Questions

Can I get digital radio on a smartphone?

The first smartphone in the UK to include DAB/DAB+ digital radio was announced in Spring 2016. LG are the first manufacturer to offer DAB in a smartphone and no other devices with DAB have been announced yet.

However, it is possible to listen to radio stations on your smartphone with a range of free apps, including Radioplayer and TuneIn. These apps will stream the radio station over the internet and use the data allowance on your mobile contract if you’re not connected to Wi-Fi. It’s certainly worthwhile knowing how much data allowance you have and ensuring a limit is set on your phone to avoid extra charges.

Before the ubiquity of smartphones a FM radio was a common feature on popular models like the Sony Ericsson K700 and Nokia 6220. In following years the built-in FM radio was improved in some models with the addition of RDS which would display the station name.

A smartphone with DAB and even TV was on sale in 2006 – launched by Virgin Mobile. The Lobster 700TV cost £200 and used the BT Movio service which closed only a year later.

Digital Radio Choice reader Stephen tells us that the Nokia N8 was available with DAB digital radio. Nokia released the Nokia CU-17A digital radio headset in 2011. The headset provided the Nokia N8 – along with the C7, C6-01 and E7 – with DAB functionality through the USB port.

Since then no mainstream phone in the UK has featured a DAB radio.

The iPhone launched in 2007 without any radio tuner and shows no signs of adding one in the future. Some Android phones do include an FM tuner – such as models from Motorola and One Plus, but these are often missing on flagship phones.

For music listeners the many apps and streaming services offer more choice and higher quality audio, although for live news and sport when broadband or mobile networks aren’t available listeners will need to carry a separate personal radio for now.

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