If you want to have Siri (or Android Auto) in your car, the Carlinkit is the best wireless Carplay solution
Carlinkit is on a roll with their wireless Apple Carplay devices and the Carlinkit 2.0 dashboard media console is no exception. This unit has been tested with iOS 14 and iOS 15.
UPDATE: Also check out our newer review on the CarPuride 9″ Carplay Display
My current car is a 2018 model. It feels like that is still a relatively recent model but sadly I’m missing Carplay. My wife’s car is newer and has Apple Carplay so the more I drove her car the more FOMO I experienced when I got back into mine.
Carlinkit Wireless CarPlay Adaptor
If your car already has CarPlay built in then you can also opt for the Wireless CarPlay Adaptor which allows your iPhone to wirelessly connect your car’s CarPlay. This means no more having to plug your phone in when you get in the car to connect your iPhone to CarPlay. Priceless.
I have an Alexa Auto and it’s great. I can get news, ask for directions and set reminders with relative convenience.
What I can’t do is text message easily (Alexa only likes other people with Alexa…very selfish of her) or control my Spotify or Maps – google or apple.
Alexa Auto is awesome but the lack of a screen and the fact that my Apple iPhone doesn’t really want to play nice with other ecosystems makes it a good solution, not a great solution.
So, off on my normal quest, I went researching and identifying the perfect Apple Carplay solution for people without Apple Carplay.
What are your choices?
The available CarPlay options were pretty obvious:
- Buy a new car with Apple Carplay. That’s not a great option.
- Replace my car infotainment unit with an after factory one that supports Apple Carplay (and Android Auto)
- Find an aftermarket unit that would not require installation or any altering of my current car. I like to sell cars as close to how the came out of the factory as possible. Better for resale.
Option 1: was obviously out as I like the car I have. Option 2: was also out as there is only 1 aftermarket head unit for my car (Haval H9) and it requires serious installation and isn’t the perfect head unit once installed.
So, Option 3 it was.
Surprisingly, at this time, there are not a lot of these middle-market units. Either there is some proprietary middle ground that makes them a high-risk venture to product or people just don’t see the value.
Personally, I think they are probably quite sought after. There are so many cars out there with people wanting to add Apple Carplay to their cars (or Android Auto which this unit does too).
Carlinkit 2.0 Apple Carplay and Andriod Auto Console
Out of the box, you get all you need to get this up and running.
- 12V car power supply with dual real USB ports
- AUX Cable (3.5mm)
- 7″ Console Screen
- Adjustable windscreen bracket
- Instruction booklet
It’s easy to set up and connect. The included instructions booklet is average at best but it’s not rocket science and if you have any problems just ask me in the comments below and I’m happy to help out.
Once you have it set up it connects automatically from then on. Just start up the car and the unit powers up, automatically connects to your phone wirelessly via Bluetooth and CarPlay opens by default.
In the car, you’ll need to choose where to attach it best to your window or dashboard. For me, I put it next to the steering wheel closest to the door so it stayed away from my main console and dashboard buttons.
The power cable plugs into your 12v / Cigarette lighter and there is enough length on it that you could probably run it anywhere you need it to so that you can find a power source.
The unit has an FM Transmitter but ideally, you’ll connect it via the 3.5mm audio cable that comes in the kit. This will need somewhere in your car to plug in to – i.e. a aux-in plug.
How it works and sounds
This isn’t a middle ground, try-hard CarPlay knock off. The reason being that CarPlay is managed from your phone. The unit itself is really just a slave or client of your phone.
This means when CarPlay activates on the console screen it’s the real deal, from your phone.
All the settings and features are managed on your phone and all the Siri features work with the microphone and speaker built in to the unit.
Applications on the Carlinkit
So, I guess what I’m trying to say here is that it’s CarPlay. The real deal, just on an external screen.
The Carlinkit supports
- Android Auto
- Apple CarPlay
- AirPlay (it’s a bit fiddly)
- FM Transmitter
and also has a range of inputs and outputs including:
- TF Card
The audio formats it supports are many. This is relevant if you wanted to put in a TF Card or similar and just play music off it. The supported audioformats include:
So, does it work?
I can’t say anything other than that, I really like this thing. Its given me Apple CarPlay, in my car, without me needing to change my head unit, drill holes or damage the car at all.
The only thing I really have to say that isn’t positive on this one is that the audio levels from the AUX out could be louder. It’s fine but I have to turn the stereo up a little bit to reach a level that’s ideal.
Also, when I’m stationary or the car is quiet and there is no music or other loud noises around I can hear a faint buzz/hum as if there is a bit of an earth buzz.
It’s not a big deal compared with the convenience of having this in the car.
I definitely feel like the experience of driving with this is much safer.
Being able to ask Siri to do things like open maps, play music and radio without touching anything is awesome.
When a text message comes in and CarPlay reads it to me and asks for a response is brilliant. On a recent road trip I had a lengthy exchange between my wife and I just using my voice and not need to read or press any buttons.
This is far better than trying to talk to Siri on just my phone on it’s holder or trying to get Amazon Alexa Auto to do the same (Surely it’s only a matter of time until Amazon launch an Alexa Auto with a screen?).
I feel no need to show you how CarPlay works. There are plenty of videos to show you how that all works.
The purpose of this post is really just to say if you’re looking for a device that allows you to get a Wireless Apply CarPlay solution in your car. This works.
Auto connects on start up, no lag or issues with speed and Siri will hear you when you speak.
Definitely recommend this as a non-destructive way to either modernise your car, or make up for the lack of manufacture installed CarPlay.
Any questions? Fire them in the comments below.
Endless hours of experimentation, professional work, and personal investment in Home Theatre, Hi-Fi, Smart Home Automation and Headphones have come to this.
Former owner of Headphones Canada, a high-end headphone specialty retailer.