Are Portable Carplay / Android Auto Displays Worth It?

In my latest video I explore the growing trend of portable Carplay and Android Auto displays among generic Chinese manufacturers. You can find these all over Amazon in many different sizes and configurations.

These devices, like the one I examined in the video, are essentially “dumb terminals” that, when connected to your Android phone or iPhone, activate the in-vehicle features of your smartphone. Displays like this offer an intriguing solution for those who own cars without built-in Carplay or Android Auto capabilities.

Priced under $150, with some models like this one around $70, are very easy to integrate into most vehicles.

The particular model I reviewed features a 7-inch screen but is relatively heavy, suggesting it’s not suited for suction cup mounting. It was designed to be attached directly to the dashboard, though I did have concerns about the potential of its adhesive damaging the dashboard upon removal.

Setting up the device is straightforward. It connects to your smartphone via Bluetooth, and once paired, it boots up quickly into the Carplay or Android Auto interface. The user experience mirrors what you would expect in a car with built-in capabilities.

The device comes with several ports, including a USB-A for storage, an SD card slot, and an auxiliary output. The latter is crucial since the device doesn’t transmit audio to the car’s Bluetooth system, necessitating a hardwired connection for audio output. Alternatively it does have a built in FM transmitter for sending audio to the car’s radio via RF. It’s also equipped with built-in speakers which sound pretty bad. There are apparently some other devices like this that will interface with a car’s bluetooth audio system.

These devices have a microphone built in for phone calls and assistant commands. I was able to trigger both Siri and the Google Assistant by shouting out their wake words. Phone call audio will route through the display and not through the phone.

These portable Carplay and Android Auto displays are a great way to get Android Auto or Carplay support to an older vehicle. This particular model works best for cars that have an aux input for a hard wired connection but the FM transmitter should be a sufficient alternative. I would like to see a version that’s lighter and more portable for using in rental cars, etc. to avoid having to pair your phone and your personal data to a car that will later be used by others.

But given how many different versions of these things exist out there I’m sure you can find one that meets your particular needs on Amazon. You’ll also find full on dashboard display replacement models for popular vehicles.

Disclosure: This is not a sponsored video and this product came in free of charge through the Amazon Vine program. I did not have any communication with its manufacturer, nor did anyone review or approve this video before it was uploaded.