Articles > Why I ditched Samsung in favor of HTC: FM Radio

Back in 2010/2011, my first experiences with high end Samsung Android smartphones were positive: an alternative to a fruity brand, highly customisable and reliable. The legendary Galaxy S and Galaxy SII sat amongst some of the best smartphones at the time.

Sure, Samsung packaged their much maligned TouchWiz interface into the finished product. But their phones were easy to become accustomed to. They were also bristling with features - including an FM radio broadcast receiver. The FM radio was one feature I used for hours each week. It was perfect - it had minimal battery drain compared to other media because FM is analog and all signal processing was done by a dedicated wireless chip. All other media (audio files, streaming) incurred a battery drain penalty due to the processing/decoding/data downloading that needed to occur.

Samsung were good enough to incorporate a broadcast receiver in their Galaxy S3 flagship. However, with my trusty SII still serving me well at the time of the S3's release, I had no reason to upgrade. But little did I know the S3 was the last Samsung Galaxy where the beloved FM radio existed.

No FM Radio post-Galaxy S4

Come the release of the S4, Samsung no longer felt it was necessary to include an FM radio, despite the minimal costs to implement it. At that time of the S4's release, I was ready to upgrade my handset, but the lack of an FM radio put me off.

Another year on, the Galaxy S5 is released with the same glaring omission - No FM Radio! It is Deja Vu with the S6 in 2015.

Almost every Bluetooth/WiFi chip used by smartphones also have an FM broadcast receiver built in. It's a selling point of Broadcom/Qualcomm's chips. However, in Samsung's wisdom, they simply connected the chip's antenna pin to ground, effectively crippling the ability for it to function. If Samsung spent a penny or two and connected the antenna pin to the headphone socket, a simple software change would easily make the FM radio available for the end user. Connecting it to ground effectively prevents the developer community from even implementing a software solution.

FM Dying on Android? Or a conspiracy?

The problem of "FM dying on Android" stems mostly from North America / USA, where most mobile carriers are interested in having their subscribers pay more for data plans. Google also wants to sell streaming/downloaded music (through its Google Play Music platform). If FM radio is available as an option, it might give people reason to use it instead of paying for data/streaming music. Are manufacturers (Samsung), OS vendor (Google) and mobile carriers (Verizon, AT&T, etc) to blame for this? A conspiracy theory?

The interesting thing is that FM radio receivers are still commonly available on many other lower end phones, plus a few notable flagships such as the HTC One M8 and M9.

Ditching Samsung

To this end, I say "no thank you" to Samsung, Google and my mobile carrier. I have a small data plan because I barely use mobile data, I don't stream music and have no interest in Gmail/Google+/GoogleApps. Local broadcast media is more than adequate for entertainment.

From another forum where "Steve" comments:
Steve says: "I now have to carry my old Samsung phone with me so that I can listen to the radio, then switch back to my S4 for other things. But this will only be until I upgrade, and next time I wont be so trusting that Samsung wont be doing something so ridiculous as to remove one of the most useful features of my phone. I may as well just give in and go to an iphone. Then at least I can take advantage of all the apps which only provide an apple version. Samsung - you need to learn from this. you got to where you are by listing to your customers. Now it seems you are too big to listen to your customers. You cannot take things off your customers without providing a viable, reliable alternative and expect to keep your customers."

This year, I have invested in a HTC. Sure, I miss out on some of the nicer technologies (such as AMOLED), but due to the frequency at which I listen to FM radio, it is an excellent compromise. Goodbye Samsung, Hello HTC!


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