The original TomTom car kit for iPhone.

The original TomTom car kit for iPhone.

Are you waiting on an iPhone 5 car kit?

Apple's new iPhone 5 has its strengths and weaknesses but, all things considered, I expect I will eventually upgrade my iPhone 4 to an iPhone 5. Right now it's primarily the lack of accessories for the new, smaller Lightning connector that's holding me back. Considering the general dearth of third-party Lightning accessories it's looks like we could be in for a rather long wait. The fact you can't even buy 30-pin-to-Lightning adaptors from Apple yet is a joke. Conspiracy theorists might speculate that the delay is Apple's way of "encouraging" people to simply buy new wireless accessories rather than try to stick with their old gear.

For me the lack of iPhone 5-compatible car kits is a major sticking point. We're a one-car, two-iPhone family, so the TomTom Car Kit for iPhone (pictured) in my car gets quite a workout. It was expensive for a car cradle, but it ticks all the boxes for my needs -- charging, connecting to the car stereo and hands-free Bluetooth speaker.

The TomTom cradle was designed for the iPhone 3G/S, but with a little extra padding at the back it happily holds an iPhone 4/S. Of course this tight-fitting car kit with its old 30-pin connector is never going to hold an iPhone 5. TomTom released updated car kit models for the iPhone and Android a few months ago, along with the recent Android TomTom app. Releasing a new iPhone cradle seemed rather odd when we knew the iPhone 5 was likely to be different to its predecessors. The new models are also still really expensive, even though they've ditched the onboard GPS booster and the 3.5mm audio output for connecting to your car stereo.

There's no word from TomTom as to if or when we'll see an iPhone 5 car kit but, if the updated iPhone model is anything to go by, it may not be worth the wait. Especially if it lacks the 3.5mm audio output for connecting to my car stereo.

If I needed an iPhone 5 car kit today it looks like the best option would be to use an old iPhone cradle which doesn't include a 30-pin connector or limit the height of the phone, such as Kensington's SoundWave Amplifying Car Mount or Belkin's Window Mount for iPhone and iPod. If you wanted to charge the phone while driving you'd need a spare USB Lightning cable for the car along with a car charger such as Belkin's Dual Auto Charger for iPhone and iPod or Kensington's Power Bolt Duo

As for connecting to the car stereo to play music, you might simply run a separate audio cable from the phone to the auxiliary input on your car stereo (assuming it has such an input). Keep in mind that Apple has moved the headphone jack from the top of the iPhone to the bottom, which creates problems with some car kits. 

Life might be easier if your car stereo has a USB input which can both play audio from your iPhone 5 and charge it. Then you'd just need a spare USB Lightning cable for the car. I'm told that the ability to play audio from an iPhone via a car stereo's USB still works with the iPhone 5, but I haven't tried it myself so I can't vouch for it. My understanding is that if you've got a fancy car stereo which displays the iPhone's menus on the dashboard, this feature no longer works via a Lightning to 30-pin adaptor.

I upgraded my car stereo about seven years ago for a new model with a front 3.5mm audio input and an MP3-compatible CD player, so it might be time to upgrade to a new model with a front USB port. Thankfully many hi-fi stores have car stereos set up on display, so I should be able to test out a few models in-store with the iPhone 5.

That just leaves me to worry about a hands-free Bluetooth speaker. There are plenty of standalone Bluetooth speakers, but they're generally battery-powered and require a regular recharge -- which is a hassle because I wouldn't use it often so I know it would always be flat when I called on it.

Perhaps the answer is to spend even more money on a new car stereo which also features Bluetooth for hands-free calls. Once you add Bluetooth it looks like I'm up for at least $300 for a new car stereo, along with a new basic cradle, just so I can retain the functionality I currently get from my iPhone 4. It's frustrating but the addition of USB and Bluetooth should offer an extra level of future-proofing even if I decide to ditch the iPhone in favour of something else.

Is the lack of accessories encouraging you to hold off on the iPhone 5? Or if you have upgraded, how are you coping with the change in connector?