As it turns out, the HTC 8x did get f.m. radio in the second Windows Phone update.
Given that the Nokia Lumia 928 – the current top of the line in Windows phones from Verizon – apparently did not get f.m., and the Lumia 822 has f.m. but is basically a give away, the 8x is by default the best-Verizon-phone-with-an-f.m.-radio. This is not exactly damning with faint praise; the 8x is a decent phone, elegant even, and Windows Phone 8 is fine in many respects. Still, it’s a Windows phone, which means it has almost no mind share. You can’t hold up a Windows phone and say “Look, this has f.m. How come your Samsung/Android/iPhone doesn’t?” The person on the other end will be lost at Windows Phone – it’s one of those things that’s outside most peoples’ frame of reference, and they just don’t care. Nor, I suppose, should they.
The f.m. radio tuner is an option inside the XBox music and video app, which is built in, but I wanted a standalone tuner – I’m not crazy about the whole XBox branding of everything entertainment in the Microsoft universe and irrational though it is, I wanted something that said “tuner” on it. I wanted the radio to be more than an afterthought to music and video.
Sure enough, there’s an “f.m. radio” app in the WP store. It’s free and guides you through picking out where you live and what stations you should be able to pick up. Kind of nice, actually, except it didn’t really work. Stations that came in loud and clear with the XBox app barely existed with the tuner app, if I could get them at all. Disappointing.
Anyway, in a burst of optimism that this winter will end sometime and I will be able to get out and walk again, I switched from my old iPhone to the 8x. The radio awaits.