UPDATE: Top 8 Wireless CarPlay Dongle in my new 2022 round-up – View this here!
In this video, I check out the ATOTO AD3WCP Wireless Apple CarPlay Adapter.
If you have an existing wired CarPlay system that you’d like to make wireless, then the ATOTO AD3WCP-A Wireless CarPlay adapter will allow you to operate Apple CarPlay without the need to physically connect your iPhone to your CarPlay system with a cable.
In the box, you get a small paper manual with instructions on how to install the dongle and how to update it, a small 6-month warranty leaflet, the AD3 adapter itself, a USB-C to USB-A power cable, and there is a USB-C to C cable for more modern Apple CarPlay ports in the car.
Looking over the adapter, it’s a sizable dongle when compared to the alternatives that are out there, but small enough to fit in a compartment where your CarPlay port is. Its outer casing is a sleek glossy black with some air vent perforations on the top along with two red and green LED lights for power and operation status. On the edges of the casing are two ports. The first is a USB-C port for charging the adapter, and on one side there is a TF card slot – a first on a wireless CarPlay dongle.
Unfortunately, this TF slot isn’t for media playback. It is used for upgrading the dongle without the need to sign in to their upgrade portal and when a downloadable update is given to you from their support team.
I connected the dongle to the Coral Vision CarPlay display, and from a cold boot, the dongle booted into its initial menu in 24 seconds, and 12 seconds from a hot boot. From this home screen, there isn’t much you can do here other than pair your iPhone to the mentioned Bluetooth ID that’s shown on the bottom left of the boot menu.
Turning to the iPhone, I connected it to the dongle’s Bluetooth ID and I was soon into wireless Apple CarPlay within 18 seconds. From here CarPlay behaves as you would expect over a cable connection, with the usual wireless traits of around 1-2 seconds audio delay in music playback, navigation commands and calling. This delay is common on all wireless dongles and isn’t really that obvious in navigation, but it can be an issue for some people navigating music and taking calls. For me though, I don’t find this delay much of an issue in how I use CarPlay.
I tried this dongle also on my Alpine X902D system, which connected and ran just fine, however, it didn’t work with my Dasaita VIVID Android head unit in my Golf. The ATOTO AD3 is meant for factory and aftermarket CarPlay systems, so this behaviour was expected.
There are no USB passthrough ports or Android Auto support on this dongle, the AD3 just offers existing wired CarPlay systems a way to operate wirelessly with your iPhone, and nothing else.
Upgrading the dongle was a little challenging. It requires you to either sign up to its online portal with your vehicle details or contact its support team directly for a downloadable update file. Submitting the form to connect resulted in server errors, but my attempt the following day was more successful. The available update was downloaded and applied successfully and there are clear notes on what the update offers.
It was via this update text I found out that you can still connect to the dongle’s own Web UI settings menu through the usual IP address (192.168.1.101) in your Safari browser. This showed the same config menu as the Ottocast U2-Air and AutoBox dongles I reviewed recently. Meaning this is running similar software, if not exactly the same.
The AD3WCP Wireless CarPlay Adapter retails for $99 on Amazon US, £99 on Amazon UK, and €99 on Amazon DE. The model in this review is the AD3-B, B for black, and there is also an A model that comes in white, and I’ll link directly to this model in the description below to find out more and to buy this wireless adapter.
Similar to the U2-Air and AutoBox wireless dongles, the boot into CarPlay is very similar, if not the same on this dongle. However, what the AD3 wireless dongle has going for it is that it has a physical way to upgrade the dongle with the TF card slot. It has a higher max bandwidth transfer rate of 433.3 mbps, and a higher channel width of 80Mhz. It also operates over Wi-Fi 5 rather than Wi-Fi 4 on the other two dongles.
So on paper, this is a better dongle than the U2-Air and AutoBox dongles, but whether you’ll notice these hardware upgrades is down to your own personal use. In theory, the higher Wi-Fi specs will help with calling and delay, but the 1-2 second delay is still there like all other wireless dongles. If anything, the Wi-Fi connection will add more stability over less spec’d dongles that are out there. So if money is not a concern, then the ATOTO AD3 wireless dongle is the better buy on paper right now.
0:00 – Brief overview
0:25 – Unboxing
0:43 – Features
1:26 – Installation
1:46 – Wireless CarPlay
2:24 – Microphone Quality
3:20 – Updating
4:12 – My Impressions