In this video, I check out the PlayAIBox UX999Plus QC665 Android 12 AI Box.
You can buy this AI Box for $128 / £116 from their store on AliExpress 👉🏻 https://bit.ly/playaiboxplus.
This new Apple CarPlay AI Box is an Android 12 AI Box for factory Apple CarPlay and aftermarket systems. It features 4GB RAM and 64GB ROM, a fast Qualcomm 665 CPU and an Adreno 610 GPU. There is an SD card slot for expandable storage, and a SIM card slot to provide internal internet to the dongle without the need to connect to a mobile hotspot or local Wi-Fi.
In the box you get a paper instruction manual, there is the AI Box itself, a USB-A to USB-C cable to power the AI Box and USB-A to C adapter for more modern CarPlay ports in the car.
Design & Features
Looking over the AI Box. It has the same shame as the Max and Ultra AI Box dongles I reviewed previously, however, we have a new Matt silver case design with PlayAIBox branding on top along with two led status lights. Underneath there is a similar round metal heatsink and ventilation holes for passive cooling.
On the sides, there is a single USB-C port to connect it to your CarPlay port to power the adapter and alongside it is a removable panel that covers its SIM and SD card slots inside.
In my test I connected the UX999Plus to my portable CarPlay display from Carpuride, however, I also tested this successfully on the Pioneer 93DAB receiver in my demo pod. Bootup time took around 42 seconds before the main menu was displayed.
The menu is the same as the UX999 Ultra AI Box that I reviewed last month, with the same floating button and its widget home screen interface which can be removed in the system settings menu. The left side dock shows the time, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth status, the last 3 running apps, and a home or app overview button. There is a persistent side arrow icon that prompts you to slide the hidden side dock in over full-screen running apps.
The Plus runs a lightly earlier version of Android 12 than the Ultra but the experience is just the same. With a new Settings screen and pull-down menu, which are a lot cleaner and more modern than earlier Android operating systems. Other than this, that’s the only real visual difference in this new version of Android that sits underneath this clunky and rather dated-looking user interface.
The UX999 Plus comes with the usual suite of pre-installed apps, including Google Maps, Chrome and the Play Store, plus some common apps have also been pre-installed including YouTube, Waze, Disney+, HBO Max, Spotify, Netflix and VLC. Just like the Ultra, there’s a new Android 12 option to toggle system-wide dark and light modes from the app menu screen.
Like all AI Boxes, the Plus is pretty basic without an internet connection, so once connected to my local Wi-Fi hotspot I downloaded a few test apps from the Google Play store. Firing up the Device Info app I was able to see what was inside this AI Box.
The app reported its 8-core Qualcomm 665 CPU runs at up to 2GHz, and the same Adreno 610 GPU at 320MHz. So I expect this box to perform similarly to the Ultra branded AI Box from last month. Firing up Geekbench to benchmark test the box, it showed a slightly lower single-core and multi-core result to the Ultra (which also has twice as much RAM), and with the same GPU its result came in just 4 points below the Ultra. So in short, there is a minimal performance boost between the Plus and Ultra chipsets. However, it did score lower than the other 665 AI Box I have from MIC.
The Plus has a total of 64GB storage, which is enough for the types of apps you might want to run in the car, and you can still continue to expand on this by inserting an SD card up to 128GB.
Google Maps and Spotify Android apps seem to fire up and work just fine, and you can also access active apps and toggle split-screen mode from the floating button menu. The power of the 665 chip and 4GB of RAM provides smoother app switching and multitasking experiences over much lower powered AI Boxes. With less waiting time for app loading, and less jerky transitions.
Being able to play Youtube and Netflix, or play Android games on the CarPlay display can have its advantages whilst waiting for your EV to charge, or if you’re waiting in your car for long periods of time. Youtube and Netflix ran just fine, with their audio in sync with the video on the screen.
Gaming & Dual Bluetooth
The Adreno 610 GPU is ok with some lightweight gaming. It handled my test apps Crossy Road, Subway Surfer and Real Racing 3 just fine, and with dual Bluetooth, I could connect my Xbox Bluetooth controller and control the menu UI and some games that support it.
You can also pair a wireless Bluetooth remote to navigate the AI Box from a distance from your screen or if your CarPlay system doesn’t have touchscreen input, to make navigation and control a little faster.
Wireless Apple CarPlay & Android Auto
Like the Ultra, wireless CarPlay and Android Auto use the Zlink5 Android app. This app has the ability to mirror cast content from your phone to the display. There are also options to set the driver position and enhance HD streaming for a sharper display. But like the Ultra I again ran into issues with both wireless platforms. Carplay took around 27 seconds and I had the same Wi-Fi resetting issues with Android Auto that sometimes took over 3 minutes to connect to wireless Android Auto.
The usual 2-second audio lag was expected, but its general input lag was a little worse than some other lower-spec AI Boxes, with some noticeable stuttering between screen transitions and terrible lag and transition delay on Android Auto. Checking the dongle’s Wi-Fi specs showed that it was running at an even slower 20MHz channel width than the Ultra and it was running at the same 2.4GHz Wi-Fi band and half the max data rate of just 78mbps. So this explains my experience and is very disappointing if you wish to use wireless CarPlay or Android Auto on this dongle.
This UX999 Plus CarPlay AI Box from PlayAIBox currently retails for around $128 or £116 from their store on AliExpress, and you can check out my links below to learn more about this AI Box and to buy one.
I was looking forward to checking out another Qualcomm 665 AI Box, but just like the Ultra, I was left a little disappointed. Between the Plus and the Ultra, I found very little advantage other than its extra storage and RAM. The newer 662 chip in the Ultra does run a little faster but not enough to warrant its higher price.
Over other lower-performing dongles, there is certainly more grunt under the hood than the Mini and Max-AI Boxes, but sadly there is the same concern about its own Wi-Fi performance, which really lets it down for use with wireless CarPlay and Android Auto. Its mirror casting is also affected by this with poor out-of-sync audio and at times I couldn’t even get it to work properly.
Its Android 12 OS doesn’t bring much improvement to its experience and its menu UI design hasn’t improved either, with the same frustrating floating button that you can’t turn off. An even more confusing home button that chooses to show an app overview first, then it takes you back to the home screen, and I found its persistent hidden dock prompt and slide-out dock a little jarring and looks totally different to the one you return to on the home screen.
So if you can look over this confusing navigation and frustrating floating button and you have no use for casting from your phone, wireless CarPlay or Android Auto, the UX999 Plus is a good AI Box, thanks to its faster chipset. But as a complete package, there is still room for improvement. Hopefully, we will see more QC665/662 AI Boxes become available over the next coming months with the same attention made towards their interface and Wi-Fi hardware as its faster processor.
0:00 – Brief overview
0:37 – Unboxing
0:50 – Design & Features
1:33 – Boot Up & Menu UI
2:17 – Android 12 & Apps
3:22 – Device Info specs
3:47 – Geekbench scores
4:36 – App switching and split-screen modes
5:02 – YouTube & Netflix playback
5:52 – Gaming & controller support
5:51 – Zlink5 Wireless CarPlay & Android Auto
7:11 – My impressions