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World's first digital radio smartphone launches in the UK with Radioplayer

By James Cridland for media.info
Posted 29 April 2016, 7.08am edt

Radioplayer and O2
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O2, the mobile phone company, have launched the LG Stylus 2, claimed by the company as the world's first smartphone to support DAB+ radio.

On a monthly tariff, pricing starts at £19 per month (AUD$35, US$28). You can also buy it outright for £219.99 (AUD$420, US$320).

When I tested it in both London and Brisbane, this phone offered great reception of DAB+ Digital Radio. I noted that it delivered a near-flawless reception on bus journeys; however, some trains have a metalised coating which blocks DAB signals, making it not so good for some train commuters.

The installed Radioplayer app probably helps here. Looking identical to the currently-existing Radioplayer app for Android, it automatically switches listeners to DAB if there is a strong enough signal; and if the signal disappears, it switches to the internet stream once more. Here's a YouTube video showing the service-following working.

O2 has a market size of 20.9%, and is the second largest operator in the UK. Three, which wants to merge with O2, has a further 10% of the market.

The phone is called the LG Stylus DAB+ in Australia, where it also launched this week. The included app there, from Commercial Radio Australia, does no switching between IP and DAB, and instead enhances the slideshow experience on Australian DAB+ radio.

As a point of accuracy, this isn't the first mobile phone to support DAB; that was the Virgin Lobster in 2006. However, this is the first phone to support DAB+, and also it's hard to claim with a straight face that the Windows CE platform that the Virgin Lobster used was a 'smartphone'. But still.

The LG Stylus DAB+ is a much better name than the Stylus 2, in my humble opinion.

Disclosure: the author helps data-wrangle broadcast parameters for Radioplayer to achieve the switching between DAB and IP

Press release

O2 exclusively launches the LG Stylus 2, the world’s first smartphone with DAB, bringing truly mobile DAB/DAB+ radio to the UK

  • LG Stylus 2 - the world's first smartphone with a DAB/DAB+ tuner built in - now on sale on O2 Refresh, O2's groundbreaking Pay Monthly tariff
  • Built-in Radioplayer app seamlessly switches between DAB and Internet streaming to make sure listeners have the best radio listening experience
  • LG Stylus 2 features powerful processor, 5.7in screen and 8 megapixel camera - for just £24 per month with no upfront payment

O2 today announces that the absolute best way to listen to DAB radio on the go, the LG Stylus 2, is on sale now, exclusively from O2. The world’s first smartphone to feature a DAB/DAB+ tuner, the Stylus 2 makes listening to the hundreds of digital radio stations available in the UK easier than ever while on the move. To buy the LG Stylus 2 now, visit o2.co.uk/shop.

Available on O2's groundbreaking O2 Refresh Pay Monthly tariff for as little as £24 per month with no upfront payment, the LG Stylus 2 works with the built-in Radioplayer app to seamlessly connect to the UK's great range of radio stations through both DAB+ signal and Internet streaming, giving customers brilliant listening experiences, whatever signal they're connected to.

Heralding the launch, Ford Ennals, CEO, Digital Radio UK, said, "The UK’s radio broadcasters are delighted to see O2 and LG launch the Stylus 2, the world’s first smartphone with DAB. The LG Stylus 2’s built in DAB functionality represents a real breakthrough, enabling people for the first time to listen to all their favourite digital stations on their phone with robust and reliable reception on DAB while delivering battery life and data cost advantages to listeners. We are looking forward to working with O2 in the coming weeks to support the UK launch of the LG Stylus 2.”

The LG Stylus 2 comes with a brand new 'hybrid' version of Radioplayer, the Play Store's highest rated radio app, built-in. As well as allowing customers to stream hundreds of radio stations via the Internet, Radioplayer also uses LG Stylus 2's internal DAB+ tuner to connect directly to DAB+ broadcasts, using significantly less power than normal streaming. This means anyone with a DAB signal can access the best radio stations the UK has to offer without using up their data allowance or their battery.

"Across the industry we've been experimenting with hybrid radio for a couple of years and it's great to see LG and O2 bring it to the mass market," said Michael Hill, MD of UK Radioplayer Ltd. "We're very proud of our app and think O2 and LG customers will love being able to listen to the UK's best radio stations, whether that's via DAB/DAB+, Internet streaming or seamlessly switching between both."

O2 is selling the LG Stylus 2 on its range of groundbreaking O2 Refresh tariffs, meaning Stylus 2 customers can enjoy unprecedented control over both their listening habits and their monthly bills. Available on a range of tariffs offering between 500MB and 30GB data as well as up to unlimited minutes and texts, customers can choose to upgrade whenever they like by simply paying off what's left of their phone. And once they've paid off their phone, their bills will automatically drop - potentially saving up to £18 a month compared to traditional tariffs.

"We love bringing new technology to our customers and helping them get the most out of it, and we think our customers will love the LG Stylus 2 with its built in DAB tuner," said Magnus McDonald, Head of Devices for O2 in the UK. "And, with our O2 Refresh tariffs, customers will have as much control over their tariff as they do their radio consumption."

As well as being the world's first smartphone with a built in DAB/DAB+ tuner, the LG Stylus 2 features a 5.7-inch HD screen, a 3,000mAh removable battery and runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow. And with a 13 megapixel camera on the back and an 8 megapixel on the front, it'll capture some great photos which can then be stored on the 16GB internal memory or a removable memory card.

“We’re excited to be working with O2 to bring the LG Stylus 2 to the UK,” said Andy Coughlin, Head of Mobile – UK and Ireland at LG. “With its innovative built in DAB/DAB+ tuner, large 5.7-inch screen and 1 watt speaker, the LG Stylus 2 is the perfect device to enjoy rich, multimedia content, all accessible via the premium nano coated pen tip.”

LG Stylus 2 Key Specifications:

  • Display: 5.7-inch HD In-Cell Touch (1280 x 720)
  • Chipset: 1.2GHz Quad-Core
  • Camera: Rear 13MP / Front 8MP
  • Memory: 1.5GB LPDDR3 RAM / 16GB ROM / MicroSD
  • Battery: 3,000mAh (removable)
  • Operating System: Android 6.0 Marshmallow
  • Size: 155 x 79.6 x 7.4mm
  • Weight: 145g
  • Network: LTE / HSPA+ / GSM
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi 802.11 b, g, n / Bluetooth 4.1 / USB 2.0
  • Colours: Brown

LG Stylus is available now at o2.co.uk/shop or O2 stores nationwide.

More information

UK Radioplayer Ltd
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James Cridland — James is the Managing Director of media.info, and a radio futurologist: a consultant, writer and public speaker who concentrates on the effect that new platforms and technology are having on the radio business. His website is at james.cridland.net, where you can subscribe to his weekly newsletter.
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Comments

1 year, 4 months ago

It appears that availability at "O2 stores nationwide" may be a statement that is a little economical with the truth.

This morning I visited my local O2 store. They've never heard of the LG Stylus 2 and told me I was confused and thinking of the LG G4.

I then went to another O2 store who had heard of it, but told me it wouldn't be in stock for a long time.

When I got home I went on the O2 website to click and collect, only to find that in Hampshire, West Sussex, Surrey and Berkshire, every store I checked would not have any LG Stylus 2 phones in stock until Wednesday next week.

Shame that within the O2 stores I visited, knowledge about the phone is poor. For a launch network, even for a mid range phone, you'd expect the staff to know about the phone and when it would go on sale. What hope is there for the ordinary punter?

It's a bit naughty of O2 to proclaim I can buy the phone in store today... when I can't!

I've ordered one online for delivery tomorrow morning. I'm excited about this phone!

PRO1 year, 4 months ago

Would be great to know how you get on with it, Ash. It's a decent mid-range phone, and the DAB+ module is excellent.

1 year, 4 months ago

Reception could be better than FM. Due to the frequency, DAB antennas are half the size of FM, so that dangly wire antenna from your ear might work a bit better.

Nice that it switches between streaming and DAB - is that driven by RadioDNS do you know? I wonder what the listener experience is like with the different programme delays on stream and DAB?

PRO1 year, 4 months ago

Glyn - when it comes to delays, the video shows a significant wait before switching back to DAB+. I think this is a good compromise and ensures that any switch - which, as you say, won't be entirely seamless - isn't heard too often.

1 year, 4 months ago

Early impressions 48 hours after taking delivery of the phone, are that, for the price, it is not a bad phone at all. The DAB tuner seems to be good, but I haven't had the chance to put it through its paces yet.

1 year ago

The price of the LG has recently dropped and as my current phone contract expired brought one. Seems a good phone and DAB works well. To someone not familiar with radio the DAB+ app could give the impression all UK is now DAB+. The Radioplayer app works well with DAB, but is not preloaded.
There is only one user review on the O2 or Giffgaff sites. It was negative as the phone was mid range not because of the radio function. Being a mid range phone did not bother me as I know how to manage apps and memory use.

But notice a LG Stylus 2 plus version is to be released and it is not clear if it will remain a O2/Giffgaff exclusive, which must restrict potential sales. The new phone has better processor and more RAM to take on the Samsung Note, and probably more expensive, but the info on the web so far does not mention the radio function.

Will be a shame if LG drop the DAB radio function in the latest version.

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