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      07-06-2011, 01:14 AM   #23
Bustofa
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Originally Posted by Nahoa View Post
Didn't mean to come across argumentative -- was just happy to hear it was so easy. Clearly you were bolder than I and just tried it out!
Whoops! Nor me. Was just confirming. It was late here when I posted so response was short; apologies if it came across as a bit curt.
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      07-06-2011, 01:33 AM   #24
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Wow! Quite a response. Sfax, the db test is most interesting (and I will try it for fun) but looking at the bars is enough for me. I rest the phone on the cradle without snapping it in and look at the reading (bars on the phone). I snap it in and wait 10 seconds for resampling and see if there is a change, and there is none. I then move the car because there is always the possibility that the roof antenna is in a "dead spot" and moving would eliminate the variable.

I was once an active mobile ham radio operator before cell phones and had experience with vhf and uhf signals with both internal and external (roof & trunk) antennas and the external will always win even with the loss in the coax, which could be substantial at cell phone frequencies.

Just another conjecture - the signal didn't change either up or down. This suggests that it may never had really connected in the first place. The X3 brochure promotes the increased range as a benefit. Still not sure why it doesn't work as advertised. Even an increase from one or two bars to three bars will go a long way to get you a handoff to the next tower, reducing dropped calls. I'm pursuing this through my dealer as well. If I learn anything, I will post it here. THANKS all for your suggestions. - Andy

Yeah, I was hoping that an app could record the readings at intervals which would be much more useful and you (and others) could also use it as evidence to show the cradle wasn't working. I'm very sceptical about mine after seeing the effect of closing the armrest!

I don't know much about the technology but I can't see any kind of coaxial connection so I assume it's just done through the phone's shell?

Would be interesting to see more armrest test results. I mean surely if the phone is actually using the car's external aerial, closing the armrest should have no effect?!
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      07-06-2011, 01:35 AM   #25
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Originally Posted by Bustofa View Post
Whoops! Nor me. Was just confirming. It was late here when I posted so response was short; apologies if it came across as a bit curt.




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      07-06-2011, 03:15 AM   #26
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Wait, you don't have x-ray eyes? I thought they were standard. Next you'll be telling me you don't hear people crying for help 100s of miles away.

Because the data displayed on the device is up to 6 seconds out of date (see bottom of the screen for when it was last updated), all you need to do is leave the phone in the armrest for a while and then quickly open it, at which point you'll likely see a reading from up to 6 seconds ago when the armrest was still closed.

I may have a bad cradle but the closed armrest / open armrest difference seemed very clear in my case
From your symptoms, I would be checking that the shark fin antenna on the roof is making a connection with the cradle (the dealer will be able to find out what the pin impedances should be and then measure them to see if it is internally connected).

If the antenna was not connected - then your iPhone would be using its internal antenna, which would be working fine with the armrest open, but attenuated when shielded by the closed armrest. (a partial Farraday cage effect)

All theory - would need to do impedance checks on the antenna connections to know for sure.

I never trust that an antenna is connected - my Toyota Kluger (highlander) came with a GPS, but the dealer managed to dissconnect the antenna twice behind the dash, each time was a long argument to get them to pull the dash apart to reconnect it. Even when the LCD display clearly did not show any GPS signal.
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      07-06-2011, 06:44 AM   #27
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Originally Posted by Dr Stig 2 View Post
From your symptoms, I would be checking that the shark fin antenna on the roof is making a connection with the cradle (the dealer will be able to find out what the pin impedances should be and then measure them to see if it is internally connected).

If the antenna was not connected - then your iPhone would be using its internal antenna, which would be working fine with the armrest open, but attenuated when shielded by the closed armrest. (a partial Farraday cage effect)

All theory - would need to do impedance checks on the antenna connections to know for sure.

I never trust that an antenna is connected - my Toyota Kluger (highlander) came with a GPS, but the dealer managed to dissconnect the antenna twice behind the dash, each time was a long argument to get them to pull the dash apart to reconnect it. Even when the LCD display clearly did not show any GPS signal.
Thanks for the advice and the info. I agree and I intend to take it to the dealer and ask them to check.

Ahh, Faraday's cage takes me back to physics at school and watching someone in a cage remain unharmed whilst millions of volts were fired at it...
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      07-06-2011, 06:58 AM   #28
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When measuring, think about how you hold the phone (iPhone 4) since this affects the reception (and therefor number of bars) quite dramatically. But it seems that in Sfax case that the cradle indeed has no connection with the shark fin antenna. Interesting, I will try it out... as soon as I get my car of course...
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      07-06-2011, 07:06 AM   #29
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Interesting, I will try it out... as soon as I get my car of course...
- You'll need that to try it

I would recommend not holding the phone at all when measuring and also have it facing in the same direction as it is in the cradle.

Will let you know what I get back from the stealers but won't be until next week at the earliest
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      07-06-2011, 01:40 PM   #30
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The iPhone does not provide antenna leads in it's connector. http://pinouts.ru/CellularPhones-A-N...r_pinout.shtml There is no way to use the X3's built in antenna. The reason some are seeing better reception in the cradle is that the iPhone can generate more transmission power when it is plugged in. Try testing with a USB cable without holding the iPhone in your hand and the results will be the same as in the cradle.

BMW does provide docks for other phones like Nokias which have a separate antenna connector, usually in the back of the phone under a little rubber cover. You remove the cover before placing the phone in the cradle.

For people not seeing any improvement, it is probably due to your local carrier and the frequency they are using. You get better reception with the 850/900MHZ range than the 1800/1900mhz range.
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      07-06-2011, 02:20 PM   #31
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Well, bugger me!
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      07-06-2011, 02:36 PM   #32
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If this is the case, I have no reason to doubt that it isn't, it's yet more false advertising by BMW because I'm certain the description for the iPhone cradle says "boosts signal through the car's aerial" or words to that effect. This would also explain the mystery of no obvious aerial connection and armrest closed, poor signal
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      07-06-2011, 03:08 PM   #33
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Sfax, I Tried your armrest theory several times (I can read the signal on the control screen as well as on the phone) but sadly it didn't work for me.

I then placed aluminum tape across the notorious iPhone4 antenna gap which reduced the signal by about 2 bars. The purpose: To determine if the signal was being transferred to the sharkfin roof antenna, bypassing the iPhone's internal ariel. There was no change here as well so I am concluding that the phone is not physically being connected to the roof antenna when snapped in.

My next step (to confirm the above) will be to place a grounded metal container over the sharkfin antenna. If that has an effect, I should see a reduction or elimination of my satellite radio signal as well as the GPS satellites. Also, my BMW Assist signal. I would then place the phone in the cradle to look for a REDUCTION in phone signal. If there isn't any, then the roof antenna would be permanently ruled out as working for once and for all. I will share my results, of course. Thanks for your suggestion anyhow, Andy
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      07-06-2011, 03:24 PM   #34
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Just now read SSKARLATOS's message... thanks for the pinouts! Says a lot.

For the record, and I'm not suggesting this is the case here, one can still use capacitance coupling from the phone to the coax/roof antenna, not requiring an actual physical connection from a pin. I've use "through the glass" coupling antennas at much lower frequencies (the higher the easier) with success because it saved me from drilling a hole in my car.

A direct connection would likely be better as you suggest but if a cradle were "tuned" properly to the iPhone's conveniently placed external antenna (the one with the gap), it could work successfully. This is what I'm trying to find out from BMW. Thanks for such great feedback, Andy
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      07-06-2011, 04:29 PM   #35
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sfax View Post
If this is the case, I have no reason to doubt that it isn't, it's yet more false advertising by BMW because I'm certain the description for the iPhone cradle says "boosts signal through the car's aerial" or words to that effect. This would also explain the mystery of no obvious aerial connection and armrest closed, poor signal
Well f*ck me. BMW screw up important information! There's a shocker!
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      07-06-2011, 04:34 PM   #36
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I'm certain the description for the iPhone cradle says "boosts signal through the car's aerial" or words to that effect. l
Indeed it does. This is an extract from the product description for the iPhone 4 adapter (my emphasis):

A safe and secure docking system, suitable for Apple iPhone 4 mobile phones.

Thanks to the interchangeable, phone-specific snap-in adapter, drivers can make calls hands-free. In conjunction with the Bluetooth interface, it enables you to charge the mobile phone battery. Supplied with an external aerial, which improves reception and ensures that any radiation is dissipaded outside the car interior, while charging their handset at the same time. Operation is via the iDrive controller, multi-function steering wheel or voice control. More information available on request.
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      07-06-2011, 07:43 PM   #37
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Originally Posted by andy8400 View Post
Just now read SSKARLATOS's message... thanks for the pinouts! Says a lot.

For the record, and I'm not suggesting this is the case here, one can still use capacitance coupling from the phone to the coax/roof antenna, not requiring an actual physical connection from a pin. I've use "through the glass" coupling antennas at much lower frequencies (the higher the easier) with success because it saved me from drilling a hole in my car.

A direct connection would likely be better as you suggest but if a cradle were "tuned" properly to the iPhone's conveniently placed external antenna (the one with the gap), it could work successfully. This is what I'm trying to find out from BMW. Thanks for such great feedback, Andy
Wouldn't you need to have the external antenna and the phone antenna really close to have "capacitance coupling"? If this is the case, would the cradle have an internal wire wrapped in the cradle casing, which connected to the external antenna?
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      07-06-2011, 09:10 PM   #38
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Originally Posted by andy8400 View Post

I then placed aluminum tape across the notorious iPhone4 antenna gap which reduced the signal by about 2 bars. The purpose: To determine if the signal was being transferred to the sharkfin roof antenna, bypassing the iPhone's internal ariel. There was no change here as well so I am concluding that the phone is not physically being connected to the roof antenna when snapped in.
Perhaps I'm reading this wrong, but it appears to show that when in the cradle the phone's antenna isn't used and the car's is.
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      07-06-2011, 09:10 PM   #39
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The iPhone does not provide antenna leads in it's connector. http://pinouts.ru/CellularPhones-A-N...r_pinout.shtml There is no way to use the X3's built in antenna.
You have to love salesmen. External phone antenna indeed.

They tried to sell this feature to me on both the Z4 last year and the X3 this year.

I get good phone coverage and I can't be bothered to always put the phone in a cradle - so I saved the money. Wisely it seems.
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      07-06-2011, 09:16 PM   #40
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Might be a problem here. Is there a way to know what this app is checking when plugged in to the cradle? If it's still checking the radio's own antenna, then the values should get worse or stay the same inside the armrest. Any reason to think the app is able to check the antenna connection through the utility port vice just looking at the handset?
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      07-06-2011, 09:17 PM   #41
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Whoops! Nor me. Was just confirming. It was late here when I posted so response was short; apologies if it came across as a bit curt.
No worries here. Glad all good. Thanks!
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      07-08-2011, 06:31 AM   #42
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Wouldn't you need to have the external antenna and the phone antenna really close to have "capacitance coupling"? If this is the case, would the cradle have an internal wire wrapped in the cradle casing, which connected to the external antenna?
Radioactive, the answer is yes, but not as close as you might think at these frequencies. If there were a metal band embedded in the cradle's left guide bar (which I highly doubt!), that is, the guide next to the iPhone antenna and the metal plate in the base of the cradle a tuned circuit would be conceivable. Remember, I said I was speculating, and replying to the understandable notion that there has to be a physical connection. I have no idea what BMW had in mind when they designed a cradle for the iPhone4. In my first post, I mentioned that I had no success with an iPhone 3GS and its appropriate cradle as well.

Now here is the interesting part: My dealer originally said that BMW had redesigned the cradle for the iPhone4 specifically for reception improvement, along with a slightly different part number, and there were about 50 of them in Germany. When it never arrived here, I was then told that this part, too, was having "technical difficulties" related to the newer design.

If they can't or won't provide a cradle for the iPhone4 with external antenna functionality, I wish they would just say so so I don't have to be in limbo.

Other than this one issue, the X3 is a great vehicle. We love it.
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      09-02-2011, 12:12 PM   #43
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Took my X3 to the dealer today to look at the shark fin and its Emperor's New Clothes signal boost. I even left instruction on how to field test using an iPhone.

The guy was helpful and tested with an iPhone 4 and 3GS and also checked the cradle in a 5 series. He used the field test method but came up with the same results as me in my X3 and in the 5 series. There is nothing to prove that doesn't work and nothing to prove that it does. I had a long discussion with him and he checked for any obvious fin problems but didn't come up with anything.

So what we can read into this? Either the cradle does very little or nothing at all IMO. My signal is pretty good in most places anyway but this will be disappointing for those who buy the cradle specifically for this signal boost.
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      09-28-2012, 08:50 AM   #44
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I've just taken delivery of a new 2.0 litre diesel X3 (F25) and am absolutely delighted with it (coming up to 1000 miles on the clock). Absolutely brilliant vehicle!!

I am about to replace my old mobile phone too. I was looking at maybe buying an Apple 4s until, I too, realised that Apple phones do not have an external antenna connection... Asking around, I gather that few if any moblie phones marketed in the last year or so have external antenna connections.

It seems a real shame to waste the substantial signal gains in using the X3 roof antenna, especially as I live in a rural hilly area. So I am now wondering about sourcing an older new old stock or secondhand phone (with an external antenna socket) to use. But I would obviously prefer it to be a phone model for which BMW have a snap-in adaptor available...

Can anyone suggest a mobile phone model that has both an external antenna socket AND BMW snap-in adaptor for in car charging available? I understand - but have yet to confirm - that many Nokias did. Having said that, I'm not that fussed on the phone maker & if anyone actually has a phone (from whichever manufacturer) that does the job, I'd be delighted to know!

Many thanks for any suggestions :-)
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