iPhone 3G will not charge with most adapters by design, including Apple's own iPod HiFi

July 15, 2008

Lots of reports of issues with battery life on the 3G in the Meme the past few days.  Adding insult to injury comes confirmation that most 3rd party adapters can’t charge the power-hungry thing. I got bit by this yesterday for the first time when I plugged my iPhone 3G into my VAISTech SoundLinQ adapter in my Toyota Prius.  As soon as I did, I got a wacky message on the device that it would not charge.

Firmware problem?  Not likely. Reports are trickling in that the original iPhone charged via Firewire pin-out while the new 3G only supports USB 2.0, breaking compatibility with many devices including Apple’s on pricey and discontinued HiFi sound system. This is most disappointing given I depend on my daily commute to charge my phone up on days when I’m using the iPhone instead of my BlackJack II.  A visit to the VAISTech forums and subsequent iLounge extensive review notes:

Another difference Apple snuck into the iPhone 3G is the latest change to its ever-shifting definition of Dock Connector accessory compatibility. 
This time, Apple has quietly discontinued support for certain types of charging accessories, namely ones that used the FireWire standard rather than USB. Unlike the video accessory change, developers should have known that this one was coming for a long while, so you’re less likely to be affected if you’ve made a recent purchase.
Because of this change, in addition to old accessories such as Belkin’s Auto Kit and Bose’s original SoundDock—identified by one of Apple’s hand-selected reviewers as no longer capable of charging the iPhone 3G—you’ll find that more recent accessories such as XtremeMac’s RoadShow have also stopped working in any way. They’ll bring up a passive screen that says “Charging is not supported by this accessory,” then a new nag screen that says “This accessory is not made to work with iPhone – Charging is not supported.” For RoadShow, which only did two things—AV-out and charging—this change kills any last vestige of utility the old accessory might have had, requiring the purchase of at least a new charger.

So I can’t listen to my iPhone via the integrated system and charge it at the same time and doing so at the office isn’t really an option since I’m in meetings most of the day. WOW.  Adding insult, the in-car adapter cost more than the iPhone 3G!  Talk about forcing an upgrade cycle. 

Apparently others are having issues with this as well:

At that cost, I might as well sell my SoundLinq on eBay and use my Zune all the time in the car.  At least then I can sync and charge from my garage and get the benefit of a ZunePass Subscription for years of music at a cost still cheaper than buying a new in-car adapter.

Update: VAIS Technology rapidly responded to my email inquiry noting they will be offering compatible cables for SL2i in about two weeks.  VAIS will also have an adapter available in about a month for SLi and SL2Vi owners. No word yet on pricing.  Thanks Eugene!