At the start of 2018, I had planned to upgrade my car stereo system. But, I was not looking for just any car stereo system. I wanted to purchase an aftermarket car stereo that supported android auto. Most sites I looked for either provided expensive android auto head units while others suggested car stereos that never even supported android auto. Long story short, I ended up buying the JVC KW-M730BT car stereo. This is a cheap android auto head unit you can also buy. But, in case you are not satisfied with what the JVC KW-M730BT has to offer, below I have reviewed a number of the cheapest android auto head units you can check out.
But before going further, what is android auto?
Android Auto is an app that allows smartphones running on Android to communicate with compatible (android) car head units and infotainment systems. Using a connection from your USB cable to pair your phone to the car’s head unit, the app allows a user to make calls, play music stored on your phone, use Google maps and send messages to contacts.
Unlike other car stereo units, an Android auto compatible unit uses Google Assistant to read out calls and messages instead of appearing on screen; this minimizes the distraction while driving helping you focus on the road. When plugged in, your phone notifications are also disabled.
Incoming audio from phone calls is handled via Bluetooth, but for music, the USB connection is used to send the audio to your car’s speakers thus the sound quality is better than Bluetooth audio streaming. Read more on android auto head units for cars.
With that said, here is a comparison table of the Cheapest Android Auto Head Units you can buy.
Cheapest Android Auto Head Units Reviewed
Below are the budget-friendly android auto head units.
1. JVC KW-M730BT Review – Cheapest Android Auto Head Unit
First on this list is the JVC KW-M730 BT android auto head unit. This JVC head unit is one of the cheapest android auto compatible head unit out there.
Among the more expensive models of the JVC android auto head units, The JVC KW-M730BT was a better pick not because of the inexpensive price, but because it is easier to use, larger icons that are easy to read and it was also responsive than the expensive models I tested.
It comes with a clean design, a larger display of 6.8 inches (800 x 480 pixels) and easily to use buttons. However, unlike the Sony XAV android auto head unit, the JVC KW has smaller volume control buttons instead of a larger volume knob. The volume buttons are one thing I think should be improved if there is to be a successor of the JVC KW-M730BT model to come, but this is not a deal breaker.
Apart from supporting Android auto, the JVC KW-M730BT is also CarPlay compatible for iPhone users. It comes with two rear USB ports for connecting any of your phones, Android or iPhone. To pair two phones simultaneously you can use Bluetooth.
Using Bluetooth, you can also stream music using the Pandora and Spotify apps that come pre-installed. It also comes with SiriusXM, a new version radio that is better and receives more channels than the basic radio. Also, you will have additional services for your car, like infotainment and traffic on the go.
The KW-M730BT comes with 20 preset stations (15 for FM and five for AM.
Well, if you are looking for a cheap android auto head unit, the JVC KW-M730BT is a good choice.
2. Pioneer AVH-2300NEX Review
Pioneer has been a world leader in electronics for vehicles, home, and business markets ever since I can remember. Here is the USA, Pioneer referred to PUSA has seen tremendous growth over the years. This is because of their quality in products they put out to consumers.
The Pioneer AVH-2300NEX is no exception. This 7-inch head unit (800 x 480 pixels) which offers both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay is a great head unit if you spend time on both platforms. On testing both Android Auto and CarPlay ran well, I encountered no issues with either platform even after extensive hours of use.
With a display of 7-inches, bigger than the JVC KW-M730BT model, text on the screen of this head unit was large and legible. The icons and other interface elements are also large to view and can easily be touched without straining yourself. The transitions and animations on screen were smooth, and I did not encounter any lag issues when using it.
Apart from Android auto and CarPlay, the Pioneer AVH-2300NEX offers other great features such as the support for backup camera, Spotify, Pandora and SiriusXM, Appradio mode and built-in Bluetooth.
The AVH-2300NEX comes in a double-DIN package that is sure to work on most vehicles around, without or with trim kits depending on your car model.
3. Sony XAV-AX100 Review – Best Android Auto Head Unit
If you are looking for a simple yet best android auto head unit at a lower price, you can always choose to buy the Sony XAV-AX100 android auto head unit.
Sony is a well-known brand known for producing some of the best and quality electronic products in the market. In the world of audio technology, they have ruled when it comes to sound quality and value for money.
The Sony XAV-AX 100 was one of the first android auto compatible head unit by Sony. It features a 6.4-inch screen a handy control knob, a satellite radio, Siri Eyes Free & built-in navigation. However, like the JVC KW-M730BT, it lacks a CD/DVD player. But if you want to rely on your phone, this head unit has the best combinations.
Unlike most auto head units, the XAV-AX100 features a large knob for adjusting the volume and accessing other functions, and this makes it easier to use while driving. The sizeable traditional knob feature compared to touch screen only or small button controls is a plus in this head unit.
The Sony XAV-AX100 is compatible with android auto and CarPlay. For iPhone users, the XAV-AX100 comes with the Siri Eyes Free technology that lets you use Siri to switch between different radio stations and control other functions.
It also comes with Bluetooth support, 30 (18 Fm and 12 AM) preset radio stations, preamp outputs and video input to connect a backup camera. Unfortunately, for satellite radio lovers, the Sony XAV-AX100 does not feature one.
Like most car stereos, this Sony unit fits into a standard double-Din dashboard opening that is quite popular in most cars.
Car Head Unit Buying Guide
So, before buying a head unit, ask yourself these questions.
- Do you need a single-DIN or a Double-Din head unit?
- How much are you willing to spend?
- How will you use the head unit?
- Which improvements do you need from your current head unit?
Answering the above questions could be one of the ways for you to figure out whether you need a head unit replacement and which features you require in your upgrade.
But, if that still did not give you an idea, here are some pointers when purchasing a head unit.
1. Current Size of your Head Unit
This should be the first thing you check out before selecting a head unit of your choice. There are two types of head units’ available, i.e., the single-DIN and the double-Din head units.
Single-DIN Head units
Single-DIN is the standard head unit and was created by a German company, Deutsches Institut fur Normung, which is where the DIN initials came from. The single-DIN measures 7 x 4 inches or 180 x 100 mm.
Double-DIN Head units
A Double-DIN or 2-Din head unit is a bigger form factor of the head units. The Double-DIN head unit is 2-inch bigger than the single-DIN head unit. The Double-DIN measures about 7 x 4 inches or 180 x 100 mm.
To replace a head unit, you will need to know the current size of your head unit and find a better replacement. If your car came with a double-Din head unit, you would have a choice to replace the head unit with either the single-DIN or the Double-DIN head unit. But, if your car came with a single-DIN head unit, then you will have to replace it with a single-DIN head unit.
2. Your Budget
With android car units being a relatively new addition to the tech and auto worlds, prices of the units are very high.
But, should you break the bank just to buy an aftermarket head unit? My answer is No.
Though android auto head units come with bigger price tags, there are also cheaper android auto head units available.
3. How will you use your New Head Unit?
Upgrading to a new head unit comes with numerous advantages. But, before selecting a head unit of choice, list what you will need your head unit to have and check this against any head unit you come across.
For example, you might need a CD player compatible head unit or a head unit that has access to HD or Satellite radio. The features that come with a head unit will depend on your preferences, so before buying a head unit, make sure to check if it houses the features you need.
4. Additional functionality of a head unit
Additional functionalities of a head unit are also an important factor in the selection of a head unit. The following options are some you might consider for a new head unit:
- Bluetooth connectivity
- Android auto or CarPlay compatibility
- DVD or Blue-ray playback
- GPS navigation
- Internal storage
- Expandability via SD slot or USB jack