TYT has updated the TH-UV88 radios being shipped to the United States and VFO mode is now disabled out of the box. Normally, pressing the # key on the keypad switches between channel and VFO mode. On the new radios, this doesn't happen. Most likely this is TYTs way to ensure that radios being shipped into the country aren't able to be programmed to transmit outside of the amateur bands, the only frequencies for which they are authorized.
It is understandable that TYT would want to restrict the radios to amateur frequencies, however it's not clear why they chose to accomplish this by disabling VFO mode. Fortunately there is an easy way to unlock the radios and re-enable VFO mode.
- Turn the TH-UV88 radio OFF.
- Hold down both the 1 and 7 keys.
- While holding down those keys, power the radio ON.
- After you hear the voice prompt "seven", release both keys.
- VFO mode is now enabled.
This procedure does not directly switch the radio into VFO mode. It unlocks and restores the ability to switch between channel and VFO modes by pressing the # key.