Motorola MOTOTRBO XPR 7550 I.S. DMR portable radio review

XPR7550 I.S. IS intrinsically safe MOTOTRBO radio ham amateur Motorola
The Motorola MOTOTRBO XPR 7550 I.S. intrinsically safe DMR portable radio.

The Motorola MOTOTRBO XPR 7550 I.S. is the Intrinsically Safe version of the popular Motorola MOTOTRBO XPR 7550 DMR portable radio that is only available in the Canadian market. This unit features best in class audio, integrated GPS, a multicolour LCD display, plus much more. This is an excellent single band radio for ham radio use on either the 2m or 70cm bands, as it is feature rich, durable and likely to more than satisfy even the most demanding user. At the time of this review, the “ham friendly” pricing for a new XPR 7550 I.S. from a Canadian Motorola dealer was $1,600 CAD.

Author's Rating

Price

$1,600 CAD

The Good

  • Audio Quality: The speaker audio is very full, with a good response to low frequencies, making it pleasing to listen to;
  • Audio Volume: The audio from this radio will get heard, even in the noisiest environments;
  • Rugged Construction: This radio is very well built, being MIL Spec, so it should keep going long after typical ham radio units call it quits;
  • Integrated GPS: The radio comes standard with integrated GPS location capability, allowing outdoor location tracking;
  • Multicolor LCD Display: Having a multicolor LCD display on the radio allows for easy use and programming while on the move;
  • Power Output: Unlike some other Intrinsically Safe radios, this one will operate with a high power of 4W on UHF or 5W on VHF;
  • Antenna Connector: The antenna connector for this radio uses a SMA connection, allowing it to easily be connected to an external antenna.

The Bad

  • Price: At the $1,600 CAD price point from a ham-friendly Canadian Motorola dealer, this radio is a very expensive option;
  • Bluetooth Capability: This radio is not Bluetooth capable, so it does not support wire free operation and programming;
  • 25 kHz FM Operation: To be able to use this radio with the standard 25 kHz channel width found on the ham radio bands, you will need a free Entitlement ID from Motorola, which requires a valid Motorola MOTOTRBO CPS subscription.

The Full Review

Since the XPR 7550 I.S. and the XPR 7550 are very much same radio, this review will only focus on the differences between these two radios. Check out the review of the Motorola MOTOTRBO XPR 7550 for the full details.

Form Factor

One of the most obvious difference between the XPR 7550 I.S. and the XPR 7550 is blue housing, which appears to the standard colour for intrinsically safe products. For some readers, the blue colour will add to the appeal of the radio, rather than just the standard black, as is the case for the XPR 7550.

Motorola MOTOTRBO XPR 7550 IS intrinsically safe radio ham radio DMR
From the left, the Motorola MOTOTRBO XPR 7550 I.S. and the XPR 7550.

Another notable difference between the XPR 7550 I.S. and the XPR 7550 is that the case is slightly larger – about 9.4 mm (0.37 in) taller. In addition, the XPR 7550 I.S. is about 127 g (4.5 oz), or about 36% heavier than the XPR 7550, making it noticeably heavier to carry.

Knobs, Buttons & Switches

All of the buttons on the XPR 7550 I.S. are slightly larger on the XPR 7550, which makes them a bit easier to use when wearing gloves. For the two lower side buttons, one is slightly raised and the other is slightly depressed, allowing the user to easily distinguish between them, whereas on the XPR 7550, the lower button has a slightly raised centre nub.

One other noticeable difference with the XPR 7550 I.S. is that the power switch/volume knob has a higher turning resistance than the XPR 7550.

The left side of the Motorola MOTOTRBO XPR 7550 I.S., showing from the top, the monitor button, the PTT (push to talk) button and the two user programmable buttons at the bottom.
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The right side of the Motorola MOTOTRBO XPR 7550 I.S., showing the accessory connector area.

 Antenna Connector

Of the features that differ between the XPR 7550 I.S. and the XPR 7550, the one that hams will appreciate the most is that the XPR 7550 I.S. employs a male SMA antenna connector. This allows the radio to easily be connected to an external antenna without the need for costly adapters or modifications.

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The top view of the Motorola MOTOTRBO XPR 7550 I.S., showing the on/off and volume knob, channel change knob, top button, antenna connector and status LED.

Bluetooth Capability

One feature that makes the XPR 7550 a great radio is that it comes standard with integrated Bluetooth capabilities, allowing the radio to be paired with Bluetooth audio accessories and programmed without the need for a programming cable. Sadly, the XPR 7550 I.S. is not Bluetooth capable, so it’s wired only accessories and programming for this radio.

Power Output

Unlike other intrinsically safe radios, the XPR 7550 I.S. has a high power output of 4W on UHF and 5W on VHF. Having full power capability will ensure that the radio will be able to perform as one would expect from traditional UHF or VHF portables.

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About VA3XFT

VA3XFT
Don is a 16-year veteran of the telecommunications industry and a licensed Canadian ham radio operator since 1988. He is passionate about VHF/UHF repeater communications, especially using digital modes and he has owned and operated a number of ham radio repeater installations over the years, including ones in both the provinces of Ontario (VE3/VA3) and New Brunswick (VE9). In addition to ham radio, Don enjoys traveling, hiking, kayaking, biking and astronomy.