The iPad Keyboard Dock works with the iPhone 3GS! (*)



The fact is, if you upgrade your iPhone 3GS to iOS 4.0 and then slap it into an iPad Keyboard Dock, the keyboard (well, I’ll be damned) actually works. You can write emails and notes with it; it works everywhere I’ve tried it.

There are just two little hitches with this:

1) The iPhone 3GS’s rounded base has a tendency to wiggle up from the dock, causing Unexpected Things to sometimes happen. Sometimes I’d experience “stuck” keys. I also suspect that another potential Unexpected Thing might be that your iPhone’s dock connector could get cracked if you keep trying to scrunch it in there.

2) This is only a practical solution to the problem someone betting you $10 that it can’t be done. The iPad Keyboard Dock isn’t even a practical travel dock for the iPad, for God’s sake. If you want to use a physical keyboard with the iPhone, just get a Bluetooth one…Bluetooth keyboards are supported “for real” right within iOS 4. Apple’s Wireless keyboard is slim, trim, affordable, and it works great. Other Bluetooth keyboards are even smaller.

Still, it’s an interesting little quirk and I suppose we can all enjoy this until Apple decides to smack it off the table.

Yes? A question at the back?

Ah. Of course. “Does this mean that you can use USB keyboards with the iPhone 3GS as well.” Obviously you’re an iPad owner and know about the trick of using the USB adapter in the iPad Camera Connection Kit with keyboards and microphones and headsets. Alas, no such luck with the iPhone 3GS. You get the dreaded “Who the hell told you that it was OK to plug this, of all things, into the iPhone?” message from the OS and that’s the end of the adventure.

Speaking of adventure, wish me well on yet another week in which I need to bash the hell out of an OS and a piece of hardware and write another Old Testament-style review. This must be the fifth or sixth of the past couple of months. I’m definitely lining up the rest of my summer so that I only have to review things like Windows task managers and novelty USB key drives.


25 thoughts on “The iPad Keyboard Dock works with the iPhone 3GS! (*)

  1. Jeremy

    Can you do me a favor.. Plug headphones into the line-out in the back of the dock, and see if the volume keys work please.

    That’s a main gripe I have with my iPad and doc. I have to use the headphone jack on the iPad if I want the volume to work with headphones.

    Oh, and I asume the iPhone 4 will fit better, being it’s thinner. Let’s home Apple does not turn this off (not sure why they would), as I have an iPhone 4 coming in a week.

  2. Scott Heinowski

    @Tobey Forsman I think apple does not intend the port on the back to be a headphone jack, it is in fact a line out which should only have a single volume so that you aren’t overdriving or underdriving your receiver, and since the dock does not block the top mounted headphone jack that should still work fine.

  3. Jeremy


    Yea, it works, but I use my iPad all day at work, and it’s in and out of the dock a half a dozen times a day. It would just be nice to have the audio work when I plug it in. You know… I could find a small receiver with line-in and a headphone jack out, and use that to control volume. Time for a google search :)

  4. markkemp

    Andy, what did you use to film that segment? Very steady and clear, is it some sort of mounted camera in front of you?

  5. Rowan

    Helpful, but without a way to hide the software keyboard it’s far from perfect. They really need to add the hide keyboard button to the iPhone iOS.

  6. dj

    Quite disappointed in the lack of BT keyboard love for the 3G! Though Apple has been very upfront about it, with even the iOS 4 release notes having a discrete little asterisk next to ‘BT keyboard’ excusing the 3G from applying.

    I guess either an inadequate BT chipset or perhaps even lack of RAM to reliably support the BT HID profile.

  7. Thom

    Dock extender cable works
    If you’re worried about messing up the dock by jamming an iPhone in there.

    Also nice for turning iPad sideways and using the keyboard dock.

  8. TKO

    @Jeremy ..I’m not sure what the camera is, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there wasn’t a gorillapod involved there somewhere. :) (enough negatives?) :p

    Awesome segment Andy. My humble 3G is crying out to be updated now. *sigh*

  9. totally free iPhone

    “You get the dreaded “Who the hell told you that it was OK to plug this, of all things, into the iPhone?” message from the OS”
    <– if the iPhone 4 actually gave messages like this, I'd consider upgrading!!!

  10. Max Leibman

    Re: iPhone 3G compatibility, Apple has not totally left us out: while it’s true that Bluetooth keyboards are unsupported, my iPhone 3G works perfectly (well, as perfectly as anything else) in the Keyboard Dock. It suffers the same not-quite-fitting-in issue as the 3GS; I’m finding it’s not an issue for table-top typing, but makes setting the keyboard in my lap dangerous (the phone wiggled free almost immediately).

    The dock is an awkward shape, to be sure, but it also fits well in my messenger bag nestled up against/around a hardback book (I can always count on having one of those in the bag), so for now the dock goes with me and my 12″ PowerBook stays home.

    It’s like finally having an Apple netbook–complete with all sorts of comprises, just like real netbooks.

  11. Max Leibman

    Err, all sorts of “compromises,” I meant. Ah, Pedictive Text, my old frienemy…

  12. Aaron

    I find the Apple bluetooth keyboard is great for an office setup but is an absolute disaster when I’m on the go. When carried in my Brenthaven backpack, the on/off button gets bumped constantly. There’s no visual indicator that the keyboard is on. So when I then take out my iPad and try to enter text, I find it won’t bring up the software keyboard because it’s connected to the Bluetooth keyboard. The on/off button is far too easy to press, and the only way to check its status is to press the button, which turns it on if it was off. If someone has a great solution, let me know. But my Apple keyboard is brand new and I plan to eBay it this week.

  13. D. Gray

    I bought an iPad dock/keyboard and it worked just fine with my iPhone 3g iOS4 for TWO DAYS. Then, the phone just stopped responding to it. I don’t know if Apple downloaded some sort of block or what, but it is pretty discouraging. I really enjoyed using the doc/keyboard. Any ideas about what happened?

  14. Max Leibman

    @D. Gray — I’m still using my 3G with the keyboard dock two weeks in and have synced repeatedly, so I don’t think it has been disabled. You might try backing up your phone and doing a reset in iTunes–I had all sorts of (not-keyboard-related) issues with iOS 4 for the first couple of days, but after a restore it has been pretty smooth.

  15. JL

    How about iPhone 4 with the final iOS4?

    I’d like to get the iPad dock for it, if it’ll work.

  16. Robert penn

    I’ve experienced bluetooth problems. In my case I have significant signal degradation in the pairing with my car. I’m using a 3Gs upgraded to iOS4. Prior to iOS4 I had no issues. So same phone, same car, same mount position in the car but degraded bluetooth signal with iOS4. Everything points to a problem with the Bluetooth stack in iOS 4 on the 3Gs and hopefully this will be addressed with iOS 4 update(upgrade guide in ifunia iphone column).

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