FM Radio Tuner built-into every iPhone but disabled

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by mauka, Apr 18, 2015.

  1. mauka macrumors member


    Nov 24, 2006
    Sorry if this has been covered before - heard this radio story (on my car radio) about every iPhone having an FM radio tuner built in, but disabled carriers. Apparently in Europe the tuners are enabled.

    The link is to Vermont Public Radio, who is encouraging listeners to contact their carriers to unlock the radio.

    Sounds good to me - what do you think?

    "Every smart phone manufactured today contains an FM chip, but unlike in Europe, most in the U.S. are not activated. Increasingly, the device that people use for connecting to the world is their smart phone. For that reason, NPR and APM are working with our friends in commercial radio and religious broadcasting to urge the major cell phone service providers to activate the FM chip that is already in all the mobile phones they sell."
  2. scwinsett macrumors 6502a


    Apr 21, 2010
    Nashville, TN
  3. cynics macrumors G3

    Jan 8, 2012
    Add poor information to the list of reasons (TONS of commercials, poor music selection, terrible audio quality, reception range, etc etc) why we should drop FM. :D
  4. zorinlynx macrumors 601


    May 31, 2007
    Florida, USA
    One reason the FM radio functions aren't enabled on phones is because of antenna requirements.

    It's hard to fit an efficient FM broadcast antenna into a phone body. Some devices use the headphone cable as an antenna, but if you remember from your walkman in the 80s and 90s, it doesn't work too well; the signal fades in and out as you move around.

    The engineering required to make FM radio work well in such a tiny form factor is a pain, and since so few people demand this feature the phone makers just leave it out.
  5. dontwalkhand macrumors 601


    Jul 5, 2007
    Phoenix, AZ
    Sure it may be there, but there are no antennas for it to work good by any means.

    Just like the NFC chip in the new iPads. They disabled the actual NFC function and only used the chip for its secure enclave to store cards for online purchases.
  6. posguy99 macrumors 6502

    Nov 3, 2004
    Right. And you'd use what software to control this radio if you had it?
  7. mauka thread starter macrumors member


    Nov 24, 2006
    Not sure about the technical aspect, but smartphones all have a cellular antenna, could it could also work as an FM antenna?

    The story mentions emergency broadcasts, which could be the only thing still operating after a major storm event. Apparently using the FM receiver requires much less of your devices battery charge than the cellular circuit.

    I agree with the commercials, but I listen to public radio, which has commercials, but they are far less tiresome.

    Regarding software, if enabled someone would build a radio app.

    Then there the question of choice -"it's already built-in, why are you stopping me from using it?
  8. SeilerBird macrumors regular


    Nov 12, 2014
    Who actually listens to radio anymore now that we can store thousands of mp3s on the device or listen to Internet radio? Radio is an 80s thing.
  9. AutoUnion39 macrumors 601


    Jun 21, 2010
    I don't think this is a good excuse. I used to have a bunch of Nokia N Series phones and the FM Radio would only work if you had headphones connected. They would act as the antenna.

    That being said, I don't care about FM. All of my local stations also broadcast over the internet via iHeartRadio. Don't need FM on my phone.
  10. Gav2k macrumors G3


    Jul 24, 2009
    It's been the case for a long time and previously noted on mac rumours and ifixit
  11. applegeek97 macrumors 6502a


    Jul 23, 2008
    I remember when the nano had FM built in, now we use iTunes Radio :)
  12. adamhenry macrumors 65816


    Jan 1, 2015
    On the Beach
    A quarter-wave antenna for cellular is a couple of inches. A quarter-wave length antenna for broadcast FM is 32 inches. An antenna for cell frequencies would really suck for broadcast FM.
  13. Jessica Lares macrumors G3

    Jessica Lares

    Oct 31, 2009
    Near Dallas, Texas, USA
    And I bet you that Apple only put it into the iPods because they saw the money opportunity. Hear something, tag it, go buy it on iTunes. Not that I don't love that feature (I do, it's amazing). :D

    I don't think it's appropriate to rely on a cellphone for emergency broadcasts. I would rather something that was powered using batteries, because once your battery is out, it's out, especially when there's no power.
  14. Brian Y macrumors 68040

    Oct 21, 2012
    With digital radio, FM is an ageing technology.

    Why would I want to listen to fuzzy, crackly radio which cuts in and out, when I have synced music, spotify, and internet radio?
  15. C DM macrumors Westmere

    Oct 17, 2011

    When you don't have data or even power perhaps? When you might want to get some latest news in cases like that? Plenty of reasons for people who might care or want that. Why does it matter of some don't care about it to justify it not being enabled when it's already there (and can be functional)?
  16. JackieInCo macrumors 601

    Jul 18, 2013
    I forgot my little square "watch" Nano had the FM radio. Of course I haven't used that Nano in about two years.

    I remember I couldn't get a decent radio signal in my house. I think that's how it would be if the radio was enabled on the iPhone. Imagine the battery drain.
  17. C DM macrumors Westmere

    Oct 17, 2011
    Would there really be more of a battery drain? Not sure if it's the same kind of thing as cell or some other signals.
  18. Retired Cat macrumors 65816

    Jun 12, 2013

    These are great reasons that FM radio should be supported in mobile phones.

    Streaming a radio station costs a lot more energy than simply receiving an FM broadcast. Networks can become congested with traffic.

    Almost all of my local radios stations now offer streams, but my data allowance would be quickly consumed if I streamed all the time. FM radio is just a lot more affordable than paying for more data.

    Are there radio apps for jailbroken iPhones?
  19. Applejuiced macrumors Westmere


    Apr 16, 2008
    At the iPhone hacks section.
    Number one reason the FM radio functions aren't enabled on iphones is so carriers can make money via cellular data overages.
    Its always about money in the end.
  20. nebo1ss macrumors 68030

    Jun 2, 2010
    Many smart phones in Europe do have the FM Radio capability but I have never seen it in the Iphone even in Europe. The Antenna is never a problem because the headset is used as the Antenna and believe me it works very well.

    It is a feature that is very useful and avoids having to use data bandwidth to listen to the Radio.
  21. JackieInCo macrumors 601

    Jul 18, 2013
    That Nano came with a warning that using the radio would increase the battery usage.
  22. JoEw macrumors 65816


    Nov 29, 2009
    I have wondered this for years, how is it my $150 dollar iPod Nano can get FM, but my $850 iPhone 6 cannot?

    I would love to have this feature for tuning into FM stations at my gym for TV watching & being able to get access to information if there were congestion or cellular communication did not work. Just because it doesn't appeal to many, whats stopping someone from making an app that taps into it?
  23. charlyham macrumors regular


    Jun 30, 2012
    Just another thing that Zune did that iPod/iPhone won't.

    When the Zune came out, it had an FM tuner built in and worked great. Can't believe Apple can't do it. Maybe that is why Zune didn't sell well. It was too huge with the giant FM antennae.
  24. Brian Y macrumors 68040

    Oct 21, 2012
    There are new forms of radio - DAB, for example - which offer multiple benefits over FM, and still don't require data.

    An FM receiver still needs power!

    And it matters because the longer we cling onto dying technology, the longer it takes to get a newer, better standard. Think about VHS. I don't know about the US, but in the UK we have now turned off analogue TV signals, and I think the only thing stopping us turning off analogue radio signals are car stereos.
  25. C DM macrumors Westmere

    Oct 17, 2011
    At least we have something to fall back on in emergencies.

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