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Samsung Drops Radio From Galaxy S4

Manufacturer says 100 million unit sales show it's addressing what consumers want

The Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone does not offer FM radio.

The device is now available for pre-order in the U.S. Samsung says carriers and retailers will announce pricing soon.

The NDTV Gadgets tech blog in India says previous phones had that feature, which is “widely used” in India according to another tech blog discussing the S4. Indeed, NAB and Emmis have said FM is a common feature in cellphones sold overseas.

The dropped feature is being noticed now. According to NDTV, Samsung explains why it dropped the FM chip on its Facebook page: “Our studies show a trend shift of interest to digital broadcasting, specifically — focus on listening to music content in social networks or on the channel YouTube.”

Samsung characterizes the unit as a flagship model, focused on customers who use digital content, using modern formats and channels of information consumption.

Carriers and retailers have sold 100 million in unit sales of Samsung’s Galaxy S smartphone line in less than three years, according to the manufacturer. “This validates that we are addressing what consumers want from a smartphone” says Samsung Telecommunications America President Dale Sohn in the announcement out today.

The unit is the first in the Galaxy line to enable consumers to control the phone with touch-less features like scrolling or turning a page. The S4 also has the new WatchOn that simplifies searching and recommends TV, movies and sports according to personal tastes, says the manufacturer.

The comments below the NDTV item are interesting, ranging from those who say they will miss the feature or await the S5 to purchase one, to others who won’t miss FM on their cellphone. One commenter, Pranjal, writes “FM is a necessity for travelling to and from office during traffic hours and removing that will mean Samsung forcing people to use their own songs.”

Meanwhile, NAB and Emmis continue radio’s efforts to persuade carriers to embed new FM chips in cellphones or activate those chips in units sold here. Indiana Rep. Todd Young wrote to CTIA President/CEO Steve Largent encouraging him to lead an industry effort to equip mobile devices with broadcast radio chips for emergency preparedness in light of devastating tornadoes in Indiana last spring. “It’s critically important to have ready access to emergency alerts and information before, during and after times of crisis,” he notes.

While a large number of U.S. mobile phones already have embedded FM chips, “only a handful” have enabled the FM feature, writes the House member, who says mobile broadband and radio can and should work together on the effort.