Apple CarPlay is the safest way to interact with your iPhone in the car. You'll never have to touch your iPhone while driving—something you should never do anyway. Instead, you control navigation, communications and entertainment using voice control and a simplified interface on your car's screen.
What if your car doesn't have a built-in display? What if he has one that doesn't work with Apple CarPlay? The good news is that you don't have to go out and buy a new car. In most cases, you can install a really good built-in system for between $200 and $1,000. Before making an investment, it is important to choose the right solution.
Apple CarPlay + Android Auto
The first thing you should pay attention to is system compatibility. Infotainment systems can work with both Apple CarPlay and Google's Android Auto. However, new devices are still being introduced that only support one system. Please note this if dual compatibility is a concern.
My family only uses Apple CarPlay, but Android Auto can be useful if the passenger uses Android. Support for both systems should also enhance your vehicle's resale value and appeal.
Here are some options:
- BOSS Audio Systems BVCP9700A – A solid budget option
- Pioneer DMH-1770NEX – the company released the first CarPlay head units on the aftermarket
- Alpine ILX-F511 – premium option with a large display
Apple CarPlay launched in extremely limited numbers in 2014 on some new cars and aftermarket head units, but today CarPlay support can be found on almost every brand. At least this is true for wired CarPlay, but wireless CarPlay has not yet become ubiquitous.
Any version of CarPlay can work when connected to the system using an iPhone charging cable. If you're making the investment, I highly recommend considering wireless CarPlay a must-have feature.
The Alpine iLX-507 (review) is a great recommendation for a reliable aftermarket wireless CarPlay head unit.
As for installation, it can be a DIY job if you have experience replacing car stereos, but you can typically pay $100-$500 in parts and service to install CarPlay screens correctly. Prices often vary depending on the complexity of installation, so shop around with local businesses for your options.
Factors to consider include loss of access to built-in cameras, need to replace cameras, and possibly loss of access to System controls are only available on the infotainment system by default. These are important questions to ask before choosing an installer.
What if your car already has CarPlay, but it's not wireless? Great question. I use a third-party adapter that enables wireless operation of the built-in CarPlay system in my car. You can read about my experience here.
Display type is another factor. There are two types with very different qualities: capacitive, which is preferred, and resistive, which you will probably want to avoid.
There are decent resistive touchscreens that offer a good experience on a budget, but investing in a capacitive system will ultimately offer a much better experience; in some cases you may end up paying more for a worse experience! The difference in screen types is like comparing an iPhone screen to an old ATM.
Is CarPlay built-in or aftermarket?
Finally, you have to make a decision: buy new with CarPlay or rely on an aftermarket system. New CarPlay-enabled cars typically have better integration with rearview and side-view cameras, as well as steering wheel controls.
Best comment from UberHiker
It would be great to have a comparison between removable devices. The device in my car is so deeply integrated into the dash that it will never be replaced, but I could stick a screen in front of it if I knew which one to buy
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If If you decide to buy a new one car with CarPlay functionality, look at factors such as display size and screen resolution to compare the two. As automakers roll out wireless CarPlay, be sure to research current options before purchasing. Many dealers don't know the difference between CarPlay and Wireless CarPlay, so rely on your own information.
- Follow our CarPlay guide for the latest model availability.
- You can find a list of Apple CarPlay cars here.
- Best CarPlay apps for iPhone.
- Download the new CarPlay wallpaper for iOS 17.
I I prefer tight new car integration with built-in CarPlay if possible, but I recommend the Alpine iLX-507 as a top aftermarket choice due to its display size, screen type, and wireless CarPlay support. However, if you really want to go big, the giant Alpine ILX-F511 is an impressive upgrade.
It may be several decades before we can recommend aftermarket solutions for the next generation of CarPlay, but the first cars with support are expected to be announced before the end of 2023, according to Apple. The end of 2023 is, of course, just around the corner. Stay tuned.