Why don’t more Android devices have built-in FM transmitters?

If you’re like the average Android user, you probably listen to music on your phone. Whether it’s through the phone speaker, headphones or plugged into your car or home speakers, music is a big part of any Android device. There’s even dedicated music players such as the Samsung Galaxy Player and Archos 32 and 43. However one option that seems to be missing from every single Android device is an FM transmitter.

 

 

Sure, the FM radio is built into a lot of phone chipsets and enabled with an app, most of the time included on the phone. But what if you want to stream music straight to your phone to your car stereo. The usual options are always there: Use an AUX cable or cassette tape adapter, use an external bluetooth or FM Transmitter, but there’s always extra hardware to buy. So why don’t Android devices (or most phones for that matter) include a built-in FM transmitter?

 

From memory and a little bit of research, I was only able to find a handful of devices that actually include an FM transmitter built into the hardware:

If there are any other devices out there, feel free to let us know.

 

Now obviously for a device to function as an FM transmitter it must have the proper internal hardware. I’m no expert on chipsets nor app development, so I’m not sure if it’s possible for a device with an FM receiver to be reversed and function the other way around. If it’s a matter of hardware, then the major chip makers out there like Texas Instruments, Samsung and Qualcomm just don’t see the need or demand for it. Perhaps it’s just me, but I think it would be a low-cost feature that users could really benefit from. Kind of like a built into a TV remote, but that’s a whole other subject. What about you? Would you be more likely to buy an Android device if you knew you could easily stream music to any radio with a built-in FM transmitter?


Ben is the owner/editor of The Android Site, as well as the main writer. He has been writing about Android related news since 2009 and obsessed with everything Google and Android related. You can find him on Reddit, Twitter, Google Plus and most other websites under the username benmarvin

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  • NWBlueMan

    I think it would make more sense for the mobile industry to encourage car radio manufacturers and, indeed, car manufacturers themselves to include bluetooth in more of their sets.  It won’t add much to the cost of a car or an aftermarket stereo, I’m sure.

    • Cakline

      Makes more sense for a 700 dollar phone to adapt than a 30 thousand + dollar car to adapt.

  • Juan Camilo

    I would definitely consider an fm transmitter as a plus!!!

  • InsertNameHere

    Although a good idea I’ve also thought of, what about the battery drain? I don’t know how much it takes to transmit in FM, but would a car charger be able to stay ahead, or at least keep up with the FM transmitter plus all the other radios like cell, 3/4g, bluetooth, and/or gps running all at once?

    • cipper

      on my N900 the power consumption with FM-transmitter enabled is really low, you can play many hours of music with a single charge

  • http://blog.trollgod.org.uk/ Ghworg

    Power levels and frequencies that devices are allowed to use varies by country.  Manufacturers probably don’t want the hassle of having another thing to configure differently for dozens of countries.

  • 808phone addict

    I was just thinking this yesterday…broke down and bought me a belkin fm transmitter, but there’s always so many wires now with that one and the charger to charge my phone! Would be a very good thing to have in the next gen of phones!

  • http://twitter.com/unwiredmedic Christopher Matthews

    I think not so much. I actually pulled the stereo from my truck, and wired a line-in cable from my dash to my amps, so I can feed music from my Android right into a better stereo system. FM transmitters are too limited on audio spectrum and quality. Bluetooth isn’t all that hot either.

  • Anonymous

    Actually most chipsets already include FM transmit capabilities, it’s just that phone manufacturers don’t attach proper antennas to the transmitter.
    It’s even possible to access the transmitter with root access and a custom kernel, but the lack of an antenna makes it useless.

  • http://accessandroid.com Jason

    I think personally the car manufacturers have a portion of the blame, Bluetooth is not new tech and should be implemented on a pretty regular basis at this point, but yet the car companies continue to hold off on it because of the extra income in other places.

  • Yahyaheee

    I agree its fucking bullshit, there is no reason to not have this feature; although I suspect the government may not want that many phones broadcasting over FM waves

  • Al Khatib Maen

    Samsung Wave 3, very cheap phone compared to galaxy s2 or Xperia, but there is no whatsapp for it and limited apps in the store cause its running BADA operating system, not android :s 

    till now i cant find a phone with everything 

  • Patrick Colvin

    My (non-Android Unix-based) Nokia N900 phone has an FM transmitter and the software to use it is available free of charge. It’s one of the features I really like and appreciate on the phone, even though it is outdated in some other ways. Makes it very convenient to listen to MP3s while driving, as I did this very morning. I really don’t understand why the Android phone makers haven’t clued in on this.

  • Paul

    It’s crazy – 1 year i’m waiting (looking) for that device (android + fm transmitter). It’s not complicate. I’ve got a Nokia (I want change) with fm transmitter built in that i use quite offen. It works very well !!! ANY manufacturer wants to do one. Every android phones are same today. No one wants have this option and sell more devices?

    • toni977k

      samsung galaxy win has it, an fm transmitter. also galaxy fame.

  • Pavel Pěnkava

    I absolutely agree – until now I always relied on Nokia with built-in FM transmitter, but now when Symbian is dead and Microsoft owns Nokia, I started to look for an Android device with built-in FM transmitter. Unfortunately it looks like there is no such phone :(

  • smarty

    The Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 I own has a Broadcom BCM4330 chipset for its wireless connectivity. This is what I find on Broadcoms website: The Broadcom BCM4330 is a third generation combo chip device that provides the highest level of integration for a mobile or handheld wireless system, and includes IEEE 802.11 a/b/g and single-stream 802.11n (media access controller (MAC)/baseband/radio), Bluetooth 4.0 + HS and FM radio receive and transmit functionality.
    I have never found anything on the internet to enable any of that FM radio receive or transmit functionality at all! Why not include these extra features to create a better, more useful product when it doesn’t have to cost much more than probably mounting an extra antenna or 2.

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