Best Android Auto Head Units: Increase Your Car’s Audio Capabilities
Enhance your listening experience with these best-rated Android auto head units
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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.
- Best OverallPioneer Multimedia ReceiverSummarySummaryThis high-quality, single-DIN Android head unit comes with a responsive and quick seven-inch capacitive touchscreen display that is completely hands-free.ProsProsIt features Android Auto and can play CDs and DVDs as well. It can also be linked to Bluetooth, a USB port, and an AUX input. The radio option offers both AM/FM and Sirius XM connectivity.ConsConsThe screen can easily be washed out by the sun. Also, the video quality may be a bit grainy at times. In addition, you may have to wait a bit before the unit loads a playlist or app.
- Best ValueATOTO A6 Double-DIN Android StereoSummarySummaryHere’s a diverse double-DIN car navigation stereo with versatile connectivity, including a reverse camera, AUX audio, and USB connections.ProsProsThe system is quick to boot up and comes with AUX inputs.
Its easy-to-use interface makes it simple to access apps, GPS, and more. It has a highly responsive, HD, seven-inch touchscreen.ConsConsIt may not pick up some AM radio stations. Also, the apps may either freeze up upon first opening or take around 30 seconds to properly launch. It’s incompatible with some steering wheel controls.
- Honorable MentionBoss Audio Car Multimedia PlayerSummarySummaryThis unit features Android Auto for easy access and connectivity to your device. It also comes with built-in steering wheel controls. The unit is fit with a 6.75-inch-wide touchscreen.ProsProsYou get 80 watts of power. Plus, 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.ConsConsThe audio quality isn’t the best. It may take 10 seconds to fully power on when you first start the car. Also, the screen is a bit on the dim side, so you may have a hard time seeing your content on the display.
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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 2019
Best Overall: Pioneer Multimedia Receiver
The Pioneer receiver is a high-quality system equipped to provide you with a wide selection of features for your car. It comes with a responsive and quick seven-inch touchscreen display that is easy to navigate with your fingers. One of the best features is that it’s completely hands-free, giving you access to voice control so you can pay more attention to the road.
The device supports Android devices with Android Auto, and connecting to your phone is as simple as plugging it directly into the system or using Bluetooth to wirelessly connect your phone to the screen. Another bonus is it can also play CDs and DVDs. t can also be linked via Bluetooth, a USB port, and an AUX input. The radio option offers both AM/FM and Sirius XM connectivity.
One of the biggest drawbacks may be the screen. There can be a lot of washout and glare while the screen is in the sun. Also, the screen’s video quality may be a bit grainy at times. In addition, you may have to wait a bit before the unit loads a playlist or app.
Best Value: ATOTO A6 Double-DIN Android Stereo
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.
Honorable Mention: Boss Audio Car Multimedia Player
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.
- 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 Pioneer Multimedia Receiver. You can always save a bit of cash and check out the ATOTO A6 Double-DIN Android Stereo as well.