BAFX Products OBDII Reader vs. BlueDriver Scan Tool – Which Is Better?
When it comes to picking a diagnostic tool for your car repair efforts, there are a lot of options and not necessarily a lot of variation between products. Nonetheless, products vary wildly in price, and many do not have the same set of features. This makes it very hard to decide.
In this article, we’ll review and compare two of the leading OBDII diagnostic readers on the market today.
You’ll be reading about the BAFX Products Bluetooth Diagnostic OBDII Reader / Scanner for Android Devices, a small and handy device targeted at consumers who need a lot of options, and the BlueDriver Bluetooth Professional OBDII Scan Tool for iPhone, iPad & Android, a tool for pros.
By the time we’re done, you’ll know exactly which reader the right choice for your needs is.
What Factors Should I Consider When Choosing?
First, you’ll want to look into a few specific areas. Gaining information in these areas will make it easier to decide.
- Ease of Use
- App Quality
The compatibility of the OBDII scanner with your smartphone or other device is critical. If you pick a scanner that isn’t compatible with the device that you have, you will have wasted your money. Interestingly, not all OBDII scanners are broadly compatible with all of the common mobile platforms on the market.
The BAFX scanner is only compatible with Android devices. Among those Android devices, the BAFX is optimized for use with a 2017 vintage smartphone and more recent models. Older phones may have trouble running the software necessary to use the scanner.
If you have an iOS device, you won’t be able to use this scanner. There isn’t any way to get around this issue.
The BlueDriver reader, on the other hand, is compatible with both Android and iOS devices. This includes iPhones, and also iPads and other iOS tablets. The BlueDriver reader is broadly compatible and uses a proprietary app which should run just fine on older hardware.
There isn’t much difference between the quality of the BlueDriver Android app and their iPhone app, but we’ll get more into that later on.
2. Ease Of Use
The scanner should be easy to use so that you can use it as frequently as possible without having to suffer through an intensive setup process like you might have to do with some scanners. Generally, the scanner should be as simple as plug-and-play.
With many scanners, this is not the case, however. The reason may shock you: not all scanners are targeted to consumers. Some scanners can only read data from the car, whereas others can both read more intense data while also making changes to the car’s parameters.
The more the scanner can impact the car’s key characteristics, the more difficult it will be to use. Even when the scanners include great manuals and assistive features in the app, at the end of the day you will still need to know what you are doing to take advantage of the larger feature set.
Importantly, OBDII scanners are not known for being easy to use in the first place. There isn’t any such thing as a “simple” mode for any scanners that we know of. Every scanner has its quirks but finding a very basic scanner will still entail crunching through a lot of new terminology for a consumer.
The BAFX is very easy to use and achieves the plug-and-play ideal without much trouble. While the BAFX is not the most intense scanner as far as the data output goes, it will be more than sufficient for casual scanning.
In contrast, the BlueDriver scanner is much more difficult to use than the BAFX. While the basic setup of plugging in the sensor and activating the unit to tether to your device is simple, everything else is not.
The reader provides an abundance of data, allows you to modify parameters right off the bat, and refuses to use any consumer-friendly language in describing the menu system.
For a professional, these are convenient because the innards of the car are made plain without any additional digging. But for a consumer, it’s information overload.
Add in the fact that it’s possible to damage your car when you configure its key electronics incorrectly, and the BlueDriver is a risky proposition for a casual car investigator.
The price of your OBDII scanner is a significant consideration when it comes to making your purchase. Many scanners are extremely expensive relative to others despite sharing the same feature set. This means that you need to be careful about which scanner you purchase.
Buying a scanner that’s too expensive may not provide you with any extra value. Likewise, buying a cheap scanner might leave you lacking a critical feature which you assumed that it would include. Quality of life features also tend to be wildly inconsistent between scanners in different price brackets.
The BAFX is the much less expensive scanner between the two. You can pick up this scanner without thinking twice about it, then not feel very bad if you have to purchase another one later on to address a different need.
This makes it much better for casual scanners or those who do not need the most serious and efficient scanner technology.
The BlueDriver, on the other hand, is expensive. It’s intended for professionals who are going to use their scanner all day every day. For these users, minor tweaks in the efficiency of the scanner’s menus and elsewhere can add up to make for a lot of time saved.
It’s clear that if you are a user who needs to use the scanner all of the time, the more expensive scanner may be the better choice. But if you’re intending on scanning only once in a blue moon, it probably is not worth the added price for the additional efficiency and power.
4. App Quality
OBDII scanners use Bluetooth technology to link up with smartphones or tablets which subsequently act as the screen and the interface for the scanner. This is accomplished by downloading an application to the device.
The app is thus the most important part of the scanner in a sense because it dictates the way that you use the scanner. A great app will get out of your way and let you use the scanner for the exact purpose that you want.
A poor app will crash, losing your diagnostic data. Alternatively, it might be so convoluted or difficult to use that it makes even the best scanner hardware totally useless.
Importantly, not all scanners have apps which are made by their manufacturers. You can download generic OBDII scanner apps which should be able to make use of any hardware because every piece of hardware pulls the same data according to the OBDII standard.
But some manufacturers do supply an app to use with their scanner hardware specifically. If you want to use the manufacturer-created app, it’s usually a bit better than the generic alternatives because it’s catered exactly to the hardware.
The BAFX scanner doesn’t have a specific application produced by the manufacturer. You’ll be alone when it comes to picking out an application to pull the data from the scanner. There are many apps out there, and most of them should be compatible with the BAFX hardware.
Your user experience will vary depending on which app you pick.
The BlueDriver manufacturer, on the other hand, provides a great app to use with the scanner. Unfortunately, this app is very much targeted at auto care professionals. So while the app is high quality and runs smoothly, it will still be difficult to understand for those who aren’t professionals.
If you’re willing to learn a bit about OBDII scanner codes, the BlueDriver app will be a bit less confusing. Keep in mind that the more you use your scanner, the more you will appreciate a quality app and the more you will be frustrated by a subpar app.
Our pick for the overall best scanner goes to the BlueDriver. The BlueDriver has a better app and broader compatibility which make up for its difficulty of use and high price. If you’re planning on doing any scanning on a regular basis, the BlueDriver will provide a much better user experience.
On the other hand, if you plan on scanning infrequently and you want something that “just works” with your Android device, the BAFX might be the right choice.
While you’ll be left to figure out whichever generic scanner app that you settle on, the scanner itself can keep up with whatever the app requests. Your user experience will be mostly in the hands of the app rather than the scanner hardware itself, which can be a blessing or a curse depending on the quality of the app.
The good thing about the BAFX scanner is that it is inexpensive enough to justify paying a bit more for a good scanner app. So, for a casual scanner who is willing to shop around for the right app, the BAFX is probably a better choice even if it might require more time to find the right setup.