Your Smartphones Have FM Radios, But Manufacturers Won’t Let You Use Them

Your Smartphones Have FM Radios, But Manufacturers Won't Let You Use Them
Photo from Engadget

It appears that a majority of smartphones out in the market today still come with pre-installed FM chips which will supposedly allow users access to FM radio stations free of charge, but the manufacturers chose not to let them.

Many of today’s most popular smartphones, including Apple’s iPhone, have FM chips installed on their hardware, but manufacturers opted not to switch on the devices’ FM radio feature.

Broadcasters like BBC are now pushing for manufacturers to enable this feature, which should let smartphone users gain access to music, news, entertainment, and other types of information free of charge.

It is thought that smartphone manufacturers have opted not to enable FM radio features on their products likely in an attempt to push users to resort to digital radio, which some tech companies, including Apple, have already developed a market for.

An added factor that is suspected to be another reason why manufacturers are reluctant about enabling the FM feature on their smartphones is the fact that the demand for data from streaming broadcasts will likely be reduced as users are given access to FM radio stations without the need of using the internet.

The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), one of FM radio’s loudest campaigners, said that enabling the feature on smartphones could prove to be vital in cases of national emergencies wherein all other modes of communication are down.

In an interview with NPR, NAB Spokesman Jeff Smulyan told:

“Listening to streaming drains your battery three to five times faster than listening to the exact same content on the FM chip.

“When the power grid is out, the only lifeline for the American public is having an FM tuner.”

FM has become an archaic form of technology in the eyes of many, including Norway, which was the first country to announce that it will soon be shutting down all of its FM radio services by the year 2017.

Other countries are also expected to do the same some time in the near future, but broadcasters like BBC are fighting to keep the analog technology alive.

A new technology that combines both FM and internet radio has been recently developed by the broadcasting giant, through its Universal Smartphone Radio Project, which it hopes will save FM from being killed off permanently.

In an interview with the Daily Mail, BBC Radio director Helen Boaden said: “There is an enduring love for radio and easy listening on the move is critical for this. This UK-led global partnership is a response to listeners’ demand for simple, charge-free radio in mobile phones.”


  • troutski says:

    The HTC One M7 came with an accessible FM Radio, and then I believe the following devices have the same feature. I believe LG gives its phones access to FM, though a lot of manufacturers definitely disable this feature or fail to turn it on. For phones that do have FM capabilities, you’re often forced to wear headphones or the app won’t broadcast the station. I have no idea why that is, though.

  • Diane Lane says:

    I believe my HTC Touch Pro and Touch Pro2 had FM Radio available, but I didn’t use it on them. Still, I am a fan of FM radio, and if it can be used during emergency situations, why would a country phase it out? That doesn’t make sense to me. I think we should have multiple avenues of disseminating information during times of crisis.

  • xSentaru says:

    It’s probably because we don’t use them anymore. Music streaming services are so popular as of now, FM radio will only be mentioned in the car these days. Whatever, there might be apps that enable that chip somehow đŸ˜›

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