Can You Listen to DAB Radio on an iPhone?

If you own an iPhone you might have noticed that it doesn’t offer any way to listen to the radio except for via the internet. Unfortunately, newer models of the iPhone don’t have any kind of built-in radio receiver, so the only way to listen to DAB radio stations is via online streaming.

The unavailability of radio receivers in mobile phones has long been a source of controversy for users. This come to the fore in the US as recent hurricanes and other disasters have led to calls for radio receivers to be activated in the interest of public safety.

Many manufacturers have now activated the FM chips in their phones and gone some way to alleviating the problem. However, that doesn’t apply to any version of the iPhone and, while FM may be available on many Android devices, DAB has only ever been known to be implemented on one mainstream phone, the LG Stylus 2 (now discontinued).

Is Apple likely to implement DAB?

Apple has been accused of not activating the radio receiver in their phones, but in actual fact newer versions of the iPhone don’t have a radio receiver to be activated in the first place. Some earlier models do have FM capabilities but Apple has chosen not to activate them.

Even if FM functionality is activated, iPhones don’t have antenna that are designed to accept radio signals. Apple would therefore need to find a way to add a suitable antenna and would have to introduce a revised chip for newer models as well as activating the functionality in older versions.

The new capabilities would then need to be thoroughly tested, including ensuring the radio signal didn’t interfere with calls. Once that was done, an update would need to be issued for existing phones that have FM capability. However, since none have DAB functionality within their chipset, digital radio could only be introduced for new models. This seems unlikely to happen so iPhone users will need to seek alternative methods to listen to digital radio.

Listening to the radio on an iPhone

Since Apple has no plans to incorporate DAB radio in iPhones, the only way to listen to the radio is by using an app (see some of the best radio apps here). This will use data though, so listening to the radio can become expensive (see how much data radio uses here).

There’s also the iPhone’s pre-installed music app, which is free to use, and the Apple Music subscription service, although neither give access to actual radio stations.

A further option may be a DAB dongle, if you can find a suitable one for the iPhone. This plugs into the micro USB socket and avoids data usage charges but is cumbersome and costs money.

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