The Best Apple CarPlay Stereos Review
Car infotainment systems can be very frustrating. Some of them are more user-friendly than others and none of them seem to be as intuitive or user-friendly as an iPhone. Luckily, Apple makes its own car infotainment software called Apple CarPlay. Apple CarPlay allows you to basically put your iPhone on your car’s screen, but optimized for use in a car. For an iPhone user, this is a must-have feature in your car, truck, or SUV. Once you have it, you won’t know how you lived without it.
This is the best one in general. It is a responsive 15.7 cm (diagonal) touch display that starts twice as fast as former models from sleep. This responsive nature offers safety to drivers, as they do not have to keep their eyes from the road for too long. This device makes navigation and communication easier on the road. Once your iPhone is connected to the XAV-AX1000, you will be able to access everything on your phone from the large touchscreen.
Furthermore, the device comes with a multifunctional rotary dial, which helps to foster distraction-free operation. It increases the volume when turned, launches sound control menus when pushed, and brings up voice command when the integrated button is held down. There is an in-built 4 x 55W amplification characteristic which enables you to enjoy clear music even at higher volumes. The way this 4 x 55W Dynamic Reality Amp 2works is by removing interference. You can make use of multiple customization options to tweak the audio to your taste, per time.
In cases where cars have rearview cameras, the rearview camera feed can be seen on the large display, alongside customizable guidelines to safely back in and park. The product also features easy installation with its compact rear chassis. It’s a little wonder why this product has excellent reviews from buyers.
This wireless receiver is a dual-capable device. It has wireless Apple Car Play and Android Auto, so you can just get on the road without needing first to pause and plug in your phone. With an excellent 6.94 inches display, Siri Eyes Free, and Google VR voice control, navigating through your phone’s content and media is distraction-free. This receiver is the premium choice device of all those listed, costing about $500 plus.
The receiver also has some features like Weblink and Miracast, Radio tuner, and Bluetooth, practically covering all connectivity bases. It’s Android Auto, and Apple Car Play feature organizes media, phone texts, and navigation apps in a clean interface and easily accessible way via voice control. The device works by linking up with your Android or iPhone when it is close by. Miracast and weblink features enable you to enjoy apps such as YouTube. Weblinks compatibility with Alexa makes distraction-free web surfing possible. Miracast functions to mirror the screen of your phone to the device’s 6.94in display without needing a wired connection. You can also play high-quality files on pen drives.
First off, this is the best price you are going to get for this device, and that is a huge plus seeing the much value packed into it. Apple CarPlay allows iPhone users to use Siri via the touchscreen to access icons on their phone. Icons such as music, maps, podcast, radio, text messages, audiobooks. Siri can help you read messages to you and send your reply, so your concentration can remain more on the road. Siri can also use maps to help drivers out when they have lost their way by providing directions or searching for a gas station or restaurant while giving speed limit instructions. Being able to access these by a single touch or voice command makes driving a little more interesting. The order in which apps appear in CarPlay can be reset through settings on the iPhone. The BVCP9685A has a safety reverse function where it reduces the volume when a driver puts the car in reverse to back up into spots. This aids maximum attentiveness to see everything behind from the screen’s rear camera feed. Users can immediately get on their way with Apple CarPlay being built into the BVCP9685A car multimedia receiver, and with the big 6.75 in capacitive touchscreen, selecting CarPlay related icons and other system configurations is not complicated at all.
Android users are not left out with Android auto. Users only need to activate Google assistant with the “OK Google” or “Hey Google” phrases. They do not need to take their hands off the steering before getting alerts on Google maps, making calls, checking messages and sending replies, and using their music apps. The device is compatible with external DVD or camera via AV input, and it plays AM/FM radio stations. You can access more music options by utilizing the USB port to connect devices such as a thumb drive. The USB port can also be used to charge all USB devices
This digital media receiver is a 6.95 inch crystal clear touchscreen display that comes loaded with a lot of features. It has an in-built Bluetooth system for hands-free calling when driving, and music streaming. It is compatible with most media types; MP3, WMA, AAC, WAV, FLAC, DSD. It has an AM/FM tuner. This receiver is compatible with Android Auto and Apple Car Play, and it navigates apps with iPhone and Android. Pandora control is available for both iPhone and Android, but voice command is only available for some Android phones. This digital media receiver comes with some standard audio and visual features such as a 13-band graphic EQ, DSP with digital time alignment, as well as bass boost and volume controls. The device has in-built iPod/iPhone/iPad control and rapid android charging via USB port and compatibility with SiriusXM satellite.
Kenwood is made with an in-built amplifier (4 channels of 22 watts RMS), and there is compatibility with many factory steering wheel controls. However, an adapter is required. It has compatibility with iDatalink Maestro and can display engine performance data on the screen. This 4-pound device costs about $250, and customers have rated it 4.3 out of 5.
The Pioneer MVH1400NEX is a device which has a 6.2-inch, 800 x 400 resolution bright touchscreen. It possesses display and color customization and also has a dedicated Spotify app control. This multimedia display receiver has a significant advantage over others: its multilingual display capability and its dual phone connection. There is also audio streaming. Pioneer is compatible with most media types and media storage devices. It has wired remote output options and can deliver excellent reverse camera feed.
Mistral creates a virtual DJ inside Pioneer receiver with music from iPhone or iPod, USB device, or some android devices. For Android, the device software has to be 5.0 lollipop or higher (more recent releases), and connectivity happens by Android Auto. The device comes as standard with wiring harness, a Bluetooth mic, USB cable, and manual. Apple CarPlay allows iPhone users to make hands-free calls, use maps, listen to music, and get access to messages at a word or touch. Using NEX takes connectivity to the next level by bringing your favorite apps directly to the dashboard. It also provides advanced quality Bluetooth connectivity, which uses wideband speech capability. The device fits double-DIN dash openings. There is Pandora control for iPhone and Android phones, but voice recognition is only available on a few Android smartphones. Some of its audio and visual features include 13-band EQ, high and low pass filter, and subwoofer controls, all at a price of about $270. This product scored a customer rating of 4.6 out of 5.
Apple CarPlay Stereo Features and Specs
The Apple CarPlay operating system comes with a handful of basic features you’ll use almost every day plus some other perks that you might not use as often, but will make life a little easier. Perhaps the feature you’ll use the most is the phone feature. With Apple CaPlay, you won’t be fumbling with your phone when it rings while you’re driving. You’ll be able to answer calls, make calls, and even listen to voicemail all with your voice. Just ask and the Siri digital assistant will do the work for you. Using your phone while driving with Apple CarPlay is significantly easier and safer than the old fashioned way.
We hear all the time about the dangers of texting and driving. Pulling out your phone and typing out a text message while behind the wheel is very dangerous, but messaging with Apple CarPlay is a different story. Much like how you can send and receive phone calls with your voice, you can do the same with text messages. When a new text comes in, Siri can read it to you. You can also send text messages using your voice by just asking Siri who you want to message and what you want the message to be. CarPlay also has the ability to play audio messages through your car’s speakers.
One of the main reasons you want Apple CarPlay in your car is navigation. Navigation systems from car manufacturers are pretty hit or miss in terms of quality, accuracy, and user-friendliness. With CarPlay, navigation couldn’t be easier. Apple Maps not only gets you where you need to go, but it can predict where you’re going to navigate to based on your calendar, contacts, emails, and messages. On top of giving turn-by-turn directions, it can give you a 3D experience and spoken directions. If Apple Maps isn’t for you, there are many other popular navigation maps available through CarPlay including Google Maps and Waze.
It wouldn’t be an Apple product if there wasn’t a music feature. After all, we’re still talking about a car stereo system so music is an important part of what CarPlay does. Playing your music couldn’t be easier thanks to the CarPlay interface that makes it a breeze to search for the artist, album, or song you want to hear. You can use your Apple Music subscription or choose from a range of other audio apps like Pandora, Amazon Music, Spotify, and many more. CarPlay is also great for podcasts and audiobooks through the Apple Podcasts app, Stitcher, Audible, and more.
Another useful feature of Apple CarPlay is the calendar. You may not normally think of having your calendar in your car as being very important, but the calendar app can give you a quick glance at your day while you’re on the road. If your calendar shows a meeting or an appointment that you’re going to, just tap it on the screen and it will give you turn-by-turn directions to get there along with an estimated time of arrival. This makes getting to your appointments on time effortless.
So, how do you connect your iPhone to an Apple CarPlay receiver? It depends. For most systems, you simply plug your iPhone into the receiver via USB and the phone communicated with the receiver seamlessly. However, on some higher-end receivers, you can do the whole thing wirelessly. This is extremely convenient since you can get in and out of your car without even taking your iPhone out of your purse or your pocket to enjoy the convenience of CarPlay. However, receivers with wireless CarPlay capabilities are often more expensive.
A common and understandable concern for drivers thinking about adding smartphone integration to their cars is native vehicle connectivity. In other words; how well will an aftermarket stereo with features like CarPlay communicate with my car? Will my steering wheel controls still work? With many receivers, there’s a setup you go through the first time you boot it up after it’s installed. If you have audio controls on your steering wheel, there should be a menu in the CarPlay receiver to calibrate which buttons on your steering wheel perform which functions. After this initial setup is complete, your steering wheel buttons will work normally and you can even customize them to perform different functions if you’d like.
Another concern some drivers have is if a CarPlay receiver can cleanly be swapped out with their existing stereo. Luckily, aftermarket CarPlay receivers come in both single DIN and double DIN varieties. Before modern car infotainment systems exploded in popularity, single DIN was the standard size for a car stereo head unit measuring 2×7”. A double DIN stereo was double the height measuring 4×7”. CarPlay stereos are available in both single and double DIN sizes meaning that just about any car with a traditional single or double DIN head unit will be able to find an aftermarket CarPlay receiver that will work for them.
You might be wondering if your Apple device is compatible with Apple CarPlay. If you have an iPhone 5 or newer running iOS 7.1 or newer, then your phone is compatible with CarPlay. Unfortunately, iPhones with 30-pin connectors and iPads are not compatible with this automotive technology.
Before you start shopping for an aftermarket CarPlay stereo, there are two different display types that you should know about. A capacitive touchscreen uses the natural conductivity in your finger to respond to your inputs while a resistive touchscreen uses the pressure generated from pressing the screen to process inputs from the user. The touchscreen on your iPhone is a capacitive screen and offers a much better experience than a resistive touchscreen like on an old ATM. When you’re shopping for an Apple CarPlay stereo, make sure you get one with a capacitive display.
Best Car Stereo Brands
Many drivers think that if Apple CarPlay isn’t already in your car, then you simply can’t have it. Luckily, that’s not the case. This awesome car technology can be in just about any car and it’s easier to put Apple CarPlay in your car than you might think. Whether you have a single-din or double-din stereo, there are aftermarket options for bringing some of the latest automotive technology to your car. Some of these systems are also more affordable than you might expect.
It’s hard to talk about car audio without talking about Sony. Sony has been a leader in audio equipment for decades and it’s still a clear leader in automotive audio tech. One of the best overall aftermarket Apple CarPlay systems is the Sony XAV-AX1000. With a clean look, voice control, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, and a reasonable price tag, there’s a lot to love about this Sony media receiver. The 6.2” screen looks great and it’s backup camera ready for easy parking. For many drivers thinking about adding CarPlay to their car, this is one of the best buys out there.
A good premium choice for aftermarket CarPlay units is the Pioneer AVH-W4500NEX. It carries a premium price, but we think its worth it because of its many desirable features. This one has both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capabilities and you can use wireless Apple CarPlay which means no messing around with USB cables. You can leave your iPhone in your pocket or purse and still take advantage of CarPlay. This unit also works with SiriusXM SXV300 tuner which is handy for SiriusXM subscribers. A more budget-friendly choice from Pioneer is the MVH1400NEX which is similar to the a forementioned Sony unit and does not offer wireless CarPlay.
If you’re looking for the most bang-for-the-buck, then you should check out the BOSS Audio BVCP9685A. This is a value choice in aftermarket Apple CarPlay receivers with the basics of what you need in a modern car infotainment system. It has Apple CarPlay, Bluetooth, a touchscreen monitor, and it even has some neat safety features like automatically turning the volume down when you put the car in reverse to cut down on distraction. This is an excellent choice for drivers looking to add CarPlay to their lives on a budget.
These aren’t your only choices for aftermarket Apple CarPlay receivers. There are also options from other big audio brands like Kenwood, Alpine, Clarion, and JVC that should all be considered by shoppers looking to bring smartphone integration to their car, truck, or SUV.
Whether you want Apple CarPlay for effortless navigation, safer calling and texting, endless music and podcast possibilities, or if you just like the idea of having Siri in your car, then upgrading your car stereo to an aftermarket Apple CarPlay stereo is well worth it and you won’t know how you lived without it.
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