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Android Auto is Googles user interface for cars and with Android being the biggest smartphone platform, it’s fast becoming a popular choice for infotainment in vehicles.
Many of the latest cars now come with Android Auto functionality baked into the cars infotainment system, however if you have an older car you can get an aftermarket head unit to make it compatible.
In this guide, we’ll compare the best aftermarket Android Auto units in both 1-din and 2-din sizes depending upon what your car’s interior layout is like.
Table of Contents
Standard Android vs Android Auto
There is often confusion between Android Auto head units and Android head units so let’s first address the pros and cons of each:
- Android Auto is a specific interface that allows you to connect your Android phone to a car head unit and have all the key features accessible in an interface that’s simple and safe for use in the car.
- With Android Auto, any app that has an Android Auto equivalent will immediately be available to use, all of your songs and podcasts you have downloaded will be accessible and you can continue any conversations via WhatsApp and Facebook messenger.
- These are head units that run on the standard Android operating system will have their own independent operating system, this means you’ll have to install any apps you want to use on the device and they will appear as they would on a tablet, as opposed to in a simplified form.
- These devices are much cheaper, and you’ll have access to the complete library of Android apps, not just those compatible with Android Auto. However, the user interface is not great, and you won’t be guaranteed to get future updates.
In this guide, we’ve included the best Android Auto units, along with one standard Android option for both single and double din so you can see the comparison.
Some of the stereos outlined have multiple operating systems and were included in our round up of the Apple Carplay stereos. We also shared some Alexa car stereos if you prefer to use Amazon’s smart-home friendly voice assistant.
Top 5 Double Din Android Auto Head Units
A mid-tier device from Pioneer that has our vote as the Best Overall Double Din Unit.
This Pioneer device has all the features you need from an Android Auto device including a good sized 6.8” screen and Bluetooth calling.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t have WiFI so requires plugging in with a wired connection to use Android Auto functionality.
Pioneer have a long-standing reputation for good audio quality, and with 3 pre outs for Front, rear and subwoofer, along with subwoofer controls. The amp is 4x50w which is adequate for most cars.
It doesn’t have a CD player but there is a USB input that can play high quality flac audio files, and it has an Aux slot on the rear that you could feed through to the front if you wanted to connect to other devices. It also has DAB radio channels.
If having a device with a CD player is important to you then the Sony XAV-AX200 is our top recommendation.
Nowadays, with smartphones and music streaming, a CD player can be a redundant feature in car head units, but if this is still an important feature for you then we recommend the Sony XAV AX200.
The CD tray will also play DVDs on the 6.4” touch screen, a great feature for entertainment when the car is stationery.
It also has 3 camera inputs for reversing, front and side camera should you wish to show these on the screen.
With a 4x55w power amp, it also has good sound quality and a 10-band equaliser will help you adjust the sound to your own preference.
This head unit also has all of the features expected from Android Auto including GPS navigation through your phone.
This top of the range device has all of the features you could ask for including a built-in navigation system so that you don’t need to rely on your mobile phone.
The Pioneer AVIC -Z820DAB is one of their top range navigation and multimedia head units which is run on Android Auto.
The biggest benefit of this device is the built in GPS capabilities which means you don’t need to rely on a smartphone as with the other devices. Using HERE maps, it has a built-in maps database covering the whole of Europe with guaranteed updates. The traffic message channel will deliver live updates direct to the device to be displayed on screen.
It features a CD/DVD player for playback on the 7” screen which is the largest of those on this list, you can purchase a remote control so that passengers in the back seat can easily control the device.
It has dual camera input for front and rear camera, as well as USB and SD card slots. It also features DAB radio for access to a far wider selection of channels than the other devices.
Aftermarket Android Auto head units are still a relatively new market, so even This Sony which is the cheapest Android Auto head unit available in the UK will set you back over £300, but it certainly packs a punch and makes a worthy investment.
This is the lower spec model of the AX200 mentioned earlier so it has the same built and audio quality that you’d expect from a Sony stereo, only minus a few features that the higher level model has.
The touchscreen size is the same at 6.4” but it doesn’t have a CD or DVD slot, so you won’t be able to play DVD’s like the higher spec model. That said, it does have a USB port so you can play music from there, including high quality flac files.
This unit still has a camera input, although this is limited to rear camera only as opposed to 3 cameras. All of the basic features you’d expect from a 2020 model are included, such as Bluetooth calling, Android Auto integration and 3 pre outs.
This device comes with the caveat that it’s a standard Android stereo and isn’t Android Auto. But, if you’re willing to compromise on some user experience issues, you’ll still get a lot of features for a fraction of the price.
If you want some of the Android Auto features but don’t want to pay a premium, you can get a standard Android head unit from Amazon such as the Atoto A6.
This device has some good specs and is packed with hardware, however the key thing with this product is that you won’t be using the official Android Auto operating system, this is built on the same version of Android found on phones and tablets, only slightly modified by the manufacturer.
On the upside, this device has both WiFi and Bluetooth, and because you have the standard Google Play app store, access to a far wider range of apps than available on the Android Auto devices.
You also cannot rely on future firmware updates as you could with official Android Auto, so you won’t benefit from the continuous upgrades google is doing on the operating system. This is the trade off you make for the price.
Top 3 Single Din Android Auto Car Stereos
Because Android Auto is a completely touch screen interface, a single din android auto stereo requires a screen larger than the device, so there are only a handful currently available in the UK. This also means the single din devices and more expensive than double din.
Our overall best single din unit with Android Auto availabe in the UK is this Sony XAV-AX8050D. It features one of the biggest screens we’ve seen on a head unit despite still fitting in to a single din slot.
Unlike most aftermarket head units, the screen on this one hasn’t been made to fit plush in to the single or double din slot. Instead the screen hovers over the dashboard, as you can see in this image.
Without the size confines, Sony have been able to include a whopping 9” screen for an excellent user experience. This uses anti-glare technology so that it’s also safe to use whilst driving.
The main receiver itself, is behind the screen and fits nicely in to a single din slot.
Add to this all of the benefits that Android Auto brings, plus dual camera inputs for reversing and you have an excellent in-car infotainment system.
Unfortunately, there is no CD slot. The other thing you’ll need to keep in mind is whether it is suitable for your vehicle. There are 3 different ways you can fit the screen, but if you have important vehicle controls directly above and below your head unit slot, these may no longer be accessible.
In our opinion, this device is a very close runner up to the Sony and better suited to those who still like a CD/DVD player, or just prefer a more discreet appearance.
Unlike the Sony single din unit above, the screen on this Pioneer device folds away into the unit when not in use. This is much neater and unobtrusive; however, it does mean that the screen is significantly smaller at 7” as opposed to 9”. Your choice might depend upon the layout of your car interior as well as persona preference.
This device has the ability to play CDs and DVDs. We’re very impressed that Pioneer have managed to fit both a fold away touch screen and a CD/DVD played into a single din device. Music can also be played from the USB input including high quality flac audio files.
The device also has dual camera input, Bluetooth calling and DAB+ radio. Neither of the two single din devices shown have WiFI or built in navigation as can be found in some higher end double dins.
As with the double din recommendations, we’ve included a single din standard android stereo which comes in at a lower price. It’s packed with features but the user experience is lacking compared to Android Auto.
Whilst this also runs on an Android operating system and has access to many of the same apps (more in fact), unlike Android Auto, this does not connect directly with your phone so you will need to download your apps directly to the unit via your phones internet, this is much more clunky than standard Android Auto.
It runs pure Android, meaning the operating system hasn’t been modified by the manufacturer at all and installed is the very latest version.
The device doesn’t have the same level of audio quality found in the other two devices although it does have a CD player, AUX input and USB input.
The device comes with a built in GPS chip so you can use the navigation feature without an internet connection, although you will need a phone to download and update maps.
We wish you good luck with your search for a new Android stereo and hope you’ve found this guide useful.
Kieren is the founder and editor-in-chief of Auto Adviser. Kieren created the site to share his passion of cars that began long before he passed his driving test and is now a recognised contributor in the industry. Outside of cars, Kieren loves drinking coffee and travelling to far-off lands.