Entertainment Systems
a photo of GPS navigation on a car's display while driving

How to upgrade your car stereo to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto: 6 of our favorites

Apple CarPlay, Bluetooth and Spotify can cost less than $250

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CarPlay is Apple's answer to the car infotainment system. Run by your iPhone, It replaces the navigation, media, phone, and messaging controls of your car with those of iOS—and even includes Siri.

CarPlay also works with the touchscreen, buttons, knobs, and dials of your car, making navigation as intuitive as it is on both your iPhone and your car's own system. Android Auto works similarly for Android users and is often included as an option for head units with CarPlay installed.

A relatively new bonus for both systems is wireless connectivity. Until recently, CarPlay and Android Auto only worked if you plugged your phone into the car with a USB cable. But now, with a wireless connection to the car (or the third-party head units listed below) you can leave your phone in your pocket or the glove box, and use CarPlay or Android Auto just as before, freeing up the car's USB socket for powering something else.

But while CarPlay and Android Auto are mostly advertised as options on new cars, there are multiple ways to bring them to your older vehicle, thanks to after-market stereos. We have also included a new option from Porsche, which now sells head unit designs to fit (and match the look of) its older vehicles, bringing CarPlay and 2024 connectivity to decades-old cars.

The head units featured in this article include all of the regular in-car entertainment features, like Bluetooth and DAB radio. But they also bring CarPlay and Android Auto into the mix - and in some cases, wirelessly.

Here is everything you need to know about adding CarPlay and Android Auto (in some cases wirelessly) to your car and some of the best options available to buy right now.

One DIN or two?  See which is best for your vehicle.

a person touching the screen on their car stereo.

Should you get a 1-DIN or 2-DIN stereo? Learn what DIN means too.


DIN stands for the German phrase, "Deutsches Institut für Normung," and refers to a standard size of stereo the country's car makers began installing in the 1980s. DIN refers to a stereo — also known as a head unit — measuring two inches by eight inches. This is the size of a single DIN unit, while a double DIN is the same width, but four inches high instead of two.

Obviously, such simplicity harks back to a time when car interiors and dashboards were sparse and more slab-sided than they are today. This design may not win many design awards. But it means older vehicles with poor stereos can be upgraded to the latest Silicon Valley has to offer.

Apple CarPlay systems — which in most cases come with Android Auto too — tend to be double-DIN sized. However some single-DIN systems exist where the display slides out of where a CD slot would be and flips upwards.

A quick warning: Car head unit makers are often terrible at naming their products, so you'll have to forgive us for repeating their meaningless, alphabet soup-inspired names.

Pioneer AVH-2550NEX

a product shot of Pioneer AVH-2550NEX car stereo

Pioneer AVH-2550NEX car stereo with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.


The Pioneer AVH-2550NEX offers seamless connectivity with Vozsis with Amazon Alexa, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto, making it a versatile choice for modern drivers. Its standout features include a responsive 6.8-inch touchscreen display for intuitive control, DVD playback for entertainment on the go, and built-in Bluetooth for hands-free calling and audio streaming. Customizable illumination and a user-friendly interface enhance the in-car entertainment experience while ensuring safety and convenience.

When you select reverse, you can fit a reversing camera into the Pioneer, which shows its video feed on the unit's display. However, we recommend paying for professional installation if you fit a wired parking camera into your vehicle.

The suggested retail price is $550, and it is available on Amazon, Best Buy, Crutchfield, and local auto and sound retailers.

See Pricing on Amazon

Sony XAV-9500ES Mobile ES 10.1'' Wireless CarPlay/Android Auto Media Receiver

a product shot of Sony XAV-9500ES Mobile ES 10.1'' Wireless CarPlay/Android Auto Media Receiver

Sony XAV-9500ES Mobile ES 10.1'' Wireless CarPlay/Android Auto Media Receiver


Sony's XAV-9500ES Mobile ES distinguishes itself with a stunning 10.1-inch HD display, providing an immersive viewing experience for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. This high-end media receiver offers wireless connectivity, eliminating the need for cables and allowing for a cleaner dashboard setup. Its premium sound quality, supported by the Mobile ES series' audio enhancement technologies, delivers unparalleled auditory enjoyment. The sleek, bezel-less design adds a touch of elegance to your vehicle's interior and ensures an unobstructed view of the display.

This Sony model is not a good alternative unless your budget exceeds the $500 required for the Pioneer car stereo above.

Costing $1,400, the Sony XAV-9500ES is a single-DIN unit with a 10.1-inch touchscreen with LDAC that allows wireless streaming of High-Resolution Audio with exceptional quality. There is also a voice control function and Bluetooth.

Available on Sony.com

Alpine iLx-W650 2-DIN Car Stereo

product shot of Alpine iLx-W650 2-DIN Car Stereo

This head unit takes up a 2-DIN slot but has a large 7-inch display


The Alpine iLx-W650 is a slim yet powerful 2-DIN car stereo equipped with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, facilitating smart driving with voice commands and touchscreen operations. This model is known for its shallow chassis design, making installation easier in vehicles with limited space behind the dashboard. It features a 7-inch anti-glare capacitive touchscreen that offers vivid display clarity. The iLx-W650 also stands out for its compatibility with the Alpine Power Pack amplifier, allowing users to upgrade their sound system without the bulk and complexity of traditional amplifiers.

Whether this head unit works for you will depend on the layout of your vehicle's dashboard. If the screen doesn't obscure anything (like heater controls, for example), then you're good to go. The display also has a shallow chassis optimized to mount to the KTA-450 and KTA-200M Power Pack Amplifier (sold separately).

At only $279.95, it is certainly an affordable head unit and can be the perfect option for your 2-DIN vehicle.

Buy at Amazon

Carpuride W901 Pro Portable Smart Multimedia Dual Bluetooth Dashboard Console

a product shot of Carpuride W901 Pro Portable Smart Multimedia Dual Bluetooth Dashboard Console

Carpuride W901 Pro Portable Smart Multimedia Dual Bluetooth Dashboard Console


The Carpuride W903 Portable Smart Multimedia Dashboard Console elevates your in-car entertainment and safety with its comprehensive features. It supports wireless Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Mirror Link for seamless smartphone integration, controlled via a 9.3-inch HD IPS capacitive screen. Voice control is accessible through Apple Siri, Android Voice Control, and Google, making it easier to navigate, stream music, and manage calls on the go. Unique to this device, dual cameras—a 350-degree rotatable front and rear camera—provide enhanced visibility for parking and recording drives.

This console also adapts to varying light conditions with its light-sensing technology that automatically adjusts screen brightness. Audio output versatility is assured with options including a built-in speaker, Bluetooth audio, FM, and AUX output. Although TF cards up to 64G are supported for camera data storage, they cannot play media directly on the device. The original Carpuride car charger with the Type-C 5V 2A power supply is recommended for optimal performance, especially for FM transmission. The W903 isn’t just a gadget; it’s a significant upgrade for your vehicle, blending multimedia entertainment, navigation, and enhanced security features seamlessly.

The Carpuride W903 is the least expensive head unit on our list. It's MSRP is $269.99, but currently on sale for only $229.99 on Amazon.

Buy on Amazon

Porsche Classic Communication Management

Porsche PCCM head unit

The PCCM brings 2020 technology to Porsches from as far back as 1965


Porsche has a line of head units designed for its classic cars but with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. That way, you can keep your car's classic looks but update its technology – and with a head unit from the manufacturer.

Four versions are available, one with a 3.5-inch display for classic cars with single DIN slots (going as far back as the 911 F from 1965), one with a 7-inch display for more modern vehicles, including all 996 and 986 models up to the 996-generation 911 from 2005. The two newest additions to the line are the PCCM Plus (1st Gen) and PCCM Plus 911 (type 997). The first generation PCCM Plus has a 3.5-inch display for cars with a DIN-1 slot. The PCCMN Plus (Type 997) comes with a 7=inch display (DIN-2 slot) for all vehicles up to model year 2008 of the 911 (type 997 I), Boxster/Cayman (type 987 I) and the first generation Cayenne. Also, all systems are SiriusXM-ready and feature Apple CarPlay. The PCCM Plus also offers GOOGLE Android Auto. The design blends seamlessly into the interior of classic Porsche models.

They aren't cheap, starting at around $1,475.99, but brings 2024 technology to cars over half a century old.

Pioneer DMH-WC5700NEX

Product shot of Pioneer DMH-WC5700NEX car stereoPioneer DMH-WC5700NEX car stereo with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto


The Pioneer DMH-WC5700NEX stands out with its modular design, making it an excellent fit for vehicles with limited dashboard space. It supports wired and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, offering flexibility in smartphone connectivity. The receiver boasts a 6.8-inch capacitive touchscreen that delivers a crisp display, while its compatibility with various digital media formats ensures a rich multimedia experience. Additionally, it features a built-in HD Radio tuner and offers an option for expandable navigation.

Unlike some of the other smart connected car stereos, this Pioneer model comes with Amazon Alexa built-in. The Pioneer DMH-WC5700NEX in-dash receiver integrates Amazon Alexa, offering users the convenience of voice-controlled functionalities. This feature lets you directly command Alexa to play music from services like Spotify, get news updates and weather forecasts, manage smart home devices, and more. Since Alexa operates from the cloud, it continuously evolves, receiving new features that enhance device compatibility. This integration ensures a hands-free experience, allowing instant responses to voice commands without diverting attention from driving. It's a nice feature to have if your home is run by Alexa.

The Pioneer DMH-WC5700NEX is one of our list's more expensive head units. It lists for $750 and is available at Best Buy and Crutchfield.

Buy on Crutchfield

Read More:

Pioneer SPH-10BT Smartphone Receive with Subwoofer Reviewwww.youtube.com

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