iPhone won't play nicely with Sony alarm clock
June 4, 2011 4:24 PM   Subscribe

iMy husband's iPhone 3GS does not work with our ICF-CD3iPSIL Sony clock alarm...but my iPhone 3G works just fine. Why? Details: His iPhone charges just fine when it's in the clock alarm dock, but we cannot control it via remote control or the buttons on the alarm clock. Also, his iPhone won't play music through the alarm speakers, though it will play it fine through the phone speakers. My older-generation 3G does all of those things. I compared iPhone settings, and everything seems the same. Can you help? Thanks so much!
posted by Atrahasis to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
What iOS versions are the phones on?

Besides that sometimes these iOS compliant devices are only tested for the versions that existed when they were built. (I constantly get annoying errors when I try to plug my late model iphone into the exercise machine connectors at my gym.)

I say contact Sony, just don't give them any of your personal info.
posted by stratastar at 4:28 PM on June 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Good point. His iOS is 4.3.3 and mine is 4.2.1. Does that mean I can't upgrade mine...ever???
posted by Atrahasis at 4:33 PM on June 4, 2011

There are certain "hints" (voltage levels on the data pins, mostly) that a charger can give a USB device to let it know how much power it can pull, or if it can pull any at all. The 3G wasn't too strict about watching for those hints, but the 3GS (and, later, the 4G) is. It's a problem that I encountered with cheap car chargers - it's part of the USB specification, but that spec costs money, so some makers don't bother to implement it. The short answer is that it's a hardware problem, and there isn't a solution. Sorry. :(
posted by TheNewWazoo at 5:13 PM on June 4, 2011

Oh, wow, I just realized that I answered a question you didn't ask and aren't having problems with. D'oh. Sorry. :(
posted by TheNewWazoo at 5:15 PM on June 4, 2011

You can't upgrade your 3G past iOS 4.2.1 anyway, that's as high as the phone will go. Which could have something to do with it...

You can do a quick and dirty test, if you know someone with a 3GS that hasn't been updated (is running 4.2.1) by putting it on your dock and trying those features.
posted by howrobotsaremade at 7:28 PM on June 4, 2011

Best answer: The 3GS models were notorious for having hinky dock connectors (prone to breakage and/or partial failure). This could possible be an issue - it could explain why the dock will charge the phone but not control it completely. Dust and gunk clogging the dock connector can also cause failures.

I would do the following.

1. attempt to clean the dock connector in the 3GS. Take a teeny flat head jewelers screwdriver and place a thin non-paper towel on it such as an unfolded handi-wipe. Moisten (but do NOT soak!) the handi wipe tip with alcohol and gently(!) wipe around the inside of the phone dock connector. Do not use too mush pressure and only a smidgen of fluid. Try to reconnect and see what happens.

2. use itunes and back up your iphone. then use itunes and restore it to factory spec using the latest OS it presents to you. This is NOT an upgrade - it's a wipe to factory spec. There's a button for that in itunes. Then, WITHOUT restoring the phone from your backup see if it reconnects to the dock. If it works then attempt an iphone restore form your previous backup. Attempt to reconnect to the dock and see it it still works. If it fails the there is something that you have installed on your phone (some app) that is interfering. You'll have to go through the wipe again and then restore your applications one at a time and see which one is making it fail.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 7:42 PM on June 4, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone! I appreciate the creative solutions. Turns out that PoetLariat's suggestion #1 did it and the phone plays great now. I guess it was just some dirt in the connector. We are in awe of the MetaFilter collective intelligence. Thanks, PoetLariat!!
posted by Atrahasis at 8:00 PM on June 4, 2011

Glad to be of help :)
posted by Poet_Lariat at 8:11 PM on June 4, 2011

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