The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) has brought a previously hidden iPhone feature to light. Almost all smartphones have an FM receiver chip built into their hardware. It’s actually the same chip that is used for WiFi and Bluetooth functionality. In the iPhone 6, it’s the Murata 339S0228, and the FM utility is completely switched off. According to the NAB, the FM chip could be an invaluable feature for the public to utilize in an emergency situation, especially considering how cellular and data networks can become overloaded in the case of an emergency.
The NAB presses on that streaming an FM audio feed can drain your smartphone batter three to five times faster than if you were to listen the same audio feed through the built-in FM chip. There is another side to this argument that the NAB hasn’t touched on. Reddit user theninjaseal reported that it would take more than just an iOS software update to unlock the FM chip’s accessibility. Just like old school radios, the FM chip would need an antenna.
It looks like it’s possible to create an external antenna, to access the FM chip, at least on an Android phone, according to this YouTube video. However, it is unlikely that Apple will unlock this feature in the near future. To create a reliable and direct FM audio feed, the iPhone would need to incorporate a built-in antenna, which could add bulk to the handset.
Another reason this probably isn’t one of Apple’s main concerns is that FM radio may be on its way out, as Norway announces it will be phasing out FM radio entirely by 2017 in favor or digital radio.
Source: 9to5 Mac