Apple responds to NAB, FCC demands: iPhone 7 and 8 don’t have FM radio chips or FM antennas

“Amidst renewed pressure from the National Association of Broadcasters, FCC chairman Ajit Pai has now issued a statement urging Apple to activate the FM radio capabilities built into the wireless modem of every iPhone,” Joe Rossignol reports for MacRumors. “Pai said he hopes Apple will “reconsider its position” following Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, which have devastated parts of the United States, including Florida and Texas, and Caribbean islands like Barbuda, Dominica, and Puerto Rico… Pai added that ‘it is time for Apple to step up to the plate and put the safety of the American people first.'”

Rossignol reports, “MacRumors has received the following statement from an Apple spokesperson: ‘Apple cares deeply about the safety of our users, especially during times of crisis and that’s why we have engineered modern safety solutions into our products. Users can dial emergency services and access Medical ID card information directly from the Lock Screen, and we enable government emergency notifications, ranging from Weather Advisories to AMBER alerts. iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 models do not have FM radio chips in them nor do they have antennas designed to support FM signals, so it is not possible to enable FM reception in these products.'”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Never assume what you do not know.

Assumptions are dangerous things to make, and like all dangerous things to make — bombs, for instance, or strawberry shortcake — if you make even the tiniest mistake you can find yourself in terrible trouble. Making assumptions simply means believing things are a certain way with little or no evidence that shows you are correct, and you can see at once how this can lead to terrible trouble. For instance, one morning you might wake up and make the assumption that your bed was in the same place that it always was, even though you would have no real evidence that this was so. But when you got out of your bed, you might discover that it had floated out to sea, and now you would be in terrible trouble all because of the incorrect assumption that you’d made. You can see that it is better not to make too many assumptions, particularly in the morning. ― Lemony Snicket

SEE ALSO:
Apple urged to activate iPhone’s FM radio chip after hurricanes wreak havoc – September 28, 2017
FCC Chairman Pai encourages activation of Apple iPhone’s built-in FM radio chip – February 16, 2017
NAB calls for Apple to switch on an iPhone feature you didn’t know you had – April 20, 2015

28 Comments

    1. So the Chairman of the FCC thinks that Apple can hide the antenna for a three-meter wavelength inside a 14-cm metal case. I suppose they should feel flattered that he thinks they can violate the laws of physics.

        1. Just because he said it doesn’t mean it’s true. The few phones that do offer FM reception use the headphone cable as an antenna, which requires (at a minimum) wiring the FM inputs on the chip to the headphone socket. Some also have an internal antenna on a separate integrated circuit that includes a low noise amplifier to boost the signal. It is not something you can do in software (or from behind a metal case). To repeat: Apple has never sold an iPhone that is capable of FM reception.

          According to Daring Fireball, the Chairman based his claim on an article in a Florida paper that insisted that activating FM reception on an iPhone only required flipping an internal software switch. Not true. Never been true.

  1. Okay, not in the 7 nor 8 nor X.
    But what about the 6s, 6, SE, 5s, and 5 which are all still supported!
    Apple’s response, as usual, is half-assed and self-serving.
    Plus, how can a person discover whether their phone DOES HAVE one of the ‘radio chips’ by Qualcomm or whomever?
    As for the FCC Chairman not knowing about the 7, 8 and X…can’t he read his own FCC certifications for the phones or is he just trying to make political points! Besides, most of the ‘poor’ in the PR use Android phones, not iPhones. Shouldn’t he be demanding Samsung, et al, turn on those radios!

    1. The FM radio chip does exist in older iPhones, but as part of another component and my understanding is it has never been connected, so there has never been FM capability in the iPhone, just a chip that existed as part of another component.

  2. As it happens it’s a moot point, but I’ve had a couple of phones with FM chips (I keep a spare phone with a long battery life for emergencies) and they’ve been universally garbage. For all the good they do you’d be better off buying a radio or radios and keeping them in your car and house. Yes, if it’s all you have then it’s better than nothing, but barely. FM radios in smartphones is not a solution.

  3. Who would have thought that Donald Rumsfeld would have said something relevant to this issue?

    “Reports that say that something hasn’t happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don’t know we don’t know. And if one looks throughout the history of our country and other free countries, it is the latter category that tend to be the difficult ones.”

    For Chairman Pai, this is one of the unknown unknowns. I think one of the main problems we have with politicians these days is that they think the number of unknown unknowns for them is insignificant, when in actually, it is by far the largest group. And they don’t know it, which makes them fools at best and dangerous at worst.

  4. As I said yesterday during this discussion, even activating these chips won’t help since a lot of their radio towers got knocked down. They may be “hardened” to a certain degree, but 180+ mph winds can destroy pretty much anything not purpose built to withstand them.

    As for the 5s, 6, 6s, and SE ? Just because the component says it is a combo chip doesn’t mean it actually has that capability of the antenna array doesn’t support it. Based on the tear downs of those devices, the chip is inside of them but they don’t have the antennae to support their usage, and using wired headphones ala iPod Nano won’t work because it’s not built into the headphone jack assembly… you’d think the agency that certified the handsets would know this…

  5. The internet offers people the chance to make fools of themselves and Ajit Pai, the chairman of the FCC has done that on a colossal scale.

    When this story started gaining momentum, there were plenty of people who tried to explain why it wasn’t possible, but people didn’t listen and just repeated the demand that Apple must do something about it.

    Ajit Pai should have known better, but as a lawyer, he wouldn’t necessarily have the background to understand the technicalities. However as a lawyer, he should understand the importance of details, facts and logic, while as the chairman of the FCC, he should understand the need to present the FCC in a good light. He is in a position where he can consult experts, but clearly didn’t bother and ended up making an epic fool of himself. He really should consider his position at chairman of the FCC as he’s obviously not suited to the task.

    Even on MDN, after several people had clearly explained why this couldn’t be done and gave clear reasons why, other people still posted their demands that Apple must do something about it, there’s even one in this thread. Some people either refuse to listen to facts, or just can’t resist an opportunity to jump on a bandwagon however foolish it might be.

    Some of the reasons why it can’t happen are as follows.

    Up until iPhone 6, iPhones used a multi-band RF chip which does include in-built FM radio reception abilities if the manufacturers wish to us them, but Apple doesn’t use those features. Other cellphones use similar chips and have enabled FM radio reception, but that involved hardware design decisions, most notably the provision of an antenna. Apple cannot do an over-the-air software update which modifies the hardware components inside an iPhone. Anything not wired up when it leaves the factory is never going to become magically wired up retrospectively, no matter how much of a hissy fit people make.

    More recent iPhones use a different chip and FM reception is not available at all with those chips.

    FM reception needs a sizeable antenna. A quarter wave aerial would need to be a couple of feet long, so it won’t fit inside an iPhone case ( and wouldn’t work in a metal-cased iPhone anyway ). You have probably seen a mains powered FM radio with a couple of feet of wire hanging out of the back – that’s the antenna. The usual solution for miniature FM receivers is for manufacturers to use headphone leads as an aerial, but iPhones have never had a connection between the multi-band radio chip and the headphone socket. Without an antenna connected, you won’t get any FM reception.

    The bottom line is that no iPhones were ever built that can receive FM radio broadcasts and no software update can change it.

    1. Mr. Pai, what you’ve just said… Is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point, in your rambling, incoherent response, were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

  6. It would be better to have a hand-crank emergency radio with NOAA, world band, and public service emergency channels. They’re tough and much less expensive than iPhones and have such features as LED flashlights, sirens, and charger ports for smartphones. All for about $30 to $40. They’re great to keep around in case of emergencies and useful even if there isn’t an emergency.

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