It happens every time you buy a new gadget or iDevice. You get the new toy, and then you find out that many, if not all of the accessories you have for it, aren’t compatible. I know that many people are aware of this issue, but with the 2013 Holiday Season upon us, its important to know and hear this quick warning and cautionary guidance before you buy.
In the smartphone arena, if you’ve got an iPhone 4S or later, you’ll hit this issue. The iPhone 5 introduced the Lighting Connector. The classic 30 pin connector that’s been in use on Apple iDevices for just about 10 years. With a minor change of pin-outs with the introduction of a video signal and the removal of FireWire support, the 30 pin connector remained largely unchanged. It was so constant, that it lead to the creation of a whole industry – one of iPhone, iPod and iPad accessories.
When the Lightning connector was introduced with the introduction of the iPhone 5, that industry took a huge hit. None of the established accessories would work with the new iDevices, at least not with out an adapter, and then, not all of the original functionality of the new device would work with the older accessory.
With Android devices, you don’t get as much of this. Over the past 5+ years, Android’s microUSB connector has been pretty constant. However, it doesn’t have the longevity and history that Apple devices do. While that doesn’t mean as much as Google’s strict compatibility guidelines, most Android users have been able to keep most of their accessories over the 7 major releases of Android (Donut to Kitt-Katt).
So what’s the best thing to do?
That’s a great question. If you buy someone a new version of something be it a smartphone, tablet or MP3 player, you need to be aware that you might be forcing the recipient of the gift to buy themselves either an adapter or to buy themselves new accessories. Speakers and such may work very well with an adapter. Some of the more customized or function specific accessories – car kits, cradles and the like, for example – will likely need to be replaced or simply done without if replacements don’t exist.
The one thing that I’d like everyone to take from this particular article is that depending on how “deep” the gift recipient is into their device(s), getting them a new version of the device is often going to change what they can use from their current accessory stash and will effect what they may have to buy to get key functionality back. The major expense isn’t always the device or cellular plan, it might be the accessories that they have to leave behind in order to use the new device.