LG has announced the release of the first smartphone to feature integrated DAB+, allowing users to listen to radio at high output digital quality without impacting on data usage.
The LG Stylus 2, unveiled today at the Radiodays conference in Paris, will initially be made available to customers in the United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, Norway, Belgium, Italy and the Netherlands.
The impetus towards integration of DAB into smartphones has had many advocates in recent years, including from the former CEO of UK-based chip-design manufacturer Imagination Technologies, Sir Hossein Yassaie, who heralded – if prematurely – the advent of the integration back in 2013.
The possibility of integrated DAB technology in smartphones has been hailed as the potential saviour of DAB, which was intended to kill FM years ago, but has failed to do so, in part because its patchy coverage failed to impress in the key motoring market (certainly in the UK), and also because bitrates for stations on overcrowded DAB bands are often broadcast as low as 64kbps.
Theoretically DAB+ (which features better error correction than its predecessor DAB, supplanted in 2007) has a better chance in the smartphone arena than the motoring one, since more of the target audience is either fixed or moving through zones of varying reception quality far more slowly.
In 2008 the UK government released a report [PDF] recommending that FM be switched off sometime between 2017-2022. However UK culture minister Ed Vaizey mollified FM-lovers last year by indicating that the timing of the transition to DAB-only radio would be dependent on adequate take-up of the technology, and insisted that the government will be ‘led by the listener’ in this matter.
DAB quality varies enormously between the countries which will initially have access to the LG Stylus 2, and based on the figures available [PDF] from World Dab, LG seems to have cherry-picked the countries with the best DAB uptake for the launch of the device.
No technical specs or benchmarks have yet been made available for the Stylus 2, and it will be interesting to see how DAB listening impacts on power consumption.