Fastest Booting Wireless Apple CarPlay Dongle Yet! | Ottocast Wireless CarPlay Adapter U2-NOW Review

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*UPDATE 11 Aug 2021: It has come to my attention that these dongles are being sold with a bright green coloured version of AUTOKIT, it will carry the same speed as the one in this review.

Enjoy my Ottocast Wireless CarPlay Adapter U2-NOW with AUTOKIT UI* Review. You can buy the Ottocast Wireless Apple CarPlay Adapter for $127.95 from Amazon US → https://amzn.to/3f3LzZl or for £127 from Amazon UK → https://amzn.to/3eKUSND.

Overview

I’ve covered a number of well-known wireless CarPlay dongles, yet there are still a few out there that I’ve not yet been able to review on this channel, such as this Wireless CarPlay Dongle for existing wired CarPlay systems from Ottocast.

This dongle is an updated version of their U2-ONE wireless CarPlay dongle, with a new case design and a different red coloured user interface that some of you might have seen on some other dongle brands. It’s unknown if the chipset inside is any better, but from my tests, I have already seen faster boot-up times than on the other dongles that I have tested. Yet its wireless chipset is still Wi-Fi 4 (802.11n) with a max data rate of 300. It is perceived that due to the red UI (AUTOKIT), which features pre-loaded images, this helps to shave off the time it takes to boot up, and that’s what I am seeing reduced boot-up times.

Benefits of Wireless CarPlay

The benefit of using a wireless CarPlay dongle is that there are no cords to think about when connecting to your iPhone. It future proofs your CarPlay system – should Apple decide to remove the charging port from a future iPhone. It also allows you to keep your iPhone stowed in your pocket or bag, or in a location where you don’t have to run cables to it or use long cables to reach it.

And finally, there is the convenience of having your iPhone automatically connect to your CarPlay system as soon as you boot up your car system. There is always the argument of using wireless CarPlay and charging, but for short journeys, as long as your iPhone is mostly charged, it’s not much of an issue to me, and you can use a wireless charger for charging your iPhone on those longer journeys.

Unboxing & Features

In the box, you get the wireless CarPlay dongle itself, a USB-A to USB-C cable that you plug into the CarPlay USB port in your vehicle, and there’s a small paper manual that contains all the information you need to help you install the dongle and also how to upgrade it. The dongle also comes with a 2-year warranty for your peace of mind too.

Comparing its size and features to other wireless dongles I have reviewed on this channel, its size is pretty close to the CarLinkit 2.0 dongle, and it is bigger than the CarPlay2Air dongle. Unlike the CarPlay2Air though, its power cable is detachable, which means you can replace it with a longer cable, should you need to, or if its cable becomes faulty or damaged, the dongle itself doesn’t become totally worthless. 

Like the other dongles I’ve covered, there is a female USB-A port on the other end of the dongle. This port can be used to pass power through to a connected USB cable for charging your phone or any other device without removing the dongle from the same USB port in your car. Ottocast doesn’t advise this port for charging, but it is possible to do so. They say this port is for updating (although until March this was all done over the air) and for collecting logs for support.

Speed & Performance

It’s clear how much faster this dongle’s AUTOKIT UI helps with boot-up speeds into CarPlay, and for me, that’s a total game-changer. When you compare the boot time of the other dongles that I have reviewed, their boot time was between 10-20 seconds longer than this dongle from Ottocast.

Performance and stability have been ok, although I did a 7-hour drive and the dongle crashed almost exactly after 2-hours of running. This is still a common occurrence with most dongles I’ve tested, so it’s situation normal. You saw me check the dongle for updates and it showed I was already on the latest firmware update. This build performed very well, with around 1-2 second audio delay with the dongle’s audio delay setting set to 500 and also 1000.

Charging, Siri, Calling & Wheel Controls

I tried connecting the dongle’s USB-A port to my iPhone via the lightning cable and also a wireless magnetic charger. Sadly, doing either managed to overload the dongle and it would reboot on me, like many of the other dongles I have tried. I was able to continue after the reboot with my phone charging but the dongle wouldn’t boot with my wireless charger still connected. After some use, the dongle can run pretty warm, but that’s no different from most of the other dongles, really.

Steering wheel controls were working fine for me, both previous and next buttons and enabling Siri via the call accept button worked just fine. I wasn’t able to hold these buttons down to fast-forward or rewind through tracks, but that is a common issue with other dongles also.

Siri worked just fine both in dictation and playback. Calls made over the wireless dongle seemed decent without any noticeable lag, but I wasn’t making any long calls with it. I was able to play system audio, such as listening to FM or DAB radio alongside wireless CarPlay apps, with navigation directions cutting into the audio feed from the system without any issues. Turn by turn prompts had no delay to them and onscreen navigation was fast, and it felt just like I was on a wired connection. 

Overall Impressions

This Ottocast Wireless CarPlay Dongle retails for $127 from Amazon.

Out of all the wireless CarPlay dongles I have reviewed on this channel, which just offer wireless CarPlay, the speed increase alone justifies recommending this dongle over some of the other wireless CarPlay dongles that are out there. With its boot-up speed, custom options in the menu to easily swap between connecting devices, and also set delays for your system, there are a lot of important features here to justify the increased price over some of the cheaper wireless CarPlay dongles that are out there. So if you’re looking to upgrade your current dongle or you are just about to buy one, I would definitely put this dongle from Ottocast on your radar.

TIMESTAMPS:

0:00 – Intro
0:20 – Overview
1:00 – Why use a wireless dongle
1:50 – Unboxing
2:15 – Size & Features
3:24 – Install & Boot-up
4:03 – Boot screen & pairing
4:35 – Wireless CarPlay
5:36 – Boot-up speed test
7:07 – Full system boot speed test
8:00 – Boot menu & settings
10:01 – Boot menu into CarPlay speed test
10:25 – Firmware update check & settings
12:25 – My impressions
16:47 – Compatibility with your car

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