Bluetooth Phone Compatibility

One would think that if you happen to have or are looking at a new phone with Bluetooth capabilities it should work with the Bluetooth system within a BMW; this is not the case. Due to the differences in wireless manufacturers use of specific protocols under the larger umbrella of Bluetooth a specific phone may not be compatible or only partially compatible.

BMW had joined forces with Auto Wireless Solutions to help keep up with testing phones for compatibility. The company is also in the business of selling phones so things on the Wireless4BMW.com site are not always updated as they should be even though it is directly linked from BMWUSA.com.

So what are you to do if you are in the market for a new car or new phone if the official lists are not accurate?

Simple, our good friend Jonathan Spira, the technology guru for the BMWCCA, actively tests new phones and maintains a list of phones with ratings for compatibility and the phone itself. His list is extensive and accurate. He and his colleagues painstakingly test the phones in a variety of situations in the real world, not in a contrived lab situation.

In short the phones that seem to perform the best with a BMW are from, BlackBerry, Apple (iPhone), most Sony Ericsson and Motorolla phones. What usually will not work are phones from Samsung, Palm and LG.

For the reviews and list please see here for Jonathan ‘s most recent review which also links to past reviews and the complete list of phones he has tested.

We appreciate his efforts and glad someone is on top of the Bluetooth issues so we can have both the latest and greatest phone and car working together!

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  • The R56 Mini has similar Bluetooth woes, although many of the incompatibilities are due to firmware issues with the phones themselves. Many phones improve or stop working with a firmware update.

    The list isn’t identical to BMW’s, but there’s many similarities. I’ve been maintaining a Google spreadsheet with a list of every confirmed phone compatibility report I can find, mostly from reports NAM.

  • Clearly I’m not up on all the technology idocincricies (sp?) – I thought the benefit, in part, of Blue Tooth was the fact that it was always compatible? That would royally tick me off if my phone didn’t work with my car!

  • Clearly I’m not up on all the technology idocincricies (sp?) – I thought the benefit, in part, of Blue Tooth was the fact that it was always compatible? That would royally tick me off if my phone didn’t work with my car!

    You’d think so, but it doesn’t always work that way. Some phones only provide limited compatibility with the necessary Bluetooth profiles, others provide a hands-free profile for answering and making calls, but no OBEX profile for reading the phone’s address book, and of course there’s some that are just plain old broken.

  • NIck, Thanks for explaining the tech end…I opted to leave it out of the post so people would not feel too overwhelmed with tech jargon and thought someone could elaborate as well! Great spread sheet and interesting to see that the MINI setup and BMW are indeed different.

  • Thanks for explaining the tech end…I opted to leave it out of the post so people would not feel too overwhelmed with tech jargon and thought someone could elaborate as well!

    Really, it’s more excuse than a real explanation 😉

    I guess it all boils down to ‘somebody screwed up’. They’re meant to be compatible. Jonathan’s overview covers it very well- being Bluetooth compatible makes sure that the two devices can connect, but it’s no guarantee that they can communicate.

    At least it’s possible for a fix to show up, firmware or software updates are often available- the upgrade from Windows Mobile 5 to Windows Mobile 6 helped a couple phones with the R56’s compatibility for instance.

    I should also probably point out that my spread sheet is R56 specific- I believe that earlier IBUS based MINI systems are much more in line with BMWs, although that’s based on how similar the Nav systems seem to be rather than my personal knowledge/experience.

  • Leslie

    I just successfully paired ( in record time) my husband’s older Palm Treo 650, with software which isn’t even up to date, and my Treo 755. They both work perfectly.

  • recently i purchase a rolls royce phantom (phantom pearl) and the built in phone is not compatible with the iphone….very discuraging…my question is , since all the elctronics of this vehilce are BMW , which is the correct phone to purchase for it bluetooh compatibilty, the dealer has not been able to resolve

  • recently i purchase a rolls royce phantom 2007 (phantom pearl) and the built in phone is not compatible with the iphone….very discuraging…my question is , since all the elctronics of this vehilce are BMW , which is the correct phone to purchase for it bluetooh compatibilty, the dealer has not been able to resolve

  • Juan- the iPhone will work with BMW bluetooth, and it should work in the Phantom as well.

    You have to make the phone discoverable and have the car search for it.

    I am sure if you took it to Rolls they would pair it for you, but it should not be an issue as I know of people with RR cars that use the iPhone.

  • Thank you Michael thank you , problem has been solved and It was the dealer in Seattle who had to rescue the code from the Key