What is an Android head unit? It’s basically a regular car head unit (single or double din) but runs on an Android OS like a smartphone.
The term “Android car stereo” can also be used for units that don’t run on Android but are compatible with such devices through Android Auto, but such devices won’t be the focus of this buying guide.
Table of Contents
- Android Head Units We Recommended
- Everything else we recommended
- What to look for when shopping for an Android unit?
Android Head Units We Recommended
|Image||Android car stereo||Android version||Display||USB, CD, SD||Bluetooth||Navigation|
|ATOTO AICE UI 11.0, based on Android Q(10.0)||7″, 1024x600px||3 USB interfaces, 1 SD card slot||Dual Bluetooth (BT1 5.0 & BT2 4.0)||Built-in GPS receiver with an external antenna; Google maps as default App|
Bang For The Buck
|Linux||7", 1024x600px||2 USB ports; 1 SD||Bluetooth 5.0||via phone's GPS navigation app (Google Maps, Waze, Tomtom, etc)|
Large screen option
|Latest||10.1″, 1024×600 px||2 USB slots||Bluetooth with A2DP||Built-in offline maps|
|Android 10.0 Q||7”, 1024x600px||1 USB, 1 SD card slot, 1 GPS card||Yes||[Pre-loaded GPS maps with options for both online and offline navigation app, e.g. Waze, Synic, Google|
ATOTO S8 Gen2 Standard S8G2A74SD
Android version: ATOTO AICE UI 11.0, based on Android Q(10.0)
Display: Full HD 7″ 1024*600, 5-Touch Capacitive Touchscreen, 600cd/m2 IPS screen
USB, CD, SD: 3 USB interfaces, 1 Micro SD card slot
Bluetooth: Dual Bluetooth,(BT1 5.0 & BT2 4.1)
Navigation: Built-in GPS Receiver module with an external GPS antenna
Other features: Wired iOS CarPlay and Android Auto; Wired & Wireless Phone Mirroring, Fast System Boot
Other ATOTO options:
- ATOTO S8 Single-DIN/8inch Floating IPS Display
- ATOTO S7 Standard (Budget version)
- ATOTO F7 XE with wireless CarPlay & Android Auto
- even more…
ATOTO S8G2A74SD has all the features you look for in an Android car stereo head unit. And that’s why it is our top pick. Whether it is a CarPlay or Android Auto availability or multiple audio/video inputs, you will find all the useful features in this Android unit. However, we haven’t picked this ATOTO head unit just for its wholesome functionality. We rate it highly for some of its exclusive features as well.
For starters, the head unit boasts a powerful Toshiba preamp (RMS 4*24W) with 32 adjustable frequency bands. When most head units have preamps that can’t support impedance load lower than 8 ohms, ATOTO S8 can be used with even powerful and low-impedance 4-ohm speakers. In other words, you can easily replace your stock speakers with powerful replacements when you get ATOTO S8.
ATOTO A8 video overview
The other great bit about this Android OS-based head unit is the high quality of its Bluetooth connection. It uses the latest BT1 5.0 & BT2 4.1. If your phone supports this latest Bluetooth configuration, you can get a wired-quality sound on the wireless stream of the head unit.
Moreover, its Dual Bluetooth chips ensure that you can connect your stereo to hotspots with different frequency bands.
Another thing that many enthusiasts will like is the built-in Digital Signal Processor (DSP) with the option to manipulate audio signals to your taste.
We also like ATOTO A8’s 178° full-viewing angle IPS display. Its higher contrast guarantees that you don’t have to squint your eyes to see the stereo display in daylight.
Also, unlike regular stereo units, this double-din head doesn’t support just one camera input. You can connect the video input of the back, front and side cameras at the same time.
Hikity 10.1″ Android Double Din
Android version: Latest
Display: 10.1″ 1024*600
USB, CD, SD: 2 USB
Bluetooth: Bluetooth with A2DP
Navigation: Built-in offline maps
Other features: Reversing Video-Input; Mirror Link
If you want to see a big clean display on your car’s dash, then consider buying this Hikity Android car stereo head unit. With its 10.1-inch screen and crisp visuals, it is hard to find any other head unit with such a stunning display at this price point.
We are a fan of this head unit for its clean construction. Its button panel is designed to look like a part of its large touchscreen display. If your dash has a double-din configuration, you just need to drop it on the screen there. It will perfectly adjust on the dash without needing any modifications.
Apart from offering you the ultimate Android experience with its audio and video output, the head unit is a great navigation tool as well. It has a built-in GPS and is compatible with Google Maps, Navitel, iGo, and Sygic. Then, you also get e free offline worldwide map.
Like any top-of-the-line head unit, the Hikity Android car stereo boasts top-quality Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connections. It also features the Mirror Link function. Moreover, it also supports steering control and backup camera input. You even get a 12-LED rearview camera free with every brand new Hikity Android car stereo head unit.
EinCar Single Din Android 10 Head Unit
Android version: Android 10.0 Q OS
Display: Full HD 7″ 1024*600, 5 points capacitive touchscreen
USB, CD, SD: 1 USB, 1 SD card slot, 1 GPS card
Navigation: Built-in GPS receiver with an external antenna; map program compatible with Waze/Navfree/Google map etc.
Other features: Mirror Link via cable; Back-up camera input
If your car dash is built for single din car stereos but you want to create the experience of modern infotainment systems, consider this flip-out option by EinCar.
The head unit is of single-din configuration but with a high-resolution 7-inch touchscreen. With this flip-out design, the unit is perfect to be an Android car stereo head. It operates on Android 10 OS and sports both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connections.
Bluetooth connectivity with the built-in microphone lets you have a fully hands-free experience throughout your ride. Whether it is making or receiving calls or playing audio, this flip-out head unit’s Bluetooth is good enough to make wired connections redundant. Then you can use its Wi-Fi to run the head unit from within without needing a mobile phone.
EinCar has particularly focused on making this flip-out unit a great road navigation system as well. It has a built-in GPS module with a map program and voice guidance. Moreover, it supports 2D and 3D maps as well as offline maps.
In fact, it downloads offline maps in line with your destination. Also, you don’t have to pause its stereo function to use the GPS. You can enjoy your favorite songs and gets navigational help from the EinCar Android head unit at the same time.
You can also use SD cards and USB drives as input devices for this stereo. Also, its built-in Mirror Link function enables you to cast your mobile screen on its big high-resolution display.
ATOTO S8 Ultra Plus
Android version: based on Android Q(10.0)
Display: 10” Full HD, 1280×720 px
USB, CD, SD: 5 USB inputs; 1 Micro SD card reader
Bluetooth: BT 5.0
Navigation: External GPS antenna is built into the GPS receiver module
Other features: Wireless/wired CarPlay and Android Auto
- Uses the ATOTO AICE UI 11.0 system version customized for Android Q
- Has a built-in 4G LTE modem
- Quick boot time
- Clear HD display
- It may block the air vents and the emergency switch button in some vehicles.
- The system is confusing to operate for beginners.
- Touch sensitivity is weak
ATOTO has been manufacturing car entertainment and accessories for over a decade. With so many years in the business, ATOTO understood what customers need and put that information into creating the S8 Ultra Plus, the second generation of the S8 android car stereo. If you ask us this is the best Chinese-made Android head unit for this year.
The S8 Ultra Plus offers a range of features and performs better than most stereos in its price range. The 10.1-inch display has a high resolution of 1280 x 720 and features a 5-touch capacitive QLED touchscreen. The QLED, or quantum film LED, dramatically improves the color effect of the display screen, offering vibrant colors and high-quality pictures.
Moreover, the stereo features a floating display screen that allows users to adjust the height and angle of the screen.
The S8 Ultra Plus is compatible with different input and output devices, offering high feasibility. The radio supports a four-channel RCA audio out of two volts to connect an amplifier, an o.8 volts out for a subwoofer, and an optical SPDIF and QC 3.0 quick charge out. It also supports a USB to HDMI to connect the headrest monitor, aux audio input, video input for FCAM front camera, and a rearview camera.
Moreover, you can insert a micro SD card to store media files, as the S8 Ultra plus can read 512 GB of data. You can also connect your phone for mirror casting, supporting wireless and wired CarPlay and Android Auto. With this, you can connect your smartphone to the display to make phone calls, play music, send or receive messages, or use the navigation.
The built-in DSP offers precise control over the equalization, time delay, bass boost, and filter. It offers nine preset EQ modes and 32 frequency bands.
The S8 Ultra Plus also has many features that set it apart from others in the same category.
The Fast System Boot feature allows you to access the system within two seconds of starting the car. The Split Screen Display allows users to simultaneously use the navigation and other apps.
One of the features I liked the most was the Speed Compensated Volume Control (SCVC) features that alter the car’s speed; the sound increases with speed to make up for road noise. For cautious drivers, the Live Rear View features allow you to access the rearview camera even when you are driving forward.
XTRONS TSF701L Android 10
Android version: Android 10.0
Display: 7”, 1024*600 Capacitive
USB, CD, SD: USB input; SD card reader
Bluetooth: BT 5.0
Navigation: Navigation supports GPS, BDS, and Glonass with high-precision positioning within 10M
Other features: Wireless Car Auto Play and wired Android Auto (iPhone iOS 8 and above, Android 4.3 and above); Multifunctional DSP
For a good combination of sound quality and navigation features in your stereo unit, this XTRONs Android 10 head unit is definitely worth considering. While examining this XTRONS head unit, what caught our eye immediately was its built-in sound setting options.
Starting from an equalizer with eight preset effects to surround adjustments and bass filers, this car stereo lets you tweak all possible stereo settings to tailor its sound in line with your listening preference.
Its navigation features are also quite impressive. Firstly, it is compatible with all the popular navigation applications, be it Google Maps, Sygic, or Waze. Moreover, it supports all prevailing navigation systems (GPS, Glonass, and BDS).
These multiple navigation systems ensure high-precision positioning where your car is never positioned outside a 10-meter radius. In other words, you don’t have to worry about the unfamiliarity of the path as long as the navigation is turned on.
We also like XTRONS Android stereo’s built-in split-screen function where you can have navigation and entertainment windows opened at the same time.
You also get a built-in floating video player that also lets you run multiple tasks while playing video streams in the background. With user-friendly UI, multitasking on XTRONS Android makes for a pleasing experience.
Everything else we recommended
Corehan Android 7
Android version: Android 7.0.1
Display: 7 inch LCD Touch Screen(5-point touch), 1024×600
USB, CD, SD: 2 USB ports; 1 SD card slot
Navigation: Supports both online and offline navigation
Other features: Mirroring features; steering wheel controls
This is a good one, despite some display issues, I believe this is one of the best ones in the “also great” category. The 16 GB internal memory is plenty for all the songs you could possibly want and even some videos.
It runs any App you might want it to and does its job, it’s the entertainment brain of the car. Unfortunately, some problems with the display (like low resolution and image quality) don’t allow for a higher spot, since the screen is one of the most important features of an Android car stereo.
The wi-fi is also kind of uncertain in terms of strength and range. It makes you think that sometimes it’s not worth having all the features if some of them aren’t optimized.
Binize 10.1″ Android Car Stereo
Android version: 10.0
Display: 10.1” Touchscreen
Navigation: via Android apps
Other features: Android and iOS mirroring; backup camera support; 32 GB internal memory
This is another 10.1 android car stereo with a touch screen. It doesn’t include all the features it would need to make it the best possible, like external antennas for GPS and wi-fi or physical buttons but if you’re on a budget and want a great head unit, this one could be the right for you.
It has all the important car stereo functions, a big internal memory to keep all your music, and an excellent navigation interface, definitely making it a considerable pick.
Pyle Double Din Android Head Unit
Android version: Android 4.4
Display: 6” high-resolution touchscreen
USB, CD, SD: USB reader; CD player
Bluetooth: Bluetooth 2.0 +EDR
Navigation: GPS included with pre-loaded maps, integrated Google Maps
Other features: Steering wheel controls support
This unit has a very responsive touchscreen, a great interface (that, unfortunately, doesn’t work well with iOS), and a cool video lockout while driving that makes for a great feature to add security.
It’s good for your typical car ride since you can experience the music and basic navigation, but might not be the best for long countryside road trips. The GPS will work better in highly populated areas but might lose signal rather frequently due to the lack of an external antenna when outside of urban areas.
The Bluetooth sync and connection isn’t the best and the steering wheel interface has a several seconds delay but other than that it’s a great unit, even admitting it could use some improvements.
What to look for when shopping for an Android unit?
These stereos may or may not come with multiple different features and it’s important you know how having certain ones or not might impact your user experience.
You should first know what your needs are, and as soon as you know that, you’ll know what features need to be included in order for the stereo to do right for you. These are the main features and specs you should pay attention to.
What Apps Are Supported By This Type Of Stereo?
The kind of supported Apps depends on the specific model of android stereo you buy, some support any app compatible with Android, while some might only be compatible with certain Apps. Supported Apps include communication, navigation, music, and search Apps. This includes Skype, Google Maps, Google Play Music and Spotify, Google Search, among others.
The screen is the main interacting feature in an Android stereo. It’s what you look at when operating the stereo, where all your information is, and an important thing to investigate when choosing your stereo.
Most screens on these devices are touchscreens – don’t miss out on our review of the best touchscreen car stereos, but sometimes that might not be the case so you should look out for that. The size of the screen also plays a big part.
A small screen might make it hard for you to read or see displayed information, and that can even make it dangerous to use since it will require you to take your attention off the road for longer periods of time. Larger screens usually have larger fonts that allow for quicker and easier reading.
The recommended screen size is about 6-7 inches.
The interface is the next most important thing to be careful about. Some devices have a very complicated or slow interface, which results in poor user experience and frustration while keeping you from enjoying the full capabilities of your stereo.
You want a fluid interface, as similar as possible to regular optimized tablets, that offers an intuitive and/or easy learn use of the product.
USB, CD/DVD player, and SD cards
If you are a music lover, this is definitely something really important to you. A CD or in-dash DVD player is a must for anybody who likes to travel with their disc library, and if that’s you, pay attention to stereos that offer this capability.
USBs can be used to play music from the flash drive directly but might also work to connect your phone directly to the unit and use it to stream from your phone or even mirror it if it’s capable of doing so.
SD card slots are useful for extra internal storage of things like music or videos in the stereo. Most high-end Android stereos have internal memory included, but most still offer additional storage space through this method.
Besides the previously mentioned USB connection, some stereos give you the option to connect your smartphone via Bluetooth, and this is usually the best option since some phones will need adaptors to connect via USB to the stereo. Bluetooth also gives your stereo the option to make calls if your car has a microphone or if you had one.
AM/FM Radio and Satellite Radio
Every car stereo you may buy today includes an AM/FM radio that allows you to listen to your local stations, but that’s just the basic package. Some stereos will have built-in options to improve your experience such as HD radio decoders that would improve the audio quality of your local stations.
If you’re someone who takes preference on the radio instead of CDs, you might want to pay attention to this detail.
On the other hand, if you are a long-distance traveler, and like always having your favorite stations with you, or a sports fan that always wants to listen to the game on the go, a satellite radio option might be the way to go, but be careful, because most times this feature is only something the stereo is compatible with, meaning you would have to buy additional equipment in order to actually make it work.
One of the biggest advantages of having a big screen on your Android head unit is no longer needing to have your phone stuck on the windshield for GPS.
Most units will come with some sort of map-based navigation system, that you can update via SD cards, or, if the unit has internet access, via the internet. But some might argue that the Google Maps App they have on their phone is superior and more up-to-date, and that wouldn’t be wrong. If you prefer to navigate with it, you can always go with a unit that supports the mirroring of your phone.
The previously mentioned are the biggest features to look out for, but if there’s something in particular you want, you can always give that feature priority.
For example, if your car has steering wheel controls you probably want a stereo that is compatible with those controls in order for you to control things such as volume but beware, do your research because this adaptor may vary from car to car, so make sure it will work with yours before buying.
If you’re someone who appreciates touch screens but would feel more comfortable with physical buttons while on the road, some units offer just that.
Now that you know what you should pay attention to, check out our top picks for Android-based car stereos.
Last update on 2023-01-29 / Affiliate links / *Image Disclaimer: We use images/data from Amazon Product Advertising API solely on products that link to Amazon. On products with the "Price at Crutchfield" button, we use images/data from Crutchfield.com as per the partnership deal.