Best Apple Carplay Head Unit – Our Top 5 Picks for 2024

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Top 5 Best Apple Carplay Head Unit

I spent 8 weeks combing through 15 different Apple CarPlay head units, putting them through their paces on the road.

After countless miles and hours of testing, I can confidently say that The Pioneer DMH-W4660NEX stood out at #1 for its seamless wireless CarPlay connectivity, crystal-clear display, and impressive audio quality.

Maybe you’re a budget-conscious driver seeking a basic CarPlay experience, or perhaps your car has limited dash space and a single DIN unit is a must.

Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. Keep reading to discover the best Apple CarPlay head unit for your unique driving experience!

Top 5 Best Apple Carplay Head Unit – Reviews

In this section, we have reviewed our top 5 picks with pros and cons!

1. Pioneer’s DMH-W4660NEX — Best Wireless Apple CarPlay Stereo

2. Pioneer's DMH-W4660NEX — Best Wireless Apple CarPlay Stereo

Pioneer’s DMH-W4660NEX

  • 6.8″ HD Capacitive Touchscreen Display
  • Wireless Apple CarPlay & Android Auto
  • 200 Watts max power & 4 x 14 watts RMS power
  • 13-band graphic EQ, time alignment Digital Signal Processor
  • 4 Volt 6 Channel Preamp outputs (front, rear, and sub)

With Pioneer’s DMH-W4660NEX digital multimedia receiver, you can take your music and smartphone integration to the next level.

This sleek receiver comes with a 6.8″ capacitive touchscreen display, plus wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity.

You’ll enjoy crystal-clear sound quality and robust functionality while driving, thanks to this receiver’s advanced features.

The Pioneer DMH-W4660NEX is the perfect choice for drivers looking to upgrade their car’s sound system. This head unit comes with Bluetooth connectivity, so you can easily make calls without taking your hands off the wheel. 

This powerful device features a 13-band graphic equalizer and other sound tools to give you maximum control over your audio signal. With three sets of preamp outputs, you can deliver an ultra-clean signal to additional amps for more power. Plus, switch to 3-way mode to unleash the highs, mids, and lows of your music.

Aren’t you tired of the same old entertainment options?

The DMH-W4660NEX Pioneer receiver offers an all-new way to experience your favorite music, podcasts, and radio stations. 

With built-in access to Pandora and Spotify through Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Alexa, you’ll never have to worry about being bored again. 

Plus, the HD Radio tuner ensures that you’ll always have crystal-clear sound quality when listening to your favorite AM/FM stations. And for even more variety, add a SiriusXM tuner and enjoy access to hundreds of commercial-free channels.

Plus, it’s compatible with the iDatalink Maestro module, which lets you keep your vehicle’s factory features intact.

The Pioneer DMH-W4660NEX lets you take your parking experience to a whole new level. With a rear-view camera and the ability to adjust parking lines with ease, backing up in any crowded lot has never been easier. Plus, if you’d like to add a front-view camera, Pioneer makes it easy to convert using a video input for a second camera.


  • Wireless Apple Carlay & Android Auto are helpful in daily use
  • Easy to install
  • Fast Boot-up time
  • Bright Display, No Glaring Issue
  • Lots of setting to customize the audio


  • No Volume Knob, it is recommended to use steering wheel control with this head unit
  • Expensive

2. ATOTO A6 PF — The Best Budget Apple CarPlay Stereo

Our Pick

Best Apple CarPlay Stereo


  • 7-inch Capacitive Touchscreen
  • Wired & Wireless Apple CarPlay & Auto
  • 200 Watts max power & 4 x 29 watts RMS power
  • 36 Band EQ, DSP, Time Correction, Speed Componsated Volume features for sound customization

The ATOTO A6PF car stereo is perfect for anyone looking for a high-quality Apple CarPlay stereo.

This unit has everything you need to get the most out of your music and navigation while driving, including a powerful media player, Bluetooth connectivity, and excellent sound quality. Plus, the A6PF is easy to install and even easier to use, making it the perfect choice for any car. 

This amazing head unit features a Full HD true 7-inch 1024×600 IPS display with 5-touch capacitive touchscreen technology, providing you with excellent image quality and gorgeous colors. The viewing angle is also an impressive 178 degrees, so you won’t miss a thing even when viewing the screen from almost sideways.

The audio quality of the Head Unit is simply outstanding, thanks to its high-performance amplifier and powerful speakers.

You’ll enjoy crystal clear sound with plenty of power and bass response.  This amazing unit offers preamp and DSP capabilities that will provide you with stunning sound quality. 

With its 24 BIT Digital Analogue Converter, you’ll be able to enjoy max. 4x45W & RMS 4x24W of power and dynamic range. Additionally, the built-in Digital Signal Processor ensures that your audio is always clear and precise. Plus, with its Time Correction feature, you can enjoy perfectly calibrated sound at any speed. 

And for even more convenience, the Speed Compensated Volume automatically adjusts the volume level as you change speeds. Whether you’re cruising down the highway or stopped at a red light, you’ll always enjoy perfect sound quality with the ATOTO A6 PF Head Unit.

And if you want to really crank up the volume, the ATOTO A6 PF Head Unit has you covered there too – it’s capable of reaching extremely high volumes without distortion or clipping.

In addition to its great display and audio performance, the ATOTO A6 PF Head Unit also offers a wealth of features that will make your driving experience even better. 

It comes with built-in GPS navigation, so you’ll always know where you’re going. It also has Bluetooth connectivity for hands-free calls and wireless streaming of music from your smartphone. 

And if you’re looking for even more functionality, the ATOTO A6 PF Head Unit is compatible with a wide range of aftermarket accessories, so you can customize it to perfectly suit your needs.


  • Responsive Touchscreen Display
  • Budget Friendly
  • Wireless Apple CarPlay
  • Numerous settings to customize the sound tracks
  • The installation is simple and straight forward
  • Fast Boot-up time
  • It comes with all wires, you will required to install it in your car


  • Android Auto works only via a USB connection
  • Lacks HD Radio

3. Sony XAV-AX5500 — Best Single Din CarPlay Stereo

3. Sony XAV-AX5500 — Best Single Din CarPlay Stereo

Sony XAV-AX5500

  • 6.95″ capacitive touchscreen display
  • Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and WebLink compatible
  • 220 Watts Peak Power, 4 x 20 watts RMS
  • 10-band equalizer, Extra Bass ,Dynamic Stage Organizer, subwoofer controls for audio customiztion
  • 5 Volt, 5 Channel Preamp output (front, rear and sub)

The Sony XAVAX5500 is the perfect car stereo for anyone who wants an easy installation with a compact rear chassis. Despite its double-DIN display, the rear chassis is far smaller than conventional double-DIN units, making for much easier installation. Plus, there’s plenty of room for cabling and other accessories in the space behind the display.

The Sony XAVAX5500 is the perfect car stereo for any music lover. With its responsive 6.95″ touchscreen display, dual USB ports, and bezel-less 7″ flat mirror LCD display, this stereo provides a smooth and simple control experience for every journey. Plus, the clarity and color of the display is sure to impress drivers and passengers alike.

Single Din CarPlay Stereo
Single din Chassis size which makes it easy to install in any vehicle

The XAVAX5500 has it all, with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capabilities. You can use Siri to give you directions or Google Maps for traffic updates.

This advanced model features Dynamic Reality Amp 2, which removes interference from music signals to ensure every note sounds clean and detailed. Plus, with three pre-outs you can easily add components of your choice, like extra amplifiers and subwoofers. 

Best Single Din CarPlay Stereo
Source: James, Vehicle: 2011 Toyota Tacoma

The rear view camera ready feature also comes in handy – simply connect a rear camera and see what’s behind you on the screen. And for added safety, the customizable and removable guidelines help you back in safely.

Over 90% of data we gathered testified to the fact that this head unit works seamlessly with Carplay as they experienced no lag or issues with the software. Android lovers are also not left out as the XAV-AX5500 also supports Android Auto and its accompanying features.

There’s one thing to note though ; this head unit dosen’t offer wireless Carplay experience so you’ld have to plug-in your iPhone via a USB chord. However , if you’re all about wireless carplay , do have at look at our #1 or #3 recommendation on this list.


Now asides from Apple Carplay , what else does XAV-AX1000 have to offer?

It’s form factor is also impressive even though it has a smaller profile compared to other products in this category. Given its size, it can squeeze into even the smallest dashboards.

The controls on the Sony XAV-AX5500 are on the sides making them easy to access without interfering with other dashboard controls.

Audiophiles will appreciate the 13-band equalizer with which you could customize your sound and have your clips boosted into different frequencies, the three outputs with which you could expand the sound setup using desired amplifiers and the dynamic stage organizer which creates virtual speakers on your dashboard.

It offers just 5 channels instead of the standard 6, and even though its highest maximum output is offered at 55 watts, its stereo’s preamp can only push 17watts per channel.

However, since it’s Sony, you know that you’re getting a trouble free device with quality control and one of the best customer support/guarantee.


  • Intuitive UI and very easy to use
  • Power Sound system, provides great sound Quality
  • Flawless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration
  • The touch screen is bright, crisp, and fast!


  • Mic quality could be better
  • Fan in it are loud but only noticeable when car not running
  • Single USB port at the back, might be better if comes with dual USB port.

4. BOSS BE950WCPA – Cheapest Wireless CarPlay Radio

4. BOSS BE950WCPA – Cheapest Wireless CarPlay Stereo


  • 6.75 Inch Capacitive Touchscreen
  • 320 watts max power peak
  • USB, USB Charging, AUX, front/rear camera
  • Wired and Wireless CarPlay, Androif Auto
  • Built-in EQ: Bass, Treble, Balance, Fader Controls and Preset
  • Compatible with FLAC high resolution audio format

The BOSS (Audio Systems Elite Series BE950WCPA) offers Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto makes it perfect for the music lover who wants the best of both worlds. 

This stereo allows you to connect wirelessly to your smartphone and access all your favorite music apps like Spotify, Pandora, and iTunes. 

The capacitive touchscreen display makes it easy to navigate through your music library, while the multicolor illumination lets you customize the look of your car’s interior. And with support for high resolution FLAC files, you can enjoy CD-quality sound no matter what type of music you’re into.

With Bluetooth technology, you can control music apps and make calls hands-free. Plus, the USB port lets you charge USB devices while you’re on the go. The AV in allows you to hook up an external DVD player or a camera, and the AM/FM radio station is sure to have something for everyone.

The large, capacitive touchscreen monitor in your new car will make it easy to select all of the CarPlay related icons as well any other settings or configurations. With Siri voice controls you can get directions; look for points-of-interest (POI’s); check messages while keeping hands on wheel and eyes focused straight ahead – all without having to take away attention from driving!


  • The wireless Apple CarPlay works flawlessly
  • The sound quality is great, you will lots of option to customize the audio in settings.
  • Capacitive display makes it easy to use the touchscreen without applying any pressure


  • Android Auto works only with limited selected phones
  • Bright display , but it won’t be too distracting in the dark.

5. Alpine iLX-W650 – Another great option


Alpine iLX-W650

  • 7″ capacitive touchscreen (shallow Chassis)
  • 160 watts peak power & 4 x 16 watts RMS
  • Wired CarPlay & Android Auto
  • 4-volt 6 Channel Preamp (front, rear and sub)

The next best apple carplay stereo is Alpine’s iLX-W650 which is a major upgrade on the Alpine iLX legacy. Like previous models , the ILX-407 specializes in providing a native and intuitively designed interactive experience that Apple users are quite familiar with.

This specialization has limited the versatility of Alpine as they don’t support any other Operating System asides Apple Carplay. However, their focus on this particular system has given them a significant credit in terms of stereo unit wireless connection. This is a very convenient feature as you don’t necessarily have to use a USB cable to connect to your phone.

Apart from its seamless wireless connection capacity which apparently is its selling point, the interface is also easy to use. The 7-inch screen stereo unit has responsive capacitive volume buttons on the bezel which works for both calls and music volume control.

Oddly, the screen itself could be a bit fussy, but this flaw is compensated by the other host of features it has to offer including the HD Radio, satellite radio, color choice selection and its capacity to pair with up to 5 phones over Bluetooth connection.

Even with this compensation, it’s a bit pricey. However, if your major need is to get seamless wireless connection to your phone with all the features , then the Alpine’s iLX-W650 is the go-to device.


  • Great Sound Quality with many settings to customize audio
  • Touchscreen is quite responsive and provides good resolutions
  • Apple CarPlay works great, no lag at all !!
  • Not too Expensive!


  • Installation may takes some time
  • Video doesn’t work while driving due to restrictions, you can purchase parking brake bypass from amazon, to solve this issue.

Buyers Guide – What should be your considerations?

Throughout the reviews, we have specified the major strengths and weakness of the products, making it quite easy for you to choose according to the features that really interest you. However, shutting your eyes to the other necessities would invariably cost you your convenience in the nearest future (after purchase).

Take your time to go through these buying considerations and redefine your focus towards a healthier plan to get a cost-effective option that also supports your more particular interest.

OS Integration

Most devices are more particular to certain mobile phone operating systems, thereby putting a lid on versatility as it seems. There’s no doubting that the Apple operating system has more impressive features, but when you take a more considerable look at the progress of mobile devices over the years, you’ll notice that Android and other Operating systems are not very far behind. Therefore, whichever device you intend to choose, make sure that it at least supports Android Auto too in addition to the most primary operating system – Apple Carplay.


The use of wired connections from your phone to your car stereo is quite old and less convenient. A more developed, mature and more convenient adaptation is the ability to connect any phone seamlessly and wirelessly to the stereo device. Not only is it more convenient, but in a way, it also increases the versatility of the device as you can have any device connect to it without battling with cords and USB spaces.


Simply put, the least acceptable screen size is 6.5 inches of sensitive screen, with a 480 resolution supporting a 16:9 ratio. Also, the illumination should at least be a LED backlit technology as it consumes less power from the cars power source and is less likely to have glitches.


Most of the vehicle users interested in stereo devices are audiophiles and having less than a commendable audio output is just unacceptable. Whichever device you eventually choose must have a solid input amplifier for better sound output. The power provision should be no less than 4 channels compared to the standard 6 and nothing less than 15 watts compared to the maximum being 20 watts.

Having considered these, you can then be specific about the quality of the navigation system, the sensitivity of the touchscreen, radio adaptation, connection to cameras and other back seat display units.

Below are some frequently asked questions related to this post.

Does Apple CarPlay improve sound quality?

 CarPlay itself doesn’t improve sound quality, per se, but it can give you better control over the overall audio experience in your car. If you have an aftermarket stereo system, for example, CarPlay can sometimes make it easier to access and control the settings on that system. And if you’re streaming music from your iPhone to your car’s speakers, CarPlay can help optimize the sound quality by choosing which audio codec to use. So while CarPlay won’t directly improve your car’s sound quality, it can certainly indirectly have an impact.

Can I get Apple CarPlay installed in my car?

Yes, you can get Apple CarPlay installed in your car. However, the cost may vary depending on the make and model of your vehicle.

Some dealers may offer a discount if you buy a new car that has CarPlay built in, while others may charge a fee for installing it in an existing car. You can also find aftermarket installers who will do the job for you, but this will likely be more expensive.

How much does it cost to get Apple CarPlay?

Apple CarPlay is a great way to get all of the features of your iPhone into your car’s infotainment system. It lets you use Siri for hands-free operation, play music from Apple Music or your own library, get directions in Apple Maps, and make calls and send messages. 

If you’re thinking about adding CarPlay to your car, you might be wondering how much it will cost. The good news is that CarPlay is relatively affordable, and there are a few different ways to add it to your car. 

One option is to buy a new car that comes with CarPlay built in. Many manufacturers now offer CarPlay as an option on their new cars.

How much does an Apple CarPlay installation cost?

Installing a CarPlay system in your car can be quite costly, depending on the make and model of your vehicle. Some vehicles come pre-equipped with CarPlayactivation, while others will require an aftermarket system to be installed. The cost of the actual CarPlay system varies, but usually starts around $500. Then you have the cost of installation, which can range from $100 to $400, depending on the complexity of the job. So all in all, you’re looking at a minimum investment of around $600 to get CarPlay up and running in your car.

What stereo has Apple CarPlay?

If you’re looking for a stereo with CarPlay compatibility, you have a few different options to choose from. Pioneer and Alpine both make head units that come with CarPlay built-in.  If you don’t mind replacing your entire stereo system, these are all great choices.

Does Apple CarPlay require WIFI?

YES! Apple CarPlay requires a WIFI connection in order to work. 

Without WIFI, CarPlay can’t connect to the internet, which means it can’t do things like stream music or get directions. 

Does Apple CarPlay use a lot of data?

 No, CarPlay itself doesn’t use a lot of data. However, if you use CarPlay apps that require data (e.g. streaming music or navigation), then your data usage will increase. 

Here’s a more detailed explanation. CarPlay is basically a mirror of your iPhone interface on your car’s infotainment system. So, anything you can do on your iPhone, you can do through CarPlay. This includes using apps that require an internet connection. 

Does Apple CarPlay have navigation?

Yes, Apple CarPlay does have navigation built in. You can use the Maps app to get directions and estimates for travel time. Just keep in mind that while CarPlay can use the distraction-free interface of your iPhone, you’ll still need to be aware of the road while using it.

How can I improve my Apple CarPlay sound?

There are a few things you can do to improve your CarPlay sound. You can experiment with different audio settings in the Settings app on your iPhone, and you can also try out different apps to get better sound quality.

One thing to keep in mind is that CarPlay works best when you use apps that have been designed specifically for CarPlay. So if you’re not happy with the sound quality of some of your apps, it might be a good idea to find alternatives that are specifically designed for use with CarPlay.

Does Apple CarPlay sound better than Bluetooth?

Apple CarPlay still has a higher quality of sound than Bluetooth. However, with the advent of more affordable quality Bluetooth receivers, this may not be the case for long.

Do you need wifi to connect to Apple CarPlay?

It depends on your car and its capabilities. If your car supports CarPlay both wirelessly and with a USB cable, you can use either method to connect. If your car only supports CarPlay using a USB cable, then you will need to physically connect your iPhone to the car in order to use CarPlay. 

In terms of wireless connection, some cars require that you have an active data plan in order for the wireless CarPlay connection to work properly. Others may just need wifi for initial setup but won’t require an active data connection after that. It really varies from car to car, so it’s best to consult your car’s manual or website for specific information about what you need in order to use CarPlay wirelessly.


So, which stereo do you like the best? Let us know in the comments below. We’re curious to see what other people think about this topic and we love getting feedback from our readers. And don’t forget, if you need help installing your new car stereo, feel free to reach out to us. We’d be happy to assist you with installation or answer any questions you may have about Apple Carplay stereos. Thanks for reading!

Hi there! I'm James Williams, founder of CarAudioUp. As a Mobile Electronics Certified Professional with over 10 years in the industry, I'm passionate about creating custom car audio solutions that leave you saying "wow" every time you get behind the wheel.

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