Did you know that the first vehicle with Bluetooth was released in 2000? (No, it wasn’t BMW, just a Chrysler). And 18 years later this technology is still one of the most important means of bringing your phone’s features into your favorite car.
In BMWs there are two types of features you can get depending on the package or on the vehicle configurations you choose: 1) Basic Bluetooth & 2) Enhanced Bluetooth (EBT).
Please keep in mind that the EBT features strongly depend on your model, your phone and even the network operator. Some cars equipped with Basic Bluetooth may have more options than they're supposed to have, and some BMWs having Enhanced Bluetooth may be limited to a smaller number of features than generally assigned to this functionality. In order to know for sure what you will get with the EBT Bluetooth audio upgrade, check the BMW Bluetooth compatibility page. Remember that this list is always subject to change; each BMW Bluetooth software update can add new features, and updating your phone's operating system can import what you can do in your car.
Now let’s see what’s the fuss around EBT is all about.
Adding Enhanced Bluetooth to your vehicle unlocks a number of advanced Bluetooth features not found in the basic BMW Bluetooth package, including album art, music streaming and USB connectivity.
|Feature||Basic Bluetooth||Enhanced Bluetooth|
|Access to the phone’s contact book||✔️||✔️|
|Pairing two phones||❌||✔️|
|Connecting iOS devices through the USB cable||❌ (possible with the Y-connector)||✔️|
|Playing music from a phone through a USB port||❌||✔️|
|Album art covers||❌||✔️|
|Office (reading/sending SMS, calendar, tasks, notes)||❌||✔️|
To pair your car and phone:
Your passkey is a unique pairing code for your vehicle. You can find it written in your owner manual.
If you have lost your owner manual, the passkey is written on the Bluetooth module itself. In most BMWs, this is located at the rear of the vehicle. With the trunk open, the interior trim on one side will have a removable panel covering the amplifier. The Bluetooth module is located next to the amplifier, and will have a sticker on it with "PK" (passkey) followed by a four-digit PIN code.
When you connect two phones to your iDrive via Bluetooth, it means, for example, that one of them can be used for streaming music, and another one for making calls which is pretty convenient. But please remember that if two devices are simultaneously connected as telephones, both of them can receive calls, but only one can make them.
If you BMW is equipped with the CIC / ENTRY iDrive system, you will only be able to skip to the previous or next song. The NBT & NBT Evo head units provide the possibility to browse the playlist and choose any song to play.
Unlocking Enhanced Bluetooth in your BMW also activates the USB port for playing music from the phone, allowing for digital audio. Streaming music over USB offers better sound quality than Bluetooth, so is a great choice for audiophiles.
It doesn’t mean that without EBT, the USB port doesn’t work. With the Basic Bluetooth and S6FLA option, it is possible to play music via USB, but only from a USB stick with MP3 files.
Since its launch in BMWs in 2017, adding Apple CarPlay to your BMW has offered a compelling alternative to Enhanced Bluetooth. Both let you connect your phone to your BMW and access music, messages and more. Which is better depends on how you want to use your phone.
The most obvious difference is that, as an Apple product, CarPlay is only an option for iPhone users. Anybody with a Samsung or other Android phone won't be able to use it, and BMW is yet to introduce an alternative in Android Auto (though an Android Auto retrofit can help). Though the list of BMW Bluetooth compatible phones doesn't include every device, it does span both iOS and Android ecosystems.
Another important distinction is that, while EBT offers the option of Bluetooth pairing two phones simultaneously, CarPlay requires a connection to only one device.
The decision may come down to how you want to access your music. BMW's Bluetooth audio streaming and USB connectivity offers a flexible way to listen to any music you have available on your device or a USB drive, while everything in CarPlay has to go through CarPlay-compatible app. It's a great fit for online streaming services like Apple Music and Spotify, but it could mean missing out on some songs.
So, if you finally decided that your BMW needs all the EBT functions, they can be added in one of two ways:
How to determine what your car requires? The easiest way will be to write an email with your VIN and our specialists will tell you for sure. If you want to make your own small investigation, here is the info that will help you.
|Model & Head unit||Type of activation|
|BMW 5-Series E60/E61 & 6-Series E63/E64 + CIC||Combox retrofit|
|BMW 3-Series E90/E91/E92/E93 before 09/10 + CIC||Combox retrofit|
|BMW 3-Series E90/E91/E92/E93 after 09/10 + CIC||Cable coding activation|
|BMW F-Series + CIC /ENTRY*/CHAMP2||Cable coding activation|
|BMW F-Series + ENTRYNAV/ENTRYNAVEVO||Cable coding activation|
|BMW F-Series + NBT/NBT Evo||USB/cable coding activation|
* BMWs with the ENTRY iDrive system can sometimes require the Combox retrofit or even an additional head unit swap.
Activating Enhanced Bluetooth through coding is easy, fast and secure. It requires no physical changes to your vehicle, and you'll have Enhanced Bluetooth activated in less than an hour without even leaving home. Find out more about BimmerTech's USB and cable coding process for BMWs.
In case you want to know whether your BMW is compatible with USB or cable coding activation, type in your VIN here and the website will give you the answer. You can even add more iDrive coding options to your order and have several new features activated at the same time.
The Bluetooth connection between your phone and car may occasionally stop working, particularly after a software update. Often, this is because your vehicle has deactivated certain features. To check all features are still active:
If this doesn't work, try disconnecting and reconnecting your phone and vehicle. Do this first in your BMW, by navigating to the Manage mobile devices menu and selecting Delete device. Then open your phone's Bluetooth menu and select the option to forget your vehicle. You can then pair your phone and car again.
Enhanced Bluetooth doesn’t add features to your car that it isn’t supposed to add.
Many people on the forums may state that unlocking EBT you also get BMW Assist feature, which is not true. This functionality depends on the telematics module. It also doesn’t add a wireless charging module or BMW apps which are completely different products.
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