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Samsung partners with NextRadio to unlock FM radio chip in upcoming phones

By Polycount
Jan 11, 2018
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  1. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai last year asked Apple to activate the FM radio chips installed in their phones in the interest of public safety. At the time, Apple claimed their newer phones didn't contain these chips to begin with and thus could not activate them upon request.

    While that's likely true, it seems that other phone companies haven't followed Apple's example when designing their own devices. One such company is Samsung who will be partnering with NextRadio to officially unlock the FM chip in new phones, thus eliminating the need for users to take advantage of sketchy workarounds.

    The companies hope that "when cellular coverage is congested or unavailable, the FM Chip will provide life-saving information from local radio stations," echoing concerns that FCC Chairman Pai voiced earlier in 2017.

    "Many smartphones in the world are manufactured with hardware capable of receiving free FM radio signals," a NextRadio blog post reads. "Market leaders like Samsung are taking the next step of unlocking the FM chip, which will allow Samsung users to connect directly with the NextRadio app, listen to their favorite local stations, and use less battery and less data than streaming radio apps."

    Samsung isn't the first smartphone company to bring official FM radio support to their phones. According to NextRadio, Motorola and Alcatel are two others who have taken steps to "meet consumer demand and [provide] a lifeline in emergency situations."

    NextRadio says that "upcoming [Samsung] smartphone models" sold in the US and Canada will ship with their FM chip unlocked, though some reports suggest that a few Samsung devices already have this functionality. To check if your device is one of them, simply download the "NextRadio Free Live FM Radio" app from the Google Play Store.

    Permalink to story.

  2. VBKing

    VBKing TS Enthusiast Posts: 50   +24

    The FM chip was enabled on a previous smartphone I had (Samsung Galaxy S3 I believe, without googling it's features) and I would listen to the radio all the time while jogging (listening to talk radio or baseball games on local stations without having to buy a MLB subscription). Streaming radio won't play MLB games without a subscription. I could listen to the station that would carry the MLB game all day and the streaming feed would match what would play on a radio, but as soon as the game came on, the streaming feed switched over to some non-game crap in place of the game. Not sure if NFL and NBA restrict free streaming access too.

    I eventually had to upgrade my phone and was torn between the Samsung Galaxy S5 or another phone I was reviewing at the time because the S5 had the FM chip but didn't enable it (really??? why???) and another phone that had an FM radio but didn't have either a removable battery or a microSD expansion slot. I ended up getting the S5 (which ended up having a crappy sounding phone from day one - everyone always said I sounded like I was in a far away tunnel) and always missed listening to the FM radio.

    I don't know why companies have to be jerks about things (I know, because of money) and restrict access to features people use, even when the FM chip was already IN THE PHONE.
    spydercanopus and cliffordcooley like this.

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