Let us help you choose an Android unit
In the automotive sector, innovation and convenience are at the center and in all things. For audio systems – also known as infotainment systems in today’s market – Apple and Android devices have carved out a permanent home. And to satisfy the strong dependence of the general public on their mobile devices, Apple Carplay and Android Auto have been integrated. If you have an Android device, Android Auto applies to you.
What is Android Auto?
Android Auto has a simple purpose: seamlessly integrate your Android smartphone into the sound system of your vehicle. The main advantage is safety: you can keep your hands on the steering wheel while you are driving instead of fiddling with your device in your hands. The other big advantage is convenience: you can access many apps, from iHeartRadio and Spotify radio apps to Kik and Skype messaging apps. And if you’re still using your smartphone as a communication device, you can make calls via Bluetooth.
A main unit Android Auto displays the selected apps on the screen and is controlled by voice activation. While most manufacturers offer Android Auto as part of their new vehicles for the 2017 model year, older vehicles do not come with Android Auto. This may change, however, if you replace the car radio with an aftermarket main unit of Android Auto.
The best Android Auto head units for sale
Whether you’re looking for the best Android head unit, the cheapest or highest rated, you’ll find it here. And if you’re looking for the best dual-din unit for Android Auto, you’re in luck. Because of their purpose, they are all touchscreen units and are all double-din sized.
Pioneer AVIC-5100NEX Touchscreen Navigation Receiver
This could be the best Android-compatible main unit available through an industry leader, Pioneer. The AVIC-5100NEX is the mid-range model offering GPS navigation, DVD / CD / USB / Bluetooth input and supports SiriusXM satellite radio with an added module.
Depending on your needs, the screen size can be an advantage or a detractor. It is the smallest of the 6.2-inch group, but this allows a nice complement of buttons along the left side. If you prefer button controls on a touchscreen like we do, it’s extremely convenient.
The AVIC-5100NEX has a lot of industry-standard features from AppRadio and SIRI Eyes Free (for Apple users) and is known for excellent sound quality. An exclusive feature of Pioneer that we absolutely love is MixTrax, which assembles a playlist of all your music for non-stop entertainment. It may not seem like a big deal, but it works wonders. The Pioneer AVIC-5100NEX is one of the Android Auto systems with the highest score, with 4.3 stars on Amazon.
Kenwood DDX9703S In-Dash Touchscreen Receiver
If you only care about Kenwood’s main Android unit, the DDX9703S may be the right one. The 6.95-inch screen is almost as big as you can get for the size, but the front panel still has room for thin buttons mounted at the bottom. The DDX9703S supports two connected devices at a time and also supports Android Rapid Charge.
The features of the DVD are extensive but we find them obsolete. Since we use almost exclusively mobile devices, there is little chance of using the DVD / CD slot. Instead, SiriusXM audio streaming and satellite radio are more useful for our needs, although SiriusXM requires an additional handset and subscription. Some distinctive features are the dual camera inputs, three sets of pre-outputs and the rear video output to add a game console or an additional monitor.
Even the Kenwood DDX9703S receiver has its downsides and the 4.1 star rating tells you it’s less than perfect. The screen may be brighter, the menus are a little bulky and the sound quality is not as good as it should be. All in all, it’s a decent purchase from Kenwood.
Sony XAV-AX100 Media Receiver
One of Sony’s rare offerings for the Android Auto head drive market is XAV-AX100. The unit is not the best or the most elegant that you can buy, but it works well if you want a radio compatible with Android Auto for your car. The screen is a bit smaller than most others at 6.4 inches. It may not seem like much difference, but it’s obvious. Unlike most touchscreen systems, Sony adds a rotating control for volume and selection, as well as a couple of other buttons on the left side. That’s why the smaller screen, of course, and we appreciate the added level of functionality. However it takes away the elegant look.
The Sony receiver is compatible with a backup camera, sold separately, and the factory steering wheel controls with the iDatalink Maestro RR kit, also sold separately. There are three pre-outs for audiophiles to add components and a 10-band EQ to optimize the sound.
Be aware that the unit is probably a little deeper than others, so if your installation area is really tight, you may want to choose a different option. Sony XAV-AX100 is rated as a 4.2-star purchase on Amazon.
Pioneer AVIC-8200NEX Multimedia Receiver
If you are looking for an Android Pioneer automatic head unit, you will not find a better one than the AVIC-8200NEX. They are the bees of the knees, as they say, wrapping all the best features you will find. There are outputs for separate rear seat monitors and on-board navigation maps with 7.9 million points of interest are a huge advantage. Like your smartphone, you can pinch and zoom the screen for your maps.
However, it is not without problems. The AVIC-8200NEX is full of features, which means more software and things go wrong. Pioneer has been slow with firmware updates, so crashes may occur, or sometimes the features will stop responding. And while it is one of the most advanced units on the market, we expect better support for the price paid. That’s why it receives 3.9 stars.
It has a 7-inch screen, Total Traffic, SIRI Eyes Free, AppRadio, SiriusXM and much more. The integration of iDatalink Maestro, available separately, will also keep the steering wheel controls.
Pioneer AVH-4200NEX Multimedia DVD Receiver
The Pioneer AVH-4200NEX DVD receiver may be the best Android auto head unit for the price. It is full of features and is the unit with the highest score on the list with 4.4 stars. This unit has a 7-inch screen, maximizes the 2-din opening in our dashboard and makes it easy to operate the touchscreen. It works with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
It has that pioneering feature known as the MixTrax we love. Put together a non-stop playlist of all your music, in case you do not want the responsibility of being a DJ. Your DVD system is a bit outdated because the navigation maps are downloaded through your device. However, it has DVD functionality. Two RCA pre-outs allow expansion. If you want the steering wheel controls to work, you will need the iDatalink Maestro system.