A Guide To Using An iPhone In Your Car

If you drive a lot and love to listen to music in your car, then you must have thought of hooking up the iPhone to your car stereo.

The problem is, doing this can be difficult. Unfortunately, there are no car stereo manufacturers which have come up with an all-in-one device capable of seamlessly hooking up your iPhone to the car.

In this article, we’ll take a look at some options we have for hooking up your iPhone to the car.

1. Overview
As mentioned, there are no integrated solutions for connecting the iPhone to the car stereo. as a result, we’ll need to look at various component solutions. these are listed below.

2. Option 1 – Budget Solution
Here we need a car mount, car charger, FM transmitter and headphones. In this approach, we first mount the iPhone onto the car.

Then we hook up the iPhone to a car charging device to keep it full of juice. we also hook up a FM transmitter which broadcasts audio from the iPhone to a specified FM radio channel on your car stereo.

Finally, plug in your iPhone headphones and you’ll be able to listen any incoming phone calls. the problem with this approach is that the sound quality coming out of the FM transmitter may be sub-optimal.

3. Option 2 – Cassette Tape Deck Solution
The second option is to use a cassette tape adaptor. as before, we mount the iPhone into the car. now In the market, there are cassette adapters which connect to the iPhone headphone jack. we hook up the iPhone in this manner, and any music output from the iPhone can be heard through the cassette tape. A good car cassette adaptor I’d recommend is the Philips PH2050W which goes for under $15.

Now, we have a little problem -the cassette adaptor uses the iPhone headset port for connecting to the iPhone speaker. so how do you receive any incoming calls on the iPhone?

The answer lies in a Bluetooth headset. Invest in one of these and you’ll be able to listen to iPhone music through the cassette adaptor and yet still receive calls using the Bluetooth headset.

And for your info, the audio quality from the cassette adapter is far superior and consistent compared to that from the FM transmitter.

4. Option 3 – the Most Integrated Solution
Now, there’s a 3rd option we can look at that is optimal compared to the previous two.

One of the better car integration products in the market for the iPhone is the Bluetrek / Contour Design SurfaceSound Compact. This device adds a Bluetooth 2.0 microphone and flat panel NXT speaker combination to your car visor.

So what happens is that when you get into your car, switch on the SurfaceSound Compact and your iPhone and the two will seamlessly connect.

Receiving and dialling phone calls is done through Bluetooth – so no messy wires there. for music, again, there is no wired connection as the SurfaceSound Compact will automatically stream music to your car stereo. the only cable you have is one for charging the iPhone.

So on the whole, I’d say that in terms of car integration, the iPhone as a phone and music device in the car has not really come of age yet. I’m still waiting for a good manufacturer to design a seamless device which can hook up the iPhone (or iPod or even the iPad) to your car with utmost simplicity.

Most of the products I’ve seen on the market (with the exception of the SurfaceSound Compact) are still considered sub-optimal solutions which require a lot of manual cable integration. Let’s watch this space and hope for better products in the future