Enjoy my Car Smart Box ApplePie Mini Review. I have collaborated with Exploter who sells the ApplePie Mini CarPlay dongle for $245. More info and to buy one here → http://bit.ly/applepiemini.
I have already covered a few brands of Android OS CarPlay boxes for Apple CarPlay enabled systems, and in this video, I have a new one to look at, which offers a few game-changing features over some other models I have already covered on this channel. So buckle up, because there is a lot to cover…
In the box, you get the slim ApplePie Mini device itself, a 50cm long USB-C to USB-A cable for the more conventional CarPlay USB ports, and included in the box is a USB-A to USB-C adapter for modern cars with a USB-C CarPlay port.
The ApplePie Mini (or Car Smart Box) has a much slimmer profile than the other AI Boxes I have covered on the channel. It has irregular curved-shaped edges, and on the top, there is a dotted mesh surface. On the bottom, there is a circular grooved metal base, that’s likely used for heat dissipation, and there’s a number of grills that surround it for air circulation and cooling for the chipset that’s inside.
On one edge of the case, there are a number of I/O ports. The first is the USB-C output port to connect the bundled USB-C cable, and alongside it, there are two card slots. One is a TF card slot for expanded storage up to 128GB, and the second is a SIM card slot to allow the dongle to carry its own 4G LTE mobile data connection for any Android Apps that require it, instead of sharing a personal hotspot from your smartphone. And finally, there are two holes on the other side that are used for status lights that glow and flash whilst the dongle is powered and operational.
On the inside, we have a four-year-old but powerful mobile Qualcomm Snapdragon 450 8-Core processor. It has two Bluetooth antennas supporting 5.0 and 4.2. There’s also a built-in GPS module in the case, so thankfully, there’s no messing around with connecting power cables or fuses, it is all self-contained. Without any spare USB-A input ports on this dongle, it supports both wireless CarPlay and wireless Android Auto, with the ability to fast switch between both platforms without the need for any rebooting. It runs the Android 9 operating system which runs underneath its own user interface layer.
My main take from it all is that it’s a big step up from the other Android dongles I have covered. There are a few niggles that I found that can affect the overall satisfaction you get from it, but some of these all have some possible workarounds to make them less annoying.
The first is due to being able to fast swap between the Android OS and CarPlay. It has to display a floating menu button over the CarPlay screen in order to give you the ability to switch back to the Android OS. Now depending on the apps you use, it can get in the way, but it does at least hide after some inactive time, and you can drag it around to an area of the screen that might not block anything that’s underneath it.
The second is how CarPlay fights with the Android OS for your iPhone’s WiFi hotspot signal. It turns out that you can’t have WiFi enabled for both the Android OS and CarPlay. This is mostly due to how both work and that your iPhone can’t share your iPhone’s mobile data for Android whilst also sending CarPlay data at the same time. I think this is practically impossible to overcome, but thankfully, the ApplePie mini does have its own mobile SIM slot, and by inserting a mobile data SIM into this slot, Android apps will be able to use this SIM alongside CarPlay that will use your iPhone’s WiFi signal and mobile data.
I found the 4-year old processor to be very capable of handling basic Android apps that you would want to run on your CarPlay screen. Don’t expect it to perform well on more demanding apps and games, but for navigation and media playback this processor handled the apps much faster and smoother than on the earlier Android OS dongles I tested.
Unlike the other Android 9 dongles I have covered on this channel, I WAS able to install apps like SkyGo and Android Auto on this dongle. I don’t know why this works here and not the other Android 9 dongles, but I am glad it does, and that might also mean maybe some other restricted apps that didn’t install on the other Android 9 dongles will work also. With that said, it did say the new update to the Netflix app wasn’t compatible. So I hope Netflix doesn’t stop streaming support for this version of the app anytime soon. Right now though, the app works just fine.
One of my main niggles though is that I found this dongle didn’t automatically launch on my CarPlay display, and I had to always select the CarPlay option to launch it. This may be specific to my own platform because I did check on other reviews who managed to auto-launch the dongle on their factory system. Connection to wireless CarPlay took some time (around 60seconds) because it needed a few presses of the application to get there. Despite having the option to auto-launch. You can set the CarPlay app to autoboot upon launch to reduce the number of interactions.
I also found this dongle messed with the stereo’s audio source, where I found it would stop the radio audio from playing to send a notification or app sound from the Android or CarPlay platform, and I had to manually interact with my stereo’s audio sources to get back to what I was listening to. Navigation seemed to also play through the voice calling channel, which would bring music audio along with it, so everything sounded pretty awful for a short period and sometimes A LOT louder.
Some of these issues are caused because this dongle is always sitting in this Android OS platform and it has to boot up its operating system AND then launch the CarPlay app to enable wireless CarPlay. But unlike other dongles that would boot directly into CarPlay and require a reboot to switch between them, with the ApplePie Mini, you can switch fast between the two platforms – no rebooting required.
So overall, there is a lot to like about this dongle, and there is plenty more that you can do with this dongle that I could have covered. It really comes into its own if you put a separate data SIM into the dongle so that both CarPlay and Android apps can function simultaneously. If you can also put up with some of the minor niggles that I’ve encountered on this dongle then the ApplePie Mini (Car Smart Box) is one Android OS box that’s worth considering for your CarPlay system.
This ApplePie mini retails for $245 from our affiliated seller Exploter.com and you can hit my links on this page to support the site/channel with your purchase of one of these dongles.
0:00 – Intro
0:28 – Brief overview
0:47 – Unboxing
1:02 – Features
3:06 – Installation
3:27 – Bootup & interface
5:55 – Wireless CarPlay & Android Auto
10:17 – Simultaneous Android OS & CarPlay
11:07 – Hotspot and SIM connection
13:44 – YouTube
14:20 – Netflix
14:55 – Google Maps
15:30 – Spotify
15:57 – Splitscreen mode
17:07 – Android & CarPlay splitscreen!
17:53 – Other apps
18:38 – SD Card Media Playback
19:37 – Gaming
20:23 – Android Auto
21:20 – My issues
23:51 – My Impressions