Apple is now being called out by the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) after it issued a statement that its iPhone 8 models, as well as last year’s iPhone 7, do not have the necessary components for the handsets to feature an FM radio. NAB has pointed out in a blog post that this year and last year’s units actually have some parts that support FM radio. 

According to NAB, multiple research firms have already found out through iPhone 8 teardowns that the handset has a communications module that supports not only WiFi and Bluetooth, but also FM radio. The Broadcom chip found in the iPhone 8 reportedly has an integrated FM radio core, so the smartphone does have the necessary hardware for FM radio support.

Late last month, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) urged Apple to activate FM radio chips in its newer iPhone models to provide Americans with vital access to weather alerts and other life-saving information in the wake of powerful storms hitting the country. At the time, FCC chairman Ajit Pai pointed out that though Apple is a major phone manufacturer, it has resisted the idea of activating the FM chips in its iPhones. 

An Apple spokesperson has since responded to the FCC via a statement issued to MacRumors. In the statement, the spokesperson claimed that it’s not possible to activate FM radio functionality in the newer iPhones, for they do not have FM radio chips or antennas designed to support FM signals. Apple then reiterated that its smartphones have modern safety solutions that consumers can use in emergency cases. These solutions include government emergency notifications, such as weather advisories and AMBER alerts, and access to emergency services and the Medical ID card information directly from the Lock screen. 

Despite this clarification, NAB is not pleased with Apple’s decision to not include FM radio in its iPhones. The organization even claims that Apple intentionally did not connect the antenna in its newer iPhones. This connection could have enabled the communications module to receive FM radio signal. Apple has obviously allowed this connection in the Nano, so this explains why the device has FM radio capability. 

“Apple is a very successful company, and as evidenced by its Nano product, it knows how to do FM radio well.  Activating the FM capabilities in their phones would be simple for them to accomplish if they wanted to,” NAB stated. The association also compared Apple with its rivals, saying, “From a competitive standpoint, other manufacturers of best-selling smartphones such as Samsung, LG, and HTC have enabled FM radio reception in the U.S. and around the world.”

Nevertheless, MacRumors noted that Apple’s iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 models do not really have FM radio chips or antennas to support FM signals. Hence, it’s really not as simple as flipping a software switch to add this functionality to the handsets. Furthermore, it is not clear how easy or hard it would be for Apple to make revisions and add the necessary components to future devices just so it could give the FCC and NAB what they are asking for. 

iPhone 8 Apple is being called out for claiming that its iPhone 8 and iPhone 7 handsets do not have FM radio chips or antennas. Photo: Reuters/Brendan McDermid