Top 3 Accessories That Won't Work with Your iPhone
Assuming you've somehow lied, killed or mortgaged yourself into becoming an iPhone owner this coming Friday, you might be in for a nasty surprise: Some of your most prized iPod accessories, such as dockable speakers and high-end headphones, simply won't work with the iPhone. Here are a few of note:
1. The iPhone won't work as a phone when docked into speakers.
If you've ever left your phone next to speakers, you understand why—it triggers a bizarre, clicking sound, as RF signals create interference. The iPhone's solution is to stop broadcasting and receiving RF, letting it operate as an iPod, but not as a phone. Obviously this will not stand, but for the moment it'll have to do. According to Robert Heiblim, a senior VP of sales and marketing for Altec Lansing, the answer is to develop systems with RF shielding, and to include iPhone-specific authenticator chips that will tell the iPhone that the coast is clear, and it's okay to act like a phone again. The chips would also allow for more interactive functions, like throwing the iPhone's full menu onto a larger screen. Since the authenticator specs were only very recently released, with production underway right now, there's no telling when RF-shielded, authenticator chip-embedded speakers will show up. Our guess is the holiday season, or as soon as Apple can possibly crank something out.
2. The iPhone doesn't support stereo Bluetooth.
That's right, the device that does everything can only handle monaural sound when paired with Bluetooth-enabled headphones, speakers or headsets. Most of the Bluetooth speakers available for music phones have astonishingly bad sound quality anyway, so no great loss there. But wireless headphones aren't going to work (not in stereo, at least). And if you've just dropped $150 for a snazzy new hands-free phone headset that doubles as stereo earphones, my condolences. It'll still work as a headset, but not as earphones.
3. Your headphones might not work with the iPhone.
The device's headphone jack supports 3.5-mm connectors, the port itself is recessed, and some connectors simply won't fit. The issue isn't the connector itself, but the overmold—the stubby bit of plastic that the connector protrudes from. I wasn't able to get actual dimensions, but the overmold has to be extremely slim to fit into the recessed port. For example, if the connector is L-shaped, so the overmold runs along the top of your iPod instead of sticking straight out, it won't reach the iPhone's headphone port. So there is now such as thing as iPhone-compatible headphones, and it's very possible yours don't qualify. Adaptors are sure to come, and eventually all headphone overmolds will probably bow to the iPhone's indomitable will. But for everyone dumb enough to have paid $450 for Shure earbuds, now you're even dumber.
What this really means is a reboot for iPod gear-makers. But considering how much functionality will become possible once those authenticator chips are up and running, a reboot was in the cards anyway. And what was already a massive mini-industry will probably grow exponentially. For now, however, the iPhone won't play well with every piece of sycophantic gear riding its coattails. But considering how many of us are drooling over this thing before even setting eyes on it, being a bully will somehow come across as charming, confident and worth $500. —Erik Sofge