In this video, I compare and bring you my top 5 2-in-1 CarPlay adapters that you can buy in 2022. Links to buy each dongle mentioned, and view my reviews, are all below.
Thanks to new chipsets and software, we are seeing a growing number of brands release new wireless adapters that not only support wireless CarPlay, but also allow Android devices to connect to a wired CarPlay system to display wireless Android Auto. These are commonly called 2-in-1 adapters or dongles.
If you have a factory Apple CarPlay system, this is the simplest and cheapest way to run Android Auto on your vehicle. If you also use your car with both iOS and Android devices, or you just want to convert your system from wired to wireless CarPlay or Android Auto, these adapters are great solutions to achieve this too.
6 Wireless 2-in-1 Apple CarPlay Adapters Tested
So I first gathered all the 2-in-1 adapters that I have reviewed on this channel. I then updated them to their latest firmware to ensure I ran the most compatible and bug-less updates on them. Any adapters that failed to update to the latest firmware, or the update bricked them, were eliminated.
I then ran each dongle on my Pioneer 93DAB car stereo, which is a wired and wireless CarPlay and Android Auto aftermarket receiver. This is to test if the adapter is more versatile and compatible than any other adapter that simply will not work on this receiver. If any didn’t work, they were eliminated too.
I also checked to see if they are still available to be purchased, because there is no point in recommending an adapter that you can’t buy anymore. If they have been discontinued or have been out of stock for a long period of time, they were removed too. And after these first three tests, I had 6 2-in-1 adapters remaining.
The Final 6 2-in-1 Adapters
I next checked their boot-up, pairing and connection time into Apple CarPlay. All 6 adapters took between 16 and 31 seconds to boot up into their main menu. They took between 13 to 40 seconds to pair with my iPhone 13 Pro and launch Apple CarPlay, and between 8 and 24 seconds to pair with my Google Pixel and launch Android Auto. I added both of these times together to get an overall total boot time into CarPlay and compared them to their actual automated time to power up, connect to my iPhone, and launch Apple CarPlay.
I then repeated this test for Android Auto. First scoring which adapter needed to manually switch between platforms and which could switch without rebooting. I then paired them to my Google Pixel 5 and tested their launch times into Android Auto as well as their total automated power up, connect to my Google Pixel, and launch Android Auto. Apart from two adapters, they all used the full-screen method of displaying Android Auto, whilst two supported the split-screen display method, and one of those two was able to choose between both display methods.
All finalists had similar touch input and audio lag during a wireless connection with two noticeable adapters showing they were less responsive than the others due to their much lower Wi-Fi bandwidth specs. Otherwise, general interactions, swipes and navigating tracks were mostly responsive across all adapters.
I also ran each CarPlay on each adapter for an hour with music streaming from Spotify, and I also ran maps navigation in the background, all whilst my device was charging from a 5-metre-long distance – to see if any of the adapters crashed and also how they handled operating over a long distance. Some dongles handled distance better than others, whilst neither crashed on me during their continued use for at least an hour.
Configuration and multi-user support can also be important, so I rated each dongle if they allowed any form of multi-device menu support and how well they could be configured to increase compatibility by tweaking certain settings within its IP config or system menu. Half of the adapters shared the same operating software, so they also shared the same basic configuration options. Only one adapter had a vast selection of configuration options available and one had none at all, which meant you had to rely on software updates to improve an adapter’s compatibility.
Almost all of the adapters featured a USB-A port on them for passthrough power, offline updating and some supported media playback. Only three of the six adapters supported wired Android Auto passthrough, whilst one adapter supported both wired Android Auto and CarPlay passthrough. So I factored this in and scored them based on this extra functionality.
Some of these 2-in-1 adapters also have a few additional features that were worth highlighting. Such features included being able to playback video and music media from an inserted USB drive or SD card, cast video from a mobile phone, to streaming YouTube and Netflix app content online. These features were found mostly on adapters with a closed Android operating system. I decided to include these adapters in this 2-in-1 round-up because they offer similar 2-in-1 functionality and their additional functionality is too limited to compete against more versatile AI Boxes.
And finally, I looked at their price, including any available sales or coupons. Averaging out their cost I compared each dongle’s cost to how they performed in each previous test to give an idea of how much value they offer.
My Top 5 2-in-1 Apple CarPlay Adapters
At the end of all this, I had my top five finalists. Any one of these five 2-in-1 adapters are worth picking up, however, some adapters offer certain functionality and operate better in certain areas than others. After totalling up my test scores, I can now bring you my top 5 2-in-1 CarPlay adapters.
5. MMB Adapter Pro 2-in-1 Adapter
So in fifth place is the MMB Adapter Pro. This was one of my first wireless adapters, which has evolved and improved over the years. It is built on an Android 11 platform, it features a USB-A port for power passthrough and also media playback, and it supports media casting from your iOS or Android device. Although it will not support casting from any copyright content apps, it will support apps like YouTube with its audio in sync with the video being cast on your CarPlay display.
Both wireless CarPlay and Android Auto are supported and neither requires a reboot of the dongle to switch between them, and there is some lightweight multi-user support through its Bluetooth section too. Its boot and pairing speed was one the longest in my test, and its low Wi-Fi specs and lack of config menu also let this particular adapter down against the rest of the finalists.
So if you’re after a 2-in-1 adapter with video casting, this adapter stands out above the rest.
4. Ottocast U2-X Pro 2-in-1 Adapter
In fourth place is the Ottocast U2-X Pro adapter. This adapter performed average in all my tests, which in the end, helped secure its place in my top 5 over its older non-pro brother. It scored average speeds in all my boot and pairing speed tests, and it offers a USB-A port for the option to use Android Auto wired as well as wireless.
It has an improved boot menu with config options that match its IP config menu, with some additional options to switch between full-screen and split-screen Android Auto. You don’t need to reboot to swap between CarPlay and Android Auto and this adapter does offer multi-device support. Swapping connections between multiple devices and platforms can be a bit hit-and-miss, which can be frustrating, and there isn’t any wired Android Auto support on this adapter either.
So when you also factor in its relatively high price tag, I find it can’t quite compete against the remaining top three finalists when you compare what this adapter offers you for its price. One feature it does offer over the other finalists was a high-resolution CarPlay display. So if your CarPlay system has a high-resolution display, this adapter will take full advantage of that and offer more app icons per screen.
3. Herilary C3 2-in-1 Adapter
The third place goes to the (her-ill-ary) Herilary C3 2-in-1 adapter. Like the MMB in 5th place, this adapter is also built off a closed Android operating system. Although it’s a newly released adapter, its makers have chosen to use Android 8 for its foundation. This decision gives this adapter an advantage over the other finalists by providing a fairly seamless YouTube and Netflix app experience alongside its 2-in-1 functionality.
It doesn’t have a USB-A port for power or wired passthrough, but it makes up for this with its SD card slot, which you can use to play back locally stored videos and music. It was the fastest to connect to wireless Apple CarPlay, but it was also the slowest to pair into Android Auto and to cold boot into CarPlay. It has the poorest Wi-Fi specs of all the finalists, yet its Multiplay app runs both wireless platforms well enough. However, due to the MultiPlay app it uses, the microphone’s input has some audio-distorting volume gain that I just couldn’t work around.
So if your use case can avoid these negatives, with this adapter’s ability to simply play local video and watch video from the two video streaming giants, this adapter has great value due to the video features it offers.
2. Exploter ApplePie Lite 2-in-1 Adapter
In second place we have the ApplePie Lite adapter from Exploter. This adapter certainly wins the most unique-looking adapter out of our finalists, but its racing looks also carry through to its boot speed and pairing performance, making it the fastest adapter in my test to boot into its rather basic menu screen, and the fastest to boot into wireless CarPlay and Android Auto.
It supports wired Android Auto also via its USB-A port and its fast Wi-Fi speeds are shared with the Ottocast U2-X Pro. Unlike the Ottocast though, its boot menu is very basic, and it requires a reboot to switch between platforms.
There’s no multi-user support, and it has a very basic amount of configuration options in its IP config menu. If you’re only connecting to just one of the supported platforms, and you’re after a no-frills 2-in-1 adapter that just works, thanks to being one of the lowest priced, this adapter is for the budget conscious that’s also looking for speed.
1. CarlinKit 4.0 CP2A 2-in-1 Adapter
And finally, the number one 2-in-1 CarPlay adapter is the CarlinKit 4.0 CP2A adapter.
This adapter simply takes the best elements from both of the two adapters in my top 5 wireless CarPlay adapters round up, and simply adds Android Auto support. As a result, this adapter is fast to boot and pair adapter for wireless CarPlay, and it comes in just 4 seconds slower than the fastest booting adapter for Android Auto.
It is the only finalist to support wired CarPlay passthrough, as well as wired Android Auto, should you wish to connect and charge your device and operate either platform with minimal lag. Its upgraded AutoKit menu supports multi-device support, and with the same Auto Connect toggle option from the boot menu, you can let the boot menu sit there without auto-connecting to the wrong device.
The CarlinKit 4.0 doesn’t require rebooting between platforms, and I found this adapter was the most robust and reliable of all the other finalists at switching between CarPlay and Android Auto devices. It sadly carries mid-level Wi-Fi specs, but that didn’t seem to affect its wireless performance during use.
If system compatibility is a concern, apart from being able to be bought from Amazon for easy returns, this 2-in-1 adapter offers the same deep configuration options menu as the 3.0 dongle, which offers so many ways to tailor the performances of the connection and streaming performance from the dongle, which in turn can help work around any compatibility issues with your car system.
And finally, there is the price. As the cheapest of all the finalists, when you factor in all that it offers, if you’re just after a simple 2-in-1 adapter for your CarPlay system, this adapter is really hard to beat.
So there we have it, these are my top 5 tested 2-in-1 CarPlay adapters. I hope you have found this roundup helpful. Please check out the links above to buy and watch my reviews of each of these dongles, and subscribe to my channel so you will know when my Top 5 AI Boxes video goes live!
0:00 – Brief overview
0:56 – Testing Process
5:27 – Top 5 Finalists
5:44 – MMB Adapter Pro
6:40 – Ottocast U2-X Pro
8:00 – Herilary C3 2-in-1 Adapter
9:16 – Exploter ApplePie Lite 2-in-1 Adapter
10:14 – CarlinKit 4.0 CP2A 2-in-1 Adapter
12:04 – Top 5 AI Boxes