How to Listen to FM Stations on Your ‘Radio-Silent’ iPhone
While going to Kozhikode on a Rajdhani Express last week, I realized my iPhone didn’t have a built-in FM radio. Even though I subscribe to Apple Music, sometimes I feel like listening to old Hindi songs on All India Radio (AIR). While searching for an app that tracks the live running status of trains, I accidentally found radio apps for iOS. I had no idea about radio apps and didn’t know what they did or if they supported local radio stations or not. I downloaded a few radio apps on my iPhone and found them extremely useful, although they only work when you have a stable data connection or a Wi-Fi connection. Still, radio apps are a great way to get informed and entertained. I’ll tell you all about how to listen to FM radio on your iPhone and whether or not radio apps are right for you.
Apple iPhones don’t come with FM radio
Unlike Android smartphones, iPhones do not have built-in FM radio chips. Maybe that shocks some, but it’s true. Older iPhones had FM modules until iPhone 6, but they never had a proper antenna and amplifier chip to support FM radio. Even though older iPhones such as the iPhone 4s supported an FM radio chip, they did not have a radio tuner. Starting with the iPhone 6s, Apple stopped including FM radio chips in its iPhones.
Apple’s problem with not including FM radio chips in its iPhones was exaggerated when former US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai urged Apple to enable FM radio on iPhones in 2017, but Cupertino responded that their latest phones don’t have FM chips. It is very likely that the FCC knew that FM radio was not present in iPhones – after all, in the United States, the FCC tests all radio devices before they go on sale. Apple’s shame was also unwarranted because there are no regulations in place that require phone makers to include FM radios in their smartphones.
Can I listen to FM radio on my iPhone?
As I mentioned before, radio apps are the only way to listen to FM radio on your iPhone. There are dozens of radio apps you can find on the Apple App Store, but I found a few useful. I wish iHeartRadio, one of the most popular radio apps in the world, was available in India, but it’s limited to the US, Canada, Australia, and a few other markets. Pandora Radio is another great option for listening to the radio, but again, it’s limited to certain markets.
The next best option was Listen to the radio, a free downloadable live radio app. A premium version is also there for Rs 489 per month which gives you access to premium content without any ads. The free version, which I opted for, offers a selection of local radio stations as well as podcasts and global sports radio stations. The best part of the app is that you can choose the content you want to listen to based on your region and local language. I think where the app shines is in reaching users with local radio stations such as AIR Kozhikode and Rainbow FM Kochi which attract a large population base in Kerala, or Radio Sharda 90.4 FM which is a community radio station broadcasting in Kashmir.
Since I started using Radio MyTuner, I became addicted to the app. The free radio app gives you a huge number of live stations from all over India that you can listen to. At launch, MyTuner Radio lets you choose exactly what you want to listen to. You can browse local radio stations for different languages and cities, and even podcasts. The best part is that the selection of local radio stations is solid; Radio City, Radio Mirchi, AIR Vividh Bharati, Ishq 104.8 FM, All India Radio News, Radio City Ghazal… the list is long and endless. The app’s intuitive interface makes it easy to find what you want quickly. The best thing about the app, however, is the ability to use Siri Shortcuts to access the station with the voice assistant. MyTuner Radio is a solid choice for live radio with a massive music library. It is easy to use and it is available for free on the App Store but with a paid subscription (Rs 249 per month) you will be able to get rid of ads, enjoy music equalizer and be able to use car mode which makes it is easy to navigate the user interface while driving.
The NewsonAir app is a gold mine for retro songs
The NewsonAir app is your go-to platform for listening to AIR Radio stations. The official app of Prasar Bharati, India’s public service broadcaster, is free to download and requires no subscription. NewsonAir offers a huge list of channels including national and local programs from different states of India. In particular, I listen to Vividh Bharati to listen to classic Hindi songs every day when I walk around in the evening. No matter how popular streaming apps or YouTube are, there’s nostalgia in listening to old Hindi classics, and then there’s Vividh Bharati. Many of us no longer have physical radios, but I’m happy to still listen to Vividh Bharati in 2022, thanks to digitization and a large community of people who still love radio.