They are essentially the same radio so the reception should be equal amongst the two.
The 396 is a nice and small portable while the 996 is a mobile or base unit.
The 396 requires a few more button pushes to access some of the settings compared to the 996 but if portability is what you are after, the 396 is a nice radio and the way to go.
If you would just use the radio in a mobile or home setup, I think you would like the 996 better mainly due to having more direct access to some of the functions like simple things, volume and squelch adjustments both require a push of the button before the control will allow you to alter either. The 996 has dedicated volume and squelch knobs on the front panel. I think that there is really my only gripe about the 396 really.