Best Android Auto Head Unit Reviews (2020)
Let Us Help You Choose an Android Auto Head Unit
In the automotive industry, innovation and convenience are at front and centre of all things. For audio systems – also known as infotainment systems in today’s market – Apple and Android devices have carved themselves a permanent home. And to accommodate the general public’s heavy reliance on their mobile devices, Apple Carplay and Android Auto have been integrated. If you have an Android device, Android Auto applies to you.
What is Android Auto?
Android Auto has a simple purpose: to seamlessly integrate your Android smartphone into your vehicle’s audio system. The main benefit is safety – you can keep your hands on the steering wheel while you drive instead of fiddling with your device in your hands. The other major advantage is convenience – you can use numerous apps on it, from iHeartRadio, YouTubeMusic, AmazonMusic, Google Play Music and Spotify radio apps to Kik, Telegram, Google Hangouts, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Skype messaging apps. And in case you are still using your smartphone as a talking device, you can make calls through Bluetooth.
Android Auto has been introduced by Google in 2014 and released the following year. Since then, it has been appreciated by many drivers, as it perfectly mirrors all the most significant functions of an Android device, being, at the same time, safe to be used on the road. Now, this superb application is available in 36 countries already, making it easier for drivers to communicate with others, follow the right route, listen to their favourite music, and much more.
An Android Auto head unit displays selected apps on the screen, and it is controlled through voice activation. While most manufacturers offer Android Auto as a part of their new vehicles for the 2018 year models, older cars are not equipped with this enhancement. However, it does not mean you cannot have it! That can change, though, if you replace your car’s radio with one of the Android Auto aftermarket head units we have in our offer.
There are many products of this kind available to buy nowadays, and you may get a little confused about which one to choose. For this reason, we have decided to provide you with some additional help and present our professional advice to you. We have tested numerous Android Auto head units in order to choose the best seven ones and explain their features to you. We hope that our list will help you to select the best model that will be adapted both to your car’s properties and your personal needs and preferences. We think it is crucial for a driver to feel entirely comfortable in their car, and a personalized Android Auto head unit can increase the convenience of using a vehicle to a large extent!
Best Android Auto Head Units for Sale
Whether you are looking for the best Android head unit, the cheapest one, or the best-rated one, you will find it here. And if you are searching for the best double-DIN head unit for Android Auto, you are lucky. Because of their purpose, they are all touchscreen units and are all double-DIN in size. Manufactures understand that safety of driving comes first, so they want them to be used as smoothly as possible, minimizing the amount of attention you must pay in order to operate it successfully.
- Built-in Bluetooth For Hands-free Calling And Audio Streaming, Apple CarPlay Compatible, Include GPS navigation
- 6.95" Wide VGA Color LCD Display With LED Backlight, Clear Resistive Touch Panel, Supports two connected devices
- Voice control with Apple Car Play and Android Auto, 6.4" touch screen, Ergonomic rotary dial
- Built-in Bluetooth for hands-free calling and audio streaming, Back-Up Camera input, 6.2" WVGA touch panel display with LED backlight
- Built-in Bluetooth for hands-free calling and audio streaming, Built-in iPod, iPhone, and iPad control -optional adapter required for viewing video content
- Built-in Bluetooth with Hi Res Streaming, HDMI input with MHL for Android Phone Mirroring, Screen size 6.95 inch
#7 JBL Legend CP-100 Multimedia Receiver
If you are looking for the cheapest Android Auto head unit, you might want to hold tight a little longer. JBL has promised the release of the JBL Legend CP100, a fully capable multimedia receiver that includes Android Auto in its abilities.
The JBL Legend CP100 has a 6.75-inch touchscreen, so like all the others, it is a double-DIN unit. It has two sets of pre-outs on the back of the head unit for use with amplifiers, making this system versatile. It is also compatible with a backup camera, which to you can separately if you want. And, to round things out, it maintains operation of your steering wheel audio controls.
#6 Kenwood eXcelon DDX9902S Multimedia Receiver
Kenwood’s offerings include the Kenwood eXcelon DDX9902S receiver with a 6.95-inch screen, which has been around for a little while. Because it has been a couple of years on the market already, its technology was a bit underwhelming. The screen clarity is less crisp than others, and its Android Auto functions do not always function as they should. That said, it is still pretty decent, especially for such a moderate price.The DDX9902S uses your phone for navigation capabilities. Maps display on your screen, and you can operate them through the voice controls, the touchscreen display, or on your phone. You can also mirror your Android device directly, using an HDMI cable. Three RCA pre-outs allow you to expand on your audio system with ease. For families like ours with both Android and Apple users, devices can be swapped simply by plugging in the phone. Therefore, you do not have to choose who will be able to use the head unit – everyone, regardless of the device they have, are equally enabled to enjoy it.
#5 Pioneer AVH-4200NEX Multimedia DVD Receiver
The Pioneer AVH-4200NEX DVD receiver might be the best Android Auto head unit for the price, and it is packed with features. This unit has a 7-inch screen, maxing out the 2-DIN opening in our dash and making touchscreen operation easy. It works with both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.It has that neat Pioneer feature known as MixTrax which we really love. It puts together a non-stop playlist of all your music, in case you do not want to bear the responsibility of being the DJ. Its DVD system is a little dated because navigation maps are downloaded through your device. Nonetheless, it has DVD capabilities, so passengers can enjoy watching movies during the journey. Two RCA pre-outs allow for expansion, so you can upgrade your device as you like. If you want your steering wheel controls to function, you will need the Maestro system from iDatalink.
#4 Pioneer AVIC-8200NEX Multimedia Receiver
If you are searching for a Pioneer Android Auto head unit, you will not find any model better than the AVIC-8200NEX. It is the bee’s knees, as they say, wrapping together all of the best features you will find. There are outputs for separate rear-seat monitors, and the onboard navigation maps with 7.9 million points of interest are a huge bonus. Like your smartphone, you can pinch and zoom on the screen for your maps.
It does not come without its issues though. The AVIC-8200NEX is heavy with features, which means more software and things to go wrong. Pioneer has been slow with firmware updates, so crashes can happen sometimes, or and we found that functions freeze up at times. And while it is one of the most advanced units on the market, we would expect better support for the price paid.
It has a 7-inch screen, Total Traffic, SIRI Eyes Free, AppRadio, SiriusXM, and much more. iDatalink Maestro integration, available separately, will maintain your steering wheel controls, too.
#3 Sony XAV-AX100 Media Receiver
One of the rare offerings from Sony for the Android Auto head unit market is the XAV-AX100. The unit is not the best or the fanciest you can buy nowadays, but it does the job nicely if you want an Android Auto-compatible radio for your car. The screen is quite a bit smaller than most of the others at 6.4 inches. That might not seem like much difference, but still, it is noticeable. Unlike the majority of touchscreen systems, Sony adds a rotary control for volume and selection, as well as a couple of other buttons on the left side. That is the reason to have a smaller screen, obviously, and we appreciate the added level of functionality. It does take away from the sleek look, though.
Sony’s receiver is compatible with a backup camera, sold separately, and your factory steering wheel controls with the iDatalink Maestro RR kit also available to buy independently. There are three pre-outs for audiophiles to add components and a 10-band EQ to finetune your sound.
Beware that the unit is probably a little deeper than others, so if your installation area is really tight, you might want to choose a different option.
#2 Kenwood DDX9703S In-Dash Touchscreen Receiver
If you Are only interested in a Kenwood Android Auto head unit, the DDX9703S could be the one. The 6.95-inch screen is almost as large as you can get for the size, yet the front panel still has room for slim buttons mounted at the bottom. The DDX9703S supports two connected devices at a time and also supports Android Rapid Charge.
The DVD capabilities are extensive, yet we find them outdated. As we almost exclusively use mobile devices now, there is little chance we would ever use the DVD/CD slot. Instead, streaming audio and SiriusXM satellite radio are of more benefit for our needs, although SiriusXM requires an added receiver and subscription. A few standout features are undoubtedly dual camera inputs, three sets of pre-outs, and rear video output to add a gaming console or additional monitor.
The screen could be brighter, the menus are a little cumbersome, and the audio quality is not as good as it should be. All in all, it is a decent buy from Kenwood.
#1 Pioneer AVIC-5100NEX Touchscreen Navigation Receiver
This could possibly be the best Android-compatible head unit, available through an industry leader, Pioneer. The AVIC-5100NEX is the middle-of-the-range model that features GPS navigation, DVD/CD/USB/Bluetooth input, and supports SiriusXM satellite radio with an added module.Depending on your needs, the screen size can be an upside or a detractor. It is the smallest of the group at 6.2 inches, but that allows for a nice complement of buttons along the left side. If you prefer button controls to a touchscreen as we do, this is hugely convenient.The AVIC-5100NEX has a bunch of industry-standard highlights from AppRadio and SIRI Eyes Free (for Apple users) and it is known to have great sound quality. One exclusive feature from Pioneer we absolutely love is MixTrax, which assembles a playlist of all your music for non-stop entertainment. It might not seem like a big deal, but it works wonders. The Pioneer AVIC-5100NEX is one of the highest-rated Android Auto systems.
The Best Android Auto Head Unit Buying Guide and FAQ
In order to help you to choose the best Android Auto head unit, we have prepared a detailed guide. First, we will tell you which properties should you focus on while choosing such a device. Then, we will explain the most important advantages of using it. After that, we will cover the installation process and then proceed to the frequently asked questions section. If you have any other doubts that have not been covered there, feel free to contact our expert team!
The Most Significant Features in Android Auto head unit
Every Android Auto head unit is a bit different, so it is worth knowing which qualities are the most significant. We have prepared a list of properties that you should definitely take into consideration while choosing the best system for you.
Simplicity of Use
Prior to choosing the best Android Auto head unit, you should check how easy is it to install and operate it. The interface should be intuitive, and it should have a touchscreen along with some physical buttons because they are easier to push while driving. Furthermore, make sure that all the instructions and the installation guide are easy to follow. Also, a good Android Auto head unit should have understandable navigation and menus and should be able to connect with your smartphone or another electronic device quickly.
You certainly do not want to find out that a head unit is not compatible with your vehicle or phone. It is crucial to remember that some devices may be too big to be attached to a console of a particular car. Moreover, some of them may be adapted only for Apple systems or those with the most recent version of Android. Therefore, you need to check all the specifications carefully before buying a particular product. Nobody likes to waste their precious time on returning the purchase and choosing the model all over again.
One of the main functions of Android Auto head units is to be used as car stereo system. For this reason, you should pay attention to the audio quality. Search for controllers, retrievers, equalizers, etc. Some people also like to have the possibility to set up every speaker separately in order to achieve a higher level of car stereo and be able to use the HD radio to the fullest.
Various head units may have different operational capabilities. Some are produced particularly for car stereo and hands-free calls, while others are mainly for GPS, HD radio, applications, etc. As a general rule, the more features a device has, the higher the price, so you should consider which properties are the most important for you before selecting the product that is adjusted to both your needs and financial possibilities. For instance, you may travel to many new places, and an efficient GPS system is vital to you. On the other hand, playing your music in the highest quality possibility may be the most significant for you. It is up to you!
A perfect screen should be big enough to be used conveniently but, at the same time, small enough not to take too much space inside your vehicle. The average size is around seven inches. The resolution should allow you to see the screen sharply both during the day and night so that you could use it anytime. Of course, in order to achieve that effect, you need to put the head unit in the right position, so make sure that a particular model allows you to do that easily. You certainly do not want to squint your eyes to see what is on the screen, which can hugely affect the safety of your driving.
A low price may be tempting, but keep in mind that it is quite unlikely to find a high-quality Android Auto head unit that would be cheap. If you choose a model of a low standard, it will probably break faster, and you will have to spend your money and time on purchasing another device. If you have limited funds, focus on the essential qualities of a head unit, but do not give up on quality. You certainly do not want this device to fail you on the road when you need to follow GPS guidelines or want to enjoy driving with your car stereo.
If a head unit can be easily customized, you will be able to adjust it to your needs perfectly. For example, it is always useful to have the possibility to put your most commonly used apps on the main screen. Moreover, there should be an option to save your usual GPS routes and favorite radio stations for time-saving purposes. The more personalized a device can get, the more comfortable will it be for you to use it.
A brand may suggest what quality should you expect. If it is one of the leading producers in the industry, most probably you will get a high-standard head unit. If you encounter a brand you have never heard of, it is worth checking it online and browsing some forums where people express their opinions on a particular product. But generally, if it is not a well-known company, the probability that you will get a device of poor quality is much higher.
Many people really care about the interior of their car, so for them, the best Android Auto head unit will be the one that combines excellent functionality with high aesthetics. To reach the most appealing effect, the design of the device should complement the general appearance of your dashboard and the other features around it. Most commonly, this product will upgrade your previous speaker system, no matter what model you will select.
Looking for reviews online before buying a product is undoubtedly an excellent idea. However, you should not be discouraged to get a particular model just after reading one negative opinion. Analogically, do not get too carried away while encountering a single very positive evaluation. Usually, the truth lies somewhere in between. It is recommended to use sites that confirm that someone really bought that product and personally used it (like Amazon), and is not just a hater who does not know anything about this model in fact, or a kind of an advertorial, on the other hand.
A proper warranty suggests that a product is well-made because it means that the producer is pretty sure it will last for a certain time. Also, it provides you with additional peace of mind that even if there is some factory defect or another kind of flaw, you will get your device repaired without any additional costs on your side. However, you always need to check that you follow the terms dictated by the producer to get your device fixed for free.
Why You Should Use Android Auto Head Units
Maybe you are wondering why you should use an Android Auto Head Unit in the first place. Actually, there is a lot of advantages of such a device, and we are going to cover some of the primary ones below.
Thanks to modern technology, you do not have to worry about your weak sense of direction anymore. Also, travelling to a place you have never visited before is not a problem nowadays – all thanks to the excellent GPS systems. When you get a head unit, you will be able to see the map more clearly and have shorter glimpses on it while driving, what definitely boots your safety on the road. If there is no GPS feature in your receiver, you can connect it with an outboard unit. It often happens that a head unit has as useful applications as Waze, giving you access to real-time traffic updates. It will be extremely helpful in planning your route in such a way so that you would not get stuck in a traffic jam for a long time. However, you need to take into account that such a feature requires Internet compatibility.
The larger the display, the easier for you to read all the information and to use the touchscreen. Not having to squint in order to see the route on the map definitely improves the quality of your driving. At the same time, the number of applications visible on the main screen will be limited, so that they would not distract you too much.
HD Radio Features
For people who still prefer to listen to the radio stations to streaming their music, it would be beneficial that some head units have special HD radio features. It will noticeably enhance the quality of broadcasts, and also, it will provide you with additional information concerning the name of the song and the singer or band, the album art, the station logo, etc. As a result, it will be easier for you to identify the song you like and purchase it later.
Additional Rear-View Camera
It is widely known that reversing is one of unsafest vehicle maneuvers. In order to make it more secure, it is recommended to install a head unit with a rear-view camera. Thanks to such an enhancement, you will get a fuller picture of what is behind your car on the screen. In this way, you will not have to depend on your mirrors only or turn your neck to a very unpleasant position.
Holding your phone while driving may severely decrease the quality of your driving and even make you cause an accident, so we strongly discourage you from doing it. However, you do not have to resign from talking on the phone in your car – all you have to do is get a Bluetooth device, like one of the best Android Auto head units, and make hands-free calls whenever you need. Thanks to a readable screen, you will instantly know who is calling you, and you will just have to click one button on the touchscreen in order to pick it up. What is more, some devices have additional properties, like audio streaming.
The best Android Auto head units allow you not only make hands-free calls but also control the whole device without even touching it. You can dictate text messages, set up the music, find a route in the GPS system, use Google search, and do many other things with just your voice. It is a handy feature, allowing you to focus on the road more and preventing you from releasing the steering wheel unnecessarily.
Best Android Auto Head Unit FAQ
➡️ Will It Be Compatible With Your Car and How Can You Mount It
Prior to deciding which Android car stereo to get, you need to check its compatibility with your car. In order to obtain the necessary information, read the owner’s manual or make proper measurements by yourself. If you have basic car skills, you should be able to install the unit by yourself. First, you need to get some tools, like soldering iron, screwdrivers, or a prying tool. However, bear in mind that every vehicle may be different, so in some cases, you may need more equipment.
You can easily find many video tutorials on the Internet to see how to mount an Android car stereo unit step by step. Nonetheless, if you feel you lack proper skills and you predict that you may not succeed, it is recommended to get some professional help. Even if it demands to spend some additional money, it will be better for you than risking to breaking the device or causing some severe damage to your car. Note that it may be especially knotty to install the latest model in an older vehicle.
➡️ Can an Apple Device Be Used with an Android Auto Head Unit?
It depends because you can find head units that are compatible with both Android and Apple devices, but some are specifically dedicated to a particular system. However, even if they are suitable for both variants, you should keep in mind that they might work better with one of them. Hence, it is strongly advisable to check the specifications before you buy a head unit. Nevertheless, all of the products we have enlisted above are compatible with Android, so if you use that system, you should be fine with any of them.
➡️ Which Devices Does the Android Auto Multimedia Desk Support?
If you have a smartphone with Android 5.0 Lollipop or higher, there should be no problem with using Android Auto. However, it is recommended to get Android 6.0 Marshmallow or better, in order to achieve the most effective functionality. There is a simple method to check if your device is compatible with Android Auto in advance – you should just download it before buying a head unit and see if the application seems to work correctly. It is undoubtedly better to check that before purchasing a new Android car stereo system!
➡️ How Should I Pair the Head Unit With My Device?
Answer: First, you need to have Android Auto app installed on your smartphone or tablet. After opening it, you will need to give all the essential permission to start using it. Next, you have a couple of options. When you connect the head unit for the very first time, you should plug the device into it with a USB cable. Then, a series of requests will appear, and also, it may be necessary to install some additional apps. The Bluetooth connection will be automatically initiated on your smartphone, and you have to confirm Android Auto use on your car display. From now on, you should be able to connect it wirelessly.
Our Best Choice
Getting back to the top of our list, we strongly recommend Pioneer Avic-5100NEX Touchscreen Navigation Receiver. It is certainly one of the best double-DIN head units on the present market. As it has been made by one of the most appreciated producers in the industry, you can be sure that they have taken care of every single detail. Not only does it support GPS navigation perfectly, but also allows you to use your DVDs/CDs or connect via USB or Bluetooth with various devices. Also, if you add a special module, it will support SiriusXM satellite, allowing you to access lots of both satellite and online radio stations.
As it has the most necessary buttons along the left side, you will be able to click them more easily than on a touchscreen. Also, this double-DIN head unit is famous for its fantastic sound quality and lots of industry-standard add-ons, like SIRI Eyes Free or AppRadio. We also love the MixTrax feature, because it creates a playlist with all of your tracks and allows you to listen to them non-stop. We are sure that this is the best Android Auto head unit available now, and you will not be disappointed with it!
While there are plenty of aftermarket radios available from many different brands, Android Auto is still a bit scarce. For the capabilities of Android Auto, you can expect to pay a couple of hundred dollars more than a unit without. That being said, you will appreciate spending the extra dough.
The best-priced unit is the JBL Legend CP100 (if it is ever released) at around $400. If you are looking for the most capable model, you would be better off choosing the Pioneer AVIC-8200NEX with its grocery list of options. All things told, we think you will be satisfied with any of the car stereo systems from the list above.