Monday, February 19, 2018

Lightning Charge/Audio Dongles

Almost 1.5 years after Apple removed the headphone port with the iPhone 7, it still doesn’t seem like there’s a good solution for playing audio and charging at the same time.

The Wofalodata adapter that I bought for $15 stopped playing audio after a few months, with the iPhone intermittently complaining that it’s not a certified accessory. The Amazon reviews indicate this is common. I contacted the company, who said they would send a replacement unit, but two months later it hasn’t arrived.

I then tried the $14.50 Zerkar, but it also failed after a few months, again confirmed by reviews.

A year after the iPhone 7 was released, Belkin shipped its $35 adapter, which is the only one I’ve seen that’s MFi certified. I haven’t tried this one yet, but it, too, has lots of Amazon reviews indicating unreliability.

I don’t understand why this is such a hard problem to solve. And with over 100 million eligible iPhones, and increasing, you’d think there would be a market for a good product.

In a way this is like the situation with Macs and USB-C. The problem with removing a port isn’t so much that you have to buy and carry a dongle as that the dongle/hub is never as reliable as having the port built-in.

Previously: Removing the iPhone’s Headphone Jack, iPhone 7, Apple’s Lightning to Headphone Adapter.

Update (2018-02-19): To be clear, I use AirPods rather than headphones. The reason I have the dongle is to play audio from the iPhone in my car.

See also: Marco Arment’s tweet and replies.

9 Comments RSS · Twitter

"Almost 1.5 years after Apple removed the headphone port with the iPhone 7, it still doesn’t seem like there’s a good solution for playing audio and charging at the same time."

That's impossible! When I suggested on twitter that removing the headphone port was less than optimal, I was called a change-hating old man who lived in the past and should either shut up and buy "modern" technology or just go off quietly to the nursing home to await my passing. I was assured that once I "embraced change," everything would be better than the "old way" of doing things!

Yeah....this had nothing to do with vendor lock in, after all it's not like Apple owns a headphone company....not like they started making their own Apple branded headphones too....nope, not a thing. No sir.

I use an Apple's lightning to 30-pin adapter, FiiO 30-pin to line-out adapter, and 3.5mm cable in my bluetooth-less car.

@Jose It looks like that would not allow charging and audio at the same time?

Before I got my new CarPlay-enabled car, I always had a setup that didn't involve running a 3.5mm cable from the iPhone's headphone jack, so this setup was completely jack-less iPhone-proof.

I had a car power adapter - I *think* it was a Belkin, but I'm not sure now, as it's been a while - that had a preamp and a 3.5mm output built-in. All you'd plug into the iPhone was the 30-pin or Lightning cable, and the power adapter would take the full line-out signal from the iPhone and send it via the built-in jack to the car's 3.5mm input. This was better than running a cable into the iPhone's headphone jack for a number of reasons - better quality, easier setup, and you never had to fiddle with the iPhone's volume. It was entirely just down to the car's stereo volume, as it was getting a consistent signal from the power adapter.

I never understood why power adapters like that weren't more common - it was a better solution than having to run two cables into an iPhone, and it didn't matter when the headphone jack went away.

You could always epoxy an Apple lightning dock to your dashboard. That should give you audio out and charging in.

@Michael The version I have has USB mini-B and 3.5mm line out. It looks like it's not sold any more. Apologies. To be honest I only ever used it for charging a very few times (it's limited to 0.5A and is quite slow).

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