I’ve had my Q10 for about a year, and a Z30 for about 9 months. As you probably know, they both have a built-in FM radio receiver, something I assume is a hardware feature, but also a function of the OS. I had heard of the radio a while back, but more or less forgotten about it until a few weeks ago when I wanted to listen to a Baltimore Orioles’ Grapefruit League (American League Spring Training) game. My normal go-to would be Major League Baseball’s (MLB) At Bat app, which allows you to listen to the local radio broadcast over WiFi while getting a nice graphical depiction of what’s going on on the field, including the “box score,” which gives you more detail about what each player has done, and the play by play detail. (If you love baseball, MLB At Bat is a necessary app; it’s about $15 per season and you need to get the current version each year, but it’s a necessity, so you’ll gladly pay for it.) However, MLB At Bat does not work during Spring Training, possibly due to licensing restrictions of broadcast rights, or for some other reason.
In any event, a few weeks ago, I was going to meet a couple guys for a cigar and wanted to listen to the game. I brought my Q10 and a pair of Skull Candies, tuned the radio to 105.7, our local Orioles station, and turned it on. It was great to listen to Fred Manfra and Joe Angel ply their craft while sitting on the deck of my brother’s house enjoying a fine stogie. Fred and Joe are two of the best radio announcers in the league and really make the game come alive. I hung the Skull Candies from the lattice on his deck, got great reception, and was able to enjoy the game over the ample speaker of my Q10.
Today, we had our season home opener and it occurred to me that I could listen to Fred and Joe on the radio while sitting in Camden Yards, enjoying the game. I used to carry a small, Porsche Design Grundig radio in the side pocket of my cargo pants for just this purpose, but let’s face it, even though it’s a nicely designed radio, it’s still a pain to lug it around. Plus, you have to sort of balance it on your leg during the game, which is an even bigger pain. Per my normal routine, I parked in a garage in Harbor East and walked over to the park. I immediately put my Skull Candies in and turned on the pre-game coverage during my walk. I got great reception and was able to get plenty of volume to listen over the crowd as I got closer to the stadium. Once I got to my seat, I left the earbuds in throughout the game and was able to listen to the play by play from my seat. At times, it seemed I needed to adjust the wire of my ear buds in order to maintain my reception, but other than that, I really enjoyed the convenience. I had to explain to an Android and iOS user that my reception wasn’t based on any cell or WiFi signal, which took a moment, and they seemed impressed. I told them my Q10 had a FM radio receiver in it, which I assume is a hardware and software feature.
Here is how to use the FM radio on your Q5, Q10, Classic, Passport, Z3, or Z30. Open up your native music app, hit the menu button in the lower left hand corner and select “Radio,” which I believe will be at the bottom of the list. You will need a set of earphones in order to use the feature, as the wire acts as an antenna. (I have confirmation that a Bluetooth device attached to your phone through the headphone jack and connected to Bluetooth headphones will also work in places with a strong FM signal.) If you have not plugged in your headphones, you will be prompted to do so at this time.
After plugging in your earbuds, you will be presented with some preset stations based on your location. The radio automatically scans for these presets upon start up. It’s true that you do not need a WiFi or cellular connection to use the radio, but if your network connection is set off, you will be prompted to turn the network connection back on before you can use the radio. After you select your station, you can then turn off your network connectivity if you wish. My understanding is the radio will work even if you are in a place with no cellular network connectivity, it just requires this feature to be on momentarily before selecting your station. There’s some type of check the OS performs based on your network connectivity being turned on, that lets it know what region you’re in or something. Maybe someone can elucidate this further in the comments.
There are two ways to select a station: 1) by choosing from the pre-set list, and 2) by tuning your receiver manually to the desired station. 105.7 The Fan is my local baseball station and it wasn’t listed so I used the tuner. I found it and made it a favorite so it shows up in my list when I activate the radio. One caveat is if you select the menu on the lower right hand corner, you have the option to re-scan for radio stations. This feature could come in handy if you are moving out of range of the previous pre-set station list. Once you find the station you want, adjust your earbuds to get the best signal, set the volume, and you’re off to the races!
Bottom line!? The FM radio feature may not be the most earth shattering feature on a mobile OS, but it can definitely come in handy. It’s likely just another feature many of us take for granted, and is it really a shock that it’s built into the most robust, secure, efficient mobile OS on the market? Don’t forget about the FM radio on your phone… it may come in handy sometime!