10 Best Android Auto Head Units

10 Best Android Auto Head Units

Best Android Head Units

We rely on our smartphones for just about everything these days, and for good reason. 10 years ago, you would have had to have bought a GPS system, digital camera, MP3 player, phone, and more to take with you. Now, you can easily get all of those things with something that can fit in your pocket.

Not only that, but your phone has a ton of interesting features and tools that can be quite useful while driving, giving you a more comfortable and enjoyable ride.

Before we continue, we should say remind everyone not to use your phone while you’re behind the wheel. No texting, no shuffling through music, no Googling anything, just nothing. While these tools can be incredibly useful, you need to make sure you’ve got them in place when the car is stopped and not adjusting them while driving down the road.

If you have an Android Auto head unit in your car, then you can harness the power of your smartphone without compromising your safety. As with any major product, there just isn’t one Android Auto head unit out there. You’ve got plenty to choose from, all of which can suit your needs differently, depending upon the features you need and the full setup of interior speakers, amplifiers, and subwoofers that you may plan to use as part of your build.

If you’re in the market for a unit and you’re not sure which one is the best, then you’ve come to the right place. Below, we’re going to go over our top 10 choices for your Android Auto head units.

 

Alpine iLX-207 Android Head Unit

Alpine has been in and around cars for quite some time and they know their way around car accessories. With plenty of care and attention to detail, the iLX-207 is a beauty that is easy to use and easy to set up.

You can easily connect to any of your devices via Bluetooth but if you want to connect with USB or an auxiliary cord, you have those options as well.

The touchscreen is 7-inches, allowing you plenty of access to customize and edit what you see fit. There are also push-buttons along the bottom, allowing you to access the more important features of the unit. It also comes equipped with a Sirius XM satellite radio tuner, giving you great shows and music no matter where you are.

In addition, it connects with your backup camera and fits easily into most cars. Installation isn’t too tricky and novice DIYers should feel comfortable in giving it a try.

The screen isn’t quite as clear or picturesque as many would like for the price tag, coming in at a grainy 480p.

It does come with a wireless controller, meaning you can easily manage and navigate through the screens and menus.

The Specs

  • Manufacturer: Alpine
  • Model: iLX-207
  • 7-inch touchscreen
  • Compatible with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay
  • Sirius XM radio tuner

Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Easy to use touchscreen
  • Easy installation, great for novice DIYers
  • Sirius XM tuner
  • Compatible with a wide range of devices
  • Multiple wired hookup options

Cons:

  • Screen quality is quite “meh”
  • Disc options cost more

 

 

Kenwood eXcelon DNX995S

If you’re familiar with car audio, then you’re very familiar with Kenwood. They’ve been making speakers for a long time and have recently moved into the Android Auto head unit game.

The long knock against Kenwood devices is that their user interface has been overly complicated and has a steep learning curve. Thankfully, it looks like this unit tries to buck that trend.

With a totally redesigned, simplified, and fancy new user interface, you can easily navigate through while you’re in your vehicle.

It puts out fantastic sound quality, equipped with a 13-band equalizer and lots of audio customization so you can be sure to find that sweet spot.

As with any new device, it’s got two USB dongles allowing you to quickly charge any devices on the go. Along with built-in HD radio, WiFi and Bluetooth, this unit head has all the basic features you need. It’s easy on the eyes as well, using a white LED backlight in order to minimize glare.

We understand if you’ve been straying away from Kenwood in the past, but we encourage you to give this one another look. The user interface and top quality components make this unit head a great choice.

 

The Specs

  • Manufacturer: Kenwood
  • Model: DNX995S (“eXcelon”)
  • 6.75-inch screen
  • 7” by 11” by 11”
  • Receiving frequency: 1575.42MHz
  • Bluetooth
  • Waze compatible

Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Built-in HD radio, WiFi, and Bluetooth
  • Two USB ports for fast charging
  • High-definition LCD panel
  • Compatible with rear camera
  • Improved user interface

Cons:

  • No wireless remote

 

 

Boss Audio BVCP9675A Double Din

Sometimes it’s great to straightforward and to the point and that’s what we like about this Boss unit. It’s not overly flashy and doesn’t come loaded with a ton of amazing features.

It’s simple, easy to use, and gets the job done. It has just about everything you want, including wireless connections, Bluetooth, USB and aux connections, and radio setup.

The 7-inch display is wide enough for you to view all of the apps and controls while only utilizing a touchscreen. It does have small buttons on the side, but you’d be better off swiping and pressing on the screen itself.

It has some solid features as well, such as lowering your music volume every time you have to back up and super easy installation. Many users raved about how easy it was to set up as well as pair with a backup camera.

It connects with both Android and Apple devices, using voice control in order to help you navigate the screen easily. You’ll be able to plug in destinations, respond to messages, and change music while keeping your hands on the wheel.

The Specs:

  • Manufacturer: BOSS Audio Systems
  • Model: BVCP9675A
  • 7-inch touch screen
  • Bluetooth compatible
  • 1 USB port
  • Android and Apple compatible

Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Simple and easy-to-use touchscreen
  • Easy installation
  • Fits in just about every car
  • Great bargain deal

Cons:

  • Not very responsive
  • Can’t favorite radio stations

 

 

Pioneer AVH-W4500NEX Android Car Stereo Receiver

As with Kenwood, even mild car audio enthusiasts will recognize the Pioneer brand. You may even recognize it if you have some top quality speakers in your home.

The first thing that stands out about this head unit is the sound quality. With its 13-band equalizer and top-class tuning options, you’ll be able to get perfect notes no matter what kind of music you’re playing.

It comes equipped with four-volt pre-amp outlets and packs 50 Watts into each channel, giving you plenty of power that you may not find in other unit heads.

We also really like the display, seven inches that has both touchscreen and push-button controls, perfect for those who may have dirty fingers and don’t want to mess up the screen.

From the home screen, you can do just about anything. You’ll be able to play music, chart a destination, answer any messages, listen to your phone’s audio library, and much more.

Connecting to your smartphone is simple and is done in a matter of seconds. There is no complicated setup process meant to confuse you from the start.

The Specs

  • Manufacturer: Pioneer
  • Model: AVH-W4500NEX
  • 7-inch screen
  • 4” X 9” X 14”
  • Dual rear USB
  • Android Auto, CarPlay and Bluetooth compatible

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • 13-band equalizer
  • Great sound quality, plenty of power
  • Large screen
  • Touchscreen and push-button controls

Cons:

  • Hard-to-reach USB ports

 

 

**Editors Choice** Atoto A6Y1021PR

If you’re someone who has to constantly squint, grab their glasses, and lean forward to read a screen, then Atoto had you in mind when they were designing the A6Y1021PR.

They made sure you can keep your reading glasses in your shirt pocket with this whopping 10-inch screen and 178-degree viewing angle. With such great specs on the screen, you won’t have any issue reading the display even if direct sunlight hits it.

Atoto also went above and beyond in making sure that you had plenty of controls for this head unit. You have the touchscreen, five touch buttons, and a knob to control the screen. You’ll be able to get instant access to just about anything you’re trying to do.

The one big drawback with this model is it’s not the best choice for those with older phones. It works best with models that are Android 9.0 or above, meaning you need to make sure you’ve got a new enough model before you make this purchase.

Lower version phones can be connected to the head unit but only through WiFi or a USB cable. If you want to unlock its true powers, then you should make sure you have a newer phone.

This is also a great option for those who regularly share their car. With a screen lock feature, you can make sure no one messes with the controls or reconfigures the screen while you’re not in the pilot’s seat.

The Atoto also comes at a much cheaper price than you may find with other unit head models.

You Can Click Here To Read Customer Reviews

The Specs

  • Manufacturer: ATOTO
  • Model: A6Y1021PR
  • 10-inch touchscreen
  • Compatible with Android 9.0 and up
  • 1 USB port
  • WiFi compatible

Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Huge display
  • USB, Bluetooth, and WiFi compatible
  • Touchscreen, buttons, and a knob for optimal control
  • Screen Lock comes in quite handy

Cons:

  • Not compatible with all phones
  • WiFi is quite slow
  • Poor volume control

 

Corehan in Dash Android Car Stereo

If we had to pick one head unit that looked like it came right from a sci-fi movie, this would be the obvious choice.

It comes fitted with a pair of USB ports, two SD card slots, WiFi, Bluetooth compatibility, CD and DVD playback, and more.

Sharing your music and pairing your devices is instant and simple so you won’t have to be going through some complicated setup process. You can also mirror link your smartphone directly onto the display meaning you can leave your phone out of the way while driving.

One of our favorite things is the support for both on and offline options for the GPS navigation systems. You can easily hook up your phone’s navigational system, like Google Maps, or use the onboard system. This is perfect for those moments when you don’t have any reception or you’re out of battery.

This system comes with three USB ports, by far the most we’ve seen, for easy hookup. It also comes equipped with voice control so you can easily navigate through the menu and other options.

All of this comes at a moderate price, perfect for those who are on a budget when shopping around for a head unit.

The Specs

  • Manufacturer: Corehan
  • Model: CD-JE-ZZH-A
  • 6.2-inch screen
  • LCD display
  • CD/DVD playing supported

Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Fits well in most vehicles
  • Responsive voice control
  • Easy to moderate installation
  • Sleek design
  • Budget deal

Cons:

  • Lots of lag throughout different apps
  • Audio is often delayed
  • Average sound quality

 

 

Sony XAV-AX5000

You would have had to have been living under a rock to have never heard of Sony. Not only would a rock be your humble abode, but it would also have to be at the bottom of the ocean under 1000 other rocks.

Sony may have its hands in plenty of other tech fields, but when it comes to head units. The XAV-AX5000 is a relatively untested unit that comes with plenty of promise.

It’s not just compatible with Android Auto, but also with Apple’s CarPlay, Bluetooth and more. As an extra bonus, you’ll even get three free months of Sirius XM satellite radio. Can’t beat that!

The display is average-sized, coming in at a healthy seven inches. It performs well when subjected to lights, meaning you won’t have to use your free hand to cover it when driving around.

If you’ve ever used a Sony device before, you know how easy they are to use and this unit is no different. Navigating through the menus and display takes no learning time at all and the touchscreen is very responsive, allowing you to access all advanced features easily.

It also comes equipped with physical buttons so you can access the primary features in a flash.

The Specs

  • Manufacturer: Sony
  • Model: XAV-AX5000
  • 7-inch touchscreen
  • 10-band equalizer
  • 2 USB ports
  • Auto-level adjustment

Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Large, bright display
  • Includes three months of Sirius XM satellite radio
  • Incredibly easy to use
  • Touchscreen and button controls

Cons:

  • No HDMI output
  • No HD radio
  • No customization options

 

 

 

Pioneer AVH-3300NEX

We’re back with another Pioneer head unit, and this one doesn’t disappoint.

One of our favorite things about this Pioneer head unit is how sleek and downright beautiful it looks. With the 7-inch touchscreen and the LED backlight, it’s hard not to stare at this work of beauty.

The head unit flips out from the single din deck, meaning this is an ideal option for those with smaller vehicles and limited console space. You won’t have to worry about it invading the rest of your console either, as it immediately folds up once the car shuts off.

The AVH-3300NEX was designed for those looking to be completely hands-free. It connects easily to all your devices as its compatible with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and MIXTRAX. The built-in Bluetooth capability is fast and very reliable.

If that’s not enough, the head unit also comes equipped with a USB extension plug port so you can connect any device in a matter of seconds. With a high-end processor, this head unit is also quite speedy and doesn’t get bogged down with multiple commands.

The one complaint we have is this head unit is a bit difficult to install, meaning that you might have to take it into a professional in order to get it hooked up and connected correctly.

The Specs

  • Manufacturer: Pioneer
  • Model: AVH-3300NEX
  • 7-inch touchscreen
  • Single din
  • Motorized display
  • Extended USB cable

Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Bluetooth, iOS, and Android compatible
  • Plays DVDs
  • Compatible with backup cameras
  • Superfast processor
  • Fits in compact cars

Cons:

  • Difficult to reach USB port
  • Installation can be tricky

 

 

Kenwood Excelon DDX9905S

Look quickly and you might think we’re reviewing the same Kenwood model as earlier, but do not be alarmed as this one is the DDX and the one above was the DNX.

Now that we’ve got that all straightened out, it’s time to focus on this great head unit. The DDX comes equipped with three five-volt pre-outs, featuring a maximum output power of 50 Watts by four.

The 13-band equalizer, bass boost, and digital time alignment create the perfect, ideal mix of sound quality that you’ve come to know and love with Kenwood head units.

If you’re someone who pulls out a giant CD booklet, filled with everything from greatest hits CDs to your old high school mix-tapes, then this is the ideal head unit for you. The Kenwood can playback CD, CD-R, MP3, DVD, WAV, DSD, and just about any other audio or video format that you can think of. Sadly, it does not play VHS.

This is a great head unit for novice DIYers, due to its easy-to-follow installation. You can set it up and use it in no time, not fretting over directions and various cables.

The unit comes equipped with two USB interfaces so you can connect your phone and another device at the same time.

It is compatible with (deep breath): Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, Bluetooth, iDatalink, MIXTRAX, and much more.

It also embraces the hands-free idea as you’re able to use it with the touchscreen, your voice, or button controls.

The Specs

  • Manufacturer: Kenwood
  • Model: DDX9905S
  • 8” X 12” X 12”
  • 6.75-inch touchscreen
  • 2 USB ports
  • LCD display screen

Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Fantastic sound quality
  • Perhaps the clearest picture we’ve seen on a head unit
  • Can read any type of audio and video format
  • Voice activation

Cons:

  • No wireless remote
  • Buttons are small and difficult to press

 

 

Pioneer Avic-W8400NEX DVD Receiver

Another Pioneer on the list and you’re about to find out why. One of our favorite things about Pioneer models is the level of customization they offer and this one is no different. You can fiddle around with the screen and controls until you find the perfect display and perfect sound.

You can connect your Android device either through the USB port or wirelessly using Bluetooth. Plus, it comes equipped with WiFi Certified Miracast so you can keep your phone in your pocket, dashboard, or purse while you’re driving.

For those that are on the road a lot, you need a reliable navigation system and the Avic has you covered. Using a map database from HERE, it covers all of North America, even extending to Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico. The one downside is free updates are only available within the first 45 days of use.

If you’re not a fan, just use your phone’s navigational system which can be hooked up easily.

This Pioneer head unit hast the best touch screen on the market, being very responsive and showing no lag or need to double click either. If you’re someone that’s been frustrated by your touchscreen, give this one a try.

The Specs

  • Manufacturer: Pioneer
  • Model: Avic-W8400NEX
  • 12” X 8” X 12”
  • 7-inch display screen
  • Motorized touchscreen
  • Wired and wireless connectivity

Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Very detailed navigation system available
  • Best touchscreen we’ve seen in any units
  • Wired and wireless capabilities
  • Easy phone connection

Cons

  • Requires CR2 battery
  • Detailed mapping system but not great with directions
  • Price may scare some off

 


Things to Consider Before Buying

There is no perfect head unit out there and if there was, we’d just be reviewing one. Before you make a purchase, you have to think about what’s important for you. Below, we’ve run through some of the most popular specifications and qualities these head units have.

Feel free to make this a checklist or rate them in order of importance for you. That is going to have a big influence on which unit you decide to purchase.

The Screen:

It’s the first thing you’re going to notice whenever you look at a head unit. For the screen, you need to think about the size of your vehicle and how it would fit on your console.

If you’ve got a compact car, then you’re going to want to opt for the 6-7 inch screen (which tends to be the normal size. If you’re so blessed to have a truck or SUV, you can consider the larger sizes which range up to 10 inches.

CD Use:

Even though we know that everyone and their mom uses iTunes, Spotify, Pandora, Sirius XM, or music straight from their phone, CDs still have a special place in people’s hearts.

But chances are you probably know a few people, yourself included, who still have a giant CD collection in their car.

Even though it may not be the most important feature, it should be something that you consider when purchasing a head unit. Many units come with CD players, but others have removed them to save space. Whether or not that’s an important feature is completely up to you.

Steering Wheel Control Support:

Tons of newer vehicles have buttons on them that will let you control certain features like volume, changing the channel, and the input source.

If your vehicle has such options, then you want to make sure that your unit will be able to connect seamlessly with your vehicle’s steering wheel.

Backup Camera Support:

If you have a backup camera or you’re planning on adding one, then you want to make sure that your unit is compatible with your camera.

Many are pretty standard and easy to connect, but it’s worth looking into before you make a purchase one way or the other.

iPhone Compatability:

Yes, yes these reviews were about Android Auto head units, but just because it is compatible with Android Auto doesn’t mean it won’t be compatible with your or someone else’s iPhone.

Many of the head units are compatible, but some are not. If you have someone rocking an Apple product that frequents your car, make sure and check this feature out.

Additional Features:

Every model is created differently and every model is going to have various features that set them apart. Features you might want to check out ahead of time are:

 

  • Bluetooth capability
  • USB inputs
  • Aux inputs
  • Voice control
  • WiFi

The vast majority of screens are going to be touchscreen, but it might be helpful to have additional options like button controls or even a knob to quickly scroll through items.

 

What is an Auto Head Unit?

If you’ve come this far and you’re still not sure what an auto head unit is, rest assured because we have all the answers.

The head unit is the main control for your car’s stereo system and you may see it referred to as the deck or receiver. Right now, your auto head unit may look entirely basic or you could have a nice and fancy factory-issued one in your car.

Units are single or double din and this refers to the size and occasionally features. Double din units are 7” X 4” while single din are 7” X 2”.

Double dins generally, but not always, come with more features like an HD display, rearview camera display, and smartphone integration. Nowadays, you’re likely to find no huge difference in the amount of features from one to another.

Throughout these reviews, we’ve been focusing on Android Auto head units. Can you guess the main difference? That’s right, these units were designed to function with Android devices.

Google is in charge of making the compatible software, but not the unit itself. That’s why you find Android Auto in a wide variety of head units from various manufacturers.

What it Isn’t

One thing that needs to be clear is your auto head unit is not a mirror of your phone. While you can stream music, podcasts, and audio books and also share your phone’s navigation system, you’re not going to see a mirror image of your phone on the screen.

The head unit is only meant to enhance your driving and stereo experience while using your phone and is not meant to replace it.

So, does it Work in My Car?

Ah, the golden question. Are all of these auto head units ready to work in whatever car you have, from a Delorean to the newest Mercedes?

The quick and easy answer is yes, probably. Android Auto head units are supported by over 400 models that cover just about every major manufacturer out there. In fact, it’s easier to find those who don’t support the units:

  • Jaguar
  • Land Rover
  • Bently
  • Ferrari

Funny enough, older cars tend to be easier to upgrade than newer ones since newer models are being fixed with their own head units. Plus, the dash tends to contour specifically to the car, making mounting a bit more difficult.

The biggest thing you need to consider is the size, which we discussed above. You want a great head unit that isn’t going to interfere with your other controls or components on your dash.

Closing Words

If you truly want to take your driving and smartphone use to the next level, then investing in an auto head unit is the right call for you. While they can still be a distraction, they’re much safer than looking at your phone every few minutes.

You can access all your music, navigation options, and more with a quick touch of a button or voice-controlled systems, not to mention these would pair great with an amp to really drive some power to your interior speakers.

Review this list carefully and see which option may work best for you. It all depends on your budget, car, and desires. Good luck!

 

Bryce

Bryce Newell is an automotive enthusiast who loves to write about the latest news, products, and DIY projects. While Bryce is an amateur in the field, he is passionate about cars and has been since he spent weekends in the garage helping his dad rebuild a 68 Dodge Charger as a kid.

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