Remember the days when you had to wrestle with a rat’s nest of cables just to get your car’s infotainment system to play nice with your smartphone? Those days are over, friends. The era of wireless Apple CarPlay adapters has arrived, saving you from the cable clutter and leveling up your driving experience. To help you find the right one for your needs, here are our top picks:
- Best Overall: Carlinkit 5.0 (2air): Zero-wire experience with rapid connectivity.
- Best Runner-Up: Ottocast U2-Air: User-friendly controls with adaptable light settings.
- Best High-End: Ottocast PICASOU 2 PRO Carplay AI Box: Allows you to stream video content through YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, etc.
- Best Budget: ITIDU Wireless CarPlay Adapter: Seamlessly transitions to wireless while retaining original car controls.
- Most Compact: AutoSky Pro Slim Wireless CarPlay Adapter: Ultra-lightweight with a quick, hassle-free setup.
What is an Apple CarPlay Wireless Adapter?
Plugging into your car’s USB port, these devices leverage the WiFi and Bluetooth on your phone and serves as a receiver for your car. When you enter and turn on your vehicle, the CarPlay adapter will connect to your phone.
There are a lot of options on the market and it’s hard to determine which one is worth your time and money. To help with this, we’ve tapped our team of experts to compile a list of 5 of the best Apple CarPlay adapters on the market.
We’ve made our decision based on several criteria including:
- Ease of Use: Adapters must be easy to set up and have features that are simple to access and navigate.
- Connectivity & Reliability: We made sure the adapters we’ve chosen provide great reliability, providing a solid, uninterrupted connection every time. There’s a major difference among CarPlay adapters in this area so we made this a priority in our analysis.
- Startup Time: How long does it take between turning on your car to having your iPhone automatically connect to the adapter? We’ve included picks that keep this startup time to a minimum so you can stop waiting around and get to driving.
- Aesthetics: Adapters will be a prominent fixture on your center console. We looked for variations that were sleek, unobtrusive and minimal in their design.
- Compatibility: Not all adapters work with all versions of iOS. We looked for products that offered the widest support for different versions and that were quick to add new ones shortly after release.
As you can see, there are a lot of factors that make a good CarPlay wireless adapter. If you still need help determining which is the best for you, stick around to the end of this roundup for some final thoughts that can help make the process easier. Let’s get into it.
Best Overall: Carlinkit 5.0 (2air) Wireless Carplay Adapter
- Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
- Compact, durable design
- Easy plug-and-play setup
- Native support for faster connections
Taking the top spot as our Best Overall pick is the Carlinkit 5.0 (2air). This one could be your new best friend for a wire-free in-car experience. This gem supports both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto wirelessly. This is the real deal if you’re yearning to cut the cords in your car’s infotainment system. In a world that can’t get enough of minimalist design, this device stands out – or rather, blends in. Its dimensions are modest at 3 x 1.7 x 0.49 inches. And its 3-ounce weight is light enough to forget it’s even there.
Tip: The 2air is cheaper on the official Carlinkit website. Use code: NERDTECHY18 for an additional 18% off.
The ABS+PC casing of the Carlinkit 2air ensures durability while maintaining a sleek black aesthetic. You can tuck it away vertically in your center console or attach it via Velcro in the glove box. Ventilation openings on the side allow the unit to keep its cool, quite literally. With the Carlinkit 5.0, you can forget the theatrics. We plugged this baby into a USB adapter compatible with wired CarPlay and Android Auto systems. The result? Instant wireless freedom.
It doesn’t just stop at letting you play your favorite tunes. It makes sure your phone is always within arm’s reach without actually being in your hands. A small but effective way to combat the evils of distracted driving. And when we put it head-to-head with its predecessor, Carlinkit 4.0, the results were eye-opening. The latest version natively supports both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, enabling a more rapid and seamless connection.
No need for complicated conversions between protocols, meaning you’re on the road faster with less pre-drive setup. Furthermore, it’s in sync with OEM wired CarPlay and Android Auto cars, and it doesn’t discriminate against aftermarket head units—so all you Alpine, Kenwood, Sony, Pioneer, and JVC fans, rejoice! The Carlinkit 5.0 is the premier choice for Apple CarPlay connectivity. Our only gripe? Bluetooth gets disconnected on rare occasions. Not a big deal; it’s easy enough to reconnect.
What we liked:
- Zero-wire experience
- Space-saving design
- Rapid connectivity
- Wide compatibility
What we didn’t like:
- May require occasional Bluetooth reconnection
Best Runner-Up: Ottocast U2-Air Wireless Carplay Adapter
- Wireless connectivity
- Low latency 5GHz WiFi
- Versatile control methods
- Automatic light mode switching
The quest for a clutter-free car dashboard is a common one. With the Ottocast U2-Air, you’re one step closer to that goal, especially if you’re keen on untethering from cables while using Apple CarPlay. And let’s be honest – who isn’t? Let’s start with the basics: dimensions and weight. The U2-Air comes in at just 2.16 x 2.16 x 0.6 inches and weighs a mere 0.06 pounds. When we say it’s small and lightweight, we mean it’s small and lightweight. It really is impressive just how compact this thing is. And as such, it’s easy to bring along wherever you go.
It works smoothly with iPhones and is designed for vehicles with factory-installed CarPlay. Simply plug it in, and an automatic connection is established, eliminating the need for manual setup. This worked well for us every time we tried it. Much welcome. Moreover, controlling the Ottocast is refreshingly versatile. You can operate the device through Siri voice commands, your car’s touch interface, or the physical knobs in your vehicle. This flexibility makes it easy to adapt to your preferred interaction style without hassle.
Driving conditions change, and your CarPlay display should adapt. That’s what the Ottocast does, automatically switching between Normal and Night modes depending on whether your headlights are on. This is particularly useful for drivers who prefer not to fiddle with settings while on the road. Another major plus for this device.
We should point out that it isn’t a one-car wonder, either. It’s compatible with over 600 vehicles that have factory CarPlay. However, it’s worth noting that it’s not suited for all, including the 2019 Toyota RAV4 and any Tesla models. In our tests, the Ottocast U2-Air showed a bit of lag when switching or pausing songs on Spotify, roughly 3 to 5 seconds. While the music quality itself was good, the call audio was slightly less clear, making the other person sound distant.
What we liked:
- Small and portable
- User-friendly controls
- Adaptable light settings
- Wide vehicle compatibility
What we didn’t like:
- Some music control lag present
Best High-End: Ottocast PICASOU 2 PRO Carplay AI Box
- Android & iPhone compatible
- Stream YouTube, Disney+, Netflix, Hulu, etc.
- Three system switching
- Built-in GPS with all maps
- 1080p HDMI output/input
Upon unboxing the Ottocast PICASOU 2 PRO Carplay AI Box, you’re greeted with a well-crafted unit that oozes luxury. Sporting a dynamic brand LED light that can display your logo, this device isn’t shy about announcing its high-end status. But can its performance justify the premium label? Let’s find out. First, it’s fueled by a Qualcomm 665 Octa-core chipset, so it definitely doesn’t skimp on power. Booting up reveals a snappy Android 10.0 system that allows for three-way switching between the Android system, wireless CarPlay, and wireless Android Auto.
So whether you’re Team Android or a die-hard Apple loyalist, it has your back. And yes, it is compatible only with vehicles or motorcycles that have factory-wired CarPlay produced between 2016 and 2022. BMW and Sony Aftermarket Head-unit owners? Sadly, you’ll have to sit this one out. It does let you install any apps you want, which further enhances its customization. For the navigation enthusiasts, it has a built-in GPS supporting all kinds of maps.
A weather and clock widget is also available for those who want to stay updated without diverting attention from the road. While testing the HDMI output and input, we discovered that the device offers a stellar 1080p resolution. Even better, you can display different content on dual-screen setups. Streaming YouTube, Disney+, Netflix, Hulu, and other videos is a piece of cake. Virtually any apps are compatible. And as for dimensions, it clocks in at 5.24 x 4.45 x 2.36 inches. It’s a compact unit that fits into your car without creating a spatial fuss.
Moreover, the Ottocast PICASOU 2 PRO weighs in at 2.78 ounces – just enough to reassure you of its build quality without feeling like a brick. While this one ticked most of our boxes, we couldn’t help but notice it can get rather hot during extended use. It lacks an integrated cooling system, which could be a concern for those planning to run heavy applications.
What we liked:
- Universal app installation
- Simple video streaming
- Certified 4G/3G/2G module
- Fast Android 10 OS
- Dynamic LED branding
What we didn’t like:
- Gets hot pretty quickly
Best Budget: ITIDU Wireless CarPlay Adapter
- Designed for factory-wired Apple CarPlay
- Plug & play setup
- Compact and lightweight design
- USB and USB-C compatibility
In a world where the race for the latest tech can leave your car feeling antiquated, ITIDU’s Wireless CarPlay Adapter is a slice of future tech served today. Designed specifically for vehicles with factory-wired Apple CarPlay, this device is an astute solution to go wireless without fussing around with your existing setup. Let’s talk setup. It knows you’ve got better things to do than fiddle around with installation procedures.
You’ll get this thing running quickly and without issue. That’s because it’s essentially plug-and-play but without the user manual gibberish you’re used to glossing over. Once paired, it remembers you. So every time you enter the car, you’re automatically reconnected. Now, on to the physical aspects. The unit weighs a feather-light 2.82 ounces and measures 6.1 x 2.6 x 1.02 inches. It’s got the kind of sleek, minimalist look.
It’s an easily portable gizmo, essentially pocket-sized. So it won’t take up valuable real estate in your car’s console. Plus, it’s compatible with both USB and USB-C ports, thanks to the bundled USB to USB-C adapter. This isn’t just about cutting the cord. This is about getting your Apple CarPlay to work wirelessly while retaining all the original controls – touch screen, steering wheel control, you name it.
From GPS navigation to Siri, the wireless transition is smooth, and the functionalities are just as robust as in a wired setting. It’s not all perfection, though. The adapter’s connection time is a smidge slower compared to going wired. It’s the kind of difference you’d notice if you’re perpetually racing against the clock.
What we liked:
- Seamless wireless transition
- Retains original car controls
- Auto-reconnect feature
- Easy to install
What we didn’t like:
- Slower connection time
Most Compact: AutoSky Pro Slim Wireless CarPlay Adapter
- Compact design
- Easy installation
- OEM knobs compatibility
- Steering wheel controls
We’ve all been there – wrestling with tangled wires and cursing connectors as you try to set up your in-car entertainment. Enter the AutoSky Pro Slim Wireless CarPlay Adapter, the digital peacekeeper in the riotous world of vehicle cabling. Don’t be deceived by its meager dimensions. Measuring in at 1.97 x 0.98 x 0.39 inches and weighing a mere 1.76 ounces, this compact wonder fits seamlessly into your car’s interiors without standing out like a sore thumb. But small size doesn’t translate to small performance. It’s anything but diminutive when it comes to functionality.
AutoSky understands that not all of us are gadget gurus. The installation process? Child’s play. Connect the device via Bluetooth or USB, and boom, you’re in business. Now you can groove to your favorite Apple Music or Spotify tracks, answer calls hands-free, and navigate without a second thought. We also like that whether your car is pimped out with touch screens or still rocking the OEM knobs, this device has your back.
It’s also fully compatible with your steering wheel controls, so you can keep your hands on the wheel and eyes on the road. Yet, no rose is without its thorn. A minor issue we noticed during our test drives was the occasional need to re-pair the device with our systems. It is supposed to remember your settings, but once in a while, it seems to have a short memory lapse. So yes, it’s got a few quirks, but the AutoSky Adapter overwhelmingly delivers on its promise of a wireless, hassle-free experience. It combines sleek design and top-notch performance, leaving us with little room for complaint.
What we liked:
- Quick setup
- Aesthetic carbon fiber casing
- Robust connectivity options
What we didn’t like:
- Occasional re-pairing needed
Wireless Apple CarPlay Adapter FAQs
Is Wireless CarPlay Adapter compatible with all CarPlay cars?
Mostly yes, but there’s always a “but.” While our chosen adapters are built to be universally compatible with any CarPlay-enabled vehicle, always double-check your car’s manual. It’s not rocket science, just a bit of due diligence to avoid any road bumps.
How does the adapter’s battery life fare?
Can the adapter work with Android Auto?
Our selected adapters focus on Apple CarPlay. For Android Auto, you’ll need to look elsewhere.
Our picks were far from random; they’ve all earned their place for specific reasons. The Carlinkit 5.0 (2air) is a standout for those who want to cut the cord entirely, offering rapid connectivity without the wire clutter. Check out the Carlinkkit 5.0 (2air) through the official website for ideal savings. Next up, Ottocast’s U2-Air takes the cake for user experience, boasting intuitive controls and adaptable light settings that let you tailor your experience.
Then, we have the Ottocast PICASOU 2 PRO, which opens up a whole universe of apps thanks to its zippy Android OS. There’s also the ITIDU Wireless CarPlay Adapter, which is perfect for those who don’t want to compromise their original car controls. It transitions your system from wired to wireless without any fuss.
And last but not least, the AutoSky Pro Slim Wireless CarPlay Adapter made the list for its ultra-lightweight design and straightforward setup. No complicated settings to navigate; it’s as easy as plug-and-play. Each of our chosen products offers something uniquely beneficial, ensuring that there’s something for every kind of driver out there. From tech enthusiasts to everyday commuters, these adapters have you covered.