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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. I didn’t upgrade to iPhone 3G, but my only guess is that Apple would like you to buy extra accessories for charging iPhone 3G. Maybe a charging converter from iPod audio systems to iPhone 3G?

  2. Michael,

    I have been having exactly the same problem as you. I have a set-up in my car that has worked for the iPod mini and the iPod Touch, but it does not charge the iPhone 3G. Same problem and error message that you received when you tried to connect to your existing audio devices. This is a problem that Apple will need to address quickly. I would be interested in seeing how many others have this problem.

    Thanks for any updates.

    Alan from Pittsburgh, PA

  3. I just started this new thread on the Apple Discussion Forum:
    https://discussions.apple.com/thread.jspa?threadID=1597845&stqc=true

    Michael and others: you might want to add to this post on the discussion forum as this looks like it could b a major problem. Thanks for the inspiration and corroboration of this problem. I hope others will let us know if they are also having this problem. Thanks again!

    Here’s the text of the new thread I just posted in the Apple Discussion Forum:

    New Thread! Subject: You can’t charge the iPhone 3G on iPod Audio Systems
    Posted: Jul 12, 2008 2:29 AM

    First I want to say that my experience purchasing an iPhone at an Apple Store in Pittsburgh, PA was excellent. All has gone well, except for the following problem:

    I tried to connect my new 3G iPhone to my car audio system just as I did with my previous iPod Touch and, before that, my iPod mini. I was surprised that I got a message that my new iPhone was not compatible with the charging system. I thought it was something strange I might have been doing, until I saw this post on Apple Gazette:
    https://www.applegazette.com/iphone/you-cant-charge-the-iphone-3g-on-ipod-audio-systems/#comment-83490

    I have this exact same problem. Cannot charge on previous iPod charging systems! Apple or someone else, please help. This is an extremely odd connection problem We’ll likely need some help from Apple on this one.

    Any suggestions are appreciated!

    Alan

    iPhone 3G Mac OS X (10.5.4)

  4. Yeah, I’m not too happy about this either. I have a car integration system and was excited about the prospect of streaming Pandora while driving, however the 3G states that it won’t charge. This is a huge disappointment as I don’t plan on purchasing a new car integration system just for the new iPhone. At this point even having the option of getting some sort of power adapter that would allow me to charge the 3G iPhone while playing it through the car integration system would be fine by me.

  5. I’ve heard a rumor that the iPhone 3G doesn’t support FireWire charging — it sounds like your device might be using the FireWire power pins instead of the USB power pins (they are not only separate, but different voltages).

  6. A lot of people are not going to be happy about that. Hopefully that can be fixed with a firmware revision and that it’s not hardware thing.

  7. OK. hold up. This happens on the older iPhones too. (Not having a 3G [or wanting one] I could be wrong)

    The message indicates that there may be audio interference. Not that the charging doesn’t work…

    The charging works (at least on previous versions of the iPhone), it’s just giving you the chance to disable the phone so that the phone electronics don’t cause audio interference while you’re playing your tunes.

    If you don’t click anything, it leave the phone on (non-“airplane mode”), and it’s the same thing as tapping “No”

    Try clicking No and then checking the battery icon to see if it’s charging.

  8. Although I love Apple stuff, and it’s all I use,I am disgusted by their methods. They know they have great products so they rip the customers-off. For this reason I’ve decided to not purchase the 3G and wait another year for the 4G. For me it isn’t worth it. I have 10 gizmos all over the house (chargers, speaker systems etc etc etc) that the 3G won’t work with, and I certainly won’t purchase all of them again. I think this is scandalous.

  9. The iPod connector has two sets of power lines – one for USB and one for Firewire.
    Years ago, Apple decided to only support synchronization via USB for iPods.
    But it continued charging via Firewire.
    However, Firewire charges are no longer made, since USB is the present and future power source for the iPod.
    Apple decided to completely remove support for Firewire charging on the iPhone 3G.
    Accessory Companies should have seen this coming and also avoid using the firewire lines to charge iPods, instead using the USB power lines.
    But not everyone followed this, they could not see the handwriting on the wall.
    Thus, certain accessories will not charge the iPhone 3G. NOT all of them, as this article implies, are incompatible with the iPhone 3G when it comes to charging. Only those, whose designers, stupidly used the firewire charging lines will not charge the iPhone 3G.

    If anything, these companies who made this mistake should make a firewire-USB adapter in order to allow the iPhone 3G to work without having to purchase a whole new accessory. They can build this into the small iPod specific wells that are placed around the iPod connector.

    It is an example of Apple moving forward and abandoning archaic ways of doing things.
    it is too bad those accessory makers caught with incompatible hardware made bad decisions.

    USB charging is the future of the iPod and iPhone – and largely its present.
    Apple is right to do this in that Firewire charging is not usually present on Windows PCs anyway, but USB is standard on both Macs and PCs.

    I wouldn’t sweat the small stuff such as this. I would get a new adapter.

  10. It sounds like a hardware thing to me, unless apple left the charging ability in and merely switched it off.

    The problem is firewire is 12v, USB is 5v. Cars are also 12v.. so the in-car devices stick to the firewire charging lines.

    An adapter would be an ugly thing with a voltage regulator and heatsink – even if it’s that easy.. the protocol clearly has some kind of detection of the device type in it that’s throwing this error in the first place – maybe because these devices aren’t identifying themselves as iphone 3g compatible it’s disabling charging anyway regardless of the voltage?

  11. This just made me not want to get the apple 3G until they fix it. I have the apple iphone 1st generation and i love my bose system and all but now because it wont work. Don’t expect me to get an apple iphone. If they going to pull this shady sh*t. I don’t expect to buy anything from apple ever again.

  12. It doesn’t even charge with the old, white Apple boom box kind of speaker with a dock on top. 🙁 A shame, since its sound is excellent.

  13. @Vincent Colombo
    As per car integration systems, there have been non released for either iPhone yet, since no hardware interfaces are currently supported for iPhone other than power and audio out. 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. The iPods vs. the iPod Touch/iPhones are completely different beasts, and the music is stored and accessed in a completely different way. the only thing your integration system would have given you with an iPhone anyway is power, and possibly line out – so this is not something they “Took Away”. It is something that was never available.
    I look forward to integrated car/iPone systems, maybe sometime in 2009. I am sure the car companies/Stereo companies are chomping at the bit to get it all integrated, but nothing yet….

  14. @ Jeeve
    Apple abandoned FireWire iPods interfaces over 3 years ago. They told developers to make hardware that interfaces over USB for power 3 years ago. Now, 3 years later, they remove that feature from a NEW device they release. Quit your whining.

  15. I have the Pineer system that allowed me to charge and play my iphone through my system and thie 3G one will not charge… Does anyone know if pioneer will be coming out with a version of the adaptor that will charge via USB? This sucks! 🙁

  16. “This just made me not want to get the apple 3G until they fix it. I have the apple iphone 1st generation and i love my bose system and all but now because it wont work. Don’t expect me to get an apple iphone. If they going to pull this shady sh*t. I don’t expect to buy anything from apple ever again.”

    So you can deal with Bose’s shady shit but not Apple’s? I would really just take it as a chance to upgrade to a higher quality (any maybe even lower price) soundsystem.

    “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.”

    Really? I have the Harmon/Kardon car system that seems to do this just fine?

  17. Well thats not the only thing that does not work i bought a logictech pure fi elite speaker
    system with built in dock and does not work correctly the interface on the box it self freezes
    so you cant change songs or turn off the box this happens after about 10 minutes playing time

  18. This issue is most disappointing. I have had many Apple products and have loved all of them for their simplicity and ease of use. This has lead me to purchase many devices to integrate with my iPods including an aftermarket JVC KD-PDR40 head unit that allows me to control the iPod from the iPod interface instead of the head unit. One cord to plug into the base and both audio and power were supplied. I tested a 1st generation iPhone, iPod Touch, iPod Classic, and iPod Nano with the JVC KD-PDR40 and all worked flawlessly. With this I was really excited to get the 3G iPhone so I could use it for all my audio, video, phone, and GPS needs, all in one simple device. However this is not possible with the new 3G iPhone. I do not understand why Apple would release a product that were all previous versions worked and the 3G iPhone did not. Then not giving the public a heads up that this most likely would not work. If I had known this I would not have purchased the 3G iPhone. If this problem can be corrected the 3G iPhone would be the ultimate car companion. If anyone at Apple reads this please correct this issue.

  19. From a post on the apple support site:

    ..The Charging System…

    Most chargers on the market today are designed to charge via USB or via 12v through the firewire portion of apple dock pins (pins 19,20 12V DC and pins 29,30 Ground). This was an easy choice for the manufacturers because your car is already a 12V based system that kept the charging solutions inexpensive to make. If they already had 12V available, why step it down to 5V to charge via the USB pins? Makes sense right? As you know, Apple has eliminated 12V charging from their newer units but has left a sensing circuit on the firewire pins just to tell you that your old device doesnt work anymore. Your existing chargers will not harm the Iphone, but they are certainly useless.

    The new way to charge is through the USB pins on the Apple dock connector ( pin 16 USB GND, pin 23 USB Power 5 VDC, pin 25 USB Data negative, pin 27 USB Data positive ). BUT, you cannot just apply 5V to pin 23 and ground to pin 16. The Iphone is also sensing voltage on USB Data positive (approx 1.8v) and USB Data negative (approx 2.5V).

    …The Audio System…

    If you had an older gen Ipod like an Ipod Video then the audio outputs were real easy, it always put line out audio through the audio pins in the dock connector. The Iphone is a different animal. The audio and serial pins are still the same on the dock connector, BUUT, there is an accessroy pin (pin 21) that senses the type of accessory that is plugged in. If the correct resistance is NOT on pin 21 then the Iphone completely ignores the connection and does not redirect the audio to the dock. Thus most of your old Ipod Interfaces are now obsolete..

    I personally have an IPAC-OEM interface (pac-audio.com) to my Buick Regal that worked great with my Ipod Video (charge, audio, steering wheel controls). When I plug in my Iphone 3G, it gives me the aircraft warning (I hit no) then audio Video works fine. It wont charge, but again, audio, video and steering wheel controls work as they should. I sent them an email this morning asking when they will have an Iphone solution. They may already have it, but havent updated their site.

  20. @Eytan: my iphone worked previously so the notion that it didn’t work before is false. blitzsafe and other tighter integration aftermarketeres will be most affected — this is upsetting. advance warning? it’s easy to say “get a new charger” when you are using a charger, but when using an integration kit buried under installation and carpeting…it isn’t so easy as going to kensington and slapping a new one in the cigarette lighter.

  21. first – Apple should have officially depricated 12V on pins 19 and 20.. but they haven’t. They’ve simply “stopped using it”. Which is the height of bullcrap.. its part of the 30 pin standard… to say that this is in any way anyone’s problem but Apple’s first true “microsoft moment” is nonsense. if they didn’t want 12V power, they should have not put 12V power into the 30 pin connector.

    its obvious WHY so many folks used 12V – because its “free” power from your car and requires next to zero hardware to make it work.

    I’m calling AT&T to find out if i can downgrade back to an original iPhone because this is madness…. i went thru all the trouble of putting in a decent stereo in my car all so that i can now run that kensignton POS all over my stickshift and handbrake area? Screw Apple.

  22. The thing that really pisses me off is that the charging cable/dock that I paid extra for on my Mini Cooper does not charge it anymore. WTF?!?!?!

  23. Is everyone sure that the iPhone indeed is not charging? The message comes up, but on my iPhone, if you click “No” to going into Airplane mode, the charge symbol still shows.

    I’m going to test tonight on my iHome device that has the same message.

    I phoned Griffin Technologies, and they said their AutoPilot device will display the “nag screen” but that it will indeed still work, and that they are working on getting the “Made for iPhone” license.

    Is it possible that this is a big licensing issue with Apple?

  24. Several posters, especially #11 by James Katt, defend Apple’s transition from FireWire to USB and blame the accessory makers for not reading the writing on the wall.

    But think about it: what if the accessory makers had the read the writing and switched to USB charging? Then a huge percentage of existing iPods would not charge when docked to their iPod boom boxes or car integration kits!

    No, I think the iPhone 3G should have continued to accept USB and FireWire charging since so many existing devices will work for BOTH legacy iPods and the newest iPods and iPhones.

  25. Apple did depricate the power for firewire but it was not 3 years ago like was said earlier. this does suck but I bet they are making the pins available for other features. Accessorie companies new about it but it is hard to go and change everything. Just one more way we get to play with Apple 🙂

  26. Just my 2p worth – the iPhone DOES support remote navigation of the music on it. My Merc CLK has iPod integration, and it works just fine with iPhone. You can navigate track, artist, playlist, genre etc via the steering wheel controls, and the data comes up in the middle of the speedo on the car. The 1st gen iPhone also charges too. Haven’t tried my 3G yet. Probably won’t charge, but I’d still expect it to ‘ipod’!

  27. I had an iphone 2G that connected to my Alpine head unit. It charged with no issues and I could control it from the alpine head unit. Now, like others have found, the iphone 3G will not charge, although I can still control it from the head unit. I hope someone makes an adapter for this. There are tons of items all ready on the market (portable stereo’s, home stereos, car audio, etc) that this device will not work with. Gee, I wonder if the next generation Ipod/iTouch is going to have the same issue.

  28. My Audi Concert head-unit uses an aftermarket iPod adapter.

    The original iPhone sounded great, charged and was able to skip albums and tracks using it.

    I plugged my iPhone 3g into it today and found that not only did the charging not work, but the volume was MUCH lower and didn’t sound as good as the original iPhone.

    This sucks 🙁

    I’m going to have to re-commission my 2G iPod Nano for use in the car now!

  29. @John

    Some may still work. The mStation ones, and the car charger I tried do not. Others have reported success with some other devices.

  30. John

    This is different from the “Audio Interference” nag screen…

    It’s a yellow triangle with a black exclamation mark with the words:

    “charging is not supported with this accessory”.

    The screenshot in this article is misleading in that respect (although I still get the audio nag screen as well!)

  31. @Josh

    The screenshot in this article is NOT in any way misleading.

    Yes, you do get the triangle if your phone has been locked, but if you actually read what the screenshot above says it is a different nag screen. It says “Charging is not supported with this accessory”.

    I took the screenshot from my iPhone while it was plugged into an mStation Tower – and it did not charge the device.

  32. Just to defend Bose, my SoundDock Portable DOES charge my 3G. Now, my Alpine head unit, on the other hand… grrrrr…

  33. This is seriously annoying…..my old dock and bluetooth set won’t work with the new 3G…what were they thinking????
    I may return the phone because of this.

  34. Is anyone working on an adapter that can plugged into the iPhone 3G and then into the older charging systems?

  35. Yeah, we’ll all just have to deal with it. In any case, I bought the Alpine ida-x100 which charges from USB and works great. Now I have a car that plays and charges my iPhone. When an adapter comes out the guy who makes it will get rich real quick. 😉

    Good luck to the rest of you iPhone 3g users!

  36. I have the same issue with my TEAC Ipod system, so I went the Apple Store and placed my 3G into all of their audio system displays, and found that the IHome IH9S does charge and as all functionality, along with a Bose and two other model. I did get the screen about the airplance mode, but I select “no” to continue receiving calls and the IPhone/IPod works fine and Charges

  37. I have a 2006 VW Jetta with a Kenwood deck installed. The guy that owned it before me had purchased the iPod connector (I’m not sure if there’s an amp involved or if it’s just the cable) and, unsurprisingly, I’m running into the same known issue.

    Well, I’m wasn’t happy with the deck anyway. It only has a single line of text with no option to use the iPhone as the iPod controller. This is impossibly lame for any real navigation unless you have ten albums or something.

    I was wondering if any of you had any suggestions for a good deck with tight iPhone 3G integration. Double DIN, DVD, Bluetooth, possible navigation… everything would be great. I haven’t found any guides online yet and Crutchfield doesn’t seem to have any kind of “iPhone 3G” friendly section.

  38. @James Katt: Even Apple’s own “Universal Dock” won’t charge the iPhone 3G. If it were like what you said Apple should be the first to adapt it’s own new policy and make Universal Dock future-proof. Fair enough there is no law saying when you release a new product you have to be backwards compatible to previous product lines. And it is in manufacturers’ interest (both Apple and third-party) to make you buy new accessories.

  39. I installed a Pioneer head unit that supports the iPod a couple of weeks before I bought the new iPhone 3G.
    It sees the new iPhone as it would an iPod and lets me control music through the head unit (or through the iPhone).
    Yay!

    It doesn’t however charge the iPhone…..
    At first I was mad but the truth of the matter is, Pioneer didn’t make any claims about iPhone support.
    Apple on the other hand could have perhaps publicised this issue better, or I could have researched the issue better….

  40. bought new 3g iphone and it does not charge in my car intergration system. what is apple going to do about it. It is a big shame.

  41. To all of you who are condemning Apple for no longer supporting 12- volt charge in the iPhone 3G, it likely has NOTHING to do with trying to get people to buy all new accessories so much as Apple not wanting to put extra, superfluous, and possibly harmful crap into the iPhone 3G. In order to support charging with 12 volts, Apple would have had to put a 12v to 5v stepdown converter into the phone, which would require some kind of heat sink and additional bulk and complexity. They may not have been able to keep the size down. Also, some aftermarket chargers and docks were frying first- gen iPhone batteries with their over- voltage, as well. Apple wanted to avoid those kind of problems, and wanted to keep the phone as small as it is. Apple started discontinuing firewire support for the iPod many years ago. Aftermarket accessory makers SHOULD have taken the hint, but decided to be cheap. I’d imagine the aftermarket accessory makers will come up with a converter that steps the voltage down and transfers the pins… especially the ones that integrate with the car stereo… but until then, blamt the accessory makers for not paying attention to Apple, not Apple for doing what was necessary to make the iPhone as good as it could be.

  42. What about standard car chargers that plugs into the cars cigarette lighter 12v system. I have a cheap one and it works with the Iphone 3g great. It charges it fine. But my Lexus Radio/Ipod interface does not charge. Both are 12v. I think this is a pin issue only. There is no step down to 5v, it i just 12v. I tested it too. 12v.

    Mmmmm now what

  43. All this Apple did what it needed to do, its not their fault if third party makers didnt start using USD charging is total crap. It may have been cheaper for them, but they could have found a way to make it work. Reducing charging option while significantly reducing battery life could not be as you say what “was necessary to make the iPhone as good as it could be”. A MAJOR design flaw.

    At the very least, Apple should have made people aware of this. I had the g1 phone and relied on charging it in my car and on may speakers at home. I would have kept that phone had I known I’d have to shell out the price of the phone again to upgrade my accesories that wont get me anythng better than what I have now, accept that they’ll charge a phone that apple should have made compatable in the first place. (not even compatale with some accesries labled as “works with Iphone”!!!)

    I’m still gussing this is an intentional move by apple to sell more “made for Iphone 3g” crap, just as the g1 had an apple specific headphone jack that was clearly designed to drive sales of “made for Ipod/Iphone” licesnsed headphones.

  44. I have the Bose sound dock in my home and the dice unit in my BMW and I can use the Iphone 3g in both however, neither will charge the unit. I have not had any issues with sound or quality but it is disturbing that this product is not backwards compatible considering the sheer volume of itmes that use the old technology. Now I will need to purchase a seperate car charger for the iphone 3g since it does have a substantially shorter batter life then the Blackberry Pearl that I replaced.

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