iPhone 3G not charging with BMW factory kit

Interesting | July 14th, 2008 by 33

I am one of the "Apple junkie" that absolutely had to buy the new iPhone 3G the moment it came out. I did avoid the …

I am one of the "Apple junkie" that absolutely had to buy the new iPhone 3G the moment it came out. I did avoid the craziness on Friday, but Saturday I broke down and went to the Apple Store early in the morning. An hour later, I was the proud or not, owner of a black 3G iPhone. As I posted on Thursday, I was wondering about the new iPhone 3G and its compatibility with the BMW bluetooth or navigation system. 

Last year in June, we posted an extensive article on the first generation iPhone compability with a 2007 BMW 328xi. Unfortunately when I bought my new car, I decided to give up on the bluetooth option so I wasn't able to test it myself yet, but I will do so this week.

In the mean time, one of my friends let me play around with the iPhone and BMW factory integration kit. Most of the functions work fine, it will play and control the iPhone. So, the integration seems to be flawless, until you realize that your phone is NOT charging when using the A/C adapter. This has to be a deal breaker for a lot of people, especially those that were looking to upgrade their iPhone 2G which works perfect. 

At this point I am not sure if it's mostly a hardware related problem or just simply a software bug that can be corrected through an update, but we intend to follow up on this and see if any solutions will arise.

If you guys discover more bugs, please share them with the rest of us.

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33 responses to “iPhone 3G not charging with BMW factory kit”

  1. John says:

    It’s probably that the BMW connector charges via Firewire, while the 3G iPhone will only use the USB charging pins. BMW will need to come out with a new cable for the iPhone 3G.

    (It may be techically possible to construct an adapter, but I wouldn’t want to try that myself for obvious risks).

  2. Kevin says:

    – The BMW factory iPod kit uses a USB port.
    – The power in the dock connector is on the same pins, regardless of whether it’s USB or Firewire – all USB iPods can charge with the Firewire cable/adapter – they just can’t sync.
    – iPods have been USB-only (and working in BMWs) for quite some time.

    The only explanations I can think of:
    – Apple changed something on the 3G phone (perhaps a tighter tolerance for the expected charging voltage), but I’d be surprised since there are so many 3rd party ‘dock’ accessories that do charging with that connector.
    – This has nothing to do with the new iPhone – the user has a bad cable/connection/phone.

  3. bastula says:

    My iPhone 2G doesn’t charge with the cable either. Not sure why, but it never has. It’s probably the same reason that my iPod 4th gen doesn’t charge either and dies after a few weeks of driving with it in the car. I end up taking it back to my computer to recharge and all is fine.

  4. Kevin says:

    That sounds like a bad cable.

  5. Horatiu B. says:

    @Kevin: Good points! I don’t think Apple changed much inside the 3G iPhone and I tend to believe now also that it was just a faulty cable. I’m gonna look for some iPhone 3G specs and maybe we learn what Apple used inside.

  6. me says:

    firewire charging is not supported on iPhone 3G

  7. sidney W. says:

    My 3G is not charging with the factory cable either. It charges iPods, including the current iteration of Nano just fine, but there’s clearly something different that isn’t working with the 3G. When I plug it in, I get an alert box that says the accessory isn’t compatible, but I am able to access the contents via the dashboard interface. The only thing that’s not working is the charging. Hopefully it will be a simple fix; I’d hate to have to keep a separate charger in the car and swap it out. (The battery life on the 3G is pretty bad, so keeping it charged while in the car is going to be a necessity.)

  8. Felipe says:

    has anyone made any progress or found out the solution ?

  9. Adam says:

    Are there any adaptors out yet??? A female connector on one end and male connector on the other end, a sort of extender cable with the power converter on it would work great for my glovebox MOST iPod unit on my 2004 530i.

  10. Kevin says:

    Turns out there are different pins for charging for USB & Firewire, and Apple did not include Firewire charging on the iPhone 3G. Only solution is an adapter, or replacement adapter for the factory iPod kit, that provides the USB power (5V) instead of the Firewire power (12V).

    Technically doable, but no word on an official (or unofficial) adapter as far as I’ve seen.

  11. Dean says:

    @Kevin You’re not the same Kevin as above who completely dismissed the first guy who actually had the right answer and now are basically repeating what he said as the solution, are you? I hope not, that would be lame as hell. If you’re a different Kevin, I apologize for pointing this out.

  12. Kevin says:

    Yup. I’m the same Kevin, but with more information. Sorry to hear that owning up to being wrong and adding a bit more info is “lame as hell”.

  13. Dean says:

    Owning up is different than glibbly blowing somebody off with such arrogance and then just repeating what that person said later with no reference to them or the fact that they were right in the first place and you were wrong.
    It’s bad enough if you’re giving a ‘tude when you dismiss people who are trying to help, but to do it when you are completely uninformed doesn’t help anybody.

  14. Erik says:

    @Kevin “Um…no.”

  15. Kevin says:

    I provided information that I thought was accurate, and had been on every product up until the iPhone 3G. I was wrong (sorry if that wasn’t clear enough the first time).

    I later posted information that indeed, there were two different charging pins on the connector (added information regarding different voltages which wasn’t present in any of the previous comments) as well as mentioning that there had been no official announcements I was aware of regarding possible adapters, as I have been keeping an eye out for such after being surprised to learn the exact nature of the problem.

    All that said, perhaps next time I shouldn’t bother admitting a mistake, or adding information, or even acknowledging a previous post.

    Perhaps you might try assuming that posters aren’t being glib, or blowing people off, but are actually trying to help with the best information at hand before giving a ‘tude, yourself. I didn’t realize it was a ‘keeping score’ thing.

    How about you just chill?

  16. Kevin says:

    Also note that the reason I originally (incorrectly as it turned out) thought that it couldn’t be a FireWire/USB issue is that the factory integration kit actually uses a USB connector in the armrest. So it was quite surprising to learn that the USB connector in the BMW either isn’t really a USB port, or that the BMW adapter doesn’t pass along the 5V USB power from that port.

  17. Dean says:

    @Kevin: Yes, you clearly weren’t aware, announcement or not. John clearly was aware when, in the first first response to this post, he stated that the iPhone 3G only charges via the USB charging pins. So, we all agree that you didn’t know as much about this as John and that you jumped the gun in responding. The tude part, as I see it, is you starting off with your “Um…no.” That is called dismissing someone. So, if you weren’t being glib and blowing people off and your idea of “actually trying to help” is to give the “Um…no” to the correct response and follow it up with incorrect BS then I stand corrected. The funny thing about all of your helpfulness is that had you stayed out of this thread all together, the correct answer would have been given in the very first reply and not clouded with a bunch of crap, which you later had to retract. Holy shit, you’re right…that really was helpful afterall!!

    I’m completely chilled, thank you.

  18. Kevin says:

    @Dean: Sigh. Apparently the word ‘gracious’ isn’t in your vocabulary. Were I similarly petty, I’d probably list your factual inaccuracies and misspellings in this thread alone.

    On reflection, I admitted a mistake, and had I not made it, this thread would be cleaner and more helpful. I wonder if you can look at what you’ve added and say the same.

    I’m guessing not.

  19. Dean says:

    @Kevin: LOL, seriously, you couldn’t be threatening to list *MY* factual inacccuracies?!? Classic! Bring it on, kevin, I learned from the best. All I have to do is say “Um…no” and then list some shit that ain’t true and I’m covered. I’ll even throw some more spelling mistakes (again, classic) in for ya.

    Can I look back and say that I’ve added anything helpful? I most definitely can, but apparently it has been lost on you.

  20. Kevin says:

    @Dean: Really? I’d love to see how you think you’ve added to this thread in any way except to add petty accusatory comments. As it doesn’t give me a juvenile thrill to nitpick every sentence you type and interpret it in the most negative light possible, I’ll pass.

    If you can look back upon the comments you started today and actually say you think the thread is better for them, then we have a different definition of what’s valuable. I owned up to a mistake. You’re apparently more interested in trolling and flaming than anything constructive.

    I’ll let you have the last word now, as I’m guessing you’ll need it. And again I’ll predict it’ll be more of the same, because God forbid you could acknowledge having made anything remotely resembling poor judgement in your posts.

  21. Paul says:

    BMW is not alone, Mercedes has the same defective design. Three years ago Apple informed developers that the Firewire portion of the iPod 30 pin connector was being phased out and to stop using it. The 3G iPhone is the first of the iPod products to no longer accept power on pins 19/20 (+12vdc firewire) but instead uses pin 23 +5vdc USB. All of the automobile manufactures have had three years to redesign their products to be compliant with the Apple specification for the 30-pin iPod connector. Using the +12vdc saved them $2 in the price of the adapter, we expect more than that for these companies.

    It is a B.ll Sh.t line to state that it takes years to develop a car… Mercedes announced two weeks before the iPhone 3G, full integration with the Comand product for the 2009 Model year with a $400 USD kit available in August 2008.

  22. Baron Selman says:

    BMW has a revised iPhone/iPod USB/Audio Y cable that charges the iPhone. The revised cable was issued in August of 2007. Check with your local BMW dealer or do a Google search for the adapter.

  23. Noushy says:

    BMW did update this cable for the vehicles that have the USB port. This is true for my X5, which when they changed the cable adapter, charged both my old iphone and new iphone 3g. The built in setup in my M6 does not charge the new iphone 3g but did charge the old one fine. This is the sucky part of the deal, since there is not a simple adapter swap to fix the problem.

  24. bsd107 says:

    @Paul: “Mercedes announced two weeks before the iPhone 3G, full integration with the Comand product for the 2009 Model year with a $400 USD kit available in August 2008.”

    BMW needs to catch up here and offer a new, fully-functional Snap-In adapter for the Iphone 3G. The current Snap-In adapter for the iPhone supports using the roof antenna and charging, but rediculously does not support simultaneous use of 6FL (the iPod audio integration).

    This should be such a simple fix that it’s rediculous – hopefully with Mercedes jumping ahead BMW will finally address this…

  25. InfinitiGuy says:

    I had the same problem in my new Infiniti G37. I purchased the Kensington 4 in 1 charger for ipod and it works great! It has a passthru that allows me to connect the factory Infiniti cable and it plugs into my aux power port for charging. For me, my ipod cable and aux power port are under the armrest, so it is not obtrusive at all. I hope this helps. It may work for BMW too. Now, I can listen to my music and podcasts and charge my phone (which is the most important part!)

  26. Greg says:

    Hey – what is going on with that 3G iPhone info black box at the bottom of the article!? It says the screen is smaller and fits less icons!? And that the camera is now 3.5 megapixel? FM Radio? TV? Bluetooth file sharing?

    Where did they get this totally wrong information!?

  27. mjkrooker says:

    Looks like there’s an iPhone 3G Charge Converter coming out. Available from CableJive.com:


  28. David J Dean says:

    The solution appears to be here


  29. Ciprian says:

    They have the charging converters online (ebay) under “Griffin FireWire Charge Converter iphone”

    Just got mine for 25$ shipped and it works great.

    Im using with a chrysler ipod integration kit, it worked without the converter flawlessly, it just didnt charge. Found that to be a pain with such a great kit since i basically have the ipod interface on my nav so the 25$ was worth it.

    It plugs between the iphone bottom and car ipod plug (they are all identical just rearranged). Im sure if you wanted to get messy you could always cut the wire and rearrange the wires that have been changed, but in my case for 25$, destroying a 200$+ oem kit was not worth it. Im sure other car kits are even more expensive.

    Good luck guys, thanks again for the link above mjkrooker.

  30. Ciprian says:

    That scoche adapter in the apple store is hideous, looks like garbage.

    Search for “griffin iphone 3gs adapter”

    its a super slim adapter and works great, i have it in my car and its awesome.

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