no future

If you’re a Verizon customer, as I am, there appears to be no option at all right now for buying a phone with an FM radio chip inside that’s been activated. Set aside the obvious flagship phones, the Samsungs and iPhones – if I’m reading things correctly, nothing else in the Android line-up, including the Moto X, will work either.

(Two other Motorola phones, the G and E, both apparently work with Motorola’s own FM radio app. They’re cheap pre-paid phones; the X is a mid-priced, full-featured phone. What gives?)

To make matters much worse, even if you’re willing to sacrifice a lot and go the Windows phone route, the FM option has been closed off there as well. The HTC One adopted from Android doesn’t have its FM chip activated, even though the version Sprint sells does. And even if you go back a generation and buy, say, a Nokia Lumia 928 off ebay you’re out of luck. The FM chip wasn’t turned on in the 928, even though it was the “flagship” phone of the ragged Windows phone fleet on Verizon less than a year ago.

So I’m stuck with my bordering-on-ancient Lumia 822, or getting my HTC 8X repaired. This strikes me as more than a little ridiculous, and transparently anti-consumer; no, there hasn’t been a big demand for FM on phones, but that’s at least partly a conceptual problem – how would people know to want it? And I’m guessing it costs exactly nothing to turn on the chip in question, which leads to the inevitable conclusion that Verizon – and let’s be charitable here – just doesn’t want to support the functionality. I would never suggest they want us to burn up our data plans instead of getting free over-the-air radio.

All that said, I don’t see the radio industry making much headway on the issue. They’re not good at this sort of thing; see, transitions, HD.

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