The Uniden R3 and the Escort Max360 are both fully featured top of the line radar detectors and lots of people have been asking which one is better and which one they should get. Honestly this has been a little tough to answer because while they have a lot of similarities, there’s also some important differences, so different detectors may appeal to different people. Let’s dive into things and figure out which one would be better for you.
Updated: November 2017
The Uniden R3 is a long range monster with great false alert filtering. The added GPS chip over the R1 makes it a well-rounded city detector too with your GPS lockouts, low speed muting, and RLC alerts too. It’s the very best performing radar detector on the market, yet it retails for only $399. Demand is super high so it’s often on backorder for a week or two, but it’s an incredibly impressive detector.
The Escort Max360 doesn’t offer the all out range of the R3, but its performance is still very good, plus it adds automatic GPS lockouts instead of manual, it has Bluetooth support to give you real time alerts to/from the cloud, it can display on screen the speed limit of the road you’re on, plus it adds very helpful arrows to help locate the source of the threat. Most of the major issues have been worked out at this point, but it still has a few little issues left to be worked out. It retails for $649, but the price fluctuates online so you can usually find it for a few bucks less.
Escort Passport Max or Escort iX?
Now the Uniden R3 and Escort Max360 are both top of the line radar detectors from the respective brands. Since Escort makes similar radar detectors without arrows, a more direct comparison to the R3 feature-wise would be with the Escort Passport Max (discontinued) or the Escort iX so let’s briefly take a look at those too.
The Max (and later the Max2 which simply adds Bluetooth built-in like the Max360 but has also since been discontinued) offers the same performance and filtering capabilities of the Max360, but it’s significantly more affordable since it doesn’t have arrows or Bluetooth. You used to be able to find it in the $300-350 range so it was a much closer in price to the R3 (actually a more direct competitor to the even less expensive Uniden DFR7). However, both the Max and the Max2 were discontinued and in its place Escort has released an update to their 9500ix that they’re calling the iX.
The Escort iX is the updated and modernized version of one of Escort’s best sellers, the 9500ix. It offers better performance and filtering than the 9500ix and all the same features of the Max’s, but unfortunately the performance and filtering is worse the the Max series detectors, yet it’s on sale now for a price even higher than the Max/Max2 at a solid $499. Sure, sometimes you can find the iX for a few bucks less online too, but it costs $100 more than the R3, performs and filters worse, and really the only benefits are that the lockouts are fully automatic, it has Bluetooth built in, and it has a trick magnetic mount. IMHO, there’s no contest.
If autolockouts are a must, and for some people they are which is totally cool, you can go for the Escort iX. Otherwise if you want a detector that’s better in virtually every other way, the Uniden R3 is the superior detector, plus it costs less to boot. I know the addition of arrows to the Max360 makes the comparison with the R3 a little less apples to apples, but since those are both the top of the line models from both manufacturers, that’s what we’re going to look at.
Update 8/13/17: The Redline EX is now available. It’s like a higher performance version of the Escort iX. That’s a better competitor for the R3 than the iX is and I just finished my Uniden R3 vs. Redline EX comparison if you’d like to check that out.
Update 11/30/17: The Max 360c is now available as well. It’s an updated Max 360 with integrated WiFi for automatic firmware and RLC database updates. It’s smaller than the original Max360, physically redesigned, and offers the same level of performance and filtering as the original. You can read my Max 360c review online now.
Long Range Performance
Both detectors can give you plenty of advanced warning in most situations, but when you need something to handle even the toughest situations, there’s no question the R3 will smoke the Max360. The R1/R3’s are the longest range radar detectors available. At any price. Period. The Max360 can still hold its own and offer you plenty of range in practice, but the R3 clearly outperforms it.
The Texas Countermeasure Testing Group has done many tests with the R3 and Max360 you can check out. Test 1, Test 2, Test 3, Test 4. In short, while the 360 can keep up with the R3 when conditions allow, the R3 will regularly provide advanced warning above and beyond what the Max360 is capable of, and this applies 33.8, 34.7, 35.5, and K band. Here’s an example with the R3 and Max360 (and a bunch of other detectors) running against 34.7, the most common Ka frequency here in the US. There’s no doubt who the winner is.
Blind Spot Filtering
Filtering out blind spot falses is tough. It requires a more modern and advanced detector to do it.
The R3 was good at filtering out of the gate, but the insane sensitivity meant that it was picking up false alerts farther away than other detectors. Since then Uniden has released a firmware update that has noticeably improved the BSM filtering and K band filtering in general. I run my R3 up high by my RVM with the Stinger VIP (a $2500 remote radar detector) out on my grill as my daily setup, and the R3 is actually doing a better job at filtering out BSM’s than the Stinger! That’s super impressive!
The Max360’s BSM filtering was recently updated and is now very effective. People are reporting that performance on K Band is down a bit, particularly in Auto mode, and while it still isn’t able to filter out every single blind spot car out there, it’s doing a much better job now, like the R3.
So the R3 currently wins in terms of two of the most important attributes in a radar detector: long range performance and BSM filtering. What else is it better at than the 360?
RLC database update costs: The RLC database updates are always free with the R3 while Escort gives you a year for free and then charges you $25/yr.
Physical size: The R3 is the size of a traditional detector and it’s very light weight. The Max360 is the largest windshield mount detector ever built which may be an issue if you drive a smaller vehicle.
Mute button on front: The mute button placement on the front of the detector makes it more accessible if you’re running the detector hardwired by the RVM.
The R3 is has some quirks that it’s helpful to be aware of.
Alerts coming and going: When running in All Threat Mode to see multiple signals, it’s common to see lots of alerts quickly coming and going which can make it a little confusing to see what’s going on at a glance.
Repeated RLC alerts: RLC alerts can come and go when you’re sitting on the edge of the RLC alert zone so you can mute the alert, it’ll disappear, and then it’ll come right back and keep alerting, over and over.
Big suction cup mount doesn’t work well with steep windshields: It comes with two mounts, the traditional double suction cup mount and another with a single large sticky cup style mount like the Max360. If you have a steeply sloped windshield, you can’t use this mount and have to use the standard one instead.
Can’t mute speed camera alerts: When you’re traveling over the limit while approaching a speed camera, there’s currently no way to mute that alert other than slowing down. Slowing down may be obvious, but if the speed camera is off (ie. in a school zone), you don’t always need to slow down.
The Max360 doesn’t have the range or BSM filtering of the R3, but it’s got a number of other really nice features. Do they justify the premium in price? It’s definitely possible, depending on your needs, so let’s run through them.
Autolockouts: Both detectors can learn and remember stationary false alerts. The Uniden requires you to manually teach the detector what’s a false alert (by double pressing the mute button). The Max360 can also do this (triple press the mute button), but if you keep passing by the same signal over and over, it will learn those false alerts and lock them out for you automatically which is fantastic. The more you drive with it, the quieter it gets, automatically. This feature is really useful, especially when starting out so you don’t have to putz around with your detector too much.
Arrows: While both detectors can pick up signals ahead of you or behind, the Max360 has a second rear antenna aiming backwards which lets it not only detect signals behind you from farther away (test results here), but more importantly it can tell the difference between front and rear radar signals to give you arrows and help you locate the source of the threat more quickly and easily.
Escort Live Cloud Alerts: The Max360 has a bluetooth chip built in so you can pair the detector with your phone, giving you a number of benefits. The biggest one is that your alerts get posted to the cloud via Escort Live and you can get alerted to other people’s alerts too and those alerts will all show up right on your Max360’s display.
Adjusting Settings on your Phone: Instead of adjusting settings through your radar detector’s menus, you can also do it through the phone which may be quicker and easier. I’ve also found this handy when grabbing the detector on road trips if I’m in the back seat and want to manually change settings or mute the detector from the back of the vehicle. 😉
Displaying the Speed Limit on Screen: When paired to your phone, the Max360 can look up the speed limit for the road you’re on and display it on the detector’s display.
Directional RLC alerts: The R3 will mark intersections that have an RLC or speedcam. The Max360 also takes into account the direction(s) that those RLC’s/speedcams monitor and will only alert if you’re traveling in a direction that they issue tickets to, cutting back on unnecessary alerts.
RLC Database Updates: Escort’s RLC updates are more frequent than Uniden’s.
Automatic speed-based sensitivity adjustments: Both detectors allow you to choose full sensitivity (Highway Mode) or the ability to reduce the sensitivity of the detector for reduced false alerts around town. With the R3 (City Mode), you have to manually switch modes. With the Max360 (Auto mode), it has the ability to automatically switch between reduced sensitivity and full sensitivity as you change speed so you automatically get full sensitivity on the Highway and reduced sensitivity in the City. Again, it’s more automated.
Speeding Ticket Guarantee: If you buy the Max360 direct from Escort instead of from Amazon, Escort offers a ticket-free guarantee where if you get a speeding ticket while running the Max360, they’ll cover the cost of the ticket. Some conditions apply and they won’t pay for any hikes to your insurance premiums, but it does offer an additional layer of insurance against tickets from radar or laser. You’ll pay full price for the detector instead of getting the discounted price that Amazon usually has (check both places to compare), but that’s a nice additional layer of coverage for you.
Escort has had a chance to update and improve the Max360 via firmware updates since its initial release and it’s now a good deal better than it was initially. Nevertheless, there are some issues and quirks I still find.
Detector Locking Up: With the latest firmware update, some people are reporting that after the detector picks up a few K band signals, the detector freezes and locks up and requires a reboot. You won’t know it unless you look at the display and notice the detector frozen in an alert that won’t go away so it’s possible that you could be driving without the detector alerting you to radar. It doesn’t happen often, but it’s happened to me and to others.
Escort Live’s Speed Limit replaces Cruise Alert threshold: You can use the GPS in the detector to mute your detector below a preset speed, very handy around town. If you pair your detector with your phone and run the Escort Live app, when the app knows the speed limit for the road you’re on, it will replace the speed you programmed into the detector with whatever it thinks the speed limit is so that it mutes the detector when you’re below the speed limit. This is handy in many cases, but it can be problematic. You see, the speed limits that Escort references are sometimes wrong and don’t match the actual speed limits. They also don’t take into account things like construction zones and school zones. Because of this, it’s very possible that you can run into the situation where you’re traveling over the speed limit and the detector is muting itself. If you are running Escort Live for the realtime cloud alerts, there’s literally no way to stop this from occurring and use the Cruise Alert threshold you program in. The only way to solve this issue is to stop running Escort Live on your phone and disconnect from the app.
Max360 is Physically Large: The Max360 is physically larger. I drive a Miata which is a compact vehicle and I personally don’t find the Max360 to be too big when mounted up high by my rear view mirror, but it is noticeably larger than other detectors.
Which One To Get?
Cool, so now that we’ve gone through that, which one should you get? Is it worth the extra $250 to get the Max360 instead of the R3? Which one will do a better job at keeping you protected from speeding tickets?
Buy the Max360
The way I see it, the simplest answer is that if you’re the person who wants the most plug-and-play hands-free experience possible to where you don’t have to be a radar detector expert and the detector can do it all for you, get the Max360. You get plenty of range, pretty good filtering, it can automatically learn where the false alerts are located around town, it can tell you the speed limit of the road you’re on, plus it adds arrows which are very helpful for quickly and easily locating the source of the threat. If you pair it with your phone and run Escort Live, you can share your radar encounters with other drivers to help them out and you can benefit from being notified of their radar encounters. You can ultimately do the same thing with the Uniden by running Waze (it’s actually a good idea to run Waze no matter which detector you’re using), but using Waze for cloud alerts requires running another app and the alerts happen in the background while Live’s alerts pop up right on your radar detector’s display, even if your phone is busy running another app or it’s stuffed in your pocket.
The Max360 is a feature packed detector that’s easy to use and it’s one I’d recommend to people who aren’t interested in messing around with their detectors or becoming a radar detector expert. It’s the one I recommend to my family members who want something simple and effective.
(Once you purchase, check out this tutorial to help you set up your new Max360.)
Buy the Uniden R3
On the other hand, if you’re a serious driver looking for the highest level of performance to keep you protected out on the road, you don’t want to deal with lots of annoying blind spot false alerts, and you’re fine with spending a little time initially teaching the detector what’s a false alert along your typical drives (this video will teach you how to use that feature), the Uniden R3 is the detector to get.
(Once you purchase, check out this tutorial to help you set up your new R3.)
Which Detector Do I Run?
Finally, which detector would I run? Well I’m a big fan of arrows and I think they’re fantastic. I like regularly switching back and forth between the R3, the Max360, and many other detectors to see how they all compare. However at the end of the day, when I want a detector on my windshield because it’s the one that I want to run for the highest level of protection from speeding tickets, this is what I choose: