The hidden FM radio in your phone

Most modern cell phones have an FM radio built into their SoC, but the only major makers who are actually enabling them are HTC and Motorola. There’s disagreement over whether this is a problem, of course.

My Moto E has an FM radio and an app that lets me use it. I have to say if I’ve used it, I don’t remember it. But as NPR says, there’s an advantage to it.

If I’m listening to a local radio station, it makes more sense to pull it over the FM airwaves than over the cellular airwaves. It uses less power and doesn’t chew up my data plan. And in emergencies, if the cellular network is congested or disabled, the FM airwaves continue to work just fine. In a big emergency, it’s actually an AM radio I want, so I can tune in to a news-oriented station, but the community nonprofit station at 88.1 in St. Louis probably is a good choice too–though I can’t speak for any other community.

Of course, the other thing is that you paid for the capability, so why deny it to you? Granted, you didn’t pay much for it–it probably only adds a few cents to the cost of an already cheap chip–but still, it’s a shame to add capability to a device and then disable it.

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