Android Auto / Carplay after market car radio 2016 8

While I wrote a while back about my experience with an aftermarket  Chinese Android Car radio  , I had expected by this point in 2016  we would have a flood of more mainstream vendor’s aftermarket units with more polished interfaces…


Rand McNally OveryDryve Tablet

February 16 Update! : It appears a new aftermarket entrant is coming into the market. The good old folks that brought us paper maps, but recently specialized in trucking gps’s , Rand-McNally  are offering an  aftermarket infotainment tablet called OverDryve, which after reading the spec appears to offer a lot of features.

Unfortunately as of January 2016, there are only a handful (two) of official name brand aftermarket radio series..  they are:

  • Kenwood's Android Auto Aftermarket head unit

    Kenwood’s Android Auto Aftermarket head unit

    Kenwood recently announced a few new Kenwood Android Auto/ Carplay  models: These will be part of the Standard Kenwood product group and their Kenwood eXcelon brand. They start around $500.

  • Pioneer Google Maps Screen

    Pioneer Google Maps Screen

    Secondly Pioneer has had a lineup of Android Auto/Carplay head units these include:

    • AVIC-8100NEX : ~$1400 Teh 8100NEX is the premium Android Auto Pioneer unit features a 7″ capacitive touchscreen
    • AVIC-7100NEX: ~$1200, The 7100NEX is the mid-level head unit with Android Auto
    • AVH-4100NEX: ~$500, 4100NEX is the entry-level Android Auto head unit has resistive touch.
  • That’s it! the remaining announcements by the likes of Ford, Volvo, GM etc are all aimed at new cars., not aftermarket.For example all new 2017 Ford models will have Android Auto/Apple Carplay as their factory radios.

What’s the basics and benefits of Android Auto/Apple Carplay

The main premise behind Android Auto and Apple Carplay is that your head unit (car stereo’s screen) becomes a mirrored screen of your smart phone. That is the smartphone’s OS (Android or Ios)  supplies all the smarts (navigation, music, network, voice recognition)  and then the display and inputs (audio, speakers,  mic, touch)  are handled by the car head unit and reflected , synced up with your phone.

The compatible head units (like the ones noted above) , are configured to display an optimized auto-centric view of your phone, with your phone providing all the real horsepower, such as playing music (ie.  Pandora, Spotify) , navigation via Google maps, voice commands and voice recognition and so on.

It’s this auto focused interface that leverages voice input via Google voice (or Siri) and provides a polished optimized driving infotainment experience. That’s the main selling point of these units.

Why a Chinese after market stereo is still a better deal.

  • The first obvious reason is cost, you can find most Chinese aftermarket Android radios at less than $400 and
  • Second Android aftermarket radios are full-fledged android OS  in the radio, so while the interface is not optimized for car’s you get the full Android capability natively right from the radio , no need to have your phone.
  • Some newer chinese models are claiming support for Android Auto or Carplay, but buyer beware they are likely skins that make them appear to be Andoid Auto or Car Paly. Neither Google nor Apple officially licenses these radios  to make use of Android Auto or Carplay. In order to really be Android Auto or Carplay licensed you need to PAY Goolge or APPLE for the privilege and have your unit validated..
  • Stand-alone GPS..  no need for data plan entire US map is on an SD card

In conclusion , yep, its still a way better deal to buy a cheaper Chinese made Android car stereo , put up with a less than ideal interface, but pretty much get everything infotainment wise that the newer Android Auto or Apple Carplay can offer..

Feel free to share opinions or insights below.


8 thoughts on “Android Auto / Carplay after market car radio 2016

  1. Reply John Wilson Jan 15,2016 4:37 pm

    What about the new Alpine unit?

  2. Reply Trev Mar 3,2016 1:12 pm

    I bought a Chinese Android unit for my wife’s Mercedes.The factory radio was flaking out and to replace it was nuts as the available features were really none.The Chinese unit looks great like if the three point Co. had made it. We now have Nav and backup camera stuff. The unit can do all the Android apps etc. The audio sucks. The radio reception is muddy and full of static even when a mile away from X-miiter . So as most China stuff goes,. They only care if you can buy it not use it. Support….So Sorry…what’s that. Oh and the bluetooth is BS it is 50/50 connects sometimes …sometimes lets you use list and sometimes will sound ok. The dumbasses have the external mic and internal summed. I built a sweet interface to Mercedes HF mic….you could hear bubbles in a coke can. But the summed issue means, unless I mod unit I am stuck with internal mic. So if China would pay attention to the details …you know where the Devil is then yes these units would be a good value. If you have ears and bluetooth HF laws and like FM radio then no. The idea is so awesome. A tablet in a box with FM radio and a CD/DVD player and an amp with Nav that fits perfect. Another miss. Subwoofer RCA is there …no menu WTF. I build and design electronics. It makes me nuts when I see a 95% done product. I also was a mobile electronic installer for too many years to count. I expect quality sound in 2016. The unit has Wolfson Codecs ,Phillips tuner just poor execution. So this tells me someone out there could be doing this right….maybe in China too.Alpine …. if they would just pull there head out of their buts and do a Hi quality open source they could just sell the good gear and the community will do the apps and code…Alpdroid ??? Good Hunting

    • Reply Tony B. Apr 4,2016 9:54 am


      Thanks for the insights, you’re right on with all the quality issues, these units are not really geared for audiophiles or anyone who seriously interested in high quality car audio. You need to stick to the big brands (and even those guys don;t always do it right, as you noted) . These units (because of their cheap price) are for bring infotainment capabilities to the masses, who generally aren’t too picky when it comes to audio quality. Unit quality form these Chinese units is a crap shoot, some are decent, some suck ..

  3. Reply Jason White Sep 5,2017 2:05 am

    I have one of these units and have both, a 16g SD card and 32g flash drive and not many apps, yet it says it’s running out of storage. Is there a way to get my sd card to act as storage? There’s plenty of room but no way to access it. Thanks

    • Reply Tony B. Sep 7,2017 2:46 pm

      It depends on what version of the OS you have, older android versions did not make it easy to use SD drive as storage. Even newer Adnroid 5.0+ do not favor external storage (SD cards) for storing apps. Try this insert your SD card, then go to Apps section of the radio, sort by largest to smallest in terms of app size, then start from the largest, click on the app and see if you have a button that saves move to SD card? you may or may not see the button depending on the app.

  4. Reply GCSC best bluetooth car stereo Sep 27,2017 2:45 am

    I like navigation via Google maps, voice commands and voice recognition.Do you know how to turn on radio satellite function also ?

    • Reply Tony B. Sep 28,2017 11:39 am

      Are you referring to a Chinese android radio? most of these radios DO NOT HAVE Satellite radio function. The reason is because those decoders (like Sirius) need to be licensed from the vendor and SiriusXM only available provides service in the U.S., Puerto Rico, and Canada. Because of this most of these android radios do not offer satellite radio

  5. Reply Peter V. Jan 5,2018 11:02 am

    My experience with Android OS 5.1 is dismall. I had to learn how to run some hacks in order to stop some of the background applications. This was done as an effort to speed up the operating speed. These units have a beautiful presentation as to fit and finish . . . but that is as far as the happy factor goes. Iternally slow, my Eonon unit had a 4 second delay of transmission and reception when using the handsfree. I had much better performance out of my 6 year old WindowsCE driven GPS. The only drawback was that it did not have a DVR for dashcam use feature. Theefore, having come across some Windows CE6 units that now have the DVR feature, I will pass up on the Android units.

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