The Best Wireless Apple CarPlay Adapters In 2023 (Expert’s Picks)
A wireless CarPlay adapter allows you to add Apple Carplay or Android Auto support to any car that has support for wired CarPlay. Since the built-in infotainment systems for most cars are not that great, both Apple Carplay and Android Auto are viable alternatives. Previously, both of these standards would only work by plugging in your phone to a car that supports the feature. However, in 2015, both were updated to work wirelessly.
Now, while most major car manufacturers have support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, not all cars will support them wirelessly. If you hate carrying cables with you all day, this can be quite inconvenient. Cables can be finicky, they can get lost, or even stop working altogether. This gets even more frustrating if the charging port on your phone is already somewhat unreliable.
Fortunately, these wireless CarPlay dongles can make your life a lot easier. Just plug them into your car’s USB-A or Type-C port that supports CarPlay, pair your phone, and you’re good to go. In this guide, we’ll be going over a few of these adapters, how they differ from each other, and ultimately, finding the best wireless CarPlay adapter that’s right for you.
Can Wireless CarPlay Work With Any Car?
This is where things can get a bit confusing. If your car already supports wireless CarPlay or Android Auto, then there’s no need to go out and buy a wireless adapter for your car. On the other hand, if your car does not support wireless CarPlay but works with a cable, then you can plug in a wireless adapter to eliminate that wired connection. The same goes for Android Auto.
However, if your vehicle’s head unit or dashboard does not support CarPlay, you’re out of luck. There’s still a way around this, as you can go out and get an infotainment screen or dashboard that supports it. For example, Car and Driver’s IntelliDash is a good way of getting around that issue.
Unfortunately, if you’ve ever bought third-party tech gadgets for your car, you’re likely aware of how compatibility can be an issue. For example, some older Honda cars don’t work with certain CarPlay adapters, even if the car manufacturer says they support CarPlay natively. So, while some wireless CarPlay adapters may not be compatible with wireless CarPlay or Android Auto, the majority of them will work fine.
Ultimately, it will come down to trial and error, as that’s just the nature of most car tech. If you find that a certain wireless CarPlay adapter does not work with your car, contact the support page and either ask them to fix the issue, or go for a refund.
|#||Preview||Name||Award||Buy On Amazon|
|1||Ottocast Wireless CarPlay U2-X Pro||Editor's Choice|| |
|2||Carlinkit 3.0 Wireless CarPlay Adapter||Most Popular Pick|| |
|3||Hieha Wireless Apple CarPlay Dongle||Best Budget Pick|| |
|4||Ottocast CarPlay AI Box PICASOU 2||Most Versatile|| |
|5||Ottocast Wireless Carplay U2-Air||Most Intuitive|| |
|Name||Ottocast Wireless CarPlay U2-X Pro|
|Buy On Amazon|| |
|Name||Carlinkit 3.0 Wireless CarPlay Adapter|
|Award||Most Popular Pick|
|Buy On Amazon|| |
|Name||Hieha Wireless Apple CarPlay Dongle|
|Award||Best Budget Pick|
|Buy On Amazon|| |
|Name||Ottocast CarPlay AI Box PICASOU 2|
|Buy On Amazon|| |
|Name||Ottocast Wireless Carplay U2-Air|
|Buy On Amazon|| |
Last Update on 2023-06-09 at 05:36 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Factors To Consider When Buying a Wireless CarPlay Adapter
A wireless CarPlay adapter might be essential for those of you who want to continue using CarPlay, but don’t want to deal with the hassle of plugging in your phone. However, with the countless options available, it’s a bit of a hassle to find exactly what you’re looking for.
While sticking with our recommendations is a good idea, it might not always be possible. Things go out of stock, some may get discontinued, and prices may go up. In that case, we’ve put together a buyer’s guide to make your life easier.
We tested dozens of CarPlay adapters and sifted through multiple versions to make sure you buy the right device. After a lot of investigating, we’ve put together this buyer’s guide so you can have a better idea of what to look for.
The first thing you need to be sure of is compatibility. Most wireless CarPlay adapters will work with iOS 9 or later. As long as you have a relatively recent iPhone, compatibility should not be much of an issue. However, vehicle compatibility is another thing entirely. The product’s page will tell you what types of cars the adapter works with.
Most manufacturers have a sheet that details all of this information. This will include the make and model of the car. During your research, you’ll find that some CarPlay Adapters only work with cars that were released in 2016 or later. So, pay close attention to this, so you don’t end up buying something that doesn’t work with your vehicle.
The Setup Process
A good wireless CarPlay adapter should be easy to set up. Fortunately, this is not an issue with most of the products that we picked. They feature a plug-and-play functionality, meaning you just plug in the adapter, pair it to your phone, and you’re good to go. However, there are other things to consider here.
For example, you might need to upgrade the Firmware every now and then. Some CarPlay adapters will update over the air, while others will require you to plug in a USB with the new Firmware. Update time also varies between different models.
When you’re shopping for a wireless CarPlay adapter, it’s important that the connection is stable and reliable. Coupled with a fast start-up time and a strong Wi-Fi/Bluetooth connection, the adapter should be reliable in terms of audio or video playback as well.
Many cheaper adapters will work on the service, but they’ll start to show issues with audio playback. Sometimes they’ll be a couple of seconds behind on song, skipping tracks could be laggy, and the overall experience just goes down from here. None of our picks below have this issue.
Last but not least, you’ll want to worry about the budget. Wireless CarPlay adapters can cost anywhere from $50 to $300 (USD). That’s quite a wide range and just makes the buying decision more difficult. However, just because an adapter is cheap, that does not mean it’s bad. The same logic applies to higher-end adapters.
Instead of just looking at the price, look for what you need. Consider what features you need, and which is the best option under your budget. For example, if you don’t have multi-user and Android Auto support, you can get away with a cheaper pick. On the flip side, if you want reliable video playback, then the CarPlay adapter (or AI Box) will be more expensive.
Why you should trust us
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To start things off, we have our editor’s choice – The OTTOCAST Wireless U2-X Pro. This is a wireless CarPlay Adapter that also has support for Android Auto. Out of all of the options we tested, this is our top choice based on reliability, ease of use, and of course, overall value.
The U2-X Pro is easy to set up, and after unboxing it, you’ll have the device up and running in under two minutes. For certain vehicles, you might have to do a firmware upgrade to get it up and running, but that entire process isn’t too hard either. Once everything is set up, you can leave the wireless CarPlay Adapter plugged in at all times. As long as you have it paired to your iPhone via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, it will automatically bring up the CarPlay menu whenever you step inside your vehicle.
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The connection is rock-solid, and it can use both 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi for faster transmission. As for the boot time, the device takes about 15-20 seconds to startup. It’s compatible with most iPhone models, as long as you’re on iOS 10 or later. As for Android, your phone should be on Android 11 or later. Speaking of which, it supports both full-screen and split-screen modes for Android Auto.
It does a good job of adapting to your dashboard’s screen size and aspect ratio. Whether your display is vertically or horizontally, the device will automatically figure it out and correct the video output. This wireless CarPlay adapter uses a Type-C port for connection and can pair to your iPhone via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi.
There’s also a USB Type-A port on one side, so you can connect it to the computer, check the settings, and upgrade the Firmware. Finally, it also features a convenient button at the back, known as the Smart Button. Press and hold this button for 1 second to return to the main UI, hold it for three seconds to enter the firmware upgrade menu, and if you want to reset the device entirely, hold the button down for 10 seconds.
While this is quite a basic feature, it comes in handy if you ever switch phones and need to quickly reset the device or upgrade the firmware. Apart from a standard Type-A to Type-C cable, it also comes with a fast Type-C to Type-C cable if your car uses that for CarPlay.
Considering that this wireless CarPlay adapter works seamlessly, is easy to set up, and has no real flaws, it’s easy to recommend as the top choice. While the price isn’t all that economical, it’s worth the investment compared to cheaper (and unreliable) options out there.
Next, we have a wireless CarPlay adapter which is one of the more popular options available on Amazon. The Carlinkit 3.0 adapter is a safe bet considering its easy setup processor, reliable connection, and support for multiple devices. While the complete lack of support for Android Auto is a bit of a shame, this adapter is a solid pick all around.
To start things off, this adapter is nothing out of the ordinary. Out of the box, you’ll get the device itself, some paperwork, and USB Type-A to Type-C cable. If your car uses a Type-C port for the CarPlay connection, you’ll need to get a different cable. We can’t knock the company for this, since most cars use a Type-A port anyway.
As for the setup process, it is similar to the OTTOCAST adapter we looked at previously. It takes about a minute to set up, though if you need to upgrade the Firmware, that does take a bit longer. There’s a green LED at the top of the device, which flashes when you pair it to your iPhone.
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Moving on to compatibility, this device will work with almost any iPhone as long as it is using iOS 7.1 or later. The oldest iPhone we were able to test it with was an iPhone 6 running iOS 10, so it’s safe to say compatibility should not be too much of an issue.
An interesting feature is that you can change the icon packs once you’re within CarPlay. It takes a bit of time to do so, but if you want to, the feature is there. Another interesting addition is the fact that you can have multiple devices paired at the same time. When you do so, the device will ask you which phone you want to use for the CarPlay connection each time. This is handy if you share your car with other people, and want them to have access to CarPlay wirelessly.
Other than that, this wireless CarPlay adapter is competitively priced and manages to keep up with the more expensive options out there. Compared to the OTTOCAST adapter above, it’s a bit slower when starting up, and it does lack support for Android Auto. If those issues seem minor to you, then you won’t have any complaints with this one.
3. Hieha Wireless Apple CarPlay Dongle
Best Budget Pick
- Works with 5G
- Stable connection even at long distances
- Easy setup process
- Quite affordable
- No support for Android Auto
- Startup time is a bit slow
Compatibility: iOS 7.1 or later | Android Auto Support: No | Connectivity: USB Type-C, Bluetooth
If you don’t want to spend upwards of $150 on a wireless CarPlay adapter, you should consider getting this one. While this Hieha dongle is quite unassuming compared to others on this list, it does get the job done fine. The connection is quite stable, the setup process is simple, and it won’t cost you an arm and a leg.
The fact that this cheap wireless dongle has support for 5G and a 5GHz Wi-Fi connection is quite impressive. Because of that, the overall connection is quite reliable. It even does a good job of pairing to your phone when you are further away. Of course, there’s a limit to the range, but it’s better than what you’d expect at this price.
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There’s little to no audio delay once you’re connected, and the overall lag is minimal. Of course, all wireless CarPlay adapters will have a bit of lag for the interface, but unfortunately, that’s just par for the course. Other than that, the setup process is easy, and the UI for pairing and connecting is simple to navigate.
Updating is quite easy as well, as the company has a lot of tutorials on its website. The firmware upgrade takes about 3-4 minutes, but we only recommend doing so if you’re running into problems. Otherwise, we’d recommend you stick with the stock firmware and software version.
So, what are the downsides of getting a cheaper CarPlay adapter such as this one? Well, for one, there’s no support for Android Auto at all. Other than that, the startup time is longer compared to others on this list. If that bothers you, maybe consider our first pick above.
Aside from that, there’s no real flaw with this one, and it nails all of the basics. If you don’t care about extra features such as multi-user or Android Auto support, it’s a good purchase to save some money.
On the surface, this is just another simple wireless CarPlay adapter. However, once you start to dig deeper, it is so much more than that. It also serves as an AI Box for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Before we talk about some of the main features, let’s dig into what that means for you.
So, this CarPlay adapter works like any other. Plug it into your car’s supported USB port, pair your iPhone or Android, and you’re good to go. However, once you launch it, you can select from three different interfaces. This includes Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and the company’s custom interface that uses a version of Android 10.
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Essentially, this interface turns your car’s dashboard into an Android tablet. This allows you to download apps from the Google Play Store, watch videos on platforms such as YouTube or Netflix, and even play certain video games. In short, anything that you could do on an Android tablet, you can do so through this wireless CarPlay adapter.
While this is a bit much for everyday use, it’s great for those who are on the road frequently. People who work in delivery services, truckers, and repair technicians will appreciate this type of device the most. It even includes an HDMI port, allowing to connect the device to rear seat displays.
Finally, you can also use this device as a set-top box for a TV. While this is not the most ideal setup, it can come in handy if you’re at a hotel and want to use an Android interface for the TV. The versatility is incredible here, and if you just want a more intuitive interface, you can just switch to Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.
We understand this device won’t be for everyone because of its niche use case and high price, but it’s worth highlighting for those who spend a lot of time on the road.
So far, out of all of the devices we’ve tested, OTTOCAST wireless CarPlay adapters prove to be the most reliable. If you’re not looking for something with Android Auto support, and the AI Box above feels like it’s a bit much, then the U2-Air is the perfect option for the middle-ground.
Now, keep in mind that this one does lack quite a bit in terms of features. For example, there’s no Android Auto support, no multi-user support, and you’re paying a bit more over the Hieha adapter above. What you’re getting in return is a wireless CarPlay adapter that’s easy to set up, will work 9 times out of 10, and won’t frustrate you with complicated settings.
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Out of the box, it comes with a Type-C to Type-C port, as well as a traditional USB-A to Type-C port. So, it doesn’t matter what type of port your cases your for CarPlay, as this device will work either way. Other than that, the setup process is similar to other OTTOCAST devices. Plug the device into your car’s USB port, pair your iPhone, and you’re good to go.
Other than that, there’s not much to say about this one. The design is sleek and compact, so you can easily hide it away in your car. The single LED is dim and unobtrusive, it doesn’t make any sounds while pairing, and generally stays out of your way most of the time.
So, while it’s not our first pick if you need something more basic and just works out of the box, this might be your best bet.
How We Picked and Tested The Best Wireless CarPlay Adapters
A wireless CarPlay adapter can either be a convenient gadget or a major source of frustration. This is why it’s important to know what to look for. A lot of these CarPlay adapters come from brands you’ve likely never heard of before. This makes it tough to figure out which devices you can trust to work reliably. On top of all that, we all know how inconsistent wireless technology can be, so that just makes things even more difficult.
As such, you can probably guess that putting together this roundup was no easy task. To start things off, we started doing our research by taking a look at the most popular choices. Then, we had to individually test and compare dozens of them against each other based on several different factors.
These factors include the following:
- Intuitiveness: A good wireless CarPlay adapter should be easy to set up, have simple menus, and features that are easy to use and navigate.
- Connectivity: Wireless connections can be hit or miss, so we had to make sure that our chosen picks had a rock-solid connection that was uninterrupted at all times. This is a major issue with many third-party adapters, so we had to test this thoroughly.
- Boot Time: How long it takes for the wireless CarPlay adapter to automatically turn on and connect to your phone. You don’t want to wait for the adapter to finish booting up when you’re in a hurry.
- Compatibility: This was less of an issue, as most adapters will work iOS 9 or later. However, we still had to check thoroughly for those of you who are on an older version of iOS.
- Design: While you shouldn’t expect much in terms of aesthetics from a wireless carplay adapter, the design should be minimal and unobtrusive. After all, it’s going to sit in your car at all times.
Considering the above factors, we started to shorten our list to just five out of the dozens of options available. After that, we ranked them based on value, performance, and reliability. Each adapter on this is list is great in its own right, it just comes down to what you’re looking for at the end of the day.
Best Wireless CarPlay Adapter - FAQs
If your car has support for wired CarPlay, then you can turn it into a wireless connection by buying a wireless CarPlay adapter and plugging it in.
Wireless CarPlay adapters generally work as long as you buy an adapter that supports your vehicle. The majority of vehicles with wired CarPlay support will work just fine.
A wireless CarPlay adapter serves as a bridge between your Car’s wired CarPlay system and your phone. It plugs into your CarPlay port and connects to your phone via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi.
Most newer iPhones will support wireless CarPlay without any problems. As long as your phone is newer than an iPhone 5 and is running iOS 9 or later, it will support wireless CarPlay.