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Why mobile phones have no AM Radio?




About a year ago, I asked the guys at Nokia Singapore why they don’t have AM radio tuners to pair with the millions of FM tuner capable phones they develop. I thought the answer was in the north of physics, something that had to do with frequency modulation and amplitude modulation. I guessed wrong.

The truth is, it’s largely got to do with market demand. Who would want to use AM radio on their phones? I told them, AM radio is still hot and raging in the Philippines especially with regular folks that listen to news.

The other day, one of those blind masseurs in the malls told me he’s been waiting this one great feature a mobile phone should have — an AM radio. I agreed and told him about my earlier discussion with the people from Nokia.

I myself very rarely use the FM tuner on my phone. I already have an iPod and a Zune to get my dose of music. More often than not, I tune in to one of the AM radio stations that rebroadcasts TV Patrol or GMA News in my car at around 6:30PM. I think this might also be true to other people as well.

Actually, there are some phones that both have AM radio (e.g. Sony Ericsson R300i, R306i) but if they could put FM tuners on half of the phones sold each year, why not just add AM tuner to it?

Why don’t we ask readers if they’d prefer AM radio or FM radio on their mobile phones?



Abe is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of YugaTech. You Can follow him on Twitter @abeolandres.

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89 Responses

  1. Aldrin says:

    Every once in a while, I ask this question to my peers as well in a joking way. I think it’s a good feature a phone to have, since I rarely see or heard news nowadays.

  2. ricky says:

    i highly agree with you. AM feature will be so useful here in the Philippines (i dont know with other countries) esp for its wider range of news update and topic discussions (in diff languages/dialects as well, tagalog, english, bisaya, ilocano, chinese..name it.

    and for the liking of the old folks, it has radio drama programs, classic songs and kundimans.

    it is highly informative and entertaining as well. indeed, a productive way to ‘kill’ time.

    so to you, nokia designers and engineers, if you are reading this, i dont think it would be costly for your billion-dollar empire to put that simple feature in your future mobile designs. i dont think its costly nor complicated to add that little piece of hardware in your gadgets.

    with this feature, tech-savvy pip aside, those old folks and tech-resistant pips will be a great potential to add up to your more than 65% world mobile market dominion.

  3. eman says:

    I agree. Personaly, I want this for news. There are times that news is important compare to regular music via FM or mp3 songs.

  4. ACS says:

    I cannot agree more. I think the feature would be really useful, not just on mobile phones but on mp3 players that have an FM tuner as well. Lord knows I sometimes want to listen to the news during my morning and evening commutes.

  5. sultanjr says:

    Having AM radio on a phone is an idea that Nokia and the other phone makers should seriously consider. AM radio is especially helpful during emergency situations like typhoons and other natural disasters, aside from regular news broadcasts. My phones all have FM radios but I don’t really use them. I use the flashlight on one of my phones more often than the FM radio it has.

  6. joseph says:

    I just can imagine senior citizens taking the public transport, all their headsets plugged in to their ears. I myself wondered why phones do not have AM tuners. Kinda dyahe to bring a walkman just to listen to AM.

  7. cris says:

    i agree with that. since most cellphones don’t have a tv tuner yet, having an AM radio signal would be very useful in getting news.

  8. Rico says:

    Ok. Let me get this straight. With all the hi-tech stuff that surround phone engineers, they can’t make a phone with BOTH FM and AM?

    Speaking of the demand, my phones have photo and music editors that I don’t use. Are they saying that there’s a demand for these features?

    It would be best if they just put both AM and FM in. I thinks it’s that pricey. Plus it will be nice to have an AM option you know!

  9. Rico says:

    I mean “I think it’s not that pricey” above. Sorry for the typo.

  10. eric says:

    I guess AM band should be added as a feature on new mobile units. there are just times that we need to update ourselves with the latest news but cant stay long enough inside the house, or got no time to scan the broadsheets, or browse the news sites.

  11. yes, why not AM band TOO! i would usually carry a transistor with me when not home if i want to keep abreast of the latest news.

  12. BrianB says:

    My thoughts exactly Abe. Hindi kasi tayo ang gumagawa eh.

    Blind masseuse. For charity? There are a lot of massage joints out there.

  13. butzyzk says:

    i think there is actually a bigger demand for these kind of phones (with am radio) than the manufacturer’s info.
    i purchased my cp last june and if at that time there are cp’s with am radio, i sure have chosen one.

  14. fangli says:

    I actually prefer AM radio feature for my phone, than FM. :(

  15. Nonoy says:

    Same here, I would love to have AM tuner in my phone instead of FM.

  16. JoeyT says:

    It’s a good thing that Sony Ericsson came up with AM/FM phones. Why? Aside from getting out of the FM chatter, I’d like to listen to news updates on the AM side once in a while esp. if there’s a national emergency, typhoons and the like. Besides, a phone with AM/FM capability completes the cycle of going mobile without bringing an additional device that can monitor AM frequencies.

  17. Bon says:

    Abe,

    I recall reading that the Solid Group (who sells the dual-sim MyPhone) will be selling a myPhone-branded budget model with a built-in AM radio for only P2,000, catering specifically to the local market’s preference for AM programming. Check out [url]http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/breakingnews/infotech/view/20081005-164734/Filipino-branded-laptops-may-be-out-soon[/url]

  18. Bon says:

    Abe,

    I recall reading that the Solid Group (who sells the dual-sim MyPhone) will be selling a myPhone-branded budget model with a built-in AM radio for only P2,000, catering specifically to the local market’s preference for AM programming:

    From Inquirer.Net, 05 Oct 2008: “SGI is also set to launch 10 models of its myPhone mobile phone series. One of these new models will feature an AM radio for as low as P2,000 per unit. SGI will also be introducing four or five dual SIM phones, which will be sold from P3,500 to P8,500.”

    (Tried posting the link here but your antispam filter prevented me from doing so – just Google myphone “am radio”

  19. I admit I follow certain AM radio shows but I still prefer the FM. The trend now is that several FM stations are serving us not only with good music but with news and latest hype as well.

  20. yuga says:

    @Bon – thanks for the tip. Yep, I knew about myPhone (SGI) but haven’t heard they’re coming out with cheap phones with AM tuner. That will be “patok” with regular folks. Will watch out for this.

  21. yuga says:

    @BrianB – the provincial term is “hilot”.

  22. ralph says:

    kung lalagyan ng a.m. it is in the khz range tas ang circuit na gagamitin sa tingin ko ai magiging bulky na ang mobile phone. since wavelength = speed of light / frequency so kailangan ng antenna that is for ground wave propagation.

  23. Kenneth says:

    You got it right! I myself loves music and uses gadgets such as mp3 players, iPods and other devices that come handy to listen to music. But I wish I had a mobile phone such as those indicated above. Since, AM stations are still a best source of information, especially during rainy days when class suspension would be announced. LOL! :-)

  24. Leo says:

    hindi pala ako nag iisa waiting for this very simple feature in a mobile phone.

  25. Jay says:

    as a reader and as a technophile, i believe that putting an AM feature on my phone would be totally useless. i mean being a youth i wouldn’t even dare to listen on those “oldies” stations. screw them!

    man! this is a phone, get a radio if you wanna have AM. this is ridiculous.

  26. rene says:

    thumbs up great observation especially during calamities floods typhoons we need the mighty AM radio for fast news on the hour by the hour

  27. Mark Ian says:

    I still prefer AM on cellphones, not because I’m a fan of afternoon dramas but because I want to listen to the latest local news here in Iloilo and due to the fact that we don’t have radio at home. :P

  28. Paul says:

    tagal ko na din hinihintay AM tuner para sa Nokia, kasi pag brownout wala kaming means para malaman mga balita speacially kung may bagyo:) para din updated kami kung may pasok o wala..:)

  29. Rondon says:

    I’ve been looking for this feature for years and was wondering why ordinary mp3 players don’t have it too. I even wanted to look for that phone and AM to give as a gift for my Dad.

  30. juntar says:

    Hi… i’m inviting you to visit one of my profiles in friendster (http://profiles.friendster.com/hitechtabai)which also provide support to my sci-tech radio show “Hi-Tech ‘Ta Bai!”. I have a recent blogpost about radio tuner in cellphones.In the blog, i gave an overview, why mobile phones took a long time to sport an AM radio tuner.I have also made a review on the new SonyEricsson R300 and R306 radio cellphone.
    Many of us here in Cebu are now using the R300 or R306 from SE and update ourselves with latest news while mobiling without bringing an extra gadget(an AM monitor).

  31. ron says:

    gusto ko din ng phone na may am tuner.

  32. nikko says:

    i think the AM radio feature isn’t that expensive to add.

    i’ve also wondered before why there’s no AM radio for the mobile phones.

  33. mang_go says:

    ayus din may am radio para naman hindi na lang puro music ang cellphone at may mga balita rin.. hehe!

  34. Lope says:

    It would be nice if both AM and FM are available in the phone.Anyway don’t worry the day will come one day.Rest assured.

  35. Yup an AM radio in mobile phones will work for me! Actually I have to buy those cheap transistor radios just to be able to listen to the AM news while on the move.

  36. juntar says:

    Guys & Gals,

    The R300 & R306 are both equipped with an AM and FM tuner. It’s very handy and has loud speaker volume. Try it as we already tried it here in Cebu….

  37. havagut says:

    now that’s a great feature to have — to really keep us up-to-date with everything that’s going on. an AM radio tuner is definitely more useful than an FM radio, considering that almost all new mobile phones can be loaded with MP3s.

  38. Alex says:

    as a blogger, i need to be updated with current events to have something to write in my media blog. i bought a cheap radio transistor and always brings it with me when i’m on the go.

  39. Nick says:

    This’ been a mystery to me as well. :)

  40. bing says:

    I would prefer an AM tuner on my mobile phone. In this country especially in ILOILO, there are many listeners and even followers of programs that are aired in this frequency. The far- flung residents would opt to have their mobile phone equipped with such tuner. This is a better tool of information in times of calamity and disaster.

  41. ryan says:

    I hate FM stations…bunch of self absorbed DJs who thinks their voice could change the world. I don’t even watch regular and Cable TV (that are also biased). AM radio is the only way to go. Although most of their English sucks (at least in may area) they are at least sincere in telling what it really is..I’m already suspending my breakfasts to grab the R300i. :) Hala Bira Ilonggo!

  42. Andy says:

    i prefer to have both. Best of both worlds? why not. i had the same question too and i was glad i found the answer here. i hope mobile phone manufacturers will take heed to this call. INGATS!

  43. jong says:

    i’d love to have an AM tuner in my phone

  44. kath says:

    well i dont listen to am or fm actually coz i prefer listening to pure music and the mp3s on my walkman phone are enough. but actually, i do believe a lot of pinoys would want to have both am and fm on their phone especially our parents and grandparents and those who do listen to news when they cant be infornt of the tv.

  45. Jan says:

    Well, my iPhone doesnt have both. darn.

  46. Herb says:

    AM Radio for mobile phone… TWO THUMBS UP!

    for News, Weather & Traffic Info anytime anywhere.. AM function would serve more during power outages and disaster situation..

  47. Jarod says:

    I seldom use my FM tuner over the MP3 player. But an AM would surely come handy especially during the months of typhoon when electricity is out.

    AM=rich in information & entertainment
    FM=rich in only one aspect of entertainment.Music that is.

  48. hegu says:

    NOKIA, please manufacture an AM tuner mobile phone!!!!!

  49. Lance says:

    yeah, hope they would come up to one.. they could create hundreds of phone models, why can’t they create one that has an AM on it?

  50. Dr. Joseph Taylor says:

    I would love to have an AM tuner on my phone! I listen to talk radio here in the US all day long, and think FM is pointless. I like music to sound GOOD, not staticky with poor reception with commercials. With AM I could listen privately and not have to turn down the speakers when colleagues walk in. Would love to know of any phones with this feature! –Joey

  51. I agree with u but it has nothing to do with people.It has to do with marketing.The fact is ,is that am radio requires a different part made of iron which in its weight requires companies to pay more to put out the product.I think it shold be required for all mp3 players phones etc etc.There are many different features on am radio that fm radio does not have.Coast to Coast AM is the biggest late night talk show program and yet they dont try to make money off that.Put out a product with both and u have a massive market devolping the same thing.With devices so useless as the Iphone I cant imagine why they wouldnt included it…

  52. HARRYPOTTER says:

    Of course AM should be added on mobilephones.
    Besides some more new features can be added to bring variation like follows:

    1.Infrared Coil-Cigerate Lighter
    2.Ultra-violet Water Purifier(Extendable Glass Rod)
    3.Laser Ruler (Distensometer)
    4.Digital
    Barometer,
    Altimeter,
    Thermometer,
    Speedometer
    5.Ultrasonic Tuner(Insect Shield)
    6.Mini Projector
    7.Walkey-Talkey (Common Band)

  53. Bombo says:

    starting this year we required our managers to have Sony Ericsson R300i. our reporters were also given orders to use them for monitoring and reporting. great help to AM radio industry…

  54. jackie says:

    myphone has an am tuner!!!!!

    myphone is a local cellphone brand in the phils.!

  55. jules marcel says:

    I also wonder why is it that am radio is not always present to most of nokia and in an immense sense almost all cellphone brands. As we could see commuinication is in all forms-radio,writing, tv,internet,mouth or signs. Radio renders types of frequencies(am,fm,sw) to be heard. Engineering work is not always dictated by market demand but also by the basic neccesity of society. Let say, a great crisis may occur or difficult location becomes a problem, am radio penetrates. Both am and fm radio, if possble with sw too must be installed to all cellphones. Also,if one frequency is present as the case today(fm only) it gives way to narrow-mindedness because users especially the innocent ones may think radio is fm and am is backwardness. Radio in general is an on-going evolution of technology seperating us from stone-age and barbarism. If every frequency is present on such technology it will later improved faster based on the ups and downs of human experiences. To all companies,please act now!

    Jules Marcel
    Philippines

  56. Ian says:

    I wonder if the mobile phone industry designers bother to read these sort of fourms. If they did they would be tapping into a designers secret weapon. Yes it would be high on my list of must haves for a mobile phone, to have an AM tuner. As it has been said in a lot of previous comments AM is good for talk back programs and FM mostly just music content. Oh well we can only hope!!!!! Just keep Googleing AM&FM mobile phones.

  57. chris says:

    I’m using Cherry Mobile D30 with AM-FM radio

  58. Lito F. says:

    I had the same question myself. Why don’t these cellphone manufacturers include the AM in their phone features. This will come in handy in cases of travelling. I always want to be informed about the news that’s why i often listen to AM stations.

  59. Ferdinand A says:

    I dont want to choose. I need and I want both

  60. resy says:

    i want an r306. please help me find one. everyone says its out of stock/ phased out.

  61. Johnmar says:

    Yes, I prefer a mobile phone with both AM/FM tuner. I regularly listen to El Shaddai (DWXI) and Radio Veritas(DZRV) and these can only be heard at AM radio.

    • Narayanan says:

      Dear Johnmar,

      I recently bought an R300 phone but the box had only the charger and handset. No handsfree. So I used the standard original Sony Ericsson handsfree which I had with me. The FM in my phone works but when I try to turn to AM, it says AM switching failed. But I think the AM is working in your phone. Do you have any idea? Thanks.

  62. Harley says:

    i am a fan of your website and i added it as one of my favorites here in my laptop. i enjoy so much reading that at times, i can go on reading from 2pm until 9pm before my hubby gets home from school. it is very informative…hehe

    so back to the topic at hand. yes, i have been wondering why it that so. i have the same longing like you do on listening to news on AM stations. I have maximized the memory of my phone with videos and most special music upto 500 songs. So, most of the time when i buy a phone, i rarely use the FM tuner it has.

    Hoping that soon all phones have the AM stations as well!

    Good job for this website yugatech and more power to you! God bless!

  63. grashabelle says:

    yes Im a 30-something fellow who happens to be a part of a very large group of Filipinos pining for a handy digital tool that can aid to keep our ears to the ground. It sure is a better alternative to what most PUV’s and cabs (fx) alike blare on their speakers. Think “pangga and naka-love ka pa ba”.. and besides, there are a good number of radio programs there that have adopted a magazine-type of info delivery. definitely, it’s worth spending that aural time.

  64. careen says:

    me too. i badly need it for my work

  65. bruce_serdan says:

    R300 cell phone has a problem regarding the am station. when tuning in AM, there’s a message that pops out telling “switching failed”! what is the solution for this problem

  66. jose chico says:

    i would immediately purchase a cellphone with am and fm radio cos this features will be must needed like me who’s habit is to listen to a news and songs like in the mid 70’s and at present songs.i would rather wait for that time to come.

  67. ernie says:

    myphone’s B23 dual sim unit have both am and fm band. Don’t know why the Am band was not included on the latter models. the reason i bought the unit was because of the am radio.

  68. kapitan says:

    haaa…
    ive looking for a phrase in google “Cellphone AM Radio” and I got this. looks like im not really alone. dapat talagang nasa mga phone yun, especially the low end ones…

  69. Mark Cob says:

    I also want a cellphone with an AM radio. But I was told that AM circuits are more complicated and needs bigger space than FM, and that is the reason why they don’t put AM radio in the cellphones. I’m not sure if true or not. But just FYI, Q4 model of Cherry Mobile phone has an AM/FM radio.

  70. roberto says:

    i always thought the best phone will include these things;
    am radio for news incase of black out
    a flash light for emergency

    If u r living in a hurricane zone area ma-aapreciate mo ito.

  71. Vinay Kumar says:

    Along with FM Radio, Mobile Phone Companies should
    install the function of AM Radio in Mobile Phones.
    For keeping alive to AM Radio it is important. FM Radio is OK till some extent but there are many radio channel which broadcast on AM (On MW and as well as SW) Frequency.

    So along with FM, AM should be also in Mobile Phone for keeping alive to Radio in our modern world

  72. Emad says:

    I need an AM tuner in my mobile phone because in Egypt all the local FM stations are government controlled. I usually feel the need to listen to Radio Sawa on AM radio to listen to news, but I can’t.

  73. This website was… how do you say it? Relevant!

    ! Finally I’ve found something which helped me. Thanks!

  74. Josh says:

    I would love an AM radio in my phone, it would be much more useful than an FM radio.

  75. Raymz says:

    I would like my phone to have an AM tuner, since I need to listen to local news every morning and evening while walking. I am in philippines and a mobile with AM tuner would be a great help and more useful for me.

  76. Jp Smsn says:

    back in year 2008 i bought one of sony ericssons r306. it has an am radio but its am reciever/antenna is attached to its headset. i use it everyday to listen to news and anything. so after a year i broke the headset with its am reciever/antenna bacause i over use it. but the problem is no one o no store is selling a replacement headset for that cellphone model. so thats the end for my am radio cellphone. i just buy the latest model of am radio transistor in raon, quiapo quezon blvd. manila. thanks for this informative article

  77. Ronaldo Gonzales says:

    Am tuner is by far the most sought after transmission all over the Philippines, the news in vernacular will be much much more appreciated this way by those living in the barrios especially during in clement weather! Ericsson had them before R60I, the main reason why I bought that phone!

  78. Zairah Ann Borja says:

    I would like to listen to AM radio as well. I could get the news faster if it’s broadcasted over the radio. It’s sad that my phone only has FM. I’ve been trying to find apps that could do otherwise.

  79. jc says:

    I got here because I was looking for a phone with an fm and am radio tuner – it’s pretty basic and would be great to have since it doesnt require an internet or data connection for you to listen to music or news updates, wish more phones would have it!

  80. Arnel says:

    i think AM radio tuner will eat a lot of space unlike the FM that’s why they don’t put such a feature to smartphones.

  81. Emmanuel Gonzalez says:

    first of all, thanks for coming up with an article about this. I also had the same thought why not come up with an AM Radio feature. As an avid AM radio listener, it would be good for phones to have this feature as AM radios are vital in times of natural calamities and typhoons as they give updates and sometimes devote their airtime to give information on what’s happening. Not only that, it would be of great help and service for our commuters to tune in and get the latest news on the go.

  82. Paulo Larracas says:

    It is becauae the AM frequency uses more power and has an unstable connection most of the time but I need AM on my phone too

  83. TD says:

    Workaround is to use internet radio catering to several AM radio stations. But then, you need a faster internet access, say LTE to have a seamless listening experience.

  84. Joan says:

    I only listwn to am radio so better have a pphone capable with news

  85. Alvin says:

    I am doing research anywhere I can find on this question too. Anybody know the cost of adding the AM radio in the cellphone? Is it high cost, is that why they don’t want to put AM radio? Please keep us updated. Many thanks!

  86. Boy Barog says:

    Back in the day, I used to have SE R300 am radio attached on its headset, but it only lasted 1.5 years of use & after that, no one, even SE were selling am radio headset unfortunately. I guess there were some AM radio phones like cherry mobile entry level like SE 300 before. So far I am using data on my phone to stream those AM stations.Hopefully another phone company will cater this feature on their phone, like dataless listening something like that.

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