Lightning to 30-pin Adapters hands-on

While Apple managed to ship the iPhone 5 to dozens of countries within the span of a couple weeks, it's taken almost a month to get the 30-pin Dock to Lightning connector adapters shipped and into stores. So, now that they're here, how are they?

Okay. Pretty much exactly what you'd expect.

The dongle isn't really small enough to avoid being annoying, but that's what you get when you need something to translate the new, all-digital Lightning signal into the old, partly analog Dock signal and vice versa. If all you have is an old legacy cable, either stand-alone or as part of an in-car system, it works fine. Anything that's cramped, however, or relies on wrapping around the base or back of the iPhone for stability, probably won't work.

That brings us to the cable. It's the same as the dongle but includes a short length -- 20 cm or 7.8-inches -- of USB cable as well. So, for example, you could attach it inside a battery case or even some types of media docks and still, awkwardly, use them with your iPhone 5, iPod touch 5, or iPod nano 7.

Both are expensive, neither is ideal, neither supports video, and they took far too long to get into stores. That said, if you have a legacy accessory that absolutely needs a 30-pin Dock port to work, it's something you're going to have to pick up.

I tested both out with the iPod connector kit in my car and they both worked fine, exactly how the iPhone 4S worked with the traditional, direct Dock connector. My music played out through the car, and the car controls were recognized by my iPhone 5.

  • $39.95 - Lightning to 30-pin Adapter (0.2 m) - Buy now (opens in new tab)
  • $29.95 - Lightning to 30-pin Adapter - Buy now (opens in new tab)

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

  • The adapter continues the prod tradition of not working with cases...another 5mm shaved off that big, blocky housing would have made it fit with just about any case.
  • Thats' true. It's analog media cable fat.
  • Fed up of waking up early and rushing to office daily? Why not try Online job? i Love my job, since I've been bringing in $82h… I sit at home, music playing while I work in front of my new iMac that I got now that I'm making it online…
  • Try them with docks or accesories w/ docks and cry how ugly they look... That lightning is the most idiotic thing in whole Apple life...
  • I just got mine a few days ago and use it on my clock radio. My iPhone 5 has synced by wifi only once or twice using the adapter. I'm beginning to wonder if its interfering with wifi syncing.
  • iPod touch 7?
  • ^iPod nano 7
  • Rather than dick with the adapters I'm just ordering lightning USB cables to replace my dock USB cables... Luckily I don't have any dock-only accessories.
  • I'm doing the exact same thing...Lucky us!!!!
  • Rene, what car were you using it with? I understand the controls, and display do not always work with some built in systems.
  • A new lighting cable is 19 bucks. These adapters are 29 and 39 bucks respectively. Other than things with docks, I see no reason to get them. Why pay 30 or 40 bucks to cap off a cable you can replace for 19 bucks. I bought two extra 19 dollar cables for me and my wife at the Apple Store. Done.
  • This is great and all, but what about accessories? If I have a nice, $100 clock radio dock, I can't just replace that functionality with a new lighting cable. You pretty much have to buy the adaptor or buy a whole new one.
  • That's what I did as well. I went to order the adapter and saw that the usb/lightning cable was much cheaper. A no brainer for me to get the new cable.
  • So just to clarify it can do audio out through that connector? Not the headphone jack. As my car adapter plays audio through the bottom connector on my 4s and all my other ipods..
  • yep
  • How about charging? will the adapters allow charging as well as audio out, such as with chargers that fit car lighter plugs?
  • yep
  • I think the doc adapter should have raised the lightning plug a millimeter or two so it would work with cases. I have a minimal bumper (just enough to keep the phone from scuffing on surfaces) with an opening which allows the lighting cable to fit fine. The adapter wants to be flush with the bottom of the phone, which means that a case needs to have an opening for a full 30 pin connector. A 1-2 mm lip raising the lightning plug a bit from the rest of the adapter would have been ideal. I'll need to break out the Dremel to mod the case to accept it. I have a combo iPad & iPhone charger on my nightstand specifically so that both devices can stand up and keep the nightstand organized and uncluttered, so one of the cable adapters would be suboptimal.
  • What about the camera/sd card adapters? Live by them when traveling...