LAST UPDATED: July 28, 2019
Best Android Auto Head Units: Increase Your Car’s Audio Capabilities
Enhance your listening experience with these best-rated Android auto head units
The Review Team
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PUBLISHED ON July 28, 2019
Adding an Android auto head unit to your car gives you more options when it comes to choosing tunes, directions, and style. Many cars come with a boring head unit that’s only capable of playing music. Choosing your own Android head unit gives you much more customization. You can connect it to your phone, have it guide you with GPS, and listen to a larger selection of songs through Spotify, Pandora, etc. Here are the best Android auto head units you should consider if you’re looking to upgrade.
Its easy-to-use interface makes it simple to access apps, GPS, and more. It has a highly responsive, HD, seven-inch touchscreen.
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Benefits of Android Auto Head Units
- Wireless connectivity. Having an Android auto head unit gives you the freedom to connect your smartphone or any other Bluetooth-enabled device wirelessly. This allows you to listen to your personal library of songs, audiobooks, and more.
- Improved sound functionality. The best Android auto head unit will let you customize the sound of your audio system. While you can adjust settings with regular car head units, you’ll find more advanced features included with an aftermarket Android unit.
- Multiple connection options. While you get the wireless Bluetooth connection feature, many Android head units also include several other ways to connect devices. These options are USB and AUX cables that allow you to plug in MP3 players, iPods, iPads, and any other device that can connect with these cables.
- Personal style. A new, aftermarket head unit is one way to add your own personal style to your vehicle. Some even allow you to customize the colors to match your vehicle’s interior or exterior.
- Easy control. When compared to an OEM head unit, a new Android head unit will make accessing your music and phone easier and safer. The screen of an aftermarket unit will be much larger, making it simpler to comprehend. Some even let you go completely hands-free and speak commands to access information.
Types of Android Auto Head Units
A single-DIN head unit can typically fit into the dash of most standard vehicles and is generally seven by two inches. These head units are more common due to their easy-to-use controls, functionality, and price.
The major difference between a single-DIN and double-DIN head unit is its size; double-DIN head units are twice the size of their counterparts. Other than that, they have more advanced features and controls.
A household name among electronic consumers worldwide, the Sony brand has been designing and manufacturing electronic products for more than half a century. It’s headquartered in Tokyo, Japan. Currently, one of its most popular double-DIN stereos is the Sony Receiver.
JVC Kenwood is a Japanese company headquartered in Yokohama. Prior to the merger that created the JVC Kenwood brand in 2008, both JVC and Kenwood were known for designing and manufacturing consumer electronics for more than 50 years. One of its most popular double-DIN head units is the Kenwood In-Dash Multimedia Receiver.
A subsidiary of Alps Electrics, the Alpine brand has been dedicated to introducing the best car audio and navigation systems since 1967. The company headquarters is based in Tokyo, Japan. One of its well-renowned double-DIN head units is the Alpine Audio/Video receiver.
Boss Audio is an international company that manufactures audio devices, such as marine audio electronics, car stereos, and Powersports products. BOSS Audio has been in operation for over 30 years and is headquartered in Oxnard, Calif. BOSS products are sold in more than 130 countries worldwide, in storefront retail centers, and on online shops. The Boss Audio Car Multimedia Player is one of its top-rated units.
ATOTO is a car electronics company with a special focus on car multimedia devices, headrests, and OEM equipment. The company was established in 2008 by Jay Yang. The company’s manufacturing base is in Dongguan, China, but its products are sold worldwide through online shops. This company has some apex head units in the market, such as the ATOTO A6 Double-DIN Android Stereo.
Android Auto Head Unit Pricing
- Under $100: In this price range, you will find mostly single-DIN players. They may come with Bluetooth and a few other features like Pandora, Spotify, and a GPS device. You can also find a few double-DIN head units, but they won’t have as many features.
- $100 to $300: In this price range, you will find models that have more extensive features, such as CD and DVD players plus USB capabilities. You’ll also find double-DIN head units with advanced features and high-definition touch screens.
- Over $300: Here, you will find more high-quality and premium Android head units. They will have all the benefits of the previous choices but can also include Wi-Fi options and more interactive features with your smartphone.
With an upgraded Android head unit, you will get a wider selection of touchscreen sizes and colors. The display size depends on whether you get a single-DIN or a double-DIN unit. The screen size of a double-DIN system will be larger and offer more options and features to control your music, answer your smartphone, or control the GPS. You can also opt to get a folding display screen to stow away when not in use or hide the screen if you don’t want to be bothered by the light it emits.
You want to make sure the Android auto head unit is compatible with both your phone and your car. While many Android phones will be able to connect easily with the system, many older phones may not be able to. Check the guide to see what phones it operates with before you purchase the unit. You will also want to check the compatibility with your vehicle; not every unit is equipped to fit in every car.
For cars that are not fit with an onboard amplifier, the unit’s stereo provides power to the car’s speaker system. To make sure you are getting the proper amount of sound from your speakers, check the deck’s RMS rating and watts per channel. The RMS power rating is the amount of power the head unit gives at a constant rate. More watts equals more power for the speakers.
- Playback Options: This includes the different apps you can download through the display unit and the added features, such as USB cable connections. More examples include DVD player, CD player, Radio, MP3 player, Auxiliary ports, Bluetooth, Pandora, Spotify, and Wi-Fi. There is a wide range of playback options and connectivity features to play music and videos.
- Anti-Theft Protection: While units may be larger and easy to see through car windows, many can easily be stored away out of sight. You can buy a head unit with a face that can be detached and locked up in the glove compartment or the trunk when you leave the vehicle.
Best Android Auto Head Unit Reviews & Recommendations 2020
The ATOTO A6 is a double-DIN system and is made specifically with Android devices in mind. It is developed with the popular Android Marshmallow operating system. The addition of a quick booting system allows users to start the car and access the device and all its apps within two seconds.
Another feature we like is the additional brightness levels on the display screen. ATOTO enhanced the brightness capabilities found in Android phones and made them 14-percent brighter than the average car stereo. This allows you to see the screen better and not have to worry about blocking direct sunlight. The device supports USB devices with up to 256 gigabytes of storage and comes with three USB interfaces, one micro SD card slot, and a backup camera.
A downside to this model is it may not pick up some AM radio stations, and if it does, you may get a bit of static. Also, the apps may either freeze up upon first opening or take around 30 seconds to properly launch. You may also get some incompatibility issues with some steering wheel controls and need an adapter to connect it.
The Binize Android Quad-Core Multimedia player is a high-quality system equipped with a variety of features. It provides a diverse selection of amenities for an enjoyable driving experience. The player comes with a user-friendly touchscreen that’s over nine inches. Quick to navigate, the responsive screen lets you command the player with a simple touch. The high-resolution screen gives you crisp visuals, whether you’re streaming a film for passengers or navigating Google Maps.
The device is compatible with WiFi and has a USB connection for easy tethering. The Bluetooth function gives you complete hands-free control. You can use the device for calling or listening to music without taking your grip off the steering wheel. It has nuanced features like adjustable brightness and changeable wallpaper. One of the key benefits is how easily you can personalize this device to your preferences. Both its hardware and software are highly compatible and easy to use.
While it doesn’t play DVDs, you can easily stream your music from a service or tune into the FM radio feature. The Binize multimedia player for Android systems focuses on modern technology and up-to-date formats for watching and listening to media.
The Boss Audio device comes with Android Auto and easy-to-use, hands-free commands to access the system. You can also use the built-in steering wheel control buttons to control it. The unit is fitted with a 6.75-inch-wide touchscreen, giving you a large enough window to see the display without taking up too much room on the dashboard.
You get 80 watts of power coursing through your car’s speaker system. To tap into the performance power you have access to a number of streaming services, such as Spotify and Pandora. You can also plug your smartphone directly into the USB port or use the built-in AV input. Another bonus is it is simple to install and comes with a backup camera.
However, the sound quality isn’t the best, and you may need an amplifier to really get the full effect of the system. It may also take a good 10 seconds to fully power on when you first start the car. In addition, the screen is a bit on the dim side, so you may have a hard time seeing your content on the display.
The high-resolution Kenwood Excelon is a double-DIN unit DVD receiver with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. It features a voice-controlled interface, a large touch screen, and WebLink, so you can connect your smartphone and access apps such as YouTube and Spotify. It also has a dual-phone connection that enables you to switch between two phones.
The audio is high quality with ultra-high and low frequencies. You can listen to a variety of formats, including FLAC, WAV, MP3, WMA, and AAC. The unit also plays Direct Stream Digital (DSD) files and has camera inputs for both a front and rear camera. Overall, it's easy to install, the screen is very responsive, and you don't have to wait long for the system to boot up. It's a great deal for the price.
One downside is when two phones are connected Android Auto may not work properly. Also, there tends to be a little glare on the screen on bright days, and it may be slow to connect to your smartphone.
This head unit from Jensen is compatible with your Android phone. You can use the capacitive touchscreen or voice commands to control the functions of your phone. The screen is 10.1 inches and features an LCD display pixel resolution of 1024 x 600. There are three pairs of 4V RCA pre-amp outlets, two USB outlets, a backup camera input, and a microSD card input.
The screen on this unit is significantly larger than other options on this list. You can also adjust it to get the perfect angle so you can easily see it in any lighting condition.
Unfortunately, the large size of this screen means that it may be too large to comfortably fit on your car’s dash. It also doesn’t fit flush in your dash, so the screen sits out in front of it. This makes it more noticeable and bulkier, which creates a greater risk of theft.
This double-DIN head unit features a 6.2-inch LCD display. It will connect to your Android phone via Bluetooth 4.0. You can connect a full-size SD card or use the USB port to play 1080p MP4s or WMV video. It also plays MP3 and WMA audio. When installing your unit, you can connect it to your steering wheel controls for full functionality.
You’ll find the display on this unit to be beautiful thanks to the seven-color RGB LED illuminated keys and the backlit anti-glare touchscreen with a resolution of 1024 x 600. This unit lets you create entire audio and visual experience with front and rear variable subwoofer, six-channel preamp RCA outputs, and a 300w Max Class A/B Full Range Speaker Amplifier.
Unfortunately, this unit is better designed for playing video than audio, so it may not be the ideal system for someone looking to play music. While it’s capable of GPS navigation and Android PhoneLink, it lacks the majority of phone functionality and app accessibility that other units have.
You just need to say, “OK Google” and your Android phone will come to life through the Bluetooth Android Auto compatibility in this BOSS Audio system. You’ll be able to talk to Google Assistant, use Google Maps, Waze, make calls, check and reply to text messages, and listen to music. This unit has a 6.75-inch LED touchscreen, AM/FM radio, auxiliary input, USB ports, and AV port for a rear camera.
The display for this screen is truly impressive with its multi-color illumination. There are over 16 million color combinations you can create. This unit also gives you the ability to connect your entire sound system with front and rear sub preamp outputs. Fitting this unit in your vehicle will be easier than other units, thanks to its true double-DIN fit.
Unfortunately, you’ll need to buy the rear camera separately if you want this functionality of your screen. The screen size is also smaller in this unit than other comparable units on this list.
This double DIN stereo is based on Android 9. It features a seven-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth, GPS, and an AM/FM radio. It supports SWC, a rear camera, and apps from the Google Play Store. The unit also has video output for headrest monitors and supports Mirror link, so you can display an Android or iOS screen on the display.
The stereo is compatible with most navigation apps as well as offline maps, so you can get to your destination in areas where there's no signal. The company provides installation instructions as well as video tutorials and 24/7 technical support if you need assistance during setup. The system comes with a harness, RCA cables, USB cables, a GPS antenna, Bluetooth antenna, and other hardware.
One problem is that the built-in WiFi has limited range, and the GPS signal is not very strong. Also, you can't cast Netflix, YouTube TV, etc. to the display from your phone. It can also take a while for the screen to load.
JVC is known for producing quality electronics, so it’s only natural that you would consider the brand for your vehicle’s electronics. This unit features a 6.8-inch screen that uses resistive touch functionality. You can connect your Android phone via the USB plug to have access to the apps on your phone. You can either use the screen and touch the commands you want, or you can use voice commands for seamless and safe operation. It also comes with a rearview camera.
A unique touch to this unit is the Kameleon Stealth Mode. When your vehicle is shut off, the entire face of this unit turns black. That way, it blends in with your car’s interior and becomes less noticeable. This unit also has high-resolution audio playback that can improve the clarity and depth of your music.
Unfortunately, you cannot wirelessly connect your phone because Bluetooth isn’t an available function with this unit. Also, the screen on this unit feels small because of the thick frame around the outside of the screen.
This Alpine head unit comes with everything you need to enjoy the full functionality of your Android phone. It also comes with a backup camera and license plate mounting kit. Once you’ve installed your system, you can connect your phone via Bluetooth. This lets you get driving directions, listen to music, and make phone calls. The screen is 7 inches and responsive to touch.
Using this unit is easy, thanks to the anti-glare screen. You’ll be able to see it in even the brightest of light. It also has a lot of features to make it compatible with other accessories in your vehicle. This includes a USB port, HDMI output, and Sirius XM ready. There’s even an optional external accessory control module.
Unfortunately, you’ll need to have a space that fits the large size of this unit, or it won’t work in your car. It’s limited in functionality because the plug ports are all on the backside. You’ll also need more wire than what’s included to be able to install the rearview camera.
- Make sure to download the highest-quality audio and video before streaming from your smartphone. This ensures you hear the best version of the song or movie and can unleash the full potential of the device.
- You should disconnect the battery when installing a new head unit in your car. This way, you don’t risk exposing yourself to a live wire or blowing a fuse. If the car battery is activated during installation, you risk damaging the car stereo.
- You can avoid paying for a GPS navigation system if you have access to Android Auto and a touchscreen display. You can simply access your location straight from Google Maps or Apple Maps through your smartphone.
- An upgraded head unit is not a solution to making the speakers in your car perform better. To achieve this, consider completely overhauling the speaker system. A head unit may allow you to get a better sounding system but cannot fix terrible OEM speakers.
Q: Does a new system work without an antenna?
A: The radio reception will be weaker without the antenna. However, if you’re connecting to the radio through the internet, your car stereo will still stream radio. Alternatively, you can switch on your smartphone radio and connect it to the car stereo via Bluetooth.
Q: What Android device is supported by Android Auto?
A: If your Android smartphone or device is running on Android 5.0 Lollipop or above, you should be able to access Android Auto. Those who have the latest update, Android 6.0 Marshmallow, will be able to connect without issue. You can check to see if your device is compatible by seeing what version of Android you have.
Q: How do I pair my Android device?
A: This depends on what type of system your new unit comes with. For those with Android Auto, all you have to do is download the Android Auto app and connect through it. Other units come with Bluetooth or Wi-Fi and can be accessed through your device’s settings.
For those who want a top-rated and high-quality Android auto head unit with hands-free capabilities, consider the ATOTO A6 Double-DIN Android Stereo. You can always save a bit of cash and check out the Binize Android Quad-Core Multimedia Player as well.