iPhone 4 Bumper Bumps USB-Dock Cables

I’ve tried to let this go…on the grounds that it is too trivial to merit an entire article. But I just couldn’t do it.

I’m talking about Apple’s iPhone 4 Bumper.

Initially, I had no intention of buying the Bumper. It didn’t seem necessary. I changed my mind after reading about how it could mitigate the iPhone’s now infamous hand-grip-induced reduced signal strength.

Some have argued that Apple should give free Bumpers to iPhone 4 owners — as a remedy for the signal strength problem. I’m not arguing this.

Others have complained that $29 is too expensive for what amounts to a little strip of rubber and plastic. Perhaps. But it’s a well-designed strip. In any case, that’s not my gripe here.

My concern is the cutout at the bottom of the Bumper. This is where you insert the Dock connector cable (or where you would attach the iPhone to a Dock or similar peripheral). The cutout is so small that virtually all existing docks and cables no longer snap in when the Bumper is in place. As it is not especially convenient to temporarily remove the Bumper, there is no easy work-around. [If you’re still not clear exactly what I am describing, check out this Cult of Mac article. It comes complete with photos.]

It is true that the USB-Dock cable that ships with the iPhone (as well as with the iPad and currently shipping iPods) fits through the Bumper. I have heard that some third party peripherals also include a newer slimmed-down compatible connector. However, most do not. At least not yet. Regardless, if you have a prior investment in a collection of cables and peripherals, chances are these will not work with the Bumper. This includes Apple’s own cables that shipped with older iPhones and iPods!

Over the years, I have come to accept the idea that design changes in iOS devices may result in newer models not fitting into older Docks. I have similarly come to terms with the fact that almost any sort of case will prevent an iOS device from connecting to a Dock. As some iPad users have lamented, this includes Apple’s iPad Case preventing an iPad from connecting to Apple’s iPad Dock.

Despite all of this, one thing has remained true (at least for everything that I have owned): No case has prevented a Dock cable from connecting. Until now.

I use several of these USB-Dock cables. Doing so allows me to sync/charge iOS devices from multiple locations (more than one device at a time, if desired) without needing to carry a cable around with me. My initial solution to the Bumper problem was to buy a couple of new cables. [Yes, Apple is generating a lot of extra money from from me here. First, I spend $29 on a Bumper I didn’t expect to buy. Then I spend $19 each on a pair of cables that I only need because I bought the Bumper. Some might cynically claim this is all part of Apple’s devious plan. I’d like to think otherwise. Still, it’s irritating.]

The extra cables turned out to be only a partial solution. I have a Richard Solo external battery for the iPhone. This no longer fits when the Bumper is on. My wife has the special USB-Dock cable that came with Apple’s Bluetooth headset (which Apple no longer sells). This cable will not work with the Bumper. I have a power adapter and cable for charging the iPhone in a car. It too no longer connects to an iPhone 4 with a Bumper. And so it goes.

Still, I have tried to remain tolerant. I am all too aware (as evident by comments in the Cult of Mac article) that some will find such complaints to be “whining” about an insignificant matter. And I know I could solve the matter simply by forgoing the use of the Bumper (or perhaps by using a blade to handcraft a larger opening in the Bumper). Still, what makes it hard for me to let this go is how easy it would have been for Apple to avoid the problem altogether.

As one potential solution, I investigated purchasing a SendStation Dock Extender. Unfortunately, the Extender itself is incompatible with the Bumper (the manufacturer is currently working on an upgrade). What’s worse is what the SendStation people pointed out about what it would have taken for Apple to prevent this hassle: “We have absolutely no idea what the Apple engineers had in mind when they’ve created the Bumper case. {The problem is caused by only}…0.3 mm in thickness and 1.0 mm in width.”

Really? I just don’t get it. Why couldn’t Apple make the opening 0.3 mm thicker? Is that too much to expect? What was Apple’s rationale here? Did Apple pay so little attention to the matter that they were unaware of the situation? That would not be typical. Or is it that they just don’t care? Of course, Apple PR is not commenting. Perhaps if some user sent an email to Steve Jobs, he’d offer a helpful one sentence reply. Regardless, unless Apple redesigns the Bumper sometime down the road, it comes down to a choice between bypassing the Bumper or chucking your collection of older cables and Dock devices.

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One Response to iPhone 4 Bumper Bumps USB-Dock Cables

  1. Pingback: Adapter that fits bumper? | Gadget Encyclopedia

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