iPhone 3G and BMW iDrive compatibility

With the immenent launch of Apple’s iPhone 3G a week today, I’ve been searching the internet high and low to find out whether or not it’s going to be compatible with and sync with BMW’s bluetooth and iDrive. I also need to know whether it will fit in the BMW snap-in adapter I have for the original iPhone or will I have to buy another cradle from BMW?

Once I get the new iPhone 3G on 11th July I’ll update this topic with the actual answers, but for now I shall just give my preditions:

My predictions:

  1. Bluetooth & iDrive: UPDATE – Be aware that several people have reported that the iPhone 3G does not sync the contacts with the iDrive, this is also the case for people who have updated their original iPhone to 2.0, including myself (more info here). The iPhone 3G doesn’t appear to have any hardware changes in relation to its bluetooth module and since the iPhone 3G and iPhone original will both be running iPhone software v2.0 next week, other than addition coding for the GPS module and 3G connections they should be identical. So I am predicting that the iPhone 3G will work with BMW’s bluetooth and iDrive, [Note: if you have an older vehicle that the original iPhone didn’t pair with don’t expect the iPhone 3G to suddenly work, I’m only referring to vehicles that pair and sync with the original iPhone]
  2. BMW snap-in adapter: Looking at the profile of the new iPhone 3G with its more sculptured and curved back, coupled with the fact that many case manufacturers are launching new cases for the iPhone 3G lead me to believe that the iPhone 3G will not fit in the BMW snap-in adapater for the original iPhone and that BMW will bring out a new cradle for the iPhone 3G in a few months. But then part of me thinks that the iPhone 3G uses the same screen, iPod port, etc, is the same height and width and that it may fit in the snap-in cradle for the original iPhone albeit it a little loose and wobble. My final thoughts…I predict the iPhone 3G will fit in the original BMW snap-in adapter but it won’t lock down into place fully but will charge and connect to the external antenna.

The actual facts:

  1. The iPhone 3G and original iPhones updated to iPhone 2.0 appear to not work properly with lots of manufacturers factory blueotooth kits. BMW, Mercedes, Jeep, Chrysler, Land Rover, and many more are all affected.
  2. The iPhone 3G *does* fit in the original BMW iPhone cradle….just! But it’s not a comfortable fit as the iPhone 3G is a few mm longer. Prolonged forced insertion into the cradle will badly scratch and damage the back and top edge of your iPhone 3G.

34 Replies to “iPhone 3G and BMW iDrive compatibility”

  1. We have just bought a new 2010 530 d and want to know how to connect the itouch to it. It doesn’t happen through the USB port provided in the car’s glove compartment. Does one need a special cable

    1. @Shefali somani – Reading this thread http://scoopz.me/4k makes me believe that the only option you have is to order the USB adapter (option 6FL) which on my 5 series would go in the glove box and replace the 6 CD changer but your best bet is to check with your local BMW dealer. Also check that there is no AUX input socket under the armrest.
      Scoopz (Admin)

  2. Hello,

    Nice site. My problem: the iPhone 3G doesn’t work properly with the iDrive of my 2007 BMW 535d. I have a Y cable connected to the USB aux input in de car. The connection isn’t steady even after a software update of the iDrive system. Tested several iPhone’s (3G and 3GS), also a brand new iPod Touch.

    Problems remains: after recognizing the iPhone as a USB device, the iPhone can be maneged in the iDrive system. But, after a while it stops. That is to say, music still playing, but no control in neither the iDrive system, nor the iPhone. Reconnecting, by putting the USB again in the socket and it works fine again, for a while.

    Quite frustrating. BMW dealer suggest to wait several months for the newest iDrive software update.

    Anyone any suggestions ?


    Ron Bloemenkamp

  3. All,

    I read thought the post on this blog and thought I’d add my experiance of pairing my iPhone 3G with BMW X5 (2005) (not iDrive). Following the instruction in the manual I was able to pair the two units… However, strangly it all decided to stop!

    I was able to make and receive calls via the automatic bluetooth pairing. I could never get the names to show on disply but that was the least of my agony. 4 weeks after the X5 disply still shows the name of my iPhone as paired but fails to pull any of the addresses or indeed send or receive calls! I must admit, I was completely oblivious to the world of incompatibilities between BMW and iPhone before this happened.

    I am puzzled as to how the thing worked fine and then just decided to stop. I tried to delete the profiles from both the X5 and the iphone …turn the wifi off… then pair the devices, which I get a successful message appearing on the disply. However, everytime I try to browse my address book I get NOTHING!

    Have I missed something?

  4. Hi All,
    I Phones do not work via Bluetooth connections in BMW X5 Models, software is incompatable. After a long roundabout between Most phone companies and software connection features, Samsung and Blackberry seem to suit. So their we have it, Technology that in itself speaks different languages, back to Sandscript then………!!!!!!!

  5. All,
    To have my car phone software upgraded to the latest version (Sep ’09) I have been quoted a whopping £486 +VAT. To replace the phone unit itself it was £850 + VAT. Oh and neither are guaranteed to fix the issue.

    I am at a loss as how I can get the iPhone working with my in car phone prep. Anyone have any ideas on how I can just get the f*cking thing to work would be most appreciated.


  6. Scoopz,
    Thanks for the info, but I have a mild form of OCD when it comes to things like this and it really gets on my t*ts when things just dont work. Even more gauling is the customer service in my local BMW showroom. I have written to BMW asking what they are going to do to fix my bluetooth issue. I will keep you all posted on what happens.


  7. @Rahim – I’d check with the dealer whether you bought an iPhone 2G cradle or an iPhone 3G cradle. I have the 2G cradle and although the 3G(and 3GS) *just* fit in, it’s a very tight fit and probably not too good for the phone.

    You are correct though, the cradle is nothing more than a very expensive charger. There is meant to be a connection to an external aerial to give a stronger signal but I’ve never noticed this. The cradle does NOT connect to the iDrive or stereo in any way it is simply charges the iPhone, I’ll repeat that again as many others seem confused by this, the BMW iPhone cradle is just a glorified iPhone charger.

    To enable your iPhone to connect to the iDrive/stereo to make and receive calls you still have to pair it via bluetooth. If your car didn’t have the bluetooth module installed from the factory then I’m afraid you’re out of luck and will need a 3rd party bluetooth kit installing.

    Also, please note that the iPhone cradle does not allow any function of the iPod part of the iPhone to work through the stereo.

    Scoopz (Admin)

  8. Hi
    I have BMW X5 (2005 Plate). I have bought from a BMW dealership an iPhone adapter for an iPhone 3G (not the S). Part Number 84 21 2 158 682. The part snapped into the armrest just fine. getting the phone in is not so seamless as it seems you have to uncomfortably force the phone in.

    Anyway the phone eventually goes in and charges fine. I get no bluetooth connectivity neither does the phone get picked up once snapped into the cradle.

    On the computer console in the car when I go to the telephone options on the screen it says “activate phone” and below that there is two options. “Emergency” and a telephone symbol. Neiher of which do anything. Essentially I have bought myself a rather expensive car charger for £59.99. Does anyone have any ideas how I can get this working.

    I have an iPhone 3G with firmware 3.1 (7C144)

    Thanks for your help in advance

  9. Hi, I am soon to pick up a 2006 BMW 730D. I am also looking to upgrade my current mobile phone, but want something that will be fully compatible with the idrive system. I am thinking about an iphone 3G, is this a wise choice?, I see from the above posts that there have been some compatabilty issues, will there be any software conflicts? Also, if I go for the iphone, can I use the internet connection on the phone through the idrive system? Alternatively are there any other phones I should consider that work well with the idrive system. Thanks for any views on this.

  10. I have just paired my new iPhone (v2.2) with my car (BMW 530d) and afterwards found that my sat nav failed, I lost all the radio stations and the iDrive became unstable.

    So I find myself this morning taking the car back to the dealer so they can re-load the entire software back onto the car, which BMW tell me can take up to 10 hours. The service people also pointed out that verson 2.1 and 2.2 can have problems where calls drop, your voice doesnt get relayed to the conversation going on……. aaargh!

    Everyone tells me that in June/July, Apple will release a major upgrade to the iPhone, so are we likely to see more problems ?

    Had I know this and the expense its causing I would have left the iPhone in a box at O2 (who have stuck there heads in the sand on this one) and gone back to my trusty old Blackberry.

    Come on Apple & BMW, please work together!

  11. I had my TCU replaced in my 2006 X5 and a new 3G with latest software works fine. BMW affirmed compatibility of TCU for the 3G

  12. Great site – thanks for the info.

    I just got a new 3G iPhone and was not able to connect via bluetooth to my 2005 BMW X5. Pretty disappointing in that my old trusty blackberry worked fine.

    iPhone just doesn’t seem to detect the BMW bluetooth (just spins…) Is it possible to get these two items to work together or is there an upgrade available?

    I’ve seen info that it does work and it doesn’t (so far for me it doesn’t). Any thoughts?

    Thanks very much.

  13. @John – Definitely one for the dealer to try and sort out. If you’ve got the iPod interface installed it should be compatilble with all iPod devices, it might not charge an iPhone, but it should certainly work as expected with a 120GB iPod.

    If you’re iPod works fine in the X5 but needs disconnecting/reconnecting each time in the 550i then you can rule out the iPod as being at fault. If you’re nano and iPhone work ok then you can rule out the cable and any connections along the way. It must come down to the software/iDrive version. Since both vehicles and iPods are pretty much new, I’d suggest calling the dealer and describing the situation to him, if necessary go down and demonstrate the problem to them. It might be a known issue that a quick iDrive update will fix.

    Finger’s crossed a software update is all that’s all it needs but if you have access to any other iPod devices (iPod touch, new nano, etc) see if you can experiment with them for a day or two, it would be interesting to know if it is *just* the 120GB version that your car doesn’t like.

    Scoopz (Admin)

  14. I have a 2008 550i (mine) and and 2008 X5 (wife). I just got two new 120 Gig iPods for each car. The iPod in her car works great. I have not seen any issues with it. In my car however, everytime I stop the car and restart, I have to unhook the iPod and plug it back in before it will be recognized again. I have a first generation nano and an iPhone (I know, too many iPod devices), and both of them seem to work fine. When I start the car, the playlist picks up where I left off. But for the new 120 Gb, no such luck. Has anyone run into a similar issue?



  15. @Peter – When you say your voice fades away, do you mean it you get muted and the third party can’t hear you for a few seconds then you get un-muted and conversation is back to normal? Or do you mean the third party reports that you’ve gone very quiet but still audible?

    I had a similar problem very early on with the original iPhone where I would answer a call and start a conversation then about 20 seconds the third party couldn’t hear me but I could still hear them asking repeatedly if I was still there. I eventually found that turning my wi-fi off prior to getting in the car fixed this but I believe iPhone update 2.01 fixed that for me and I no longer needed to turn off wifi to keep a good connection. Since you are running v2.2 and have a new 2008 X5 I really don’t know what it could be.

    There have been issues with bad echoes with X5’s and the iPhone but this could be resolved fiddling with the iPhone bluetooth volume and iDrive volume turning one up and one down or vice versa, I forget now.

    Try again with a Nokia just to reassure yourself that it’s not a faulty microphone in the X5, and then I’d head to your BMW dealer and demonstrate the problem to the Service Manager showing how a Nokia doesn’t fade you out but the iPhone does. I believe the iPhone 3G is now on BMW’s compatibility list so they should be able to offer some help, be it a software update for the iDrive or a replacement B/T module in the car. If you have access to another iPhone does that behave in the same way, if not then your iPhone may be to blame.

    Good luck and keep me posted.

    Scoopz (Admin)

  16. Hi Scoopz!

    I have a 08 X5 and iphone 3G with 2.2 software.
    Everything works fine except the hands free voice quality. During the conversations my voice fades away for seconds and that makes impossible to communicate.
    With the old iphone or almost any Nokia, voice quality is just perfect, so it’s not the car I think!
    Do you have any idea what is the solution for this?


  17. Hello!

    I’m from Portugal and I own one 5 series from February 2008 with ipod connector that works fine with idrive.

    I just bought one Iphone 3G and the bluetooth connection works great, no problem with all number, making calls or with contacts.

    But the Ipod of my Iphone doesn’t work! Is there anything that I can do? Is there any cable that I can buy?

    Great site!

  18. 2.1 is out today! wonder how that one will work. I skilled 2.02 and my 2.01 worked okay, although intermittent phone book entries missing. has anyone tried 2.1 with BMW idrive?

  19. Scoopz

    Have read in one of your comments on your blog (or Apple or BMW) that there is a list of specific problems that mean BMW will upgrade the iDrive software. I have an intermittent “iDrive restarting” problem that I would like fixed – is this what you had?

    I have a 2005 535d Sport, so the version is probably quite old and it is about to go out of warranty.


  20. Hi!

    Just got my iPhone 3G yesterday and put it in the iPhone cradle in my BMW 530d Sport and address book sync’d fine and all works hands free through iDrive. Very happy!

    iPhone software supplied at 2.0.1, I updated to 2.0.2 (5C1) on first connection to iTunes. Car was first registered in Sept 07.


  21. Hi,
    I’m using my iPhone with the Line in (Aux) in my new 318d. Everything works fine. I have the snap-in, but this covers the headphone jack and so I can’t listen to my podcasts while charging. Did anyone already worked on the snap-in to “free” the headphone jack? Thanks for any tipps or photos.

  22. Is anyone else having problems with the idrive seeing the ipod directory? I have updated to 2.0.2 and all of a sudden it doesnt see any songs!

    Everything else seems to work.

  23. Hi Scoopz,

    Yes, it’s the USB Interface I’ve bought. BMW only gave this option when I asked to be able to hook an iPod into the i-Drive.

    Hopefully the new 3G iPhone will work with the new car (all the functions).

    Reasons for parting with the M5; rapid depreciation and higher running costs (did find it hard to get the car underwritten for a reasonable price though).

    With the new engines in the 3-Series and i-Drive up-dates from Sept, it certainly looks a good motor.

  24. @Keith,

    Most of the reports show the 2008 BMW’s are working OK with iPhone 3G so I would hope that you’re brand new undelivered one would be the same but don’t get the current BMW iPhone cradle, you’ll struggle to get the 3G in it!

    USB connection…is that the “generic” USB connection allowing any thumb-drive to be used to play music or the dedicated iPod interface cable that replaces the CD-changer?

    If it’s the iPod interface cable then yes, you will be able to access your songs on the iPhone 3G via the iDrive and it will not affect the bluetooth connection for the phone features (assuming that’s working in the first place). I’ve seen a few reports of iPhone 3G’s not charging off the BMW iPod interface cable but they’re few and far between.

    If you’ve opted for the USB interface, I’m going to hold my hands up and say “I Don’t know” about the iPhone (or indeed any iPod) working with that, I thought it was more for generic USB flash drives, HDDs with MP3’s on and other non-Apple MP3 players that have a”disk mode”.

    I’m not sure where the CD changer is on the new 3-coupes but if it’s the same as your M5 it’ll be in the glove-box, so if you’ve gone for the iPod interface cable you’ll have to connect your iPhone 3G up in the glovebox each journey. Personally I’d scour ebay for a nice big 80GB+ old school iPod which has a battery that no longer holds any charge, you’ll pick one up dirt cheap and battery issues won’t matter as it’ll be getting power from the car. Just load up all your songs and leave it in the glovebox.

    Scoopz (Admin)

    PS – M5 to 3series coupe? Dare I ask why? Although a chipped 335D did give my M5 a run for its money recently at an organised event (Fighting Torque) and was probably returning 4x the mpg of the M5! 🙂

  25. Hi Scoopz,

    Just ordered a new 3-series coupe (58) and I wanted to ensure I can get a Bluetooth connection with a phone working (My Nokia N73 didn’t work with my M5 06). I see above that there are issues with the iPhone 3G working in BMW’s. Do you think this issue will be resolved with the new cars. Although I’ve gone for the USB Connection, do you think I’d be able to connect the iPhone 3G in and get both contact details / phone numbers as well as the tunes into the i-Drive?

  26. @Sam:

    Thanks for your question, sorry you struggled to find my email address, it’s actually not on the blog at the moment so don’t worry you weren’t looking in the wrong place. Until I get round to creating a “Contact Me” page, I tend to not just put the email address on in plain text form as email harvesters tend to pick it up.

    Back to the iPhone – BMW Connected drive? that’s a new phrase to me, is that different to BMW Assist and BMW Online? I had a 6 month trial of BMW Assist, whereby I could contact a BMW representative and ask for the nearest hotel etc and they could pull my current position from the car and then send any hotel they find to the car’s Sat Nav system, very nice feature but I would use it enough to justify the annual fee. When you say you used Google Maps to find the hotel and then “sent” it to the car via BMW assist, how exactly did you do that and was this via Google Maps on the iPhone or computer?

    I’m not expecting a 3G snap-in adapter from BMW anytime soon, not this year anyway! The 3G does fit in the original cradle but it’s not a nice fit and will damage/scratch the 3G iPhone so I’d suggest not even trying.

    You’ll not be able to use the Y-adapter and USB adapter at the same time as the iPhone cradle when it’s released unless BMW make some drastic design changes. Once the current iPhone is in its cradle there’s no access to any of the ports top (headphone) or bottom (iPod interface), the snap-in adapter is used for charging (and antenna purposes so they say). Several people on BMW forums have said they’re going to try and modify the cradle to allow for connection to the iDrive to play music, etc using the Y cable or iPod interface cable but nobody seems to have managed this yet. My suggestion would be to buy an old iPod off eBay that’s going cheap because it doesn’t retain any charge and fill that with all your music and leave it in the car on charge for all your music.

    Scoopz (Admin)

  27. Hi Scoopz

    Best site by far on BMw and iPhone – so thank you very much. I could not find your email to ask a quick question that you might have the answer for already. I have just got my BMW X5 (new model) and it has BMW connected drive. I tried to use the BMW connected drive maps and they are frankly pointless. Entering SL6 9As gives me three inaccurate locations near my home but non is right which does not give me great faith in getting accurate directions.

    So I tried using Google Maps, picking the location of the hotel I was going to and clicked “send” to have it go to the car via BMW assit. My question is why is BMW not using Google Maps inside of BMW connected drive?


    P.S Have the 3G iphone and also waiting for the new cradle. Not sure how the Y cable connected to the iphone will work with the cradle. i.e I use the Y cable and the USB adaptor from BMW. I suppose will have to try the new cradle when it comes out along with possible firmware upgrade.

  28. I just bought the cradle and tested the iPhone 3G 8gb black. I think it fitted ok and it started charging.

    I still use the old iPhone due to Bluetooth issues.


  29. @Eric (just realised you’re probably the same Eric from another forum were we’re discussing this, oh well to help others out who stumble upon this post, you get the same answer on both)
    I wish I had one! The launch in the UK didn’t go quite as well as it should have done. The stores near me each only had around 20-30 in stock on launch day . I’m after a white one too, but the only place selling white ones in the UK are the Apple stores but they are for new customers only, upgrades have to be done through the network operator (O2 / Carphone Warehouse) who have never had a white one.

    At present I’m playing a waiting game. I’m normally very impatient and would have convinced myself to settle for a black one but since I’ve still got my old iPhone I’m trying to teach myself to wait

    I think the easiest way for me to find out is to take my snap-in adapter into town with me next time and try with one of the demo handsets, if I can find one without an annoying security tag stuck to the back.

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