Apple's $30 Lightning adapter won't work with old speakers

Apple's $30 Lightning adapter won't work with old speakers
Tech Corner

POSTED: Friday, September 14, 2012 - 12:00am

UPDATED: Friday, September 14, 2012 - 12:05am

The Twittersphere was aghast about the hefty $29 and $39 price tags Apple is placing on adapters to connect the iPhone 5 to old docks, alarm clock radios and speaker systems.

"What a rip off!" said @chrisoldroyd.

"It's time to gouge our customers for a ton more money," Disqus commenter dawsg4ever quipped.

It's an absurdly high price to charge, but the anger may have been misplaced. What should have sparked outrage is that those expensive adapters don't support video or analog audio. That means if you buy a $29 adapter so you can plug your iPhone 5 into your speaker dock, there's a very good chance you won't actually be able to play music through the speakers.

Which is, you know, the point of buying the adapter in the first place.

Apple said nothing about that lack of functionality in its presentation on Wednesday. But in its description of both the $29 and $39 adapters on its online store, Apple clearly says "Video and iPod Out not supported."

The old 30-pin connector that Apple had been using on all iPods, iPads and iPhones since 2003 was able to send an analog signal out, which many cars, docks and other gadgets picked up to play music through their speakers. The new eight-prong Lightning adapter is all digital, but Apple did not respond to requests for comment about why the adapter wasn't designed to convert the digital signal to analog.

Some older speaker docks will still be able to play music from an iPhone 5 by connecting a cord from an auxiliary jack to the iPhone's headphone jack. But that kind of misses the point of the dock in the first place.

So what's the point of the adapter? Apple says that its "intelligent adapter" will allow customers to connect the iPhone 5 to "many of your 30-pin accessories."

The adapter can be used to charge iPhone 5 phones through old docks or connect them to a PC via old cables, for instance, though Apple will be supplying a Lightning-to-USB adapter and a wall plug with its devices that will be able to accomplish that task

Most angry commenters were upset about the price, but a few caught on to the lack of video and audio support.

Said @misterfrosty, "So won't work with docs? Utter madness!"

"Uh oh... iPhone 5 Lightning connection may not work with old docks or adapter," tweeted @pm_girl

The new Lightning connector is 80% smaller than Apple's old one, a feat that helped Apple make the iPhone 5 the thinnest iPhone yet. Some took to Twitter to put the Lightning snafu into perspective.

"I don't think the iPhone 5 is disappointing, I just think people expected it to shoot unicorns out of its lightning connector," said @NasriAtallah. 

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