CarPlay & Android Auto in ANY CAR Rearview Mirror Display | Coral Vision R9 Review

In this video, I check out the Coral Vision R9 Mirror Display With CarPlay and Android Auto.

You can buy this CarPlay Display for $299 direct from Coral Vision 👉🏻 https://bit.ly/coralvisionr9, and for £255 from Amazon UK 👉🏻 https://amzn.to/3UOanHQ.

This is one of the first rearview mirror dash cams that also features integrated wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto into its 11-inch display. Inside there is a Sony CMOS sensor for up to 4K video recording with a high-dynamic range for clear night recording and a viewing angle of 160 degrees. This display features FM audio transmission to pass sound from content on the display, as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to your car speakers via the car’s FM radio.

In the box, you get a paper instruction manual, a quality control certificate and tips on connection. There is the R9 dashcam mirror itself, two rubber attachments to fix the mirror over your existing rearview mirror, and a long 12v socket to USB-C cable to power the display. There is also a bundled rearview camera and power cable to attach to the rear of your vehicle and send its rear footage straight to the R9’s display too.

Features

Looking at the R9 mirror, its size is certainly bigger than your average rearview mirror. Its 11-inch size gives it a big enough real estate to not only give you a better mirror experience, but it also makes interacting with its touch screen display much easier, from browsing dashcam recordings to interacting with the Apple CarPlay and Android Auto interface. 

Behind the R9 you’ll clearly see how it attaches to your existing mirror, via the four hook points that span the top and bottom edges that you attach the bundled rubber straps. On either side of its logo, there are two speakers, and on the bottom, there is a single function button to turn the display off.

On the top of the mirror, there is a USB-C input port to connect the power cable into, there is an AV jack port for the bundled rear camera to connect into, there is a TF card slot to save recorded videos and photos onto, and finally, there is a port for an optional GPS module.

Installation

So with all the external features covered, I jumped into my VW Golf GTI Mk7 to install and test the R9. 

Installation was very simple. For a wide rearview mirror, you have to slide the dash cam part of the R9 outwards so it fits around the side of the mirror it is mounting onto. Then attaching the rubber bands to the top hooks on the back of the R9, I placed the smart mirror over my existing mirror and fed the rubber bands over the back of the mirror and hook them back onto the bottom hooks of the R9.

I then connected the USB-C end of the power cable to the R9 and the other end into the 12v power socket. The remaining cable was ample in length if you have time to spend feeding it around the top of the windscreen and down into the car interior for a cleaner cable install.

Boot-Up

Turning the ignition on my Golf the 12v socket can supply power to the R9 mirror, which soon comes alive. Boot-up time took around 14 seconds and after a short splash screen, the display shows a split screen view with a menu on the left side and the dash camera’s view on the right. For right-hand drivers, there is an update file they can supply you to have the menu screen swapped so it is nearer to you.

Selecting the settings option from the main menu is where I was able to change and customise the R9 to my preference. From setting date and time, volume level, display brightness and dash cam resolution, to loop recording length, reverse camera line display and language. There were plenty of options here to tailor how the mirror functions and looks.

Returning back to the main menu there are options to view help, view videos and photos captured from the built-in dash cam, launch CarPlay and Android Auto and enable and adjust the FM audio transmission.

Audio FM Transmission

Coral Vision has chosen to cast audio from either its internal speaker or via FM transmission from the R9 mirror to the FM radio on your car stereo. There is no Aux or Bluetooth audio output. From the FM option, here you get to select the country you’re in and dial in a frequency manually or select and save from up to 5 frequency presets. 

With the same FM frequency entered into the R9 and my car’s FM stereo, audio was soon transmitted to my car speakers. The bundle of its power cable did carry some interference and it wasn’t until I moved it away from the display, would the interference reduce itself. The quality was ok, but it isn’t the best FM transmission I have heard, with a slight loss in overall quality, but it is certainly listenable considering you don’t have to worry about any cables to your stereo. A Bluetooth audio option would be desirable if there were to be a future update to this display.

Wireless Apple CarPlay

With audio connected from the R9, I decided to launch wireless Apple CarPlay. After pairing my iPhone 13 Pro to the R9’s Bluetooth profile, wireless CarPlay soon displayed from my iPhone onto the mirror display within 25 seconds.

I found having CarPlay high up on a rearview mirror kinda cool, yet very strange seeing CarPlay presented on half of the 11” mirror display. Its display, unfortunately, can’t be expanded to the full width of the mirror. Its maker did test this but found the experience to be poor during navigation mode. But I think this option should have been left in the settings menu to give us this option.

Once in CarPlay, everything looked good and the touch screen was responsive, although with a smaller display it can sometimes require more attention to avoid missed presses of smaller menu UI within certain apps. Wireless lag of around 1-2 seconds was still present here and I did a quick audio test, which I thought sounded ok and the recording was being picked up by a microphone that’s located in the bottom of the mirror. Without a system to rely on its overall boot-up and pairing time took 52 seconds to get into Apple CarPlay, which is a little long, but not too long to become annoying.

Wireless Android Auto

Launching into Android Auto took 13 seconds from BT pairing. Like CarPlay, once you’re on the platform everything works as intended with Android auto displaying in its full-screen mode. I tried calling through Android Auto and calls came through Android Auto on the mirror display and sound came through my car speakers just fine, and the microphone on the display picked me up well enough with just a minor delay in the audio.

The R9 Magic Mirror from Coral Vision retails for $299 directly from their online store and you can also get it on Amazon UK for £255. And you can check out these links so you can learn more about this R9 smart mirror and buy one.

My Impressions

I found the R9 to be a decent alternative to getting Apple CarPlay or Android Auto in any car with an FM stereo. You don’t necessarily have to use the FM audio transmission but if you want to use it for anything more than calls or turn-by-turn directions the internal speaker isn’t good enough to really enjoy the playback of music or audio in apps.

My main concerns are with its reflective nature and being harder to view the display at times, its display size, and its audio options. In bright daylight, it can make the display harder to view with certain reflections being cast onto the mirror display, but it is a fine balance of wanting to be able to use it still as a mirror, but also see the display’s contents when you want to. This is less of an issue during nighttime driving, which is where this display comes into its own.

I had too many issues interacting with UI elements in CarPlay and Android Auto, which would concern me whilst using these platforms whilst driving. Without the ability to use the wheel or remote controls to navigate them, you can revert to using Siri or the Google Assistant to operate these platforms, but at times I did struggle to touch smaller elements whilst driving, which can be more distracting and a bit of a hazard.

And finally, I feel the FM quality could have been a little better, and some cars without CarPlay, might still have Bluetooth audio, so I think the lack of a Bluetooth audio option on the R9 is such a huge missed opportunity for offering better audio than what FM and the onboard speaker can provide.

I found the addition of its dash cam added a lot of extra value to what is overall a very technically complete package. The 4K video quality during the day and night was great, thanks to its Sony CMOS sensor. Viewing recorded videos and photos back on display was easy and simple, and although I couldn’t view the formatted TF card or its content on my Mac I could on PC with playable MP4 files that showed both 2K and 4K captured videos running at up to 24fps.

The R9 is a decent and quite discreet way to get CarPlay or Android Auto in your car rather than a standalone dashboard or windscreen-mounted display. Its built-in dash cam makes the R9 a very feature-packed driving tech accessory for your car that breathes new life into an older vehicle, with added security and infotainment from your mobile via CarPlay and Android Auto without the need to carry out an expensive or very technical stereo install.

TIMESTAMPS:

0:00 – Brief overview
0:43 – R9 Unboxing
1:11 – Smart Mirror Features
2:16 – R9 Installation
3:05 – Boot-Up
3:32 – Settings & Menus
4:05 – Audio FM Transmission
4:55 – Wireless Apple CarPlay
5:52 – Microphone test
6:35 – Wireless Android Auto
7:00 – My Impressions

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