The mystery of the not-so-worthless phone dock - 2009 BMW 750i Long-Term Road Test
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2009 BMW 750i: The mystery of the not-so-worthless phone dock

May 21, 2009

BMW 750 phone cradle.jpg

Our long-term 2009 BMW 750 has a mobile phone dock in the center console. Is that like a worthless 90's phone dock where you had to buy the luxury carmaker's branded phone for $1500? That was my first thought. Also, look at the cradle shape. What phone would fit in that!

I spoke with the BMW PR guys in Jersey to unravel this mystery. Allow me to break it down.

It turns out you need a snap-in adapter that you can purchase from your BMW dealer. Adapters are available for several popular phones throughout BMW's model range. But for the 750, adapters are available for only these three phones: Apple iPhone, Blackberry Curve, and Motorola V8/V9m. The adapters cost $175 for the iPhone and $117 for the other two. Other applications for popular phones will be added periodically.

Why would you pay for and use the adapter, you ask? If you connect through Bluetooth, you still get full control of your phone through the idrive and vehicle display interface. And of course you can charge your phone through the 12V port. So why?

There are three advantages for buying the adapter:

1. Your phone is charged when docked. We all know that Bluetooth drains a lot of go-go juice from the phone when it's used. You'll also leave the 12V port open for your radar detector, espresso machine, or hair dryer.

2. The dock also provides a connection to the car's more powerful roof mounted shark-fin antenna (which also receives GPS and radio signals) for improved cellular reception. Some phones don't have a good internal antenna and some remote or rural areas have a weak cellular signal. The docked phone may be a benefit in these conditions.

3. Music/MP3 files on your phone can be played through the vehicle's stereo and can be controlled through idrive and the vehicle display.

Are the advantages of the dock worth $175, or even $117? BMW said it's a popular option.

What do you think? I'm particularly interested in those BMW owners (and others) who actually bought the adapter and use it.

In any event, even though it takes up a lot of center console storage space, this phone dock is not-so-worthless after all.

Albert Austria, Sr Vehicle Eval Engineer @ 9000 miles

BMW iphone adapter.jpg BMW phone dock display 1.jpg BMW 750 phone display 2.jpg

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