What Is The Best Android Auto Head Unit in 2020?

Android Auto Head Unit

As Android operating systems become more and more popular, they are being used in a number of different ways. In fact, Android operating systems can now be used in tandem with a car head units to give your car stereos ultimate functionality. But if you’re going to use Android Auto in your car, you’re going to need an Android head unit.

These head units are designed specifically to accommodate Android Auto, and will allow you to perform GPS functions, web searches, and more, all from the heart of your car stereos.

Looking for the best Android head unit for you? This helpful guide has you covered.

What Should You Consider When Choosing an Android Head Unit?

Every head unit that you come across will be just a little different from the last. These devices possesses a number of different components, all of which contribute something a little different in the ways of quality and functionality.

So what should you keep an eye on when looking for an Android head unit?

Ease of use, functionality, interface, and compatibility capabilities are the primary qualities.

Ease of Use

Whereas some head units can be operated with the pressing of just a few buttons, others can be seemingly impossible to navigate.

One thing to look out for is mandatory voice messages. These messages will play regardless of whether or not you want them to and can be very annoying when you’re trying to listen to music or perform some other task.

Functionality

These head units are all capable of very different types of operations. While some are only equipped to handle music and voice activation, others can handle everything from GPS, to app processing, and more.

Be vigilant as to what exactly you’re getting with your chosen head unit.

Interface

The quality of a head unit’s interface will have a big impact on how easy it is for you to use.

A good interface prioritizes simplicity over everything else. You don’t want to have to reach around for thousands of buttons while you’re driving. You want everything positioned in a clear, simple, and concise manner.

Compatibility

The last thing you’ll want to consider when purchasing a head unit is its compatibility with your automobile.

Some head units are quite simply too large to fit into the consoles of some cars. It might even be a good idea to call the manufacturers of the head unit and your car to make sure that they’re compatible.

Compare The Best Android Head Units You Can Buy

Our #1 Choice
Sony XAV-AX100 6.4" Car Play/Android Auto Media Receiver with Bluetooth,black
Our #2 Choice
Kenwood DDX Double DIN SiriusXM Ready Bluetooth In-Dash DVD/CD/AM/FM Car Stereo Receiver
Our #3 Choice
Jensen VX7020 6.2 inch LCD Multimedia Touch Screen Double Din Car Stereo Receiver with Built-In...
Sony XAV-AX100 6.4" Car Play/Android Auto Media Receiver with Bluetooth,black
Kenwood DDX Double DIN SiriusXM Ready Bluetooth In-Dash DVD/CD/AM/FM Car Stereo Receiver
Jensen VX7020 6.2 inch LCD Multimedia Touch Screen Double Din Car Stereo Receiver with Built-In...
Our #1 Choice
Sony XAV-AX100 6.4" Car Play/Android Auto Media Receiver with Bluetooth,black
Sony XAV-AX100 6.4" Car Play/Android Auto Media Receiver with Bluetooth,black
Our #2 Choice
Kenwood DDX Double DIN SiriusXM Ready Bluetooth In-Dash DVD/CD/AM/FM Car Stereo Receiver
Kenwood DDX Double DIN SiriusXM Ready Bluetooth In-Dash DVD/CD/AM/FM Car Stereo Receiver
Our #3 Choice
Jensen VX7020 6.2 inch LCD Multimedia Touch Screen Double Din Car Stereo Receiver with Built-In...
Jensen VX7020 6.2 inch LCD Multimedia Touch Screen Double Din Car Stereo Receiver with Built-In...

1. Sony XAV-AX100 6.4″ Car Play/Android Auto Media Receiver

Very arguably the best Android Auto head unit on the market today is the Sony XAV-AX100. This unit is a little costly, but offers more than enough in functionality and ease of use to make it worth its price.

It’s equipped with a 6.4-inch screen, giving it reasonably big size compared to most other head units. Offering bright, nuanced color, it’s very easy to read and interpret regardless of where you’re sitting in your car.

This unit is compatible with not only Android Auto, but Apple Carplay as well. It can handle everything from GPS, to text messages, to voice activation, and much more.

The only true negative it possesses is a popup that appears every time it’s turned on. It’s a little annoying, but bearable.

Altogether, this is a very solid head unit. It’s not perfect (because no Android Auto head unit is at this time), but it’s about as good as you’ll find.

Pros

  • Brightly lit and detailed image
  • Fairly large screen
  • Compatible with Android Auto and Apple Carplay

Cons

  • Displays annoying popup every time it’s turned on
  • Fairly expensive

2. Kenwood DDX9703S 2-DIN

Up next is the Kenwood DDX9703S 2-DIN. This head unit is similar in overall quality to the Sony reviewed above, but does possess some noticeable differences.

The first difference you’ll notice is that the Kenwood is equipped with a slightly larger screen; 6.95 inches to the Sony’s 6.4 inches. As far as picture quality goes, both head units are about the same.

Like the Sony, the Kenwood is compatible with both Android Auto and Apple Carplay. It can accommodate everything from voice activation, to texting, to GPS, and much more. With a 32.8-foot range, it will have no problem with syncing up to any phone in its shared car, using both Android auto and Apple Carplay.

Its physical buttons are strategically located to allow for seamless operation. This makes it very intuitive and easy to use.

Quality-wise, this head unit is right on par with the Sony reviewed above. However, it is a little more expensive as well.

Pros

  • Has a large screen
  • Very brightly lit screen
  • Compatible with both Android Auto and Apple Carplay

Cons

  • On the expensive side
  • Displays a popup every time it’s turned on

3. Jensen VX7020 6.2 inch LCD Multimedia Touch Screen Double Din

The Jensen VX7020 is arguably the best Android Auto head unit for the money, offering much of the same as the Kenwood and Sony reviewed above, but for much less money.

This head unit is equipped with a 6.2-inch screen, giving it decent size compared to others on the market. The screen produces fairly bright and detailed picture quality, allowing you to see it clearly from all over the car.

It’s compatible with both Android and Apple carplay, and can accommodate everything from GPS, to voice activation, to Sirius Radio apps, to Pandora, and more.

In addition to Bluetooth capabilities, it also possesses a USB cable port so that you can connect your phone directly.

If you’re looking for a terrific head unit at a fair price, this would be a great option for you.

Pros

  • Offers tons of value for its price
  • Compatible with Android and Apple Carplay
  • Fairly large screen

Cons

  • A little difficult to use Android and Apple Carplay
  • Hard to read in bright light

4. Lanzar Premium Android 7″ Double Din

A solid middle of the road unit is this one from Lanzar. Packing a 7-inch screen, it’s just a tad bit bigger than the ones reviewed above.

This unit is compatible with Android only, meaning that Apple Carplay users will have to look elsewhere. With a clear, nuanced, and brightly lit screen, it can be seen from anywhere in its general proximity.

Not only can this unit accommodate GPS, but it can also stream video, music, and pictures.

With 16 GB of storage, it can also allow for the use of SD cards, giving you as much storage capability as needed.

Coming with this unit is a dash cam which allows you to see what’s going on behind you. This allows you to back up with absolute precision and ease.

While it’s not the best unit around, it’s fairly solid.

Pros

  • Comes with a dash cam
  • Very large and bright screen
  • Fairly easy to use
  • Offers a lot of value for its price

Cons

  • Only compatible with Android

5. JOYING 7 Car Stereo 2GB 32GB Android 6.0 Head Unit Double Din

Another unit with a 7-inch screen is this one from JOYING. Like the Lanzar reviewed above, it’s available for an average, middle of the road price.

This head unit offers plenty of features, from online and offline maps, to Google Play Store, to weather forecasts, and more.

In addition to this, it possesses a built-in WiFi module which allows for hotspots to be created while you drive.

It also possesses Bluetooth capabilities, allowing you to operate it through your voice, and to talk to people on the phone without having to hold your phone in your hand.

Overall, this is a very nice auto head unit; especially for its price. In fact, if you’re not looking to spend an inordinate amount of money, this is probably the best Android Auto head unit for your purposes.

Pros

  • Loaded with features and apps
  • Allows for Bluetooth calls and operations
  • Excellent value for its price
  • Built-in WiFi module allows you to create hotspots

Cons

  • Has a tendency to lag

6. Pumpkin Android 9.0 4G Car Radio Tuner

Another terrific mid-level Android auto head unit is this one from Pumpkin. It’s similar to the JOYING in terms of both price and functionality. Like the JOYING, it possesses a 7-inch screen.

It comes with a bevy of useful apps installed, and possesses 32Gb of ROM, allowing you to install even more. If you’ve got tv screens in the back of your seats, it will allow you to watch YouTube videos through them.

With a high-quality GPS navigation system, it can be operated with the use of just your voice. Its Bluetooth system also allows you to make hands-free calls, and to perform hands-free operations.

There are only a few physical buttons on this head unit, making it fairly simple to operate while you drive. Its screen lights up brightly, and does a decent job or resisting sun glare. Overall, this is a rock steady, middle of the road head unit.

Pros

  • Interface is very easy to use
  • Equipped with hands-free Bluetooth capabilities
  • Has a reverse camera
  • Fairly responsive

Cons

  • Lacks some high-end features

7. EinCar 7” Capacitive Screen Car Stereo 16GB ROM Android 5.1 Head Unit

Next up on our list is this head unit from EinCar. Available for around half the price of the Pumpkin unit reviewed above, it doesn’t possess as much storage, but still offers quite a few features.

It’s equipped with a 7-inch screen, making it easily big enough to display pertinent information. With 16Gb of memory, it’s capable of downloading quite a few apps.

A GPS app comes pre-installed so that you can start using it immediately after it’s been installed.

Like the other head units on our list, it sports Bluetooth capabilities, allowing you to make hands-free calls, and to perform hands-free operations.

In essence, this is a solid budget auto head unit. It’s not quite as fast or as powerful as higher-end units, but it’s a great option for those who are seeking out something inexpensive.

Pros

  • Very affordable compared to most
  • Offers Bluetooth capabilities
  • Comes with GPS navigation pre-installed

Cons

  • Lacks high-end storage
  • Has a tendency to lag at times

8. Henhaoro 7″ Android Car Stereo

Another budget head unit is this one from Henhaoro. While it’s at the same price level as the EiCar reviewed above, it falters when it comes to overall quality and functionality.

Its screen measures in at 7 inches, making it big enough to accomplish any task you could ever think of. In addition to this, it possesses a fairly simple and intuitive interface. You shouldn’t have a lot of trouble trying to operate it.

While it has Bluetooth capabilities, they are far from great. Your phone will stay connected fairly consistently, but will sometimes run into problems with transferring music and image files.

It packs a respectable 16Gb of memory, allowing you to download quite a few apps. The one app that you won’t have to download is a GPS app. It comes preloaded with a GPS navigation system. This is, at best, an average budget auto head unit.

Pros

  • Comes with a GPS navigation system
  • Offers 16Gb of memory
  • Very affordable

Cons

  • Bluetooth capabilities are lacking
  • Tends to lag at times

9. Corehan Android 6 Touch Screen Car Stereo

The Corehan Touch Screen Car Stereo is at about the same quality level as the Henhaoro reviewed above, but costs about twice its price.

The only reason you should ever buy it is if you’re struggling to find another head unit that’s compatible with your vehicle.

It comes with a GPS navigation system, allowing you to use it as soon as it’s installed. However, for its price, it lags far too much.

With 16Gb of ROM, it has enough room to store quite a few app downloads, but pales in comparison to other units at its price range.

Like the Henhaoro, it possesses Bluetooth capabilities, but is far from consistent when transferring music and image files. In conclusion, this is a budget-level head unit at a mid-level price. It’s not worth its price tag.

Pros

  • Interface is fairly intuitive
  • Comes with a GPS navigation system
  • Supports WiFi

Cons

  • Very expensive for what it offers
  • Bluetooth capabilities leave much to be desired

10. Panlelo PA09YZ16

To round out our list of head units, we’ll cover the Panlelo PA09YZ16. This is a solid budget head unit which isn’t exceptional, but which will get the job done.

It comes with 16Gb of storage; a common amount of memory for a head unit at its price range. With a preloaded GPS navigation system, it will also allow you to download a bevy of other apps.

The screen on this unit measures in a 7 inches in length, making it easily big enough for you to perform any necessary operations.

While it comes with Bluetooth and WiFi, both functions are average at best. You’re not going to find a high-end connections with this unit. But if you’re looking for something solid for a decent price, this wouldn’t be a terrible option.

Pros

  • Available for a reasonable price
  • Comes with GPS navigation
  • User-friendly interface

Cons

  • Bluetooth and WiFi quality is lacking
  • Not the most responsive on the market

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an Android Auto Head Unit?

A head unit is essentially the display in your car. Many new vehicles come with touch screen displays, and that is what we would call your head unit. If you have an older car, you likely have a part where the radio is with a bunch of buttons with programmed stations and such.

In place of that, you can remove the panel and install an Android Auto head unit. When you do this, you can access features like Bluetooth, HD radio, USB, XM, navigation, and back up cameras. It’s a great way to bring your older car into the next generation without having to spend an arm and a leg.

What are Some Advantages of Using Android Auto Head Units?

It might not always make sense to choose aftermarket parts for your vehicle. You might wonder why you would want to install a head unit into your car in the first place. Here are some of the biggest reasons why people shell out some cash for an Android Auto head unit.

Larger Display

The first and most prominent reason is for the display. You get a larger screen, which makes it easier to read and use. You can see all your apps directly on the screen, shuffle through songs, make calls, look behind the vehicle, and more depending on the device you choose.

It’s nice to have the larger screen not only for functionality but for aesthetics as well. Everyone wants to impress their friends when they get into the vehicle. This type of display will increase the appearance of your car’s cabin, and even if you have an older car, it will become a much-needed facelift.

Back Up Camera

Safety is another reason why a lot of people turn to larger displays. It’s almost standard now for every car to come with a rearview backup camera, but if you have an older vehicle, you might want to get an Android Auto head unit so that you can have the backup camera.

It’s dangerous to reverse your car no matter who you are or how good of a driver you think you are. When you have the backup camera in your head unit, it makes it much easier to back up, and you don’t have to rely as much on your mirrors or the always trusted, “over the shoulder” look.

Bluetooth

A big part of eliminating a lot of cell phone-related accidents is Bluetooth compatibility in vehicles. Instead of having to pull out your phone to make a call, you can quickly link your phone with the display and tap whoever you would like to call directly from the screen.

Once you do that, the call will take place through the speakers inside your cabin, and you won’t have to touch your phone. There’s a lot of safety and accessibility in play here, and it helps provide for a safer driving experience.

In addition to calling, Bluetooth is also useful for long family trips and other similar drives. If you have a passenger by your side, have them take over as a radio DJ and play all your favorite tunes directly from their phone.

Most Android Auto head units come with music streaming capabilities, so they can play music from Youtube, Pandora, Spotify, and more.

If you’re one of those people who likes to listen to motivational music on your way to work, you’ll enjoy having a head unit, so you don’t have to carry around your old CDs anymore.

GPS/Navigation

One of the best parts of Android Auto displays is the GPS navigation because it provides a broad view of the entire trip you’re taking, and you still get commands from the system as you’re driving.

Instead of having to look down at your phone or fumble around with those windshield suction cup things that never work, you can have a navigation system built right into your car that always works and backs you up when you don’t know where you are.

If you’re a bit tech-savvy, you can also get Waze on your head unit, which provides up to the minute traffic updates, information about speed traps, and possible detours that you may need to take.

Increased Music Choices

As we mentioned previously, your Bluetooth compatible display now allows your passengers to become the best HD radio DJs in the car. You can play music from almost anywhere on your phone, and this also includes access to things like IHEART Radio and other HD radio stations. This improves the quality of music, and it also provides information like artist and song names and HD radio sound.

You’ll even be able to save songs and give them a thumbs up so the system can start learning your preferences and tastes.

Voice Control

The ultimate in safety features is being able to control your whole life using your voice. Not only do you not need to pick up your phone to make a call, you may not even have to lift your finger from the steering wheel.

Many Android Auto head units come with voice recognition so you can talk to them and change the music, send a text, or even reroute your navigation to a different location. With all of these safety features, you’ll never have to take your eyes off the road, so there is nothing that can get in the way of you getting to your destination.

How Do I Know if It Will Fit in My Car?

The number one thing that holds people back from buying head units is the fear that they won’t fit or look right in their vehicle. You must measure everything ahead of time and have all the tools ready to get the job done when you get your unit.

Keep in mind that the tools and steps you need to take will vary based on your car and the unit you buy. That said, if you don’t feel comfortable installing it yourself, you can always hire someone to put it in.

It’s also worth mentioning that a lot of mechanics won’t mess around with aftermarket parts because they feel that gives them some liability if something goes wrong. It’s vital to ensure you’re buying the head unit from a reputable company with a reputation for producing high-quality products.

So, make sure you measure everything ahead of time and take extra care if you’re trying to install a new unit into an older vehicle. This factor will make the job even more challenging.

What Devices Will My Android Auto Head Unit Support?

Your head unit will support Android 5.0 or above. We recommend that you have 6.0, but you can always check your phone’s compatibility with Android Auto by downloading the app and ensuring you have a compatible device. Remember that these head units get linked with Android products, and you’ll control a lot of the functions and capabilities using the app.

Can I Use Apple Carplay Devices With Android Auto?

It entirely depends on the unique unit you purchase. Some are compatible with both Android and Apple Carplay while others are exclusive to Android products only. It doesn’t matter which you choose, but if you want to make sure it’s Apple Carplay compatible, check with the manufacturer of the head unit to ensure that everything will work out fine.

We can’t say enough how important it is to do your homework ahead of time. As you’re finding out through this article, the last thing you want to do is install this unit and find that you have a bunch of other steps or problems to work through. Do your research before you purchase, so you know that everyone is good to go.

How Do I Pair My Device With My Android Auto Head Unit?

It’s incredibly simple to pair your device with your Android Auto head unit. First, you’ll have to download the Android Auto app and follow through all the permissions you need to accept. There may be some additional apps that you have to install for other features of the unit.

Somewhere throughout the process, you’ll have to activate Bluetooth on your phone, so you can connect to the head unit. We recommend plugging your device into the USB jack on the unit the first time because it will make the process faster and won’t drain the battery on your phone. Every time after that, you should have no trouble connecting wirelessly.

Can I Use Android Auto Without a USB?

The short answer here is, it depends. It depends on the type of device you have, and this will decide if you need a USB or not. If you have a newer Android phone, you’ll likely have no problem connecting to Android Auto wirelessly. Google launched Android Auto wireless in 2018, so if you have a phone from 2018 or newer, you should be fine.

Does Android Auto Require Data?

Yes, Android Auto will use your phone’s data. With built-in navigation systems, you need to purchase and update them using annual updates. This process doesn’t require an internet connection or data because you’re doing it manually based on patching updates.

With Android Auto, this is a streaming service that streams the maps and other features over to you. As a result, you’ll need to have data to get the most from your head unit.

Is Waze Better Than Android Auto?

Truthfully, that’s up to personal opinion. We think that Android Auto does a great job of providing accurate and timely navigation. Where we see the most significant discrepancy is for Uber and Lyft drivers. These people benefit significantly from Android Auto because they don’t need to look at their phone, and the navigation is much more accurate than the one on the Uber or Lyft app.

That said, Waze provides a lot of other small features that Android Auto does not. You can get speed trap information, traffic updates, construction info, and directions for detours. Neither Android Auto or Google Maps can provide that much data, but it’s all user-contributed.

Do You Need to Update Android Auto?

Once you install your Android Auto head unit, you won’t have to do anything from the unit itself. You will handle all updates and changes from your phone. The app is where you will customize your experience to your liking. The app will alert you when an update is necessary, and once you complete it from your phone, it will update on the head unit.

Read next: Guide to the Best Flip Out Head Units

Brett Gordon
 

The engine behind editing at DigMyRide and the brains behind its build. During the day, Brett is a thirty-something dude from SoCal climbing the corporate ladder, but by night, he spends his time contributing to the online world of automotive tech & trends.