TCC Tip: Buyer Beware, Your Bluetooth May Not Pair

October 28, 2009

This week, as we've sifted through's email for your questions, we've found an interesting one concerning Bluetooth connectivity. We're big users of the hands-free frequency, though we do advocate that you make all calls from a parked car, not a moving one.

We're also experienced in setting up difficult and easy Bluetooth connections, from the simple-as-pie 2010 Kia Soul to the occasionally cranky Ford SYNC system. From our hands-on testing of nearly 300 cars a year, we can confirm what a reader from Virginia's found out--that Bluetooth isn't the universal connection it's cracked up to be.

Harris Miller writes:

My wife recently bought a 2009 Audi A4, after being a BMW devotee most of her life. Generally very happy, BUT the her new Verizon Blackberry [a 9630 Tour] is not compatible with the car's Bluetooth.  And when she contacted Audi...she was basically told, "Too bad. We are not going to fix the problem."...Please give them hell publicly.  

In this case, the Millers bought the 2009 A4 in a specific form (with a manual transmission) just a few months prior to the 2010 model-year cars entering showrooms. Miller says he was told the 2010 A4 would in fact connect with the phone, which sounded like a firmware issue on his 2009 A4 to us.

We contacted Audi's U.S. public relations team, to find out more on the situation. Unfortunately for the Millers, an Audi spokesman does confirm that the Blackberry Tour "has not been certified for use with the MMI," Audi's Multi Media Interface, on either the 2G or 3G bands. The Tour model isn't the only one: other Blackberry models have been showing compatibility problems, they add. Audi does point out that the voice connectivity usually is not a problem, since Bluetooth is supposed to be downwardly compatible, but the lack of compatibility would render the MMI's audio and voice functions useless.

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