Radio apps typically work by streaming radio via the internet. This uses data, so it can be expensive to listen to the radio on your phone unless you have an unlimited data plan. This is one of the reasons why lots of people want to know if you can get a radio app that picks up AM and FM radio signals without using the internet.
The short answer to this question is, if you have an Android phone you’ll probably be able to use a radio app without the internet, but if you have an iPhone you won’t.
Whether or not you can use a radio app without the internet depends on your radio’s hardware. Your radio will need to have a built-in FM radio tuner. At the time of writing, there aren’t any phones on the market with an AM or DAB tuner (as far as we’re aware), so you will need to use FM.
FM Radio on Android
Many Android phones have a built-in FM tuner, but the operating system itself doesn’t offer a way to access it directly. This is a shame as it means many people have to waste their data allowance streaming radio via the internet. However, you can unlock the FM radio tuner by using an app.
If your Android has an FM tuner and is compatible with the app, you can use the NextRadio app to listen to the radio without using the internet. You can see the list of compatible devices here. You will need to listen through earphones as they will act as the aerial.
FM Radio on iPhone
Unfortunately, you can’t listen to the radio on an iPhone without using the internet. The iPhone 7 and 8 don’t have an FM radio chip, so it would be impossible listen to FM radio without using the internet on the latest iPhone models.
Older iPhones have an FM radio chip, but they can’t be activated. This means the only way you can listen to the radio on an iPhone is via the internet.
For some good ways to listen to radio on the iPhone, see our list of the best radio apps.