Scientist, writer, audiophile and smartphone addict, Will Apse, loves explaining tech issues in a way that anyone can understand.
An FM transmitter is the simplest way to play all that music you carry around in your iPhone on a car radio. If you have Pandora or another internet radio service, it is a great way to get good quality sound on the move.
Plenty of people use these in their homes too, simply for the convenience.
Kinds of Device Available
- Some will charge your iPhone 4S via a cigarette lighter plug
- Some come with a mount to fix on a dash or window
- Some FM transmitters just push onto the bottom of the phone, They won't charge anything but they are neat and wire free.
- The most sophisticated products use Bluetooth to offer hands free calling and will play music from memory cards through your radio
- Some external battery backup devices include an FM transmitter
Things to be Aware Of
- Cheaper FM transmitters can suffer from interference especially in cities where the airways are crowded. The more powerful the transmitter, the less this will be an issue (a powerful transmitter also means you can keep your phone where you want, not jammed up against the radio).
- Mounts are not always as secure as you would like
- Some car lighter plugs just won't stay plugged in!
The devices on this page avoid these common problems.
This is probably the most popular Bluetooth FM Transmitter on the market right now. That is partly down to pricing but there is also a neat design that makes controlling the wide range of functions so easy.
Like the ever-popular Soundfly (see below), it plugs into the car lighter port. The advantage is the long flexible neck allows you to set the control interface in a place that is comfortable to use.
It works well as an MP3 player and there are controls to select songs and volume which you soon learn to locate without even looking. The built in microphone has automatic voice detection.
There is a USB port to charge other devices and also ports for 3.5 jacks.
GOgroove FlexSMART 4i compatible with many Apple Devices
The Fexsmart is a reliable FM transmitter for all kinds of devices including older iPhones and some iPods as well as the new i4s.
It offers a way to charge devices, mount them and tune to your car radio.
Like any device there are pluses and minuses. The mount, for example, can only be used if you remove your iPhone 4S from its case (if you use a case). It has a pretty short neck which makes it stable but limits how you can position it.
Despite this, it is one of the best options if you want to charge as you drive and the price is very reasonable at around forty dollars.
Satechi Wireless FM transmitter- push on to your i4S
For its size, the Satechi is a real powerhouse. There seem to be no issues with local radio stations overwhelming the transmitter and you can just keep it in a bag if you are not taking or making calls.
The transmitter pushes onto the bottom of the iPhone (or most iPods) and stays secure.
There are 2 pre-set radio frequencies available and you can switch easily at the touch of a button. You can also tune manually.
If you have never heard of Satechi, they are the makers of the well known Soundfly (see below) and have been producing reliable FM transmitters for a long while.
This is the model you need if you want to use an FM transmitter in your home.
SoundFly Bluetooth FM Transmitter
The Soundfly is the great granddaddy of all FM transmitters with a long track record that has earned it plenty of respect.
The latest design offers not just Bluetooth for hands free calls but also an MP3 payer. Just plug a card in at the side and it transmits in FM to your radio.There is a remote to select tracks and volume.
To speak to callers you can use the inbuilt DSP microphone. The callers voice comes over the radio and you can drive and speak without issue.