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Car: BMW | 3 Series | E46 | All Derivatives | All body styles

The E46 Bluetooth system

Bluetooth was available as an option on the E46 from MY2003. The Bluetooth system replaced the integrated Siemens phone system on UK models, which was an option between 2000 and 2002. Bluetooth (referred to as "Universal Hands Free" in BMW service and Technical literature) is a system that links your mobile phone to the cars audio and control system.

What is Bluetooth?

Bluetooth is a short range (up to 30 feet) wireless communication protocol that enables devices such as Mobile Phones to communicate with each other. Bluetooth communication relies on 'services' (classes for all the developers out there) that enable control of device specific operations/functions on the host (in this case, your mobile phone) by a remote device (the car). Common services on mobile phones include the following:

Bluetooth is used by BMW to facilitate hands free operation of your mobile phone.

The BMW system

The BMW system uses a control unit termed the ULF (A German acronym for "Universal Hands Free") which controls the system, it is the ULF that your phone connects to. The ULF diverts speech from the mobile through the existing sound system; therefore music is automatically faded in/out when a call is connected/disconnected and incoming calls will ring through the cars' speakers. A microphone is fixed in the car to provide input back to the phone. The phone can be controlled by the steering wheel controls, or if supported, voice activated commands. It is optional to have what is commonly known as an 'eject box' which houses your mobile in a custom 'snap in' adapter, once held in the 'snap in' your mobile is charged and it's antenna is diverted to one on the car for increased reception quality.

The beauty of the BMW system is that your mobile may be left in your pocket, coat in the boot or even briefcase; when the ignition is switched on the phone will automatically pair with the car. It really is a convenient system.

Upgrade path for Siemens equipped vehicles

Bluetooth makes use of the same telephone loom that is used with the Siemens system, BMW appear to have 'standardised' it as their communications loom (the loom is identified by its 50 pin locking plug at the telephone module end). This means that owners of cars with the earlier Siemens phone have an easy upgrade path.

A Bluetooth upgrade for Siemens equipped vehicles is not covered here, but the basics are as follows:

Please click here for a complete Siemens to Bluetooth guide.

For Bluetooth retrofit instructions please see the relevant article which can be reached from the Car Articles page.

© Mark Stewart, Saturday 12th May 2007
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