Car solutions for iPhone?

Discussion in 'iPhone Accessories' started by thcommj, Dec 21, 2010.

  1. thcommj, Dec 21, 2010
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2010

    thcommj macrumors newbie

    Dec 21, 2010
    Hi I have an iPhone 4 and would like to listen to music on the phone and use the GPS app while driving.

    None of the existing car solutions are satisfactory.

    FM transmitters all suck. There is nothing you can do about a) its sound quality (FM has limited bandwidth), b) the availability of "spare" or empty frequency slots changes as you travel through different cities/states on a long trip (or even just a short one, say from NYC to CT) while it's impossible to keep relocating the frequency and c) the problem of interference (even just listening to the radio stations has that problem).

    So my only option is the cassette adapters, most of which use 3.5mm jacks. I have two main issues with them:
    1) I am not sure if shorting the iPhone mic is good. The headset that comes with an iPhone has four connectors on the plug: left ear, right ear, mic, ground. But cassette adapters only have three, without the mic. So essentially the iPhone's mic connector is shorted to ground. Theoretically that should not cause a problem: shorting it to ground simply means no input. But I am not the designer of iPhone and, without seeing the circuit diagram, I am not sure if they have other designs in that circuit that makes shorting the mic input not good for the device in the long run.

    2) So if using a cassette player means shorting the mic input, I lose another function, which is making hands-free calls while driving. With an FM transmitter (when it works), the built-in mic on the iPhone still works. Not to mention that some apps have weird audio output settings that are often messed up between the speaker, the 3.5mm jack output and the dock-connector output.

    So....I guess, the question is, can I find a cassette adapter that does NOT use a 3.5mm headphone jack but the iPhone dock-connector as its input?? Also, I'd like one that can also charge the phone. (so basically that means two connectors coming out from the iPhone, one goes to cigarette lighter and the other goes to the cassette slot)

  2. dukebound85 macrumors P6


    Jul 17, 2005
    5045 feet above sea level
    I got a new headunit as my old one did not work at all and it has a usb port that makes it super easy to listen to ipod music

    As far as your question, I have not seen a cassette adapter that uses the USB funtion

    HOWEVER, have you looked at getting an audio splitter? so you can use 2 mic inputs? one for cassette and one for included headphones that incluse a mic?
  3. thegman1234 macrumors 6502


    Nov 10, 2007
    Long Island
    Just because I know it's going to be said, I'm sure if you had searched you would have found something. But nevertheless, why don't you give us some information about your car? And we'll see if we can come up with some answers for you. Year, make, model.
  4. thcommj, Dec 21, 2010
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2010

    thcommj thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 21, 2010
    Thanks, I did search. It's a 2001 Toyota Camry LE. So my only options are cassette and FM, I think.

    Also, I'd like one that can also charge the phone. (so basically that means two connectors coming out from the iPhone, one goes to cigarette lighter and the other goes to the cassette slot)
  5. thegman1234 macrumors 6502


    Nov 10, 2007
    Long Island
    Not necessarily accusing you of not searching, just giving you a forewarning that you've asked what may seem like a redundant question to some :).

    Hmm, 2001, iPod release year... that's tough. You could check with Toyota to see if they offer an adapter. They probably don't though, being as 2001 was the last year of that particular generation.

    You could find out if Toyota offered any external input options for the particular head unit in your vehicle. If so, there may be OE or aftermarket options for that input.

    For example, I had a '99 Beetle, which was released before the iPod was. However, the head unit had an input for a trunk mounted 6-disc CD changer.

    VW eventually released an iPod cable which was actually able to work with that particular head unit because the input hadn't changed even as the head unit had been upgraded to feature a built in CD player.

    As well, I was able to find an aftermarket AUX cable that was compatible with that same input (I lost the CD changer functionality but didn't really need it anymore). This allowed me to use an iPod AUX adapter/charger with the radio. This may seem a little convoluted, but it actually made more sense for me because I had a very particular adapter I wanted to use (with a remote) and, as I would find out later, many of those iPod adapters don't allow for in-depth control of the iPod or play of music from iPhone apps.

    If Toyota doesn't offer anything for your particular head unit, or you want to be able to play music from Pandora for example, you may want to try the second route and buy that AUX input cable. As long as there is an available input for SOMETHING on your head unit, I'm sure SOMEONE makes an AUX cable for it.
  6. wacky4alanis, Dec 21, 2010
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2010

    wacky4alanis macrumors 6502a

    Mar 18, 2009
    I would recommend the Tom Tom iPhone kit. It's pricey, but it works well for me. It also has the added feature of improving your GPS performance. It supports hands-free calling, GPS navigation, and provides a mount for your iPhone. I combined it with a friction dash mount holder so that I can easily move it around or just stuff it in my glove box.

    The Tom Tom holder interfaces to the iPhone dock connector, and then provides its own separate stereo jack that you connect to your Aux input (or a cassette adapter if you don't have one). One of my cars (2003 Acura) didn't have an Aux input OR a cassette player, but I was able to add an Aux input using a kit I found online.

    Note that the original kit was designed for a 3G/3GS. It will work with a 4, but I think you need to add some sort of spacer to get it to sit properly in the holder. I believe the newer kits include it, but you should research it to make sure.
  7. thegman1234 macrumors 6502


    Nov 10, 2007
    Long Island
    Forgive the double post, a quick google search came up with this link on ebay.

    Blitz safe is the same brand I had in my Beetle and this is in essence the SAME exact adapter I had, just not for a Camry.

    It's a fairly simple setup and would come with instructions as well. The auction states that it's for a 12 pin connector that would otherwise have accepted a CD changer. You can pull your radio and look at what you have to your disposal (such as empty ports or free cables) and see if this looks like it will match up. Then I'm sure you'd know where to go from there... buy an RCA cable, plug it into that adapter, and feed it to your glove compartment or the bottom of your center console. Then buy an iPhone aux/charger car kit and you're all set!

    There's this one too, but I don't know ANYTHING about that one.

    I have experience with the Blitzsafe one and it's really a great product.
  8. thcommj thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 21, 2010
    I just went out and checked the car's front panel, but there aren't any AUX inputs.... :( so I guess I'll have to dig deeper. eh.
  9. Sean006 macrumors 6502

    Dec 23, 2008
    check out iSimple solutions....

    dont know how much you want to spend but this is well worth it...
    also bought the bluetooth module..handsfree phone calls, stream pandora etc...and charges the iphone
  10. JM2 macrumors member

    Oct 8, 2010
    South Florida
    The eBay adapter above converts your current radio's CD-changer input to a generic AUX input (w/RCA stereo jacks). From there just add an adapter like this: to charge the phone and plug the RCA jacks into the eBay adapter.

    The phone will still work "hands free" by placing callers on speaker phone.

    Or you could just buy a new stereo that has a direct USB input. Surf over to Crutchfield and see what options they for your car.
  11. PeteLP macrumors 6502

    Sep 12, 2008

    You can use this sony cassette adapter which I've found to be much more reliable than other brands. You'll be surprised at how good it sounds. If you go this route check out this thread for any problems that may come up. They're typically easy to handle.

    As for the cable working with the iPhone's special headphone port. There's no problem using any standard 3.5mm (or 1/8 inch) mini stereo cable, such as the kind that comes with all cassette adapters. My girlfriend has been using this configuration with a cassette adapter for quite some time. (And consider all the folks, including myself, who've successfully used simple third party headphones with the iphone.)

  12. labman macrumors 604


    Jun 9, 2009
    Mich near Detroit
    also you can get a new car radio the supports Ipod and Iphone a little as $100 on up. I did the other for a while and finely bit the bullet and bought one with usb support I love the thing. charges my phone while I enjoy my ipod or listen to Pandora. mine was about $200 installed
  13. thatisme macrumors 6502


    Mar 23, 2010
    United States
    your best bet is to get a new radio head unit in the car, OR try one of the converter packs that take your iphone and route it through the CD changer ports. However, you cannot use GPS with those adapter packs.

    I picked up a cable from monoprice a while back that was a dock connector, but the output was split to a USB and a Line Out AUX cable. So I am able to charge via USB and use the AUX port on my trucks stereo for music and GPS without having any distortion from using the headphone jack. You could try something like that with a Female to Female 3.5mm jack adapter to splice in your tape adapter, but I think those tape adapters require having an amplified source (headphone jack)
  14. barachus macrumors regular

    Jul 9, 2010
    check out dension, i had a kit from them that went into the back of my old bmw radio and i fed the wire into the armrest.
    it charged the phone, displayed track listings and song info onto the radio screen, also maps the playlists onto the cd changes, you can control all the phone ipod functions from the radio buttons itself
    great thing is that you dont have to buy a new car radio, they make specfic kits to work with the factory installed radio depending on the car
  15. QuarterSwede macrumors G3


    Oct 1, 2005
    Colorado Springs, CO
    If you have around $150 you can't beat a new head unit. You can install them yourself (it's really easy). Check out Crutchfield's Outfit My Car page. Priceless site for all things audio/video especially car related. Plus, if you buy form them they include a free wiring harness, instructions for your specific car model and plastic face piece to ensure a proper fit (not sure what it's called).
  16. zorinlynx macrumors 603


    May 31, 2007
    Florida, USA
    If you use a regular (three-contact) headphone plug on an iPhone, and you make a call, the audio of the call will go out the headphone plug, and the mic on the phone will be used.

    This is actually nice because if you can mount the phone so it's not too far from your head, you can talk on the phone as if it were a speakerphone with your car's stereo as the speaker. It sounds really good and works really well; the iPhone must have echo-canceling because I've never heard a caller complain about echo.

    This is how I often talk on the phone if a call comes in while I'm listening to music using a cassette tape adapter. (My car is old enough to have a tape deck so I can use that wonderful old kludge)

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