best budget android auto and apple carplay head unit


These days , newly manufactured vehicles ship with head units that support android auto which provides more functions and flexibility to the cars. However , if you have an old vehicle , chances are you’re still using a single din , or a double din that does not support advanced software such as Carplay and Android Auto.

In this article , we take a look at the top 5 best budget android auto head unit to replace your current car stereo. Apple users should read our guide on the top rated Apple CarPlay stereo

Important Factors To Consider Before Purchasing

If you’re in the market for a high quality android auto head unit, then you have already made a choice for phone compatibility. Since that’s out of the way, lets briefly discuss the other purchase considerations for the android stereo units.

Audio Quality

Even if you’re not an audiophile, it’s important to note that the quality of sound influences one’s mood, and when you’re on those long trips alone, this might be the cheer that keeps you going. The things to look out for in this category include the preamp rating, the RMS wattage, bass boost and signal management.

Low preamp voltage often leads to lower quality of audio production, and even worse, interference/ distortions at low or high levels. The RMS wattage is in some cases irrelevant, but keep it at 50watts anyway. The bass boost is a sub under the entire signal management process, and it depends on the delivery of sound after amplification from its source which could be your phone, or even the CD player, if your auto head unit has one.


Connectivity in stereo unit talks have been linked with convenience of both installation and consecutive use. The wired and wireless connections are the major options. However, while USB connections tend to give the user full access to the range of options provided by the unit (in most cases), interruptions are bound to mess your settings up especially when you have to pick a private call, and then reconnect.

On the flip side, make sure that the wireless connection you choose provides you access to the full range of options on your dashboard, otherwise, that could be very limiting and inconvenient.

Cost Effectiveness

Technically, the products we review together usually have slight differences in potential. If a device is priced way above the others in the same selection, make sure that the features correspond. If it does not, you could go for lower priced products that are deficient in features that you can do without.

#1-Pioneer AVH4200NEX

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Pioneer is a prominent name in the automotive accessories industry and the AVH 4200NEX is an example of what they offer.

The 4200-NEX serves as a reminder of what pioneer is capable of and in this case, it does so by supporting a plethora of acceptable formats and inputs for audio. For  inputs, it can read from USB cables, memory cards, CDs and even DVDs.

Granted that a couple of other brands can also read such formats, the AVH 4200NEX is the only android double din unit that can actually play video format from DVDs.

The only flaw is that it lacks quality display capabilities to project the video feed on the screen , but given its capacity for various inputs, you can reroute the video signal to other screens which were designed for that purpose – most of which can be found embedded in the dash or from drop down positions in the vehicle.

Apart from being the audio genius, the 4200NEX also connects two separate camera lines from the rear assist and lane correction systems for better driving and parking. Even though it tends to be unreliable in recognizing commands, takes a while to execute them and takes about 30 minutes to start up when turned on, this inexpensive android auto head unit still packs a punch.

#2-Pioneer AVIC-8200NEX

Most dealership websites advertise the 8200NEX using full screen displaying full navigation options because it’s a very impressive feature and probably its most attractive selling point.

android auto stereo

Being compatible with both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, you have access and control of native navigation apps through the 6.2-inch stereo touchscreen. Since touchscreen is enabled with the multi-touch gesture, you can zoom in and out of the map by pinching the desired area.

Apart from this fix on the display of the map, the onboard navigation map gets real time traffic data from over ninety North American cities from both the Weather Network and Total Traffic and then features up to 7.9 million points of interests across the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico.

Apparently, navigation is not the only selling point of the 8200NEX. Most reviews recognize the essence of the capacitive touchscreen, which is way better and more responsive than its counterpart (Resistive screen).

The 8200NEX also features good radio and music connectivity to your mobile phone from Pandora Support, HD Radio and SiriusXM. The only major downside would be the size of the screen which is lower than the standard and the costliness compared to the other units in its category.

#3 -Alpine-iLX-207 

Alpine ranks alongside Pioneer in terms of automotive electronics and as expected, their superiority in this niche market is featured in the ILX 207. Being our pick as the top Wired Connection Auto head unit, the Alpine-iLX-2017 is more responsive than you would expect a wired audio head unit set to be. In fact, it is more responsive than the ILX 107 which uses a wireless connection.

One downside to this magnificent feature is that its compatibility with the cheap android auto is not as absolute as that of the Apple CarPlay, but nonetheless, it delivers close enough. With a wired connection (and not Bluetooth), you can perform most basic functions such as answering phone calls, and get access to the full suite of apps displayed on the screen.

Its audio quality is also not too impressive as its RMS wattage sounds more like a 2v preamp output compared to the advertised 4V output. Despite that, it has a very clean and easy to read display and features some of the best smartphone device compatibility known to android users. Another sweet spot is its compatibility with iDataLink Maestro and  HD radio.

#4 Pioneer-AVH-3500NEX

Pioneer again but this time its a Single DIN unit.

If you’re wondering how it made it to this list, well, the answer is that with this unit, you still have access to the double din experience with its 7-inch motorized fold-out VGA touchscreen which fits perfectly to your single din head.

Pioneer-AVH-3300NEXFor display, the touch screen is very responsive and you can customize the appearance by choosing from an array of 5 display colors and 13 different splash screen options and backgrounds.

The commendable responsiveness of the screen is complemented by the relatively sharp resolution of 800 by 480 pixels. The automatic dimming feature works best at night when you don’t need as much brightness on the screen to do your bidding.

Navigation is quite easy whether you choose voice commands or the buttons which include a knob for the volume tuning flanked by radio tuning buttons and others which give you access to the units’ main menu. It features a sensitive microphone for the voice commands as well as hands-free calling while driving.

It’s compatibility with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto gives you access to a number of apps including Pandora, TuneIn and Spotify (among others) which can be navigated over the Bluetooth connection.

Somewhere along this review, the AVH 3500NEX stopped being just a single din unit and transformed into one of the best Android head units.

#5 Kenwood Excelon DNX994S – Best Android Auto Head Unit For Sound Quality


Kenwood has been around for as long as any other prominent brand and their specialization has always been inclined towards the audio section of vehicles. The Excelon DNX994S puts the Kenwood on this list because of its amazing audio output which is expressed through a 22 watts rating for the RMS and a peak output of 50 watts.

While that is considered to be fairly standard and mildly impressive, the 5-volt preamp signal just puts it right at the top of the contenders for best audio.

With this feature, it doesn’t matter whether you use a factory speaker system or upgrade to a more impressive unit, the sound quality is very commendable.

The digital time alignment feature ensures that the sound is sculpted to your liking by syncing the sound to reach your eardrums simultaneously.

Other self-help sound improvements systems found in this unit include a space enhancer, sound elevation systems as well as sound realizer. Compared to the accuracy and precision of the simple balance and fade settings featured in other devices, the DNX994S justifiably earns its place.

On the downside, the navigation system isn’t mention-worthy as its functionality is severely limited that notifications are hardly delivered to the waiting driver. In addition to that, it cannot run on more than one device at a time and the USB compatibility is  not the best.

Given how expensive this is, audiophiles might be the only group of enthusiasts that would be interested in this product.

Also Check These Top Head Unit Reviews:

Pioneer DMH-1500NEX Review

Pioneer AVH-2500NEX Review

Best Car head unit For iPhone Users

Best Cheap Double Din Reviews

Best Android Auto Head Units