BMW has released an official snap-in adapter for most of it’s model range. Costing £60 (~$130) it allows the iPhone to remain on charge whilst also connecting it to the car’s external antenna for a stronger boosted signal.
UPDATE (14th July 2008) – There has now been a software update for all iPhones
taking them to iPhone 2.0 which seems to cause lots of problems with iDrive integration. Read more about that and other issues with iPhone 2.0 and iPhone 3G here: iPhone 2.0 and 3G break BMW iDrive address book synchronising
I picked up the cradle this morning, BMW part number 84-10-9-182-792 costing £59.99 in UK money which was the same price I paid for the Nokia 6230i snap-in I previously bought. Installation is…well I wouldn’t even call it installation, press down on the snap-in eject button, the old Nokia 6230i cradle pops out, snap-in the the new one…I’d say 10 seconds at most!
NOTE – it seems all UK spec cars have the snap in holder (eject box) as standard, those in the USA may have a money tray here instead, in which case you need to buy two other parts to replace the money tray and other users have reported a 30 min installation time for those, see this thread, but the extra parts needed are 84 21 6 946 075 [snap in adapter / Eject box] and 51 16 7 060 175 [Eject box frame]
First impressions are good, feels heavy, solid and robust, the pop up spring mechanism when you eject also feels sturdy yet smooth. You position the lower edge of the phone in the adapter and then press on the top edge of the screen to lower the phone down until it locks in place. There is a small plastic lip that then pops out to lock the top of the phone down. To remove the iPhone simply press the eject button and the top lip slides back and the phone lifts up at an angle for easy access. At first I had to press several times and with some force to get the eject mechanism to work but it’s much easier now once it’s been used a couple of times and things have “freed up”.
The snap-in charges the phone and connects it to the external antenna of the car. I’ve NEVER noticed any signal difference on any of the phones I’ve ever owned with BMW/Nokia car kits using external aerials but this is more likely due to strong signal everywhere I go. There aren’t any areas I can think of where i’d normally have little to no reception to test if there is any gain using the external antenna.
NOTE – the snap-in does nothing other than listed above [charge and aerial], it does NOT offer a hard-wired connection to the iDrive, the connection between phone and iDrive has been and always will be bluetooth. Several people have also wandered if this would allow you to access the iPod features on the iPhone through the stereo but it DOESNT.
I’ve taken far too many photos of the adapter, to see ALL the phone click here or click on the image above.