Just after Christmas I bought the last missing piece to endless hours of music enjoyment in my MINI: The cable that connects my iPod Touch with our MINI’s audio system and its harman/kardon HiFi speakers.
If you are ordering a new MINI and want to connect your iPhone or iPod to listen to the music on it while on the go, make sure to order the optional USB port. It is bundled with the Bluetooth hands-free system. The additional cable you will need doesn’t come with the car, you will have to buy it as an accessory. The part number of the cable is 61 12 0 440 812. I bought it for around €47 from a local BMW/MINI dealership. They refer to it as a Y-cable. Because on one side it has a dock connector end, and on the other side two ends – one USB and one 3.5 mm audio plug.
Here are the benefits:
When an iPhone or iPod is connected with the cable, you get the audio stream over the dock connector. This means the output through the car’s speakers will be at a higher fidelity and louder. The cheaper alternative of connecting to the standard AUX input only, using the 3.5 mm audio outlet normally used for the earplugs of an iPhone/iPod, is a very big difference – for the worse.
On top of the better sound when using the USB version, you can also use the (optional) multi-function steering wheel buttons to control some basics like adjust volume, skip or go back to the beginning of a song. The radio will also display the name of the song you are listening to.
And even better: you can select playlists, albums, artists, music types etc. using the radio controls. The iPhone or iPod remains untouched, dangling on the cable in the MINI’s center console.
And that is really my only point of critique. The position of the USB and AUX outlets is not well chosen by MINI. If you plug in the cable it will always stick out of the center console and into sight. I would prefer to not have a cable (or even the connected iPhone/iPod) in sight from outside the car, attracting burglars. Friends got a window of their car smashed in because of a cable sticking its neck out.
Besides the sub-optimal position of the outlets, the cable is sort of odd in length and flexibility so that the iPhone or iPod can’t lay flat on the little tray below the outlets. If MINI would ask me, I would recommend to put the outlets into the back of the center console’s cave and make the cable a bit more flexible.
And here is another thing. Rumors has it that this cable has two issues – or the iPhone has when using the cable.
For one, the iPhone displays a on-screen warning message when plugged in, telling the user that the accessory isn’t designed to work with the iPhone. As part of the warning message, the iPhone recommends to switch itself into “airplane mode”, which will essentially switch off the phone functionality and hence won’t allow you to take or receive any calls.
You can still say “no” and that is what I recommend. The only downside will be that you maybe hearing some interferences from time to time when the iPhone connects to a cell tower.
The other issue is related to charging the iPhone when it’s connected. Some say the iPhone won’t charge. All we know is that … it does charge. At least in our Clubman Diesel. Maybe this is due to some recent revisions to the USB port – as our Clubman is a MY 2010 car.
My iPod Touch works just fine. No warning message, it charges, and it packed with my favorite tunes.
Feel free to share your experiences with connecting an iPhone or iPod with the MINI.
Simply leave a comment below.
Rock on everybody and a Happy New Year!!