MMB Max 5.0 Review: The Ultimate CarPlay Upgrade?

In this video, I check out the MMB Max 5.0 CarPlay AI Box Adapter. You can buy this CarPlay dongle for $168.30 direct from the MMB Store 👉🏻 .

If you’ve followed this channel for a while you will have already seen a few reviews of the MMB Max as its name has stayed the same, but over the past year we’ve seen new features being implemented with each revision.

Earlier versions of the MMB Max had a lot going for it, but sadly it lacked the performance power to equally match what is one of the best user interfaces on any AI Box. All MMB needed to do is give it a better CPU, and thankfully they have listened this time around with both their new 4.0 and 5.0 editions of the MMB Max. 

MMB Max 4.0 vs MMB Max 5.0

Both the 4.0 and 5.0 editions have replaced the previous generation’s, much underwhelming, MediaTek CPU with a similar CPU that’s found in many other leading AI Boxes – the Qualcomm Snapdragon 6125 (665) and 6225 (680) in the 4.0 and 5.0 respectively.

In this review, we are jumping straight to the slightly faster MMB Max 5.0, with its QC6225 CPU, 8GB of RAM, 128GB of Storage and its Android 13 operating system. If this 5.0 packs the necessary power to truly enjoy its best-in-class user experience, then we’re in for a real treat! So let’s first dive in and see what comes in the box…

In the box, you get a short paper instruction manual, there’s the MMB 5.0 itself, and finally, there are two USB power cables, one featuring USB-C to C for more modern CarPlay ports.

Let’s look over the adapter then. At a glance of its exterior, it can appear that nothing has changed from the MMB Max 3.0 we’ve seen before, but there are some subtle changes to its casing and its I/O ports. The micro HDMI port from the 3.0 also features on the 4.0 MMB Max, however, it isn’t included in the 5.0 edition.

Boot Up & Main Menu Interface

After connecting the AI box adapter to my CarPlay USB port, the main boot intro soon fires up and rests on the home screen within 34 seconds. The home screen has seen some slight revisions to the 3.0. Its status info remains in the lower right corner, and the bottom app shortcut draw now displays a sixth shortcut slot alongside the same overview home button and the Google Assistant toggle button.

Above you’ll find a more simplified set of widget panels to the ones on the 3.0. Instead, you get a customisation main widget panel that currently displays Google Maps, whilst alongside it are two main panels to access CarPlay and Android Auto and interact with any media playback that’s currently playing. Customisation of these widgets is also no longer available, and displaying a different wallpaper is only possible by diving deep into the main Android wallpaper settings area.

Swiping left will access a screen of metadata for the hardware, which feels a little untapped and unnecessary, and you can pull down from the top of the screen to reveal a restricted set of Android OS shortcuts. 

Pre-Installed Apps

Various apps have been pre-installed onto the MMB Max, including fan favourites: YouTube, Spotify, Maps, Disney+, Hulu and Netflix. You can also split screen apps on the MMB Max 5.0, allowing you to have Google Maps navigation alongside a YouTube video (for passengers of course!). There’s a split screen setting on the Max to customise the width of each split screen, but it didn’t seem to do anything once I confirmed my options. Many more Android Apps can be downloaded from the Google Play Store, as soon as you give the AI Box its much-needed internet connection.

To get the MMB Max 5.0 online, you can choose to either throw in a data SIM card, connect to an in-car local Wi-Fi network, or connect the adapter to your mobile phone hotspot to supply it with an internet connection. You’ll need to do this to give any internet-based applications that are pre-installed or downloaded onto the adapter. 

Internet: Wi-Fi & Hotspot

Switching between internet-connected Android apps and Apple CarPlay or Android Auto is done automatically and seamlessly, without the need to turn Wi-Fi off and hotspot on, thanks to a new option to enable both Wi-Fi and Hotspot at the same time. This will only work with a separate Wi-Fi network to the connected phone, but it works well if you have the hardware available, such as in-car Wi-Fi. Otherwise, the next best option is to use a SIM card for providing Android apps internet and leave the Wi-Fi connection for connecting your device to wireless CarPlay/Android Auto. 

Improved Android Auto

CarPlay and Android Auto work in the same fashion as on their earlier adapters, likely running the same software as before. Connection is relatively fast at 10 seconds for CarPlay and 18 seconds for Android Auto. Adding the OS boot-up time to this wireless boot time will not be as fast as a dedicated wireless CP/AA adapter. Auto boot into the connecting app is also required if you desire a quick launch into CarPlay/Android Auto after the adapter’s initial boot-up.

Navigation and audio lag are good and fairly smooth but its framerate and feel seems lacking due to its rather frustrating low-end Wi-Fi specs. The frequent dropouts I experienced in my earlier CarPlay tests seemed to have been fixed after I applied the newer 2024-03-07 update. CarPlay has since been more stable overall, which is a relief.

Android Auto seems to also bring some much-needed improvements to the 5.0 MMB Max. Resolution is greatly improved and the screen ratio is almost near perfect, so everything now appears much sharper and less squashed. Navigation and audio lag is a little faster than CarPlay, which is the norm, so the 5.0 brings a massive upgrade to the general experience for Android Auto users.

Calling from both platforms performed and sounded great, with little delay in overall call return, and although audio messages were a little higher in volume gain than on other adapters, it was still acceptable and not distorted.

Dual Bluetooth (Controller / Remote) Support

Another omission that’s been remedied on the 5.0 (and likely 4.0 too) is dual Bluetooth support. Missing on the 3.0, the 5.0 can now connect to BT controllers and remotes for easy browsing of screens without a touch screen interface, as well as control Android-based mobile games.

As for its overall performance, the QC6225 chipset offers some much-needed oomph to the new MMB Max 5.0. Its processing power no longer holds back the general usability of its interaction and apps. Although still not the fastest AI Box out there, it is certainly a step forward for the MMB Max. Browsing video streaming content is greatly improved and navigating and launching menus makes using an MMB Max enjoyable now. 

Gaming has also greatly improved on the 5.0 over the 3.0 MMB Max, but as it still uses the same Adreno 610 GPU from the QC6125 chipset, you won’t see the same significant gains in games as the higher spec AI boxes that run the QC6490 with its pixel flexing Adreno 643 GPU. It is certainly a step forward for the MMB Max, but if gaming is your thing, there are performing adapters out there at a price that is a small arm’s reach away from this 5.0.

I find that MMB Max has always been a good video streamer, and the 5.0 is no different. On my portable CarPlay display, there was an acceptable +200ms audio delay, whereas in my Golf I experienced around +500 to +600ms of audio delay. So your own experience will vary from its YouTube app. Local video files and videos streaming from Netflix didn’t suffer as much lag on my Golf MIB2.5 system. 

My Impressions

The using my 10%-OFF coupon code ‘CARPLAYLIFE’ from the CarPlay MMB Store, and you can click these links to this adapter in this article so you can learn more about it, support the channel and buy yourself one.

Overall, the MMB Max 5.0 is a huge leap forward for the Max brand, it’s just a shame it’s taken this long to get it right. But over the past year, this fifth edition now has a lot going for it to make it leap into one of my top favourite CarPlay AI Box adapters you can buy today.

At its current sale price, the MMB Max 5.0 is quite competitively priced against its closest rivals. Especially for a QC6225-powered AI Box. Unfortunately, though, its hardware (and mostly software) is now mostly shared between brands, so there is very little difference between them, other than a few different options in the settings menu, its casing and its overlaying user interface. The MMB Max 5.0 does bring a much more refined launcher design than its competition (we will ignore the floating button for now), with decent video playback, and a positive experience for both wireless Android Auto as well as CarPlay.

It’s a case of better late than never when it comes to the MMB Max 5.0. Credit is due when MMB has listened to feedback and refined its Max adapter over the past year. Now in its fifth edition, we are at where it should have been on day one, but at a time when the competition has started to move forward with faster CPU and GPU processors and additional refinements. Maybe a future 6.0 will be the ultimate sweet spot for the MMB Max.

TIMESTAMPS:

0:00 – Brief overview
1:20 – Unboxing
1:30 – Features & Design
1:50 – Boot Up & Main Menu UI
3:26 – Getting the MMB Max online
4:16 – Wireless CarPlay & Android Auto
5:52 – Dual BT support
6:10 – QC6225 Performance & Gaming
7:10 – Video App Streaming
7:40 – My Impressions

You can view this video and many more on my YouTube channel. If you like what you see, please do Like and Subscribe to our channel so you can be alerted when my next video goes live.

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