LG will enable the FM radio on its future smartphones with NextRadio partnership

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Why it matters to you

Looking for a new way to listen to music on your phone for little or no money? LG is enabling the FM chip built in to its future smartphones.

Smartphones are pretty impressive little devices — but there is one feature that has evaded them over the years — the FM radio. Of course, that is not because of a lack of hardware — in fact, all smartphones actually have FM radios built right into them, but not too many manufacturers actually enable them.

LG is changing that, through a partnership with NextRadio. The company announced that NextRadio will become a native platform on some of LG’s top phones in North and South America. With NextRadio, users will be able to listen to any local radio station, as they would any other radio — which is not just convenient, it is a way for those without streaming services to still experience new music without having to download MP3s. With the partnership, not only will LG phones have their FM chips enabled, but phones will come pre-installed with the NextRadio app.

“We are proud and excited to partner with one of the world’s leading smartphone providers to continue our mission of connecting and exposing users to a fully immersive radio experience,” Paul Brenner, President of NextRadio, said in a statement. “This alliance will give millions of consumers the opportunity to receive real over-the-air FM radio through their phone.”

It is certainly interesting that LG is interested in bringing the radio to its smartphones. Many consider broadcast radio, in general, to be a dying medium, especially with the rise of music streaming and even internet radio. Many will consider it a nice addition to the smartphone, though some might not like the idea of an extra app coming pre-installed on their phone.

So why do phones have FM radio chips in the first place? It’s actually included in the chipset of most smartphones. Qualcomm, for example, bakes FM functionality into its LTE modems. While manufacturers can activate the chips, as LG seems to be doing now, the decision often rests on the shoulders of the carrier. The reason most phones do not have those chips enabled is the fact that carriers have no incentive to activate them — they make money from customers streaming and using up their data. On top of that, many manufacturers have their own music streaming services, so they also do not have any incentive to enable the chip.

It will be interesting to see if the demand for FM radios grows but in the meantime, if you really want that functionality, you will soon be able to get an LG phone with it.