Users’ beloved FM radio is getting a renaissance on mobile. The recent news suggests the Korean tech giant is partnering up with NextRadio to unlock the FM chips in upcoming Samsung mobile devices in the US and Canada. There aren’t any hardware changes due to the restoration, as FM receivers are already present in most smartphones, but not all smartphone makers activate them.
NextRadio is a broadcaster-backed app that works with smartphones containing active FM chips (including devices from HTC, Motorola, and LG), allowing users to listen to local radio stations. This utilizes fewer data as well as battery power than connecting to radio apps, though of course, there’s less control over what you listen to and what you want to listen to. On the other hand, FM radio broadcasts can be life-saving as well, specifically in emergency situations when information is conveyed via radio waves. If the mobile internet is not working, having access to local radio stations through an FM chip would prove to be really helpful.
The FCC previously asked Apple to activate the iPhone’s hidden FM radio to support public safety. Apple replied that its iPhone 7 and 8 models don’t really have the necessary chip, and claimed that older iPhones already offer other safety options. FCC chairman Ajit Pai has previously stated that about 44 percent of the “top-selling smartphones” in the US had activated FM radios compared to 80 percent in Mexico.