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Published Sep. 7, 2021

Unless you trade in your lease for the newest model every year, the tech in your ride can get pretty dated. Android Auto head units are a great way to update your vehicle without going overboard. A mobile app created by Google, Android Auto mirrors associated Android devices. The display mounts to the dashboard, and connects to a series of handy cpps. From GPS navigation to Bluetooth communications, it puts everything within reach.

Whether you’re shooting off a hands free work email on your commute or curating a soundtrack for your road trip, the best Android Auto head units make light work of the task. Of course, not all head units are made alike. It’s important to find the right fit for your vehicle and media style. To lend a hand, we’ve tracked down the best Android Auto head units, along with some advice on making the right pick. Let’s get to it.

The Best Android Auto Head Units

First on our list is the Pioneer MVH1400NEX digital multimedia receiver. It’s compatible with Android devices as well as iOS devices. Once connected, you will be able to access some of your favorite apps and other tools using its high-quality Bluetooth connectivity for hands-free calling and audio streaming. Pioneer’s NEX model features 800 x 400 resolution and a clear-resistive touchscreen.

You can browse files stored on your phone, customize the display, and use its dedicated Spotify app for even more music options. The head unit plays DVDs, DVD-Rs, CDs, and more. It comes with a USB port, aux input, and a backup-camera input. It requires the Android Auto app and a phone that runs Android 5.0 Lollipop or higher. A wiring harness, USB extension cable, Bluetooth microphone, and instruction manual are included.

Key Features
  • Customizable display
  • CD and DVD support
  • Supports Android Auto and Apple CarPlay
  • Simple and stylish design
Specification
  • Brand Pioneer
  • Model MVH1400NEX
  • Weight 2.93 pounds

Looking for a way to upgrade your Honda without going overboard? Check out the QD Android Car Stereo for its advanced features and unique compatibility. This model stands out for its ability to fit into older rides, made between 2003 and 2007. However, being designed for older vehicles does not detract from the tech. In fact, this Android Auto head unit features an impressive touchscreen, Bluetooth compatibility, and the ability to support DVR production. It comes with everything from an RCA cable to a camera input wire, helping you set up your ride perfectly. Connecting to various navigation softwares, to the radio, and to your smartphone via the Android Auto app, this head unit is a solid pick for dated rides.

Bear in mind that this head unit is designed for gas-powered Hondas. If your ride relies on diesel, the design will block the air conditioning in your ride. Provided you have a compatible vehicle, though, this is a great way to go.

Key Features
  • Bluetooth controls for music and calling
  • Advanced GPS with multiple nav formats
  • FM radio runs between 87.5 and 108 megahertz
  • Accommodates USB connected cameras
Specification
  • Brand QD
  • Model 7th generation
  • Weight N/A

On the hunt for a head unit that will make travelling parts unknown easier (and safer)? Check out the Atoto A6 Double DIN Android Head Unit for its streamlined design and advanced navigation features. At first glance, it looks like a simple 7-inch head unit, connecting to the internet via Wi-Fi, tethering, or Bluetooth. However, by supporting Android Auto and CarPlay, it makes controlling maps a breeze. Complete with EasyConnection, this feature lets you plug in your smart device so the screen can mirror it. Equipped with all the connections to add-on cameras for the front and rear views of the ride, this one simple device can seriously modernize your ride. Simple to control and straightforward to use, this is a worthy pick for avid road explorers.

It’s worth noting that the success of attachments (like cameras) requires operating power. While this model has a reasonable capacity, be careful of overloading it to prevent crashes. If you can avoid pushing the system too hard, it can work over the long term.

Key Features
  • Designed for simplified navigation
  • Crisp 7-inch touchscreen
  • Compatible with Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and tethering
  • Easy to install and to connect
Specification
  • Brand Atoto
  • Model A6G2A7KL
  • Weight N/A

Having access to advanced tech shouldn’t mean blowing the budget, and with the Eincar Android Touchscreen Head Unit, it doesn’t have to. The head unit comes at an impressive price point, despite featuring all the most necessary tech. A double-DIN design, this model is built to support Wi-Fi and connects to the steering wheel for simplified controls. Using 4.0 Bluetooth technology, the device is extremely responsive, toggling between navigation, radio, and your playlist. The screen is capable of supporting video, ideal if you’re travelling with passengers. Relying on Android 10.0, it stands out for its technical compatibility. You can use this with anything that’s compatible with Android, ranging from Spotify to Facebook. Able to attach to rear and forward-facing cameras, this head unit can drastically improve your driving experience.

It warrants a mention that the system runs on Android 10, not the more updated version, the 11. Though the newer software only came out in late 2020, it does mean that the tech in this head unit is somewhat outdated. That said, it will get the job done at an amenable cost.

Key Features
  • Comes at a friendly price point
  • Accommodates steering wheel controls
  • Advanced stereo components prevent static
  • One gigabyte of RAM
Specification
  • Brand Eincar
  • Model US.aYH.AN274GNN1
  • Weight N/A

Next on the docket is the Vonter Car GPS Head Unit, an interesting candidate on this list. For starters, it is designed for Honda Civics made between 2016 and 2019. Touting a 9-inch touchscreen with ultra-thin spindles, this system can expand to a 2-terabyte unit. Coming with everything you need to install the setup (GPS antenna, power cord, USB cables, and instructions), you can pop it into place quickly. The device itself supports HD 1080P visuals, giving you excellent resolution. With a single gigabyte of operating memory, you can store up to 16 gigs on this system. Built in GPS, Wi-Fi hookups, and 4G video input give this model a modern edge without going overboard. A bit more basic than some other contenders, it is also sturdier by design.

Keep in mind that this system runs on Android 8.0, a previous generation of the technology that won’t accommodate updated apps with as much efficiency.. Will it take longer than a more modern version to perform a simpler task? Probably. Will it get the job done? Yes, and usually without any noticeable delays.

Key Features
  • Includes all the installation hardware
  • Reliable and responsive mirror linking
  • Operates on Android 8.0
  • Resilient touchscreen design
Specification
  • Brand Vonter
  • Model Civic 2016-2019
  • Weight 4.19 pounds

Fitting into any vehicle that has a double-DIN slot, the Dasaita Rotatable Android Auto Head Unit stands out as one of the most advanced options out there. For starters, it works with both Android Auto and Apple Wireless with the software coming pre-installed. It comes with a built-in DSP system that equalizes vibrations to provide crisp audio. Supporting Pandora and Spotify, you can also opt for phone mirroring or AUX connection. In either case, the clear, futuristic screen design gives you full access to everything from maps to music. Featuring a 1.8 gig central processor, it is capable of switching apps quickly and responding efficiently.. The curved screen lends it an extra aesthetic (and functional) edge, solidifying this head unit’s place as our premium pick.

It’s definitely worth mentioning that this model comes at a far higher price point than most of the competition. The quality of the technology makes it well worth the investment, as long as you’ll actually use the features. Be sure that you plan to take advantage of the software’s abilities, otherwise a more basic model may be better.

Key Features
  • Works via tethering and Bluetooth
  • Accommodates music, video, and GPS
  • Clear audio
Specification
  • Brand Dasaita
  • Model HA2186-MAX6-CP-
  • Weight 6.65 pounds

Especially if you’re newer to upgrading your vehicle’s electricals, the Amerteer Android Auto Head Unit is a worthy candidate. The comprehensive kit makes installation a breeze. Designed for plug-and-play utility, it offers responsive mirror-linking abilities. Equipped with Android 9.1, the system is built to respond quickly, regardless of the audiovisual data it’s processing. Basically, you can use it for Bluetooth calls, navigation, or video streaming without the system glitching. It’s complete with 16 gigs of storage memory and a high-definition screen that makes downloading apps a breeze. Supporting 4K video playback, it is built to support rear and forward-facing cameras. Though this head unit has tons of features, it is built sturdy and not prone to overheating. So, if you’re looking for a go-to option that’s easy to handle, this is the way to go.

Now, keep in mind that 9.1 Android is better than previous versions, but it is not the most recent upgrade. For the purposes of Android Auto, it will perform decently, though current-gen Android will work more responsively and have less risk of crashing.

Key Features
  • Runs on Android 9.1
  • Features 16 gig storage memory
  • Single gig operating memory
  • Supports Wi-Fi hotspots and Bluetooth
  • High-definition LCD touchscreen
Specification
  • Brand Amerteer
  • Model 2016-2019
  • Weight 4.19 pounds

The Hikity Android Car Stereo Head Unit stands out from the crowd for its modern configuration and advanced safety features. For starters, it comes with a rear view camera and the necessary connections. The sleek design fits into most vehicles, offering all the benefits of offline navigation and streamlined controls. At over 10 inches diagonal, the universal structure tucks into any double-DIN setup. It comes with a Wi-Fi and GPS receiving unit, connecting via tethering or wireless internet. Capable of everything from radio reception to sending emails, the bold screen makes it easy to use for drivers and passengers alike. Thanks to the advanced mirroring, it responds quickly and isn’t prone to crashes. Finally, the waterproof camera is the cherry on top, helping you reverse safely.

Bear in mind that this model doesn’t have voice commands. You can wire it into the steering wheels of some setups or simply use the touchscreen. However, since you can’t shout out commands, it’s better when travelling with passengers.

Key Features
  • Includes 10.1 inch touchscreen
  • Comes with rearview camera and hookup
  • USB mirror linking abilities
  • Compatible with Bluetooth and tethering
Specification
  • Brand Hikity
  • Model 10.1 Android Car
  • Weight 3.01 pounds

This multimedia player from Corehan is based on Android 10 and features built-in Bluetooth, GPS, a rear camera input, and AM/FM radio. You can download apps from the Google Play store for added versatility. It features a 7-inch touchscreen and supports headrest monitors, so all passengers can listen to music and watch videos together. It accommodates USB drives, micro SD cards, and Mirror Link.

This Android car stereo allows you to drive safely by using Bluetooth for phone calls. You can also connect it to an OBDII scanner, so you can check the health of your vehicle. Finally, it supports most navigation apps, including offline maps, and comes with 24-hour technical support in case you run into any problems.

Key Features
  • Built-in Bluetooth and GPS
  • 7-inch touchscreen
  • Installation manual and video tutorial included
  • Compatible with an OBDII scanner
Specification
  • Brand Corehan
  • Model COCS-JD-AN-03
  • Weight N/A

With the Hieha Car Stereo Android Auto Head Unit you can update your vehicle in one fell swoop. It is able to receive input from your phone, a USB connection, auxiliary cable, or a U disc. The set even has a port to connect a DVD player, letting you hook into the existing player in the car. Complete with multiple audio settings, you can curate the perfectly balanced sound for whatever music is on. The display is muted enough to be safe, letting you adjust the saturation and hue for night driving. Connecting via Bluetooth, you can make hands-free calls or play music without taking your eyes off the road. Coming with a convenient backup camera, this auto head unit is a fantastic pick for both convenience and safety.

Bear in mind that, though this model works well for Android Auto, it’s clear that the tech was built with a focus on iOS compatibility. It performs Android functions optimally, but there are more benefits if you run it on Apple.

Key Features
  • Offers real-time alerts on Google maps
  • Extremely responsive 7-inch touchscreen
  • Connects to steering wheel controls
  • Reliable mirror linking tech
  • Uses Bluetooth 5.0
Specification
  • Brand Heiha
  • Model 7023B
  • Weight 1.85 pounds

Best Android Auto Head Units Buying Guide

In this section, we tell you more about some of the features to focus on when you are making your decision on which of the best Android head units to buy. Next, we will list some of the main advantages of using a system such as this one. Following this, we will look at installation in closer detail, before getting into our frequently asked questions section. Lastly, we have a recap of our number one product on the list.

Finding an Android Auto head unit is all about upgrading your ride without actually trading it in for something with built-in tech. It’s all about identifying your priorities and tracking down a model with those features. Need the unit for navigation? Look for something with multiple map applications and offline capacity. Want more of an interactive comm device? Check on Bluetooth. Keeping kids busy? Look for streaming. 

The key is to focus in on what you want, find a model that fits, and stick to a reasonable budget. Provided you do that, Android Auto can seriously improve your driving experience. 

Features to Look for in an Android Auto Head Unit

Every head unit compatible with Android Auto is a bit different, with each manufacturer aiming to offer the best model for a certain purpose. Ultimately, the main feature of your search should be compatibility with Android Auto. The last thing you need is to get a head unit that only works with iOS (if that’s not the software you use). From there, you can put weight on specific features to optimize the utility value of the head unit. 

Vehicle Fit 

When you upgrade your vehicle, you don’t want to detract from another feature. Vehicle fit is about more than being able to pop the head unit into place. It’s a matter of ensuring that your airflow isn’t compromised. Some auto head units are designed for a vehicle-specific fit while others work on anything with a double-DIN setup. Take a look at the installation setup and be sure it will fit your ride without blocking your air conditioner or heater. A large screen sounds nice, but it’s not worth impeding your HVAC system. 

Installation and Controls

The next feature to consider is the actual setup requirements of your Android Auto head unit. Some are fairly straightforward to set up with simple wiring hookups. Others may call for a professional installation. Look for an instruction guide with your head unit and be sure that it comes with all the necessary supplies for setup. Ease of controls means a trickier installation, wiring it into your steering wheel, media, and cameras. The more abilities the head unit has, the more time it will take to set up. However, the payoff of steering wheel controls and rear view visibility makes it worth the extra step for most. 

Touchscreen Display

When investigating the merit of a touchscreen, there are a few things to look for. The first is resolution. If the image isn’t crisp enough, it shows. Look for responsiveness, where it won’t glitch when you touch it. Size is another consideration. Be sure that it is small enough to leave your AC alone yet large enough to work as a display. The display should also feature dimmers and saturation adjustments, essential components for safe night driving. Expect your screen to be able to accommodate at least 1080P playback and toggle functions without encountering issues. 

Operating Ability 

When you’re shelling out for an auto accessory, you want it to be able to do as much as possible. As auto head units evolve, there are more functions than  ever. Expect phone mirroring, GPS navigation, advanced static reduction, and multiple methods of input. It should be able to accommodate Bluetooth and tethering. Ideally, the system runs on the most advanced version of Android (11); though, since it only came out in late 2020, most tech has yet to catch up. Generally, as long as the system has at least 8.0 Android, it should be fine. Look at the memory capacity and responsiveness of the system overall. Provided it can support all the features you need (music, streaming, GPS), then it makes a good candidate. 

Audio Features 

Though a head unit can’t replace your vehicle’s speakers, a unit equipped with equalization technology is an important consideration. Many Android Auto head units include several settings to balance the sound properly. By preventing static, you get a cleaner sound result. It’s a matter of both the hardware and software. The head unit must have reliable output in terms of signal, but it also must have solid connections for input and output. This means the wires must be well placed, insulated thoroughly, and built to last. Provided both these features are in place, you can get a decent sound even from the head unit.

Google Android Auto car display

Comprehensive Features

The more features your head unit has, the more versatile it will be. If you find something that only focuses on navigation and radio, then you’re losing out on streaming. Finding something with Bluetooth, steering wheel controls, multiple navigation software, camera hookups adds utility. Be sure that you take price into account. The more features present, the higher the price tag. Basically, check that you are getting all the features you will need without going overboard. 

Manufacturer Warranties 

Especially when it comes to the more premium Android Auto head units, warranties offer helpful peace of mind. This type of warranty protects you against defects for which the manufacturer is at fault. If you are focused on a warranty, reply with your information immediately upon receipt of the product. Look at the underwriting to ensure that you don’t void the warranty through either action or inaction. It’s not likely that you will need the warranty, however, especially if you do you pick a quality option like the ones on this list).

Advantages of Using Android Auto Head Units

Now, you may be wondering why you would want to delve into the world of Android Auto aftermarket products. Well, there are plenty of advantages that you can expect to enjoy by installing one. Here are just some of the main positives.

Easy to Read Display

A larger display makes it easier to read and operate. You can see your app icons, shift between songs, and make calls while still keeping your eyes on the road and not having to squint to get the information that you are looking for. At the same time, the number of apps that you see is limited, so you don’t get too distracted while you are driving.

Rear-View Camera for Safety

Some auto head units with a large screen size accommodate rear-view cameras. If you own a car that doesn’t already have this feature built-in, an auto head unit that comes with a camera may be a great option for you. They are great for safety and may even save the odd ding or two.

Bluetooth Usability

Bluetooth connectivity allows you to make hands-free calls, so you can still stay connected while you are on the road. You can see caller information instantly, so you can make the decision whether to answer the call or not. On some devices, you can also take advantage of other features such as audio streaming.

GPS Navigation

Unlike with other GPS navigation systems, with an Android Auto head unit, you get a good view of your map. If your receiver doesn’t include built-in navigation, you may be able to hook it up with an outboard unit. Many also feature access to apps such as Waze, allowing you to get real-time traffic updates, so you can adjust your route accordingly. Bear in mind that some apps will require internet compatibility.

Increased Radio Options

If you still like listening to the radio instead of streaming music, some of the head units give you access to HD radio. Not only does this improve the quality of the broadcasts, but you also get additional information including album art, station logos, and song tags if you would like to purchase the music in the future.

Voice Controls

Even safer than fiddling around with the screen in front of you is taking advantage of voice commands. This way, you can make calls, adjust the music, compose text messages, and more by just speaking to your car. You can also make your random Google searches to find out useful information without ever having to take your eyes off the road. You will feel like you are David Hasselhoff in Knight Rider in no time!

Google Android Auto car display

Types of Android Auto Head Units

Android Auto head units refer to any type of automotive in-deck unit that is compatible with Android Auto software. This technology is meant to make Android features that benefit drivers accessible while on the road. While all the different makes and models will be slightly different, the software compatibility is something they all share. Beyond that, the differentiation is largely spatial, relating more to the size and installation than to the performance abilities. 

Single-DIN

A single-DIN stereo is probably the most common type of head unit and is the typical head unit you’d see in older cars. Single-DIN units usually measure 7 by 2 inches and will fit in most cars, particularly older cars, relatively easily. This type of head unit is popular as they are relatively affordable and easy to use.

Double-DIN

The only real difference between a single-DIN and double-DIN head unit is its size. A double-DIN unit is typically double the size of a single-DIN unit, hence its name. This typically means the display screen is larger and some of the features, settings, and controls may be a touch more advanced and sophisticated. For example, a double-DIN unit may have a capacitive touchscreen, HDMI input, and smartphone connectivity.

Best Budget Android Auto Head Units

You can find Android Auto head units at a variety of price points, where the more advanced the software and the more features, the higher the cost. The trick is balancing the cost with the benefit of the tech. If you are budget-focused, we’ve broken down the best auto head units according to price point. These selections offer the best bang for your buck in any given category.

Up to $200

From $200 to $400

Over $400

Top Brands

There are a ton of great Android auto head unit brands currently on the market, here are the ones we know and trust.

Pioneer

Pioneer is a multinational operating out of Tokyo, Japan. They make a massive range of specialized digital entertainment products, including quality car stereos and head units. If you are chasing a well-designed double-DIN stereo head unit, then check out their Pioneer AVH w4500NEX.

Kenwood

Kenwood is a Japanese-based company operating out of Yokohama. If you are after a quality aftermarket head unit, car stereo, or speaker system, Kenwood is your go-to manufacturer. The car stereo head units have a range of great features including multi-language operating systems, touchscreen display, smartphone connectivity, an integrated navigation system, and some models even still have a CD/DVD drive.

Sony

Just about everybody knows the household name, Sony. Hailing out of Tokyo, Japan, Sony designs—and manufacturers—a massive range of different electronic goods, car stereos being one of them. Sony’s different car stereo unit features include steering wheel controls, auto and Apple car play, voice control, capacitive touchscreen, and GPS navigation.

Alpine

Alpine is another excellent car stereo manufacturer based out of Tokyo, Japan. They make single-DIN or double-DIN Android auto head units as well as an extensive range of satellite radio units. Alpines head units feature anything from climate controls to touchscreen display, and, of course, smartphone connectivity.

Boss

BOSS Audio hails out of Oxnard, Calif. They manufacture anything from marine audio electronics, car audio, and a whole heap of different sound systems for your smartphone. Boss Audio’s car stereos feature anything from steering wheel controls, large display screens, smartphone connectivity, and, of course, satellite radio.

Best Android Auto Head Units FAQ:

Q: What devices are supported with Android Auto multimedia decks?

If your phone is running Android 5.0 Lollipop or above, Android Auto should work on your device. But it is better if you have Android 6.0 Marshmallow or better. If you want to double-check your phone’s compatibility, try downloading the Android Auto app onto your phone. It makes sense that you make sure that you have a compatible device before going shopping for head units!

Q: Can I use my Apple devices with Android auto head units?

Some head units support both Android and Apple devices, whereas others are specific to one or the other. While some are suitable for both, they are better geared towards one or the other. Again, double-check the specifications to ensure that you have selected the right one. The ones which we have selected are all suitable for Android head units, so if you have a compatible Android device, they will all be fine.

Q: How do I pair my device?

You will first need to download the Android Auto app onto your device. You will then be asked to give the necessary permissions to run the app. You then have a couple of alternatives. The first time you connect it, you should attach your device to the unit via a USB connection. You will get a series of requests that you need to accept, and you may have to download other apps. Your phone’s Bluetooth will be automatically activated, and you need to accept Android Auto on your car display. You should then be able to hook it up wirelessly in the future.

Q: Do I need Android Auto if I have Bluetooth?

No, you don’t need Android Auto if your device has BlueTooth. However, an Android device that is connected through Android Auto will deliver better sound quality. This is because the audio sent through Android Auto is at a higher bandwidth, creating a higher quality of sound than BlueTooth.

Q: Can you connect Android Auto without USB?

Although Android Auto previously required a connection from the device to your car stereo via a USB cable, this is no longer necessary. Instead, an Android device can be connected to Android Auto by activating the wireless mode found in the Android Auto app.

Q: Does Android Auto use a lot of data?

No, in comparison to streaming music from a music app or using a GPS navigation app, Android doesn’t use much data at all. In fact, the only data Android Auto uses is to pull information like temperature and relatively small navigational data.

Our Top Pick

After careful consideration, we’ve declared the Pioneer Bluetooth Auto Head Unit as our top pick overall. Not only is it compatible with both iOS and Android Auto, but it lets you make the most out of hands-free utility. Equipped with Bluetooth compatibility, you get the best of modern software without letting go of older media. This auto head unit can support CDs and DVDs, coming with everything you need to blend the nostalgia of old media with the advances of current tech.

Sources:

  1. How to Install New Entertainment Electronics in Your Car – HowStuffWorks
  2. Radio Installation Guide – Popular Mechanics

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