interest) through headphones and have some high-end ones and headphone amps (solid state and tube) to match but bought a set over the weekend for $30. I gotta say I’m impressed in the short time I’ve been using them and I’m glad the IC-705 has this feature, I can see it being useful.

    I’m sure bluetooth devices will have no connectivity problems with the 705. Tried pairing them with my IC-r30 and they immediately connected in around one second. Tried doing the same with Yeasu and Kenwood handhelds and after about an hour of trying gave up, they just would not connect at all even though both those handhelds are supposed to have bluetooth connectivity.

    1. Guy Atkins

      Hi John,

      The Sony proprietary format of LDAC is growing in popularity and sounds great over Bluetooth. I have a couple of DAPs and headphones that support it. I too prefer my higher end, wired headphones setups, but LDAC is getting closer.

      Hiby’s HWA (LHDC) protocol is an even higher bit rate but support is very limited right now and I’ve not personally listened to this codec.

      1. John

        Hey Guy,
        What wire and wireless headphones do you have?

        A long time ago I did purchase a set of wireless traditional-type, over-the-ear headphones when they first started to appear on the market, they were low-end but not exactly cheap either, around $100 . I was so unimpressed with their sound I think that’s what really put me off the whole wireless audio thing. That and the fact the earpads actually began to crumble and disintegrate after a while.
        I gotta admit those $30 bluetooth ear pods sound pretty good.

      2. John

        Hey Guy,

        Been looking at current wireless headphones, might be in the market for a pair of over-the-ear ones. Sony’s WH-1000XM3 wireless headphones seems to be very highly rated at a number of sources.

        What’s your opinion of these, you have any knowledge re their performance audio-wise?

        John (KC8RZM)

  5. Sandeep Acharya

    His Paul,
    Thank you very much for this preliminary review and comparison of features of Xiegu G90 with the IC705. You have correctly advised to wait for the ground review on the IC705’s field operation before one can take a decision to own this pricey rig. And honestly, I am ready to wait and looking forward to your review.
    Greetings from New Delhi, India.


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