by Joshua Thomas
If you are a car owner and you own an Android smartphone, then it would be a good idea to have your phone connected to your car stereo head unit that has android auto so that you can have access the applications installed on your device, from maps to google assistant, notifications, etc.
Basically, this lets you keep your eyes focused on the road while also giving you the convenience of accessing your android phone indirectly.
That said, there are a variety of these products in the market and this article narrows it down to 7 best android auto head units that are recommended for installation your car.
|1. Pioneer AVH4200NEX (Best Overall)||
|2. Pioneer AVH-3300NEX (Best Aftermarket)||
|3. Alpine iLX-207 (Best with a Radio Receiver)||
|4. Sony XAV-AX100 (Ergonomically Designed)||
|5. Kenwood DDX9703S (With Rapid Charge)||
|6. Boss Audio Systems BossCarPlay2 (Most Powerful)||
|7. Kenwood DNX694S eXcelon (Best with In-dash Navigation)||
Pioneer's AVH series stands out as the best Android auto unit because it is equipped with a large 7-inch WVGA touch screen, with a resolution of 800 x 480, which is good enough for playing high-quality videos.
This also means you can have a high-quality reverse view feed as the unit has a port for connecting to the backup camera. The set actually comes with a surface mount rear-view camera, which you can easily install and connect the head unit on your own.
Apart from android auto, this AVH also features Apple Carplay, allowing you to switch from an Android to Apple device without changing the unit, but still enjoy the same benefits of having full phone access from the dashboard.
Other features include a motorized and detachable face, a peak power output of 50W on 4 channels (200W) and RMS of 17W on the same 4 channels, remote control, Bluetooth connectivity and SiriusXM ready. However, being a 2-din stereo, it cannot fit in narrow single din dashboard slot.
This android auto head unit fits the title of the best aftermarket stereo because it has a 7-inch WVGA touchscreen that is motorized to fold out of its small single din size. This means that you can use it in all cars, whether they have single or double din slots in their dashboards.
Apart from android auto, Apple Carplay support is built-in but you must connect either android or apple device to the head unit via USB cable. Bluetooth is also featured for wireless connectivity, allowing hands-free calling and audio streaming.
Output signals are provided via 4 channels, with a peak power of 50 watts each, adding up to 200 watts. However, RMS power is only 14 watts per channel, which is quite low. To help increase this output, 3 pre-outs are built in for connecting to an additional amplifier.
Other features include a backup camera input, 13 band graphic equalizer, CD/DVD playback, Pandora and Spotify support, as well as SiriusXM satellite radio ready. On the downside, the face is not detachable but on being folded in, it is less of a security risk.
If you like listening to the radio while still accessing your phone, then Alpine's iLX-207 is your best bet. This is because it is equipped with a digital media receiver that has AM/FM and HD radio tuners, and this will give you access to all surrounding local stations.
Other than this, the unit is also SiriusXM satellite radio ready, giving you additional listening options.
For connectivity, you get Apple Carplay, Bluetooth support for hands-free calling and audio streaming, and of course, Android Auto.
Controlling all these settings and selections is done via a large 7-inch VGA touchscreen, which gives the entire head a double-din size.
Other features include a 200-watt peak power output (50 watts on 4 channels), HDMI output for connecting to steering wheel remote control buttons and Siri voice control for iPhone 5 or later. However, it is quite costly and has a relatively low-resolution screen.
Ergonomics is always a plus to have because it improves usability. Sony's XAV-AX100 incorporates the use of this design principal in its construction, with the use of a rotary dial for volume adjustment and voice control commands.
This makes it easier to use because you won't have to look at the unit when making these adjustments or settings, enabling you to drive distraction-free.
However, even as this is very beneficial to the driver, the dial reduces the screen size, leaving you with only a non-detachable 6.4-inch touchscreen for watching videos and reverse viewing when connected to a rear-view camera.
On the plus side, the audio output is improved by an amplified 220-watt peak power output (55W x 4), giving you crisp and clear sound, even at high volumes. You also get 3 pre-outs for expanding this system while a 10-band graphic equalizer lets you customize the sound output.
Let's face it, we can't do without our mobile phones today and if yours goes off, you are as good as not having one. Even though all android auto head units charge your phone while connected, this one has a fast system that will fill up your battery in the shortest time possible.
This is because the system delivers 1.5 amps to your phone in 5 volts, resulting in a super-fast Android rapid charging system.
Other than this, a non-detachable 6.95-inch touchscreen display is used as the primary form of user interface, with a few buttons underneath for menu, home, camera, and CD/DVD eject shortcuts, and also for tilting the face, which is motorized on a 7-step angled adjustment setup.
This screen is also used to display the video feed from the backup cameras, in which it has 2 backup camera inputs, supporting 2 video feeds at a time. However, a remote control is not included.
This product is literally the boss android head unit when it comes to sound output because it can power up 4 speakers at a peak output of 80 watts per speaker, totaling to 320 watts. The result is a crisp, clear sound that is non-distorted even at high volume.
On top of this, the unit also gives you 3 pre-outs for expanding the sound system using amplifiers or signal processors for
Control is done using a 6.75-inch touchscreen, which gives you access to the head unit's features as well as to your phone's apps via Android Auto and Apple Carplay.
Bluetooth connectivity is also featured, enabling you to make or receive calls handsfree and stream music from Pandora and Spotify on your Bluetooth enabled phone.
The only issues are that the screen is not detachable and no remote control is included in the package.
For road trips and even normal day-to-day driving, navigation is very important. Kenwood's DNX694S is very helpful in such situations because it has an in-dash navigation system that clearly indicates the direction to go to in the relatively large 6.8-inch touch display.
Though expensive, this feature actually makes it the top-rated android auto head unit in this review, showing how much navigation is important to drivers.
Another benefit you get with this item is that it has 2 camera inputs for the front and rear camera, and is also dash cam ready, connecting to the unit via a dashcam receiver.
Other features include Bluetooth connectivity for hands-free calling and music streaming from your device, as well as Apple Carplay and of course, Android Auto for smartphone access and control from the dash. However, a remote control is not included.
Compatibility has mostly got to do with how the stereo unit connects with other devices. Of course, Android auto is part of this but you should check for other features such as Apple Carplay for iOS support, Bluetooth connectivity, and Wi-Fi.
Read More: 10 Best Bluetooth Car Kits
Generally, the more the connection features, the better because these will ensure you can hook up your stereo to as many external devices as possible, expanding your infotainment system.
Another key factor to consider is the power output of the stereo unit. Measured in watts, this shows how much power is sent to each channel, in which the channel basically refers to the speaker connection.
The higher the value, the more the power output and this means that the sound output from the speakers will be much clearer even at high volumes.
However, there are two types of power output. The common one that manufacturers like to refer to is the peak power, which defines the bursts that the unit can reach as it delivers the output signal.
The most important value though is the RMS wattage. This defines the normal power output that is sent to each channel. Always check this value and ensure it is high enough, with the best being above 20 watts.
For video playback, it is always better to watch content in HD and on a big screen. Therefore, when selecting this dashboard unit, always check the screen size (largest ones are usually 7 inches) as well as the resolution, which determines if it can play high definition videos.
Large screens also present you with larger menu options, making them easier to use.
This is one of the most important features that drivers look for nowadays because, with the advancement in mapping systems, it is almost impossible to get lost due to the accurate guidance.
Therefore, ensure that the head unit features a built-in GPS navigation system or can at least utilize google maps or any other map application from your phone.
Even though touchscreens are generally considered easy to use, when driving this can be challenging because you have to look at the screen.
Therefore, for ease-of-use, ensure that the system has a few buttons or dial shortcuts on the side for distraction-free operation, for instance when making volume adjustments.
The word din is like a measurement unit that is used to measure a head unit's size. This means that a double din system is twice the size of a single din unit.
Even though most android auto head units feature large screens in a double din configuration, some have fold-out motorable screens, which when folded, occupy the space of a single din unit.
The reason why this is important is that different cars have differently-sized stereo slots on their dashboards. If yours has a double din slot, then you won't have a big problem getting a perfect fit.
However, if yours has a single din slot, then you specifically have to buy a fold out motorable single din unit that fits the hole.
As you can see, selecting an android auto head unit is quite a complex process because there are many variables to consider, ranging from the power output to compatibility and the like.
However, the review above breaks down all these points clearly so that you can have a much easier time picking the best android auto head unit that closely matches all your in-dash stereo requirements.
About Joshua Thomas
Joshua Thomas just simply loves cars and willing to work on them whenever there's chance... sometimes for free.
He started CarCareTotal back in 2017 from the advices of total strangers who witnessed his amazing skills in car repairs here and there.
His goal with this creation is to help car owners better learn how to maintain and repair their cars; as such, the site would cover alot of areas: troubleshooting, product recommendations, tips & tricks.
Joshua received Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering at San Diego State University.