Before I go into the nuances, fundamentally they’re the same detector with the same performance and BSM filtering abilities. The R3 is essentially the R1 with an added GPS chip. That GPS chip adds some really helpful functionality including:
- GPS lockouts so the detector can learn and filter out stationary false alerts from speed signs and automatic door openers
- Low speed muting to keep the detector quiet around town
- Redlight camera / speed camera alerts
These features make the detector more well-rounded and better suited to driving in city or urban areas. If that applies to you, it’s well worth the extra $100 to opt for the R3. (For an in-depth explanation about these benefits, read this article.)
So that covers the key differences. Besides those differences and the relevant menu options, here’s what else I noticed:
- The R3 has a little darker chrome on top while the R1 is all black on top.
- The R1 has a “City” button up front to switch between City and Highway modes. The R3 can do this if you long press the Menu button up top.
- The R3 instead has a “Mark” button up front to manually mark a GPS location so you can get alerted to it next time you’re here.
- The R1’s heartbeat scanning display can’t be disabled while the R3 allows you to replace it with the time, set by GPS.
- The R1 always displays your vehicle voltage while the R3 lets you change that to display the speed, compass, or altitude.
- The R3 can use its GPS to automatically shut down your detector if you’ve been parked for a while, handy if your detector is powered into an always-on power source.
If you’re looking to save $100, the R1 will definitely do the job and keep you protected. You’ll miss out on some of the K band filtering options (GPS lockouts, low speed muting) so I wouldn’t recommend it for people who do a lot of driving in urban areas, but if you drive mostly across highways and/or you live in a state like California where Ka band is used almost exclusively and so you could simply disable K band altogether (you’ll miss the RLC alerts too but you can simply run Waze on your phone for that), the R1 would do the job as well.
Otherwise, for most people, I think the R3 with its added GPS chip, is the one to get.