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7 Best Apple CarPlay head units in 2024

The prevalence of Apple CarPlay reduced the excuse for carefree drivers to text while driving, which leads to many road accidents. You can use your iPhone without distractions with a CarPlay head mounted on your dashboard.

You can modify your car with an external CarPlay, even if most newer models integrate CarPlay into their head units. The built-in ones are the same. You’re in the right place if you’re looking for an Apple CarPlay head unit for your car.

  1. Pioneer
  2. Westods
  3. Kenwood
  4. Sony
  5. JVC
  6. BOSS
  7. Alpine

1. Pioneer AppRadio 3 WVGA Display – Editor’s Choice

Pioneer AppRadio 3 WVGA Display

The Pioneer AppRadio 3 is an outstanding option if you’re looking to upgrade your car stereo with a feature-rich head unit. Featuring CarPlay and Android Auto, feel free to pair this with your Android smartphone or iPhone to make hands-free calls and stream audio on the go. It also supports voice control and uses dual connectivity: Bluetooth and USB. If you’re familiar with the reverse camera, you can integrate this with your car’s rear camera and conveniently avoid obstacles.

To avoid distraction, this CarPlay allows you to pair two smartphones simultaneously. Thus, while receiving calls with one, you can keep playing your favorite music or podcast on the other. The Pioneer AppRadio 3 has a 7-inch touchscreen, well near the same size as a 5th-generation 2019 iPad mini screen, conferring a clean user interface and experience.

The head unit is compatible with various apps, including maps, podcasts, and music streaming apps like Spotify. The excellently designed EQ helps fine-tune your playback experience. And it can be connected to your auxiliary amps and subs to boost your car stereo output.

Pros

  • Switch between USB and Bluetooth connectivity
  • Pair two iPhones simultaneously
  • Smooth user interface
  • Full rear camera support
  • Support for Android Auto

Cons

  • It can be a bit tardy when using the Android Auto feature

Check out on Amazon

2. Westods Portable Wireless CarPlay Car Stereo – Split screen available

Westods Portable Wireless CarPlay Car Stereo

Make your car’s interior look better with a split screen from Westods. Using Google or Siri Voice Assistant, you can easily access your smartphone using the Westod CarPlay head unit. With FM support, you can switch between your phone’s interface and FM radio programs.

Due to the built-in speaker, you can use this CarPlay with the car’s stereo or as an independent stereo. The installation of the head unit is straightforward from my experience.

The Westods 1600 x 600 resolution screen is also to touch control. The touch control can be better with a bit more sensitivity, though – pressure on the touch controls shifts the unit sometimes. It is one of the best CarPlay head units for adventurers, supporting front and rear video recording with night vision, made possible with the 2.5K high-definition camera input.

The Westods CarPlay head unit supports Bluetooth and Auxiliary connectivity for flexible output preference. While Bluetooth connectivity is always readily available, the 3mm jack plug option gives better output.

Pros

  • Supports rear and front cameras with 2.5K high-definition camera input for night vision
  • Support for digital video recording (DVR)
  • Built-in speakers available
  • Seamless installation

Cons

  • The touch sensitivity could be improved

Check out on Amazon

3. Sony XAVAX5500 Apple Car Play – Built-in subwoofers

Sony XAVAX5500 6.95"7” Apple Car Play

Sony has been on a rampage with high-end electronics, and it does not go wrong with this Bezel-less capacitive touchscreen head unit. It supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto with smooth touch control. Once installed, which is easy, connect Sony’s head unit seamlessly via Bluetooth or USB. With dual USB support, you can connect and separate your music library from your phone’s navigation functionality.

The 5V outputs with the front and rear gold-plated subwoofer system give a stronger and cleaner audio signal, plus better control over the car’s stereo. Like the other car head units, this one also features built-in rear camera input for better reverse control.

Pros

  • Quality sound output
  • Support for Android Auto in addition to Apple CarPlay
  • The subwoofer system gives more control over the audio setup

Cons

  • The touch can be a bit tardy

Check out on Amazon

4. Kenwood 6.8-Inch Touch Screen CarPlay Head Unit – Support for FLAC

KENWOOD DMX7709S 6.8-Inch Capacitive Touch Screen, Car Stereo

Enjoy a high contrast ratio and crystal clear display with the Kenwood Carplay head unit. Like the previously discussed ones, the Kenwood head unit features both CarPlay and Android Auto to use your Android and iPhone seamlessly without looking away from the windscreen. It has USB and Bluetooth support and fuses perfectly with your car’s stereo system.

Its Free Lossless Audio Codec (FLAC) support is quite impressive, with a 13 Band Graphic EQ and time alignment. With three camera inputs, you get all the parking guidelines you need for a smooth landing. The only setback is that the Bluetooth connectivity only works with a dongle. I expected this to be built-in.

Pros

  • Android Auto is also available
  • Impressive FLAC support
  • Control playback levels with the 13-band EQ
  • Full camera support with parking guideline

Cons

  • Requires a Bluetooth dongle to connect wirelessly

Check out on Amazon

5. JVC KW-M56BT Apple CarPlay – Support for DVD player

JVC KW-M56BT Apple CarPlay Android Auto Multimedia Player

The JVC KW-M55BT Apple CarPlay has two models: a VIN-only and a VIN with DVD model. While the former is cheaper, pumping your budget by a few bucks can get you the latter model if you’re a DVD fan. Like the other head units recommended earlier, the JVC head unit supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and features a rear camera input for reverse navigation.

The 13-band equalizer and 6.8-inch capacitive touch screen give you absolute control over your playbacks. Experience smooth calling and playback with its simultaneous Bluetooth connection. An extra addition is the 1.5A USB port for fast-charging your smartphone. However, a notable shortcoming is the occasional latency during phone calls.

Pros

  • Control playback seamlessly with the 13-band equalizer
  • Charging port available
  • Pair with two iPhones simultaneously
  • Back camera input available

Cons

  • The phone call quality can be better

Check out on Amazon

6. BOSS Car Stereo System – Four screen sizes available

BOSS Audio Systems BCPA10 Car Stereo System - Apple CarPlay

If you want more features and functionalities at some of the cheapest prices, you can adorn your car’s dashboard with one of these Boss Audio Systems. It comes in four screen sizes, including 7, 8, 9, and 10.1 inches. While more expensive, you might want to go with the bigger screen for easy navigation. There is an AV input for video playback. And it syncs perfectly with your steering control for easy access.

In addition to Bluetooth connectivity, there is a USB option with output for charging and connecting your flash drive for direct music playback. With the feature to switch between Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, you can pair this with your iPhone or Android phone. In addition to supporting more apps and having a touch control, you can easily take calls and reply to messages hands-free with Siri and Google voice control.

Pros

  • Operate more apps and make phone calls hands-free with voice control
  • Play music or podcasts directly via a USB flash drive
  • Control your head unit from your steering wheel
  • AV input available for video playback

Cons

  • The UI of the smaller screen model is a little dense, affecting operability

Check out on Amazon

7. Alpine ILX-F511 Multimedia Receiver – High-end head unit

Alpine ILX-F511 Halo11 Multimedia Receiver

If you don’t mind the price, the Alpine ILX-F511 Multimedia Receiver delivers top-notch functionalities and is still the overall best head unit on this list. Featuring Android Auto and CarPlay, the screen is an 11-inch WXGA High-Resolution Display, conferring a super-sensitive touch control. And the Hi-Res Audio Playback speaks for itself. Take your gaming experience to your car with its HDMI input.

The Alpine head unit is compatible with the DVR-C320R Alpine Dash camera, delivering a clean front and rear distance guide. This one also has built-in amplifiers with four channels, including front and rear subwoofers. Each amplifier peaks at 50 watts per channel, enough to play audio independently of your car stereo.

With support for touch and voice control (Google and Siri), you’ll enjoy free hand calls with the external microphone. Overall, the Alpine ILX-F511 Multimedia Receiver delivers top-notch quality and is worth the price.

Pros

  • Top-notch display with super-sensitive screen
  • Built-in subwoofers and hi-res speakers make it output at car-stereo level
  • HDMI and auxiliary support available
  • Steering wheel control available

Cons

  • Expensive

Check out on Amazon

Apple CarPlay vs. Android Auto

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are dashboard-mounted devices that allow you to control your smartphones easily while driving. Invariably, they perform similar functions. Their ultimate goal is keeping your attention on the windscreen and preventing distractions from your phone.

The only difference between both is the platform they support. While Android Auto only supports Android phones, the CarPlay works with Apple’s iPhone and related devices.

Although there are dedicated head units for either, most platform-agnostic car head units feature both. However, like Android Auto, the CarPlay is not exclusive to Apple. CarPlay only describes head units compatible with the Apple ecosystem. These are available from various manufacturers.

Stay safe while driving!

Although the iPhone is agreeably addictive, you know the risks behind text-driving and call-driving. Investing in one of these Apple CarPlay head units is one of the best decisions you’ll make to safeguard your life and property.

Read more…

  • Idowu

    Idowu is an avid tech writer and a software surfer who loves covering knowledge gaps in consumer software, including anything related to iPhones. Well, when he's not reading and learning new things, you'll find Idowu losing gallantly on a solid chessboard or virtually on Lichess.

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