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You can’t charge the iPhone 3G on (some) iPod Audio Systems

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The iPhone 3G has a few drawbacks when comparing it to the original iPhone – the biggest of which (for me anyway) is one that I just discovered tonight.

You can’t charge the device on an iPod Audio system. I have tried every one that I have in my house, including mStation, and others – and when you connect them, you get a message that says “charging is not supported with this accessory”.

This i only with the iPhone 3G, however. Original iPhones with the iPhone 2.0 software update still work just fine.

So what’s going on here? What is it inside the new iPhone that makes this an impossible thing to do? Any ideas?

UPDATE: As you can see in the comments the reason for this has been explained. Apple has abandoned Firewire as a method of charging iPods and iPhones starting with the iPhone 3G, and as a result any devices that used the Firewire method of charging will no longer work with the iPhone 3G.

So far I can confirm that the iPhone 3G will not charge on some mStation and XtremeMac devices – although it will work on the XtremeMac Luna. I will try to compile a list of compatible players in the near future.

It should also be noted that certain car chargers that work for the iPod will not work for the iPhone 3G either for the exact same reasons as the players. So be careful and do you research before you purchase a charger for your iPhone.

Kokou Adzo

Kokou Adzo

Kokou Adzo is a stalwart in the tech journalism community, has been chronicling the ever-evolving world of Apple products and innovations for over a decade. As a Senior Author at Apple Gazette, Kokou combines a deep passion for technology with an innate ability to translate complex tech jargon into relatable insights for everyday users.

97 thoughts on “You can’t charge the iPhone 3G on (some) iPod Audio Systems

  1. It seems there is a solution that will be available soon… not sure if it will work, but here’s an email response I got. $50 seems a little high…

    >We have been working on a device like this and now have this device
    >”available” for pre-order. See and go to the
    >”Standard accessory/iPhone charge converter” page.

  2. What a low integrity move by Apple. It would be bad enough if this was a software issue (say, breaking a file format) but to break backward compatibility with hardware is inexcusable in my humble opinion.

    It should not matter how much notice they give to 3rd parties. The fact is that there are products out there in the marketplace that Apple has a responsibility to continue supporting. I mean, think of all the products that work fine that will be thrown in the trash when people buy replacements – it’s not like this stuff is easy to recycle. It’s ironic that a company that prides itself on being green would act so poorly.

  3. This explains why:

    Apparently many USB charger units—you’ve probably got at least one that came free with a gizmo: I’ve got three—won’t work to charge the iPhone. That’s ’cause Apple’s lovely design engineers made the phone’s electronics look for the standard USB D+ and D- lines, which lots of USB chargers omit. Thanks to a simple hack, however, you can add these lines in by spoofing reference voltages instead. All it takes is a few resistors, some wire cutting and soldering, and the ability to have no fear that you’re precious iPhone is going to go up in an expensive puff of smoke.

  4. Rachel that defies electronics theory. It cannot charge an iphone 3g if it is 12v, or else you are going to fry your phone. Perhaps your multimeter is not accurate.

  5. Is it true that the iphone 3g only takes 250 charges and then has to be sent to apple to replace the battery?

  6. @Grayson

    No, that’s not true. Your battery is going to last you a good, long while if you get an iPhone 3G…more than 250 charges to be sure (if it was 250 charges it would last less than a year for most people, and Apple would be replacing the batteries for free because of the warranty).

  7. I’m having charging problems with the 3G also and the car charger for my iPod doesn’t work with it. I got over the car charging problem by buying one of those small plug in voltage converters for the car. For $20 buck, now I can charge the 3G in the car AND use it to charge my laptop while on the go. I still haven’t figured out how to get around the iPod accesorries not working with it though.

  8. I bought a Keningston 4 in 1 charger which has allowed me to charge and play my 3G iPhone with my car audio adapter for the ipod. Looks bulky, but at least it charges 🙂

  9. Let’s get it straight people. The “G” in the iPhone 3G does not refer to “3rd generation” for the hardware, it refers to its ability to use 3G networks. So if you have an older iPhone, you don’t have a 2G or 1G and if you are waiting for the next revision, you are not waiting for the 4G. If AT&T creates a new network called 4G by then, that is the only way you could be correct.

  10. I have owned the first gen. iphone for about 9 months. I just upgraded to the 3G. I was so disappointed to get the charging error message when I plugged the new phone into my 2009 Jaguar XF’s integrated iPod dock. My old iphone worked great with the system. I could access music straight from the vehicle’s display while charging the phone. Now the battery runs down quickly while listening to music and talk. On a long trip the G3 is useless. A converter adapter that would make the 3G charge while allowing all other connections to stay the same would be great!

  11. Another related issue I noticed is that when the iphone battery is completly depleted, some chargers will not charge it . The same charger will charge successfully when the battery is not completely depleted. Do others have similar issues?

  12. @Eytan

    You said: “The ability to navigate your iTunes library on the iPhone and have it displayed on say your car stereo is not currently supported and I doubt it will be for a while. ”

    I’m afraid that’s not true. My old Pioneer DEH-P6900IB does this – I can navigate through my music in exactly the same way as when an iPod is connected.

    The only missing feature is charging; although, if I’m only listening to music (rather than, say, using Google Maps with GPS) then I get plenty of battery life anyway.

  13. This really sounds like it warrants a class action lawsuit against apple. I mean, I would like to hear one actual reason that is a good enough one to warrant, in one fell swoop, making near every device created for the ipod family up until now obselete.

    Look, this was not something that was “writing on the wall” how can accesory manufacturers be expected to predict this move. I imagine that a lot of the ones that created products are pretty ppeved right now because a bunch of angry (and rightly so) customers are going to come knocking on their door blaming them.

    Seriously, this is not right. I have a stereo from less than 2 years ago that is designed to work with an ipod and now i can’t use it? It sounds to me like a lot of people have a lot more expensive and newer audio systems that are now useless.

    Apple claimed years ago that they were switching to the dock connector from a standard firewire so that you could get a slew of accessories and you would know they would work. They established a standard and now they have destroyed my confidence in their standard.

    I am really starting to wonder how much apple regards their customers because it is moves like this that really make me question if they do care about making a quality product or just craping something out to get a new revenue stream. Making money is one thing, but this is an immoral way to do it.

  14. A number of people have mentioned how Apple advised manufactuers that they were changing the charging system over 3 years ago?……HOWEVER…..

    It’s Ironic that the OFFICAL Apple Ipod Hifi doesn’t support Charging on the iPhone 3G…..when was it released??? November 2006? Surely if they wanted everyone else to adopt it, they would do the same themselves?……..obviously not.

  15. I have a new Range Rover TDV8 and a lotus elise sc both equiped for iphone at considerable cost and the iphone 3g wont charge on either car kit the iphone is good i even bought a Mac air laptop because the edge iphone 1st model was so good
    But, due to this charging issue i think ill just throw them all away and go back to my old PC blackberry set up , they can keep their Apple sh…t and stick it where

  16. Its fairly obvious that apple is not going to fix this

    The most likely company that would and could do something for this is Griffin (makers of the iTrip)

    May I suggest as many people as possible go to the following link:

    And post this (or words to the affect)

    Dear Sir or Madam,

    I am an iPhone 3G owner, I also own several older iPod accessories, such as home audio equipment and in car fittings. These items were very expensive and I do not wish to replace them. Unfortunately they will not charge the iPhone 3G as they provide 12V power on the firewire PIN and not 5V power on the USB pin.

    I am writing to ask that you consider building and releasing an adaptor that would fit in the universal iphone dock, use the firewire voltage with a transformer to provide power out on the USB pins while just passing through the other wired connections. This is a simple device that could be made by any electronics enthusiast just by canabalising a few products that Griffin makes, however for those of us with access, time or skill to build such a thing ourselfs I hope you will consider solving our problems.


  17. @Eytan

    That’s just not true. The iPhone 1g and 3g work great with car integrated audio systems. No problems with my Alpine, Nissan SAT iPod interface, or Infiniti G37. The 3g just doesn’t charge with ANY of my old accessories. Given that battery drain is a known problem for 3G technology, it’s irritating that Apple would decide to wait for this product to start limiting the charging options.

  18. If a product does show its charging your iPhone 3G, via a 3rd party USB device, is there a chance that its being overcharged? I know some accesssories don’t charge at all, but does it damage your iPhone having them plugged in?

  19. I am new to Ipods, though I bought a couple of pretty expensive amps a year ago with the intention of using an Ipod with them. They were specifically designed to use with Ipods, and work very well. I bought a nano and an older I-touch to play at some of my gigs. They worked just fine. After buying the newest I-touch, I have been majorly disappointed that one of the advantageous features of the I-touch being charged by the amp is not supported. How can Apple intentionally make these hardware changes without offering some kind of adapter to charge these newer products? Do they honestly think we should go out of our way and spend hundreds of more dollars just to update our gear? Because of the recent issues I have had, I am just going to return it and get my money back. What a waste! I am telling all my friends not to support such a company who is not looking in its best interest of its customers.

  20. RIO you said…
    “That’s ’cause Apple’s lovely design engineers made the phone’s electronics look for the standard USB D+ and D- lines, which lots of USB chargers omit. Thanks to a simple hack, however, you can add these lines in by spoofing reference voltages instead. All it takes is a few resistors, some wire cutting and soldering, and the ability to have no fear that you’re precious iPhone is going to go up in an expensive puff of smoke.”

    Where can I find the instructions for this hack? I would rather potentially ruin the my 2nd gen iPhone then buy a bunch of new shit from them. Fuck apple. If I ruin it I’ll just go back to my 2st gen which I am considering just doing anyway because the battery life is terrible on the 2nd gen and the AT&T 3G network is a fucking joke.

    So give me a link to that hack please!

  21. Guys, this is not right: I have a number of USB / 5V chargers NOT beiing able to charge the 3GS. These devices have nothing to do with 12V and DO supply 2-2.8V on the D+ and D- lead (as required by USB standards) so they should be able to do the trick. Eventough it won’t work, I’m really, really pissed about this: Screaming yr ass off about Microsoft abusing it’s power and pulling this shit yrself? Apple: shame on you, people shouldn’t except this. MacBook: Think not, sorry, not going to take the chance. Apple TV: Think not. MS not so bad after all.
    stupid, stupid people.

  22. hello their is a inline charger for this problem. i had one in my hand at the apple store but did’nt have enof money at the time. since then i have forgotten the name as to get one on line.

  23. Even Apple’s iPod HiFi is a victim of dropping support for Fireware charging. It’s one thing for Belkin, or any other third party accessory company to get blind-sided by Apple’s move, but for Apple’s OWN accessories to be affected is pretty terrible planning.


  24. the solution is sold at apple .com or an apple store it is called Scosche passport for $20 it connects to the firewire in you car and will charge all new generation ipods

  25. Great post. I feel the pain from Apple changes. Hopefully future changes won’t be like that. By the way there’s a great website for iPod and iPhone vehicle integration kits I think is worthy of mention. I purchased a kit (or module as they call them) from them that allows me to play, control and charge my iPhone from my factory car stereo. I absolutely love it and the sound quality is awesom!

  26. I have a 3G iPod Touch and have exactly the same problem as mentioned above. I spent 20 minutes at the “Genius” Bar last night and they just told me there was absolutely nothing wrong with the iPod and it must be my car… oh… and that would be my car, my husband’s car and friend’s car, I guess. This is totally pathetic, especially as I bought the charging device from the Apple store and specifically asked if there were any known problems at the time. I won’t be buying any further Apple junk.

  27. I’ve seen lots of posts on various sites about this now and nothing conclusive. 50% say the Scorsche (using this as an example as it seems to be the most commonly used, and sold by Apple) will work, 50% say not. It also seems to differ between cars which is even more annoying. I’m potentially buying a 2009 Jaguar XF and I know my iPhone 3GS does NOT charge in it at the moment. I need my phone to call and listen to music in the car so it’s a big thing if it doesn’t work. So now i’m not even listening to “Joe Bloggs” who says he got it to work on his Beemer because I bet you anything it still won’t work on the ’09 Jaguar XF. I called Jaguar and even they don’t know. All they do know is that the problem was fixed in the 2010 model.

    If there is anyone out there who has, or know anyone who as aa 2009 Jaguar XF with the Portable Audio Interface option, and can charge an iPhone 3GS with the Scorsche adaptor it would be greatly appreciated if you could post here.

    Many thanks.

  28. ok someone tell me if its vise versa can u charge an older model ipod like the ipod 3rd gen with an iphone charger

  29. Newer iPod and iPhone models use USB charging circuitry to charge their batteries. Older chargers provided power through the FireWire portion of the connector. Griffin to the rescue.

    Now, older dock connectors and charging devices can properly charge the newer iPod and iPhone models. Our Charge Converter clicks in between your device’s dock connector and your charger, and routes the charging circuits correctly. So your iPod can keep on doing what it does best.

  30. Hi, I have iphone 3gs 32gb and i bought new usb cd player for my car but it doesn’t work and i have same error message so why it doesn’t work?

  31. Just got my new iPhone 4. Thought I would be able to replace my iPod I’ve been using in my 09 Hyundai Sante Fe which has the cable to hook up the iPod to the stereo system. Guess what….the iPhone 4 doesn’t work with it. I guess I leave the old iPod in the car afterall.

  32. I will tell you why these chargers do not work with your new iPod, and this should make you really mad. I will explain the issues and offer some solutions.

    I have owned a lot of iPods, I just got a new 64GB Touch 3G only to find it would not charge with any of my docking stations, car chargers or wall chargers. Why?

    Apple decided they needed to make more money by selling you new chargers for your new iPods, so instead of leaving well enough alone they engineered a change in their newer iPods so they would NOT WORK with older chargers.

    First I will explain some basic facts about the methods used to charge an iPod. Typically, your iPod will connect to a USB or a Firewire connection to charge. There are some other dedicated chargers that connect directly to your iPod and they suffer the same ailments I describe here and also have similar fixes, though they are somewhat more complex.

    USB has one and only one voltage that it uses, that is 5 volts DC. Firewire has one and only one voltage that it uses, that is 12 volts DC. There is no difference in voltage between devices of the same type, period. So why is it your old USB charger worked on your old iPod, but wont work on the new iPod? After all 5 volts is 5 volts is 5 volts.

    USB Type A connectors (as used on iPods) have four contacts, the two outer contacts are the power, one side is ground (pin 4) and the other is 5 volts (pin 1). The two inner contacts (pins 2 & 3) are the send and receive data contacts for communications between devices, for instance your computer and your iPod.
    Apple engineered a new “feature” in their new iPods that looks for a signal on the data contacts (pins 2 & 3) before it will accept the device to charge the iPod. Older chargers had only two contacts in use, the outer ones to provide the power for the iPod. There was nothing connected to the data contacts because there was no reason to have anything connected to them, at least not until now. You new iPod will reject a charging device that does not have a signal on the data contacts (pins 2 & 3). This could be your computer communicating with it or simply a small voltage (2.5 volts) on EACH data contact. If it sees this signal it will accept the 5 volts on the power contacts and charge the iPod. If it sees the 5 volts, but does not see the signal on the data pins it will present a message to you informing you it will not work with that device. Bear in mind again, this is the same 5 volts that is on all the older chargers and it must see the 5 volts to even give you the message that it won’t use the device. There is no excuse for not using the 5 volts and simply charging itself.

    There can be no other explanation for why they engineered this change into the newer iPods other than they wanted to purposely make the old charging accessories obsolete so they can sell you new ones. As an electronics engineer for the last 37 years I can say this with absolute certainty. I can understand why the new iPods do not work with the Firewire devices, Apple probably did not want to support both 12 volts and 5 volts as it takes separate circuitry for each one, but to work with newer and to not work with the older USB devices is in my opinion, criminal.

    I would like to see a class action lawsuit against Apple for this greedy stunt.

    By the way, if you can get inside your old charging devices there is a fairly simple way to modify them to work with the newer iPods if you are somewhat handy with a soldering iron. I just modified an old automotive (cigarette lighter socket) charger using this technique and it works great with my new iPod Touch 3G. You will need four 47K ohm resistors (1/8 watt is large enough, but any wattage will work) and possibly a few inches or small gauge wire.

    Solder one end of each of two resistors to one of the two center contacts of the USB A connector inside your charger. If there is no room to place he resistors directly at the connector use a small piece of wire to connect the resistors and place them where there is room. Now take the other end of one of the resistors and connect it to the 5 volts outer contact and take the other end of the second resistor and connect it to the other outer (Ground) contact. Do the same thing using the other two resistors from the other of the two center contacts this time. What you have done with these resistors if split the 5 volts in half at the center point between each pair of resistors and connected it to one of the data contacts. The second pair of resistors does the same for the other data contact. This puts a 2.5 volt signal on both data contacts and the iPod will now allow itself to be charged with the device.

    I hope this helps. It is not that hard to make these alterations.

    Now go out and get mad at Apple for trying to rob you.

  33. Just found a handy little gizmo on ebay that converts the firewire power to USB power for the new gen ipods/phones, it sits between your docking station and iphone and the docking station now powers up the new gen stuff! about £20 (search for ‘griffin ipod converter’)


  34. Hi guys,

    I have and Double Din DVD (Pioneer AVH-3150dvd), conected with a composite (a/v) cable (griffin one) to my iphone. At first, the iphone charged, and trough the AV source, I could watch movies, and charge the iphone at the same time …
    Although, I don’t have a rear usb out, so, I bought a common usb cigarrete lighter 12v (for cars), and conected to the power sorce … so all the cables (RCA and USB) would be hidden …
    But now, the iphone wont charge !
    But, when I conect the SAME cable in the front USB jacket … IT CHARGES !!!! And in the charger, if I use the ORIGINAL cable, it would charge !!!!?!!?!?!?!?!?!?
    So … if I want to watch movies, I have to do it quickly !
    The most strange, is that at first … it worked …. when we were installing back … it stopped charging ….

    You guys have any experience in that ?

    Sorry for bother you guys with this question … but I’ve searched all the net .. and got no answers … or similar cases !!!

    Thanks in advance

    Gabriel Franceschi

  35. Yvonne is absolutely right. I have some more insight however.
    If you create your own connector and deliver the 2,5v to the data pins the Iphone 3GS will charge. If you then enable line out by pin 11 you get audio out at line out quality, BUT if you charge at the same time there is alot of hizz and noise. If you disable charging the lineout is clear as can be.

    So why is this? Probably because some apple employee designed the iphone 3GS with common ground between audio pins and USB ground (and every other ground pin except pin 11) creating a very noisy ground loop.

    If the 12v charging was still available I bet that could be used for charging without interfering with audio, but since 12v charging was cancelled you cannot charge and listen to audio without major interference from the groundloop, hence… noone produces docks that BOTH charges and sends audio for the iPhone 3GS.

    I really hate apple for this major misuse of monopoly. MS went to courtfor misuse of monopoly and was forced to remove messenger, make IE and WMP optional etc. but Apple gets to force iTunes, new chargers for new generation phones etc. without as much as a single article in a newspaper or lawsuits.

  36. hi. it has being so bad for apple on this battery issue of 3gs.mine is currently having the same problem, which it develop without notice, i wanted to charge with a car charger it come up with an error massage… charging not supported i have tried all i read from different site yet none has work. but my i phone will only charge when the battery is up to 70% what will i do about that.

  37. Hi!

    I recently updated my software for the first time on my iphone 3gs, and only now my docking station (yamaha tsx-120) won’t charge my iphone. Is there any solution?
    hope you can help!


  38. I have a 3G itouch. I have a Dynex car adapter. About the time Apple came up with the last update, 5.5.1 (9B206), final update door this model, I found that the Dynex adapter would no longer connect. I was using a number of different old phone adapters, non-Apple cables as well as the original cables without problems. After the update I could only charge through a PC with the Apple cable and only one of the old phone USB wall adapters.
    Also about the same time I did the update, without knowing, I tried to plug the cable into a broken USB port on a PC and probably reversed polarity. (Plastic tab broken off inside of PC port). So did I fry something or was it the update? Why will it still charge on a PC and the one adapter? On the adapter I do get the warning about compatibility but it still charges. Here is another twist. While waiting in the car for my daughter to get out of class ( and sponging wifi off the college), I was reading all these posts as the battery was slowly dying. I plugged Dynex into the car, and no charge as usual. So I got the idea to also plug in the Monster FM adapter into the car and into the audio out of the itouch. Now it’s charging as long as I don’t unplug the FM converter. Which is why I have enough time to write this lengthy and boring post.

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