Samsung's Galaxy S9 Could Have an Unlocked FM Chip

Samsung's Galaxy S9 — and possibly other future Android smartphones — is likely to come with a feature that could help you listen to songs, as well as keep you safe in an emergency. A company called Tagstation, which manages the Next Radio app, has announced that Samsung is planning to turn on the FM radio chips in its future smartphone releases. The unlocking will take place only in the U.S. and Canada, however, according to the report.

Credit: Tom's Guide

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

With their FM chips unlocked, Samsung handset owners will be able to listen to free FM radio signals through the free NextRadio app. Samsung, like many other handset makers, has locked FM radio chips in the past, requiring you to stream FM radio signals from over the Internet to access channels.

Tagstation said that it believes the move could ultimately help you use less battery and data by not relying on streaming services to access FM radio stations. More importantly, though, the move could also be a life-saving one.

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Following the widespread devastation of Puerto Rico, Florida and Texas due to massive storms, citizens found it very hard to communicate. In Puerto Rico, specifically, victims of the devastating hurricane were unable to place calls or access the Internet from their phones. Meanwhile, emergency information came via FM radio signals — which, in many cases, the victims couldn't access, because their chips were locked.

Following the situation in Puerto Rico, regulators and companies like Tagstation, among others, called on major tech companies to unlock their FM chips. They argued it could ultimately save lives.

In a statement announcing the Samsung partnership this week, NextRadio president Paul Brenner said that Samsung's decision to unlock the FM chip will provide "a means to connect with life-saving information in emergencies."

Tagstation didn't say which future smartphones will have their FM radios unlocked, but given the timing and the fact that the Galaxy S9 is slated to launch next month, there's a good chance that Samsung's new flagship model be one of them.

Don Reisinger is CEO and founder of D2 Tech Agency. A communications strategist, consultant, and copywriter, Don has also written for many leading technology and business publications including CNET, Fortune Magazine, The New York Times, Forbes, Computerworld, Digital Trends, TechCrunch and Slashgear. He has also written for Tom's Guide for many years, contributing hundreds of articles on everything from phones to games to streaming and smart home.