Technology

Samsung Galaxy S9, Galaxy X May Feature Unlocked FM Radio Chip

Future Samsung phones would come with an unlocked FM radio chip. On Wednesday, NextRadio confirmed that the Korean firm would start shipping phones in the U.S. and Canada with an unlocked FM radio chip. An unlocked FM radio chip allows free access to local radio stations, along with access to important information in emergency situations.

FM Radio Chip
Image source: YouTube Video Screenshot

Unlocked FM radio chip – why it’s important?

For reasons unknown, the FM radio was becoming obsolete in smartphones nowadays, and this was despite the fact that these smartphones had the necessary hardware to play FM. Few carriers also wanted to lock the FM radio capabilities on the devices operating on their network. For instance, in 2016, Verizon issued a special software update to unlock FM radio functionality in the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge, notes Phandroid. It must be noted that last year’s Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus users enjoyed the feature without any hindrance.

Now, if there was any doubt over the FM feature in the upcoming Samsung smartphones, such as the Galaxy S9 or even Galaxy X, one can be assured that they would possibly come with the unlocked FM radio. The Korean firm has renewed its pledge to keep the FM radio unlocked in its future smartphones, says TagStation — owner of the NextRadio app.

Such a move from Samsung will allow owners of future devices to use the NextRadio app for playing radio stations. It will also lead to less battery and data consumption as there will be no streaming requirements.

NextRadio’s President Paul Brenner praised Samsung for its decision.

“Samsung should be lauded for taking this important step,” said Brenner, in a press release. “They are providing their customers a more engaging, immersive radio experience and, as importantly, a means to connect with life-saving information in emergencies.”

TagStation claims that the FM Chip helps in making available life-saving information from local radio stations when cellular networks are congested or unavailable. Further, the company claims that more and more people are asking the phone makers to unlock the FM Chip in the interest of public safety, following the natural disasters in Puerto Rico, Houston and the Florida coast.

For now, the new feature is limited to the U.S. and Canada. However, Samsung might roll out the new feature globally if it proves popular enough. Also, Samsung is not the only smartphone maker to support TagStation’s initiative. In 2017, LG also agreed to unlock the FM radio chip by pre-installing the NextRadio app in the handsets. Motorola and Alcatel also keep the FM Chip free and unlocked.

What it means for the Galaxy S9

Though the Korean company is yet to reveal the devices that will come with the unlocked FM Chip, Samsung’s next flagship – the Galaxy S9 – could be the first handset to sport the new feature.

Samsung’s partnership with NextRadio could also mean that the Korean company will keep the 3.5mm headphone jack on at least some of the upcoming phones. The wired headphones act as the antenna for picking up FM signals. The Galaxy S9 was already expected to keep the 3.5mm port, now this new announcement further reassures about the port.

Meanwhile, talking of the Galaxy S9, the handset is expected to come with plenty of new features. The overall design of the smartphone will be similar to the Galaxy S8 line, but the bottom bezel will be slimmer. The internals and the camera quality would also be a notch higher than the predecessor.  The handset will reportedly be powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845 in the U.S., and come with 4GB or 6GB of RAM and 64GB or 128GB of internal storage. The Plus variant would feature a dual-camera setup, something similar to the one seen in the Galaxy Note 8.