back to article At last, someone's taking Apple to task for, uh, not turning on iPhone FM radio chips

FCC boss Ajit Pai has publicly criticized Apple for not turning on the FM radio receivers in every iPhone – calling it a public safety issue. "In recent years, I have repeatedly called on the wireless industry to activate the FM chips that are already installed in almost all smartphones sold in the United States," the US comms …

  1. DougS Silver badge

    People who live in hurricane prone areas

    Should have one of those hand cranked weather radios. Relying on a smartphone to listen to FM is stupid, because what do you do when it runs out of juice and you don't have power?

    Besides, didn't many stations go dark in the Houston area during the worst of the storm, and AFAIK they're all dark in Puerto Rico have been for some time. Ideally you'd have something that could pick up AM, since those signals travel much further so it isn't a problem if all the FM stations within range are gone.

    1. H in The Hague Silver badge

      Re: People who live in hurricane prone areas

      "Should have one of those hand cranked weather radios."

      True, but having an FM receiver in your pocket would be useful in addition to that. And folk in areas where natural disasters are less common may not have one of those dedicated radios.

      "Ideally you'd have something that could pick up AM, since those signals travel much further so it isn't a problem if all the FM stations within range are gone."

      The advantage of FM is that you can have a small, battery/generator powered station to cover a local area, giving targeted news. Only needs to be tens of Watts.

      Funny thing is, earlier today when tidying up I came across a conventional FM portable radio and reminded myself to look up the local emergency frequency and mark that on the dial, and set it in my mobile phone (not from the fruity firm).

      1. DougS Silver badge

        Re: People who live in hurricane prone areas

        And how many FM stations are set up to run off a battery/generator drawing only tens of watts? If anything is going to be set up for that, it would be weather radio. NOAA uses public bands a bit higher in frequency (162 MHz vs 88-108 for FM) and since it is designed primarily for emergency warnings it would likely have the necessary generators in place and fuel on site, and choose tower locations based on emergency scenarios. The number of TV and radio stations that went offline in Houston shows that few commercial enterprises care about such planning, it cuts into profits.

        1. Captain DaFt

          Re: People who live in hurricane prone areas

          The number of TV and radio stations that went offline in Houston shows that few commercial enterprises care about such planning, it cuts into profits.

          Oooo, profits!

          And how much profit did those stations lose in the days/weeks they were/are offline?

          Crossing your fingers and chanting, "Hope not!", might save a few thousand short term, but will cost Beeellions in the long run!

          Penny wise. pound foolish gits!

        2. werdsmith Silver badge

          Re: People who live in hurricane prone areas

          "And how many FM stations are set up to run off a battery/generator drawing only tens of watts?"

          Any Radio Ham, car battery will do it.

          In the UK RayNet exists to do this job, though not to broadcast frequencies. Local broadcast would not be much of a stretch though.

        3. egreen99

          Re: People who live in hurricane prone areas

          Regarding FM transmitters and battery/generator power: when I did some contract work for an FM station some time ago, we were required to have a week of diesel fuel for our generators (a generator capable of operating our transmitter and a generator capable of operating our studio and our microwave link to our transmitter site which was located some miles away) because we were part of the Emergency Broadcast System which was supposed to activate in the event of nuclear war or, well, a hurricane.

        4. Fatman Silver badge

          Re: People who live in hurricane prone areas

          <quote>And how many FM stations are set up to run off a battery/generator drawing only tens of watts?</quote>

          At the heart of any FM transmitter is an exciter. It is the part of the transmitter that generates the carrier frequency, and modulates that carrier with audio.

          Here is an example of one such device:

          http://www.bdcast.com/products/details/analog/fx-50#tabs-1

          It is a standalone 50 watt unit. With a suitable antenna, and restricting the audio to AM quality (50 - 7500 Hz), you could easily cover a 10 mile circle. AND if you will note, it is available in a 100 or 250 watt model.

          If you were to download the brochure for the FM-50, you will note is AC power requirements:

          AC Input Power: 97 to 133 VAC or 194 to 266 VAC, 50/60 Hz, 230 w maximum.

          That puts it well within the limits of many small portable generators

          Now, what is your point?

    2. Florida1920 Silver badge

      Re: People who live in hurricane prone areas

      Should have one of those hand cranked weather radios. Relying on a smartphone to listen to FM is stupid, because what do you do when it runs out of juice and you don't have power?

      Congratulations on completely missing the point. The chips are there; all the SOB has to do is use his position to get them turned on. Sure, they're not a panacea, but they can't hurt. Oh, except the corporations this administration and its minions are in thrall to.

      1. Captain DaFt

        Re: People who live in hurricane prone areas

        Oh, except the corporations this administration and its minions are in thrall to.

        This administration?

        Try every administration from LBJ to the present. (If not earlier.)

        It just wasn't so blatant until the Bush's administrations.

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

      3. DougS Silver badge

        Re: People who live in hurricane prone areas

        The chips are there; all the SOB has to do is use his position to get them turned on.

        I think it is you who missed the point. Even when the chips are there (they aren't in most iPhones) the FM portion isn't even connected internally. You need an antenna to receive anything. The soonest Apple could start selling phones able to receive FM would be next fall, and then only those who buy the latest model would get it.

        Given that they're using Intel chips in many of them, and likely plan to use them in all phones within a couple years there isn't any point in worrying about it. Intel doesn't include FM in their LTE chip.

        1. Alumoi

          Re: People who live in hurricane prone areas

          You need an antenna to receive anything.

          And with the removal of the 3.5 jack all bets ar off.

      4. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: People who live in hurricane prone areas

        Oh, except the corporations this administration and its minions are in thrall to.

        It's particularly ironic that a number of US telcos disable the FM functionality themselves and charge the end-user a fee to reactivate it..

        So, Pai is just doing his masters bidding again and trying to gain more money for the telcos.

        One other point - the headphone-socketless Apple phones would have great difficulty doing FM as they won't have a nice cable to do the receiving with. I suppose that they could bring out an FM dongle (and I seem to remember that they used to for the iPod). And, I believe that the latest phones don't have the chipset with an FM radio.

      5. This post has been deleted by its author

      6. unwarranted triumphalism

        Re: People who live in hurricane prone areas

        > the corporations

        Aren't you cool and edgy. Grow up FFS

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: People who live in hurricane prone areas

      "People who live in hurricane prone areas

      Should have one of those hand cranked weather radios."

      Thats just a load of crap from someone who doesn't have to deal with these things. When Irma swept through, we lost power and internet and cell for three days. I hooked my Huawei cell phone, which has FM enabled to my 20,000maH power brick attached to it. I could have gone for two weeks or more. Apple should give people what they paid for. Huawei does.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: People who live in hurricane prone areas

        ...Apple should give people what they paid for.

        They paid for crap and Apple just gives them that. Expensive crap but still crap.

  2. TWB

    Antennae?

    As much as I am an advocate of FM radio and 'proper' (IMHO) broadcasting - I think many smart phone users may be unaware they have an FM radio in their phone and in an emergency situation may well not have thought about finding a wired set of headphones to work as the antenna.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Antennae?

      You can get away with a 3.5mm Aux cable too, but some phones will insist you short some tips/rings before activating the FM radio. Once started, it's all good. Without shorting, the phone just gives the 'Headset is required for FM Radio' message.

      1. DougS Silver badge

        Re: Antennae?

        If headphones plugged into the 3.5mm are used for the antenna, I wonder if it would even work for headphones plugged into a Lightning or USB-C port? If you're using wireless headphones, forget it.

        At the top of the FM band, 108 MHz, the wavelength is 2.77 meters. So even if you were willing to include an antenna over an inch long - wasting precious internal space for a feature few will ever use - you're talking about an antenna that's only 1/100th of the wavelength!

        An antenna at such a tiny fraction of the wavelength is incredibly inefficient, you'd need to be very near the broadcast to pick anything up. I guess you pretty much have to use the headphones as an antenna, but that's another reason why hardly anyone uses FM on their phone....though the biggest is that commercial radio is so full of ads it is impossible to listen to. Even free ad supported streaming radio like Spotify has far fewer ads - and at least there you have a lot more choice about what you're listening to.

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: Antennae?

          If Radio 6 Music was on FM I would listen a lot. As it is, FM music stations are shit, so I listen to podcasts at about 25MB/h instead, or Radio 4 when's it's not being a bit shit. Or SD cards when I'm in my oven and vehicle.

          When camping, a Ryobi 18v battery keeps its FM radio going for days, ditto any Sony FM radio and a few alkaline batteries.

          If this guy is saying that FM radio is an emergency feature, he should mandate that phone OS should allow an aux cable to be an FM aerial (not all do unless tricked).

        2. JimboSmith Silver badge

          Re: Antennae?

          If headphones plugged into the 3.5mm are used for the antenna, I wonder if it would even work for headphones plugged into a Lightning or USB-C port? If you're using wireless headphones, forget it.

          I had a Samsung feature phone that didn't require headphones to pick up FM radio. Admittedly it did work slightly better with headphones in but used USB ones so a USB cable worked just as well. In a hurricane (and I have sat through one on the Eastern Seaboard of the USA) getting any news when the power has gone off is potentially a lifesaver. It is not fun to have the EAS tones sounding on your tv and radio informing you that there is something potentially life threatening coming your way. I travel with a small Sony ICF-SW 100 which picks up SW/LW/MW/FM and uses two AA batteries. Despite this I still only buy phones that have an fm radio

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Antennae?

      In the newer iPhones with headphones that work through a custom USB socket, this might not be possible. With the older phones there was that option in theory (and it worked that way in the old iPods) although I don't know if the chip was ever actually wired up to the headphone socket. Either way, it seems to be more than just a software/firmware option to enable the FM chip, the iPhone's internal antennae are way too short at about 1/20th wavelength.

      1. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

        Re: Antennae?

        A convenient antenna may be hard but an emergency antenna is easy. The difference between any two metal areas can be used. For example, it could be the difference between the case and the NFC loop shield. For that you'd hold the metal case with bare fingers and place the NFC loop over another body of metal. It's crude but you could get your broadcast on where to find emergency supplies.

        Alternately, the Qi charge loops would make for a pretty good AM radio antenna.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Meh

    Several Android phones and a few cheapy nokias I've bought in the last few years have had fm receivers. According to the BBC gm is dead and we all need digital. I didn't listen to it anyway.

    I recently got asked by a US company for a cheque, I had to explain we don't have those in Europe anymore.

    You can see where I'm going, USA is fast becoming a living museum, no new bridges or highways for years, slow internet, FM radio and a banking system from the wild west days. But hey you have Twitter and it's (OMG so high tech) 200 odd characters to listen to your great leader.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Meh

      I'm a user and advocate of FM radio. You give other examples les of 'museum' items and I won't contest them - but FM radio can be very battery efficient. FM occupies a good spot on the [choice, audio quality, ubiquity of receivers] vs [power consumption, poor reception, faff] graph that is yet unmatched.

      Of course in the UK we have the BBC, whereas in the states you have a cacophony of shouting morons. The BBC ain't perfect but occasionally get some bright folk, and they don't shout that much. The Australian ABC.net/RN is better.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Meh

        But isn't the UK pushing everyone to digital radio (DAB or similar) for what is currently provided by FM (including the BBC)?

        Its not bad tech, but it's still dying... the people who listen to it are those that didn't grow up with the smart phone / streaming and thus remember it as a tech...

        1. PNGuinn Silver badge
          Holmes

          Re: Meh

          FM?

          REAL radio is cw.

          Not a joke alert.

          If you're trying to push a readable signal under the worst conditions there's still surely nothing to beat Morse Code?

          Ok, not for everyone, but in emergencies the humble HAM still has a place.

          And while having a clunky fm facility with dubious antenna and battery life MIGHT prove useful to some people in some cases, there's nothing like having a couple of small analogue multiband portables handy for emergencies.

          And old fashioned analogue radios tend to have far better battery life.

          Also many emergencies (eg hurricanes) are well predicted, though not all (eg earthquakes).

          So if the regulating authorities could ease up on smoking the new digital weed to the EXCLUSION of existing tried and tested systems we might all be better off.

          We need a crusty old fart icon. He'll have to do. >>

          1. Spacedinvader
            Windows

            Re: Meh

            Crusty old fart icon -->

    2. toejam13

      Re: Meh

      The US banking system is almost entirely electronic now. Cheques are little more than legacy forms for initiating an ACH electronic transfer. The cheques are scanned, run through an OCR program, and then immediately submitted for transfer. Most banks and credit unions provide desktop deposit apps for scanning cheques at home or office. This is in addition to all of the paperless electronic funds transfer systems in use.

      If somebody asked for a cheque, either they were new or lazy. Banks still offer old-fashioned wire transfers. International remittance services handle smaller transfers. Foreign exchange brokers handle larger transfers. Point-of-sales card networks can also be used to transfer money internationally.

      Internet speeds in the US aren't far behind Europe, especially in urban areas. The real problem is that the cost of that service is significantly higher in the US.

      Most VHF band II radio stations in the US now simulcast in both analog FM and digital NRSC-5 ("HD Radio"). Unlike the European DAB standard, NRSC can transmit in-channel, so there is less pressure to shut down the old analog system. Too bad that most commercial radio stations in the US are no match for streaming services.

      The problem with those stories about US infrastructure crumbling is that they are often overblown. A bridge might be rated structurally deficient if the shoulders don't meet current code. And while Oklahoma and Kansas allow their roads to rot, other states do not. It is like saying that the roads in the EU suck because you use southern Italy as the benchmark.

    3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Meh

      "I recently got asked by a US company for a cheque, I had to explain we don't have those in Europe anymore."

      Really? I must have missed that memo. I'd better tear up my cheque book and dispose of it immediately.

  4. Dave 126 Silver badge

    The article says that FM radios use very little battery, which is true. However, if in an emergency scenario (phone masts disabled through wind, flood, WWW3 EMP etc) one turns on Airplane Mode (without which a phone will burn through its battery looking for a non-existant signal) the FM radio is disabled - presumably because of the architecture of these Broadcom and Qualcomm chips. Without activating Airplane Mode, the phone will soon run out of battery anyway.

    Tldr buy a Sansa Clip.

    1. Gerry 3
      Happy

      My Wileyfox Swift happily receives FM when in Airplane Mode.

  5. Adam 1 Silver badge

    hasn't really thought this through

    FM receivers need an aerial of about 75cm. Phone manufactures don't have an aerial cable coming out of the phone. They use the cable of the wired headphones as the aerial. Fun fact: this requires a headphone jack.

    1. PNGuinn Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: hasn't really thought this through

      Fun fact: REAL radios often have a cunning device called a Telescopic Aerial. It seems to be possible to stimulate the receiver into having some kind of mechanical erection ....

      Motorola experimented with something similar in the early days of mobile radio, but the thing seemed to go out of fashion.

      Hey - a mobile phone that could make toast would be useful in food shortages. Should be easy to patent - most toast has rounded ....

      1. Adam 1 Silver badge

        Re: hasn't really thought this through

        I believe the Note7 came with toast making capabilities.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: hasn't really thought this through

      I did some research and its possible to use a chip antenna similar to the ones used for Bluetooth.

      In fact the ones from old piezo backlight inverters with a bit of minor modification should work as they are already resonant at around 1-3 MHz in the X direction but obviously in the Z direction it would just be a matter of connecting the edges together as Gnd and HV out as Ant In.

      (scuttles off to test this with the one he found in an old Sony Vaio)

  6. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. DougS Silver badge

      Re: Google says that...

      I think the Qualcomm chip used in iPhones includes FM in at least some models, but Apple has never activated it.

      However, the Intel chip that Apple is using for the versions that don't need CDMA support does NOT include FM. Apple is likely to switch entirely to Intel in a couple years when Verizon switches off their CDMA and they no longer have any need for that support.

      So today some iPhones couldn't enable FM even if Apple wanted to, and tomorrow none will be able to unless Pai starts calling Intel out publicly to include FM in their LTE chip.

    2. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Google says that...

      You missed the point. And your post is a copy paste job from Apple.

      Many iPhones have had the hardware to receive FM radio due to the 3rd party modems, but the ability has never been activated by Apple. This is fairly well known.

      Do iPhones receive FM radio? No

      Do they contain an FM receiver? Yes

      Also, don't copy paste the address bar of your Google search - what do you think all those characters that follow your search term are? Your search terms gave a result that had Apple's result at the top - less specific terms gave broader results.

      - sent from my FM-less Nexus 5. Bah, Sony always gave me FM.

      1. whoseyourdaddy

        Re: Google says that...

        "Do they contain an FM receiver? Yes"

        Not physically possible.

      2. Spacedinvader
        Unhappy

        Re: Google says that...

        The XZ doesn't.

  7. clanger9

    How does an FM radio "save lives"?

    This is a genuine question.

    I'm struggling to imagine a scenario where having access to a working FM radio could make a difference between life & death. Could someone enlighten me?

    1. DougS Silver badge

      Re: How does an FM radio "save lives"?

      Flash floods like those in Houston that flooded entire neighborhoods in a matter of a few hours, dams potentially breaking like in Puerto Rico. Another major storm following on the heels of the first, like happened in some Caribbean countries.

      1. clanger9

        Re: How does an FM radio "save lives"?

        I get all that. Before the storm hits, mass SMS messages may be more effective (as is done for tsunami warnings). After the storm hits (when comms are down), how does an FM radio help?

        1. JimboSmith Silver badge

          Re: How does an FM radio "save lives"?

          I was in an area where mobile phone signals were patchy at best and had no signal before during or after the hurricane went by. I had the radio and the television on all the time because the direction of the hurricane was crucial. If the eye wall had gone the other side of us we would have had it far worse. The power line went quite early on and we were reliant on battery powered devices. There was also the risk of a nasty storm surge which would have had a mandatory evacuation coming with it. So having access to a radio was essential in that case.. Sitting in a house where you can see a very angry looking ocean from the ground floor is not fun.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: How does an FM radio "save lives"?

            The t UK posters in this forum know everything about hurricane emergencies sitting all the way up in the eastern north Atlantic. They get a lot of experience and know-how from being repeatedly pounded by hurricanes. NOT. You are actually showing how LITTLE you know about events like this in other parts of the world.

        2. J. Cook Silver badge

          Re: How does an FM radio "save lives"?

          ... Except that SMS messages have no guarantee of delivery. There is an exception, though: Most smartphone in the US are capable of receiving wireless emergency alerts (unless you've gone in and turned them off; they are turned on by default). These are smilar to SMS messages, but go through a different system and have priority over data and voice traffic. Unfortunately, it's not a mandatory thing, so participation varies by carrier.

          Presumably, FM radio would be able to do emergency broadcast alerts, which is what was used prior to everyone having a handheld computer that's connected to a wireless data network...

          Oh and also, it's entirely possible for cell coverage to get swamped, overwhelmed, etc. My personal experience with that was 9/11 attacks, and just about everyone still alive in NYC tried to make cell phone calls all at once- the result of that was the cell network taking a pub break.

  8. Joe Werner

    Meanwhile...

    in Vikingland they are phasing out fm this year. Pity, I liked listening to the radio (no data!). And I still wonder what about emergency situations. So far I have not really found a good answer, but what do I know about the Viking mindset ;)

    1. DougS Silver badge

      Re: Meanwhile...

      Well at least they're safe from hurricanes, unless there's a LOT more global warming!

  9. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "When wireless networks go down during a natural disaster, smartphones with activated FM chips can allow Americans to get vital access to life-saving information,"

    So any other nationalities caught in the danger area don't get warnings?

    Really, is it so hard to say "people"?

    1. Diogenes

      They probably do it for the same reason that US and state flags are everywhere...

      Usaians are so terrible at geography they need to be continually reminded where they are

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        They probably do it for the same reason that US and state flags are everywhere...

        Usaians are so terrible at geography they need to be continually reminded where they are

        As an American, I can't say you're wrong.

  10. This post has been deleted by its author

  11. whoseyourdaddy

    Apple never used the Qualcomm QTR8600 chip that had the FM radio.

    They used the RTR8600 chip, which couldn't have FM radio, or the audio codec needed to complete the system.

    While 'droids and everyone else used the QTR8600 years back, there's no guarantee anyone connected the FM radio pin on the chip.

    I'm proud to say the only time I've listened to FM radio in the past 15 years was when I was in a random rental car and pushed the wrong button. So, Clearchannel and Sinclair can focus on billboards.

    But, those who can, do. Those who can't, lead the FCC.

  12. Mephistro Silver badge
    Facepalm

    "...he failed for several days to address the devastation in Puerto Rico and then spoke repeatedly about its debt problems rather than the humanitarian crisis..."

    Holy shit!

    1. J. Cook Silver badge

      @mephistro: Yep, that's our liar in chief. *shakes head sadly*

      Don't blame me, I sure as hell didn't vote for him.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Bullshit, this current administration is doing a pretty good job in assisting PR, just the MSM and Trump Derangement sufferers can't allow ANY positive news to be circulated about Trump.

      And certainly the politics of PR has contributed to the problems they now have. They are and were broke, and the power system was badly run down and far too prone to outages anyway. PR has been run by Democrat politicians for a very long time, and it shows.

  13. ukgnome Silver badge

    This seems to be a double win for painters and decorators.

    They get to be popular whilst people huddle around their paint splattered FM radio and tout for business at the same time.

    1. TWB

      My decorator...

      ...has a DAB radio - woo hoo!

      I am not a convert to DAB - I nearly only ever listen to Radio 4 and have it on in many rooms at once on multiple radios so would have to change all of them to DAB to keep everything in sync. I don't understand the push for DAB over FM - yes it is supposed to go up to 20kHz but I'm not listening in a silent environment and my hearing rolls off at 13k...could they not cram the metadata* into the RDS part of the signal? (I really ought to know the correct terminology here)

      [*station name, frequency, programme, song title - what else do I need - I'll watch TV if I want pictures]

      I don't see the need for great numbers of radio stations - I'd prefer a narrow choice of quality rather than a wide choice of crap.

      1. Pompous Git Silver badge

        Re: My decorator...

        "I don't see the need for great numbers of radio stations - I'd prefer a narrow choice of quality rather than a wide choice of crap."
        Good luck with that! We had an excellent radio station here in Oz called DIG Radio (digital broadcast in the TV spectrum). They played a very wide variety of high quality, but not mainstream popular music from the 1930s to the present. Then the manglement decided that the demographic (40+ yrs) was wrong and began catering to the under 30s.

        I really miss DIG; it was like listening to random selections of my collection interspersed with material I'd not heard before, particularly Australian music.

      2. /dev/null

        Re: My decorator...

        could they not cram the metadata* into the RDS part of the signal? (I really ought to know the correct terminology here)

        [*station name, frequency, programme, song title - what else do I need - I'll watch TV if I want pictures]

        Actually, that is exactly what they do nowadays - it's called the RDS RT (radio text) field. A fairly recent car radio with a big enough screen will show you it. No need for DAB to get that metadata!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: My decorator...

          Yeah the text display of my DAB radio never seems to tell me anything that RDS didn't.

          1. Gerry 3
            Trollface

            Re: My decorator...

            You DAB display will tell you that the DAB simulcast is mono whereas RDS will tell you th FM version is stereo.

  14. Pompous Git Silver badge

    Couple of things...

    I have a battery about the size of a mobile phone, but somewhat thicker that connects to my phone/Kindle when a recharge is needed. It's also capable of starting the car if needed and is also a flashlight.

    What use is radio in an emergency? As we are reminded every bushfire season in the Land of Under, local radio can tell you when to get out and where to go to find food and shelter. Your life may depend on this information.

    Merkins only need to watch this presumably...

    1. Fatman Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: Couple of things...

      <quote>Merkins only need to watch this presumably...</quote>

      Cute!!!

      Two candidates for a Darwin award, completely oblivious to the simple fact that an escalator is a moving stairway, and all they need to do to be freed is to walk UP the dammed stairs.

      I bet they are part of some companies' C-suite.

      And the award for their stupidity -------------------------------------------------------->>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

  15. DanceMan

    No hurricanes here. I use the FM radio in my Q10 to listen to ad-free CBC radio 1 or 2 on the walk to the car or the bus. Anything that replaces it will have to have working FM.

  16. egreen99

    As others have pointed out, you need an external antenna of a meter or so in length to get decent reception. I have a Samsung Galaxy Note 8 with a Qualcomm modem chip that has the FM receiver hooked up to the headphone jack, but if I don't plug in my headphone cable, I don't pick up any signal. With it, I seem to pick up the same stations as in my auto.

    Given that Apple removed the headphone jack from the iPhone 7 and up, clearly it's not possible to enable the FM receiver in any of their new phones. There just isn't a physical antenna for that purpose.

  17. Mage Silver badge

    nor any suitable antennas

    Because as a Fashion Statement, with no technical merit, Apple don't fit the 3.5mm jack since iPhone 7. The earphone cable is the VHF-FM aerial on anything small.

    This is not an issue the FCC should be involved with. Phones are not sold as broadcast FM Radios, though personally I'd only buy one that has the function. Most phone FM radios are far better than any portable AM/FM set or any DAB Radio with FM available in normal retail outlets.

  18. /dev/null

    Think of the marketing...

    TBH, I can't imagine any smartphone marketing person getting very enthusiastic these days about a new feature that turns your super-retina displaying, 3D-face-recognizing, animoji-capable, machine-learning, augmented-reality-projecting smartphone into a pocket tranny from the 1950s.

  19. Nimby
    Pirate

    FM is Forever

    Personally, whenever I shop for a new phone, having an FM radio is at the top of my must-have feature list. But then I spent a lot of years in the company of Madison's Solid Rock, 94.1 WJJO. So maybe FM only matters to people who have (or had) access to good music through it.

    Still, when aliens invade and enslave humanity and radioactive hamsters from a planet near Mars nom on the datacenter cables, I'll still be able to listen in to the rag-tag gang of freedom fighters broadcasting from their mobile ad-hoc pirate radio.

    So would activating FM save lives in a hurricane? Some, but probably not many. Would it certainly help people pick up the pieces after a hurricane has torn up the infrastructure and left people with absolutely nothing First World? Definitely.

    I'm all for forcing everyone to include FM in phones for all NEW phones. And for companies choosing to push a software update IF their phone is capable. But forcing all existing phones to retroactively turn on the chip when proper connections to the headphone jack, USB port, or a real antenna has not been done? When real physical limitations make the chip useless, well that's just stupid.

  20. Ilsa Loving

    No headphone jack

    Suddenly the inexplicable desire to exclude the headphone jack makes sense.

    Apple et al can now honestly say that there's no point enabling the FM chip since there's no longer a way to connect an antenna. Before, they had no leg to stand on because there was absolutely nothing preventing them from enabling the functionality apart from greed.

    This is feeling like the whole "IE is a part of Windows" thing all over again.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    crap signal

    Ironically, it's not my phone that has the FM radio function, but a P.o.S. Insignia Flex (with no cellular capability) that has the FM tuner. Of course, living where I do there's all of *one* C&W station I can get, nothing else. We also get NO digital OTA TV stations, and cellular service is near nonexistent at our house. Heck, there's an actor just up the road from me that's done various commercials for *two* different cell companies, and I doubt he has a signal at his house either.

  22. Jeffrey Nonken Silver badge

    https://techcrunch.com/2017/09/28/whose-fcc-is-this/

    Earlier models had the FM block in the phone, but not hooked up. So there's no way to make it work there, either.

  23. bobajob12
    Unhappy

    FAIL

    @El Reg: The fact that iPhone 7 and 8 don't have FM chips seems kind of critical to this story, no? And yet you bury this helpful little update at he end of the story on page 2. Whatever happened to "don't bury the lead"?

    The story has enough meat on it to stand alone, and not be smooshed together with the one on hurricane relief.

    Sloppy.

  24. Mikel

    As was pointed out by Apple today

    IPhones don't have FM radios in them. Haven't for years. Since the FCC certified the iPhones they should know this.

  25. Steve 114
    Mushroom

    It's an age thing.

    Early multi-transistor radios has two markings on the tuning dial so that you wouldn't miss advice from Civil Defence while sitting under the stairs waiting for the fallout cloud to arrive.

    OT, but we were taught to whitewash the windows first. Of course the blast would break them, but not before they'd prevented the flash from setting the furniture alight. Happy days (yes really).

    1. Conundrum1885

      Re: It's an age thing.

      Is this why Oakleys used to say "Thermonuclear protection" ?

  26. Sigfried

    I guess though it would help if iPhones could actually receive and play FM radio signals. iPhone 7 & 8 don't have FM capable chips. iPhones 4-6 have an FM receiver as part of their modem chipsets but don't have FM aerials to receive the signals, but the earphone leads can sometimes act as that.

    Edit: ninja'd, not the first to point this out.

    So, maybe not a bad idea, but a bit of research could have made it clear that asking for something that can't actually be done isn't clever.

    Longer term, having some sort of digital emergency channel might not be a bad idea. Something like signing up for a regional based text feed so you can receive texts when an emergency is declared; sketchy, but maybe something could be developed.

  27. bigknob

    Apple being mean

    Every phone I've had for the last 15 years had FM radio so when I finally gave in and bought an iPhone I was shocked to find it did not have FM. Not surprised though to discover that the reason is the potential loss of revenue for poor old struggling Apple.

    PeterW

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