The Ultimate Guide to Android Head Unit: Everything You Need to Know

Android-Head-Unit

Aftermarket Android head units have revolutionized the way we interact with our cars, bringing the power of Android technology directly to the dashboard. These units, which replace the factory-installed head unit in your car, offer a range of features including navigation, multimedia playback, and app integration, all in a user-friendly interface.

What Car Needs an Aftermarket Android Head Unit?

 

Lots of car owners are now considering an Android Head Unit for their cars, mainly due to the features that an Android OS brings along with it.

1. Older vehicles: Cars manufactured before the widespread adoption of smartphone integration technologies like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.


2. Vehicles with basic audio systems: Cars that only have basic radio and CD players without advanced features.


3. Vehicles with outdated interfaces: Cars with outdated infotainment interfaces that lack modern connectivity options.


4. Customization: Drivers who want to customize their car's audio and infotainment system with aftermarket options for better performance and features.


It's important to note that compatibility can vary depending on the specific make and model of the car, so it's always best to check with the manufacturer or a professional installer before purchasing an aftermarket Android head unit.

Where to buy an Android Head Unit?

 

Most of these Android Head Units are manufactured in China. Some brands locally re-brand these head units and sell them with a limited 6-month to 12-month warranty. So there are two choices, either to buy locally or to import directly from China.

What are the key points to choose an Android head unit?

 

1. Look for Good Specs: Get a head unit with strong specifications. Since we don't change car head units often, it's best to choose a top-quality one for a smooth experience.

2. Consider Model-Specific Units: If possible, go for a model-specific head unit. It fits perfectly and looks like it belongs in your car. These units also support CANBUS, giving you important vehicle information.

3. Avoid Custom Dashboard Frames: Stay away from units that come with custom dashboard frames. These frames can start rattling over time as their clips break. And unfortunately, you can't usually buy these frames separately.

4. Generic Units for Budgets: If you can't find a model-specific unit (which is rare), consider a generic head unit. They're cheaper and can be a good choice for those on a tight budget.

Display - Size and Type

 

 Display Types:

1. Choose between LCD and LED displays. LED offers better color accuracy and saturation, but some units may develop burn-in issues over time. LCD units, while slightly less vibrant, still serve the purpose well.

2. Opt for an IPS LCD display for better viewing angles, crucial for a car head unit.

Display Size:

1. Most head units are 7"-8.x" in size, depending on your car's provisions.

2. Avoid overly large displays, like 10"+, as they can look out of place in many cars.

3. Some models offer Tesla-style vertical displays, integrating A/C and other controls into the head unit. However, replacing OEM controls with these units is not recommended.

4. Choose a head unit that fits snugly in your car's existing head unit area for a seamless look.

Internal Components:

 

Processor:

Choose between Dual Core, Quad Core, or Octa Core processors.

Quad Core and Octa Core are preferable, as Dual Core processors can be laggy.

Internal Memory (ROM):

Options typically range from 8GB to 64GB.

A minimum of 32GB ROM is recommended to accommodate app installations and updates without causing lags or reboots.

Random Access Memory (RAM):

RAM options are usually 1GB to 4GB.

Models with 1GB or 2GB RAM may experience frequent crashes, while 4GB RAM units offer smoother performance.

Digital Signal Processor (DSP):

DSP can significantly impact audio quality.

While some argue DSP is unnecessary, others find it enhances audio output noticeably. Although Viper4Android can be used for sound adjustment, it requires rooting the device, which some may prefer to avoid.

Personal Experience:

A car head unit with DSP improved audio quality compared to the stock unit, even surpassing a unit tuned by Arkamys.

Recommended Accessories:

 

1. FM Signal Booster

Essential for improving FM reception on the head unit.

2. Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS)

Choose between Internal and External sensors.

Internal sensors require tire refitting, are time-consuming to install, and have non-user-replaceable batteries. They also require wheel balancing and alignment.
External sensors are easier to install (plug and play), have user-replaceable batteries, and are secured with a spanner to prevent theft or loosening.

However, they require the spanner for sensor removal when topping up air. Both sensor types come with a USB module for connection to the Android head unit.

3. Aftermarket Android Auto/Apple CarPlay Dongle

For Android Auto, you can use an app like Headunit Reloaded or a dongle. The app supports Wireless Carplay and Wirerless Android Auto.

To enable Apple CarPlay on your Android head unit, you'll need a dongle. This dongle requires you to install the AutoKit APK on your head unit but doesn't require any additional app on your phone. With this setup, you can enjoy wireless CarPlay or Android Auto on your Android head unit by simply adding the dongle.

The dongle offers stable connection and charges the phone, making it preferable. 

4. Bluetooth OBD Reader

Useful for reading error codes. Install the Torque Pro app on the head unit for diagnostics and a custom dashboard.

5. USB Dashcam

Affordable and directly connectable to the head unit.

Points to Note:

 

Installation Costs: If you're not comfortable with technology, you can always find someone to install the head unit for you. Installation costs vary depending on the service provider.

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