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Best Apple CarPlay and Android Auto Wireless Adapters in 2023

Best Apple CarPlay and Android Auto Wireless Adapters in 2023

In this article: We'll review our selection of best wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto adapters, and review how to convert your existing wired CarPlay and Android Auto car stereo. We'll detail out what we like, how they work and why we chose each option on our list.

Over the last decade, built-in touchscreen head units in cars have become common and are virtually mandatory today due to federal back up camera laws. With these screens comes new distractions while driving and the potential for serious danger on the road. Solutions for distracted driving like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto head units have helped to integrate our connected devices into our intelligent cars, but the corded connection is often a nuisance or a distraction. With corded connections, every time you would like to use CarPlay or Android Auto, you have to pull your phone out of your bag or your pocket and physically connect it to your head unit or car.

But what about Wireless CarPlay and Android Auto? Don’t head units have that nowadays?

Yes, many head units do come with Wireless CarPlay and Android Auto from the factory. We actually compiled a list of best wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto Car Stereos if you're looking to replace your entire unit. But, you’re likely reading this article now because you’ve asked yourself how you can get wireless CarPlay and Android auto on a wired connection. Well, that’s exactly why we created this article. Cars that have built-in CarPlay or Android Auto via a wired connection can now use one of several devices to bring wireless CarPlay and Android Auto to your currently wired setup. These adapters connect to the USB input on your head unit and enable a wireless connection with your phone. This allows for functions of CarPlay or Android Auto to work without having to remove your phone from your bag or pocket.

There are a few things you’ll want to consider when you’re looking at these types of adapters. Most importantly is compatibility. Be sure to check that your vehicle is compatible with the adapter you’re considering. Not all vehicles are compatible with every adapter. Secondly is delay. We’ve seen and heard of significant delays with some of the knock off adapters so finding one that’s high quality and limits the delayed responses is important for a good experience.

Here Are Our Best Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto Adapters in 2023

Best Wireless Apple CarPlay Dongles

CarPlay is much more popular in factory car audio installations than Android Auto. However, most vehicles require a wired connection. The aftermarket has found lots of options for connecting CarPlay wirelessly to iPhone and Android phones. These are some of the best products on the market for adding wireless connectivity.

Best Overall Apple CarPlay & Android Auto Adapter

CRUX ACP-WLX

CRUX ACP-WLX Angle
CRUX ACP-WLX

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Key Features

  • Provides a wireless connection for wired Android Auto and Apple CarPlay-compatible head units
  • 5gHz Wi-Fi connection
  • Works with factory and aftermarket systems
  • Simple plug-and-play operation
  • Passthrough USB charging port
  • Includes interface cables

CRUX ACP-WLX Review

The CRUX ACP-WLX is the latest update to one of the most popular wireless adapters on the market, and previously our number one CarPlay Adapter – the ACP-WL. CRUX's new unit combines Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality into a single, easy-to-use device, eliminating the need for separate adapters when switching between iOS and Android. The dongle is compatible with most major head unit manufacturers, ensuring nearly universal compatibility.

The redesigned dongle features a matte finish and a compact size, making it easy to discreetly place virtually anywhere in your car. It includes connection cables for both Apple and Android phones and has an additional USB output for charging your phone while connected to the car stereo.

Overall, the CRUX ACP-WLX is a highly effective and convenient wireless adapter that is well-liked by users due to its compatibility, with a wide range of head units and an ability to easily switch between Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Its additional USB output and sleek design are added bonuses that make it a top choice for many, including CarAudioNow.

How It Works

To use the dongle, simply connect it to your phone and open the Bluetooth menu. Select the dongle, then open the head unit's Apple CarPlay or Android Auto feature to wirelessly start using your preferred system. Once the connection is established, you won't need to reconnect again. The dongle will automatically open your driving assistant program when the vehicle is turned on.

Pros
  • Combines Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality into a single device, eliminating the need for separate adapters when switching between iOS and Android
  • Compatible with most major head unit manufacturers, ensuring nearly universal compatibility
  • Sleek design with a matte finish and small size, making it easy to discreetly place in any car
  • Includes connection cables for both Apple and Android phones and has an additional USB output for charging your phone while connected to the car stereo
Cons
  • May not be compatible with all types of head units or phones
  • Some users may prefer a wired connection for a more stable connection
  • Some users may not need both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality and may prefer a device that focuses on just one platform

OttoCast U2 Air

Ottocast U2 Air
OttoCast U2 Air Angle
Ottocast U2 Air Wires

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Key Features

  • Converts wired CarPlay to wireless
  • High-speed connection and 5gHz data transfer speeds eliminate lag
  • Includes USB-to-Lightning cable
  • Easy setup and installation
  • Unique diamond-pattern design

OttoCast U2 Air Review

The OTTOCAST U2-Air is a new adapter that converts a factory-wired Apple CarPlay system to a wireless system in seconds. It is advertised as the fastest connecting adapter on the market with a connection speed of just 18 seconds using a 5 GHz Wi-Fi connection, which is faster than the 2.4 GHz band used by many competitors. The high-speed connection helps eliminate data lag.

In addition to its fast connection, the OTTOCAST U2-Air has a sleek design. Its diamond-pattern gives it a high-end look and feel, even if the dongle is visible.

How It Works

Installation is easy. Simply plug the dongle into your vehicle, connect your phone through the Bluetooth settings, and open CarPlay on your head unit. The connection is stable and connects quickly once the initial setup process is complete

Pros
  • Converts a factory-wired Apple CarPlay system to a wireless system quickly and easily
  • Has a fast connection speed of 18 seconds using a 5 GHz Wi-Fi connection, which helps eliminate data lag
  • Sleek diamond-pattern design gives it a high-end look and feel
  • Easy to install by simply plugging in the dongle, connecting your phone through Bluetooth, and opening CarPlay on your head unit
  • Highly stable connection once the initial setup process is complete
Cons
  • May be more expensive than other options for converting to a wireless CarPlay system
  • May not be compatible with all vehicles or head units
  • Could potentially interfere with other electronic devices or wireless signals in the vehicle
  • May require a separate power source or charging cable for the dongle
  • May not offer all of the features or functionality of a factory-installed wireless CarPlay system

Drimfly AirCarPlayQ

Drimfly CarPLay
Drimfly CarPlay size

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Key Features

  • Wirelessly connects smartphone to factory wired CarPlay
  • Simple USB installation
  • Works with most vehicles
  • Small size is easy to conceal

Drimfly AirCarPlayQ Review

This is an excellent solution to wirelessly accessing the features of your built-in wired CarPlay functions. The dongle is simple to conceal and has an attractive high-end look and feel. An illuminated LED lets you know that it is functioning correctly.

It connects with virtually any iPhone you’ll find, from the iPhone 5 up to the latest iPhone 13 pro Max. The manufacturer claims connection times of four to seven seconds on average.

How it Works

The secret to this solution is the use of both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi to establish a connection. The dongle first establishes a temporary BT connection with your phone, then switches to a Wi-Fi connection to get you on the road hands-free quickly. Coupled with 5G connections, this option offers one of the fastest and most stable connections.

Pros
  • Connects quickly and has no lag on navigation screens
  • Attractive appearance with indicator light
Cons
  • Some occasional delay present when using touchscreen features

Best Wireless Android Auto Adapter

Although wireless adapters for Android Auto are not very common right now, they’re becoming increasingly popular. In fact, the two best products on the market are crowd-funded and in their infancy at the time of writing this article. One product won’t even begin shipping until November 2021. And while there are products around that claim to work, most don’t.

Best Adapter for Both Android Auto & Apple CarPlay

OttoCast U2X

OttoCast U2-X
OttoCast U2-X in use

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OttoCast U2X Review

So far, all of the products we’ve shown you work for either Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, which is fine if you only use one or the other. That includes the OttoCast U2 Now which is designed for CarPlay. But, what happens when you are an Android user, but your partner uses an iPhone? That’s where this handy dongle from OttoCast comes in. It supports both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to convert wired connections instantly to wireless.

It works for iOS10 and Android 11 or above systems and allows you to use either Siri or Assistant while making it convenient to use your favorite maps, navigation programs, or access your favorite streaming services handsfree.

How it Works

The U2X comes with USB-A to USB-C and USB-C to USB-C cables to allow compatibility. Built-in 2.4ghz Wi-Fi allows the dongle to connect your smartphone with your wired head unit.

Pros
  • Perfect for multi-OS users
  • Simple to set up and use immediately
Cons
  • Some possible interference issues with car systems
  • May have some stutter or lag on certain apps

Motorola MA1

Motorola MA1 best android auto adapter
Motorola MA1 top view of the adapter
Motorola MA1 side view
Motorola MA1 usb closeup

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Key Features

  • USB dongle that provides wireless Android Auto for vehicles with wired versions
  • No app to download
  • Once setup is complete, phone connects automatically

Motorola MA1 Review

This is one of the newest designs on the market, and at the time of this writing, it’s a little difficult to find. That makes sense, since it has some of the highest specs you’ll see, including 5ghz Wi-Fi connections to ensure high-speed data transfer wirelessly. This is a discrete dongle that easily is hidden from view and provides simple wireless Android Auto performance.

How it Works

One of the things that sets the performance of this device past others is the licensed use of Google technology that allows for a seamless pairing with native Android systems. The high-speed connection enhances navigation and music playback performance.

Pros
  • Easily concealed small design
  • Excellent connection quality
Cons
  • Relatively new to the market so there aren't too many consumer reviews

Carsifi

Carsifi Android Auto Dongle Top
Carsifi Android Dongle Side image

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Key Features

  • USB dongle to add wireless Android Auto
  • No app to download
  • Connects automatically after setup

Carsifi Review

This is another crowd-funded design that hit markets in November 2021. This device is similar in many ways to the AAWireless design. It uses a different processor that allows the dongle to connect wirelessly between two devices so you can switch back and forth.

This dongle works with hundreds of brands of cars and aftermarket head units. The dongle does not require the use of an app; however one is available to give you access to settings and additional features.

We got the opportunity to test the Carsifi out first hand. If you're interested in reading more about our experience with it, check out our Carsifi Installation & Review.

How It Works

You’ll need a factory or aftermarket head unit that has Android Auto built in. Connections are as simple as plugging in the USB-A to the head unit and connecting the device through Bluetooth. Once connected, you won’t need to plug your phone in again.

Since this one hasn’t gotten into very many hands yet, it’s hard to say if it’s better than the AAWireless device. The ability to simultaneously connect devices makes for something a little different that some people may like.

Pros
  • Allows for two phones to connect at once
  • Provides an easy way to get Android Auto wirelessly
  • Easy to connect and use
Cons
  • Not yet widely available at the time of this review
  • Will likely require firmware updates after release to address bugs

Things to Consider about Wireless CarPlay and Android Auto Adapters

There are a few things you’ll want to consider when you’re looking at these types of adapters. Most importantly is compatibility. Be sure to check that your vehicle is compatible with the adapter you’re considering. Not all vehicles are compatible with every adapter. Secondly is delay. We’ve seen and heard of significant delays with some of the knock off adapters so finding one that’s high quality and limits the delayed responses is important for a good experience.

Why Would You Want a Wireless Adapter?

Wireless CarPlay and Android Auto adapters accomplish one, basic feat: they eliminate the need to plug your phone in to access the features or CarPlay and Android Auto. For some people this isn’t a big deal, but for others the convenience is a game changer. Going fully wireless allows you to keep your phone away so that you aren’t compelled to check it every few seconds. A wireless connection provides a seamless experience that lets you simply jump in the car and go with the features you want coming to life automatically.

Drawbacks of a Wireless Adapter

There are a few drawbacks inherent to most wireless adapters. First, they tend to introduce a bit of lag as the wireless signal is converted to a wired signal. This is often noticeable when running data-heavy apps like Maps and may also show up when streaming music. Particularly slow connections can be due to poor internet or outdated/old devices which can cause the device to fail to connect or have a slow rate of transfer.

Finding a place to put the adapter can also be problematic. Most of these devices include a short USB cable that doesn’t give you more than a few inches of movement. Longer cables can cause slower connections, even when using cables rated for fast data transfer. Users of head units with rear USB ports will have a better time making these devices discrete, otherwise they can be a target for thieves.

Another interesting point – all the adapters on the market at the time of writing this article can connect with only one phone at a time. If you want to have two phones connected and both phones are in the car, the phone that is not connected will need to be set in airplane mode for the other phone to be recognized.

And it's worth pointing out here as well that if you want to charge your phone, you will still need to plug it in via USB unless you have a wireless charger in your vehicle.

Conclusion

Adding Android Auto or CarPlay through a wireless connection is a great way to streamline the interior of your car, reduce distractions, and provide a better-connected environment. These adapters make it so you don’t have to plug your phone in each time you get in and they let you keep your phone put away, so you aren’t looking at it instead of the road.

An Apple CarPlay or Android Auto wired-to-wireless adapter can give you the convenience you want without having to upgrade your car stereo or buy a new car. We did the research on these products to help you find the best option for your vehicle. Hopefully we were able to narrow your search and provide some good insight to help you find the ideal adapter.

Feel free to drop us a comment below!


FAQ

What is the difference between Apple CarPlay and Android Auto?

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are both software platforms that will allow you to connect your phone or tablet to your car's infotainment system. The main difference between the two is the operating system in which they are compatible with: Apple CarPlay works with iPhones while Android Auto works with Android phones. Both versions provide a safe and convenient way to access your phone's features such as navigation, music, messaging, and phone calls while driving in an interface that's similar to the operating system of your phone.

How can I convert my wired Apple CarPlay or Android Auto to wireless?

To convert your wired Apple CarPlay or Android Auto to wireless, you'll first need to decide on a wireless adapter (like one on our recommended list). With your wireless adapter, simply connect it to your car's infotainment system via the provided cables and connect your phone to the adapter. Finally, test out the connection by navigating through the system's features.

Can I use wireless CarPlay and Android Auto adapters with an older car model?

If the head unit of your vehicle support wired CarPlay or Android auto then the answer is, yes. While there are some car models that may not be compatible with wireless CarPlay and Android Auto adapters, the overwhelming majority of vehicles with wired CarPlay and Android Auto are compatible. If your infotainment system is not compatible, you can always upgrade it with an aftermarket Apple CarPlay and Android Auto Head Unit.

What features do wireless CarPlay and Android Auto adapters offer?

Most wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto adapters provide access to key smartphone functions such as navigation, music, messaging, and phone calls. Some models may also offer additional features such as wireless charging, voice control, and multi-device connectivity. However, they do not add CarPlay or Android Auto to an infotainment system that does not natively support it. To add CarPlay or Android auto to your vehicle, check out our recommended Apple CarPlay and Android Auto Head Units.

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