In the world of radar detectors, competitors are a dime a dozen. Everyone with a “top-tier” radar detector claims they have a class-leading radar detector. After many tests from dedicated enthusiasts, the spot reserved for “top-tier” radar detectors is reserved for only a handful of detectors. The Uniden R3 is one of them.
After being released a few years back and beating the legendary Escort Redline (original KING of range), the R3 have been touted as being the best of the best. Without further ado, let’s get into this radar detector review.
Here's why I've had mine for 2+ years
As an owner myself, I replaced the Escort Redline I used to have because it was too “chatty” against K band and broke once and required me to send it out to Escort. Although fixed, from what I saw with the new R3, it was worth it and I HAD to have it.
The number of settings you can adjust was not comparable when you place the two detectors (R3 and Redline) side-by-side.
In order for you to make a better decision of if you like the Uniden R3, I compiled a list of the GOOD and the BAD things I think about this radar detector. I’ll break each one down in detail below.
It is 100% Undetectable to RDD's
If you live in a place that “prohibits” the use of radar detectors, the Uniden R1 R3 are for you. It is stealthy up to 1-2 feet away, meaning the Spectre Radar Detector Detector device will not go off until the radar detector is right up against it.
Personally, I bought this detector because I live in Virginia and the radar detector law fines people for using radar detectors. Luckily, after years of using radar detectors, I have not had a single issue with any local or state police. The only thing I’d recommend everyone do is mount your radar detector right by the rear-view mirror or behind the windshield tint strip. This will significantly reduce the possibility of anyone from the outside to see your radar detector.
You can segment Ka band for better performance
This became popular with Escort when they allowed the Redline (via an update) to segment Ka band and improve the detection sensitivity. Since then, a few other detectors can do the same, one of them being the R1 and R3.
The process to segment the detector is no different than it was with the Redline. Doing it is very easy and straight to the point. What I’d recommend you do is segment is like this: 1 off, 2 on, 3 off, 4, off, 5 on, 6 off, 7 off, 8 on, 9 off, 10 off. From my experience after traveling thousands of miles and many states, I am able to detector 33.8, 34.7, and even 35.5 GHz from impressive distances.
Adjust the sensitivity of X, K, and Ka band
While segmenting Ka band is wonderful, what if where you live there’s a ton of K band from automatic door openers, to blindspot monitoring systems of surrounding cars? Not to worry, the R1 and R3 can let you tone down the sensitivity from 100% to 0%. You can find your sweet spot of sensitivity once you tone it down just enough that your detector won’t be going off every few blocks from a CVS or 7-Eleven.
The ONLY reason NOT to do this is if K band is also used by the police in your area. You run the risk of weakening the detection range against a possible police threat.
NOTE: You can also just turn OFF certain bands and not deal with them in the first place. I do this every time I get on the highway and into states like Florida. Not once did I encounter K band from a police source.
You can change the alert tone for each band
One thing I can say about the R3 in a negative light is that their default alert tone is not for everyone, it certainly was not for me. Luckily, not only can you change the alert tone to something other than the default one… but you get to choose 11 other tones for Laser, X, K, and Ka bands. There are aggressive and more gentle tones. What I do is set the aggressive tones for the bands most commonly used in my area, where the soft ones are reserved for K band which is usually a false alert.
Unlike with the R1, the R3 is GPS equipped
Another testament to the R3’s ability to tone down false alerts is the GPS capability. Aside from it being able to tell you which direction you are heading and how fast, you can MARK certain locations with stationary false alerts and the detector will automatically MUTE itself when you come around that exact location.
While I personally have not used this feature much, I have seen be used quite successfully with others.
The R3 version will alert you to speed cameras
This has saved me more than I can count, mostly in the city. Cities are notorious for having red light speed cameras and speed cameras mounted in random sections of the road. They can sometimes be difficult to spot, but luckily the Uniden R3 is equipped with a database that seems to be updating regularly to keep up with the ever-increasing number of stationary speed trap devices.
NOTE: You can also update the radar detector manually via your PC and enable MRCD radar detection.
Its STILL half price of other "top-tier" detectors
When it comes to radar detectors, it used to be very true “you get what you pay for”. It’s still true today, but not to the extent as before. As detectors are becoming more prominent and companies are trying to actually compete on performance (unlike before where many did not). The R3 used to be around $400-$450 when it was released, but since then it has dropped in price by almost 50% (new, not used). That’s good news!
As I’m writing this, the R3 is still cheaper than most new Escort products, the Valentine One Gen 2 and even some Redenso detectors. If you want the best detector for the money, I have no doubts in my mind the Uniden R3 is it.
Where the R3 is lacking...
Now that I’ve covered ALL the good parts of this detector, what about the negatives?
While I could not find much, in fact I had to think quite hard to find something to gripe with… there’s a few things that I believe the Uniden R3 is lacking. Now these things are not 100% necessary to have been improved… in fact I’m cherrypicking at this point. But even if you factor in the negatives, it’s still an amazing device.
Laser false alerts
Without a doubt, laser is one of those things that can make your heart skip a beat, if you ever get the alert. While I’d love to keep the laser alert settings turned ON, I’ve got more false alerts than anything. Because of that, I have decided to keep the laser setting turned off.
I tend to experience this when it is very sunny outside, OR when you mount the detector in such a way that there it receives some kind of reflection that triggers a false alert (whether it is from the windshield, dashboard or whatever… I do not know). The best way to combat laser is to simply get a pair of laser jammers.
Limited mounting suction cup
When I switch cars, I usually take my radar detector with me. The Uniden R3 is so handy, it cuts time from trips, save money from insurance hikes, and so much more. The unfortunate thing about the stock large suction cup mount it comes with (after the small metal one broke) was that it has limited movement when it comes to tilting.
At the moment, the Uniden R3 is tilted upwards slightly and looks a bit goofy from an outside view. I would imagine it affects detection range slightly due to it not being aligned with the road.
My recommendation is, grab yourself an aftermarket mount for your radar detector.
Plastic 12 volt power adapter
One of the most important things the R3 comes with is a 12v power cord. Once you power ON the detector, all is fine and dandy. However, over time I have noticed the plug that you use to insert into the 12v socket is rather cheap. It’s plastic and sometimes does not make the full connection with the cars 12v outlet. If there was one cheap part of the entire package I received, it would be the power cord. I recommend looking for another one, or better yet, get your detector hardwired into the car and you’ll never have to play with the coiled-up power cord again.
So what's the bottom line?
If you want top-tier performance without the top-tier price, get the R3. If you want to save a few dollars, get the R1. For such a small price difference, the R3 is a far better option.
I’ve had this detector for a few years now, and I imagine I’ll have it for a few more past 2021.
If you enjoyed this Uniden R3 review and you want to see more cool gadgets like this radar detector, or seeing more radar detector reviews, consider bookmarking AvtoWow. I am working full-time to put out at least a few new posts a week.