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3 Best Radio Apps to Listen to Local AM/FM Radio with or Without Using Data and Wi-Fi

According to Cisco, global mobile data traffic grew 74 percent in 2015, reaching 3.7 exabytes per month at the end of 2015. We use cellular and Wi-Fi connections to watch online videos, talk to our friends and family, read the news, and listen to radio. When combined, these activities can quickly eat up your monthly mobile data allocation. Fortunately, you can save many precious megabytes by listening to local AM and FM radio stations using your cell phone’s FM receiver.

Using Your Cell Phone’s FM Receiver

You may not know it, but your smartphone likely has an FM receiver. “The reason you can’t currently access this smartphone feature is because some wireless carriers are opting not to turn on the FM chip for U.S. customers,” explains Oregon Public Broadcasting.

Unfortunately, there’s no way for you as an individual customer to activate the FM receiver in your smartphone on your own. Instead, your wireless carrier must decide to activate FM chips on all devices on their network. Public broadcasting stations, such as Oregon Public Broadcasting, have been successfully advocating to bring FM reception to all carriers, but there’s still some work that needs to be done—and you can help. If you are a Verizon or Apple customer, pick up your smartphone and contact your carrier. Explain why it’s important for them to unlock the FM chip in all smartphones they sell. With enough people loudly banging on the companies’ front doors and voicing their disagreement with their baseless policies, the management is guaranteed to notice.

Those who already have a device with an unlocked FM chip can simply download and test our top 3 favorite radio app for Android. The first two require data to stream radio, but the last uses headphones as an antenna.

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  1. While most all unlocked Android phones come with FM terrestrial radio tech inside (e.g. my Honor 5X came w/a native app, simply called FM Radio), NO smartphone manufactured comes with AM radio tech. Even portable MP3 players come only with FM, if at all (e.g. my SanDisk Clip Jam).

    In order to listen to live MLB games that are broadcast locally on AM (even radio stations w/an online presence do not stream live local games), I bought a pocket-sized La Crosse NOAA/AM/FM Sport Radio with Flashlight.

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