The idea of effortlessly connecting your vehicle to CarPlay wirelessly and enjoying YouTube or Netflix on your infotainment system was once a distant fantasy. But could the innovative CarlinKit AI Box be the key to unlocking this dream?
In this article, we’ll delve into the performance of the CarlinKit AI Box, discuss its target audience, and explore its features, helping you make an informed decision about whether it’s the perfect fit for your needs.
The CarlinKit AI Box is an exceptional product that elevates the standard wireless CarPlay adapter, enabling you to delight in YouTube, Netflix, and even web browsing while on the go. However, one notable drawback is the requirement for a dedicated monthly data SIM to fully and conveniently utilize the box’s capabilities. If cost is a significant concern and you are content without video streaming through CarPlay, consider the CarlinKit 3.0 or 4.0 as an alternative. Otherwise, the CarlinKit AI Box is an excellent choice to enhance your in-car entertainment experience.
|Ease of Use||4/5|
Disclaimer: The CarlinKit team provided me with their CarlinKit AI Box 12 product to review on my Vauxhall Corsa. However, please note that my opinions and evaluations of this product are entirely my own and unbiased.
CarlinKit AI Box – Pros
The CarlinKit AI Box boasts a large array of features, but what are they, and how do they stack up once I tested them in my vehicle?
The CarlinKit AI Box allows you to connect your phone to CarPlay wirelessly without needing an iPhone cable plugged into Carplay for it to work.
This is far more convenient as you don’t need to fiddle with wires. However, it’s worth noting that if you are on a long car journey, it could drain your battery significantly and usually takes 30 seconds or so to boot up.
Massive App Library
The main feature and selling point of the CarlinKit AI Box is the massive app library, as it allows you to use the full selection of Android apps.
Preinstalled on the CarlinKit AI Box are popular apps, such as:
You can view and use YouTube just like you would with an iPad or other device. You can log in to your account, view your subscribed videos or see recommended options.
Note: We wouldn’t recommend using this while driving as it could be very distracting and cause dangerous driving; however, when parked, it can be a great way to pass the time.
Another powerful video app similar to Youtube is Netflix, which you can use thanks to the CarlinKit AI Box. Log in with your details and choose your show or movie.
Just be careful, as using Netflix could use a large amount of data from your sim plan. Similar to how CarPlay uses data.
You can use the built-in Google Chrome browser to view any webpage you’d like.
Look, I’m checking out my latest article on StereoUpgrade.com via my car:
Just be warned, it can be pretty slow as it doesn’t have the same specs you might be used to with a regular laptop or PC, and it would likely be quicker to pick up your phone to type rather than use the built-in browser.
No Jailbreak or Warranty Voiding
Usually, gaining access to features such as YouTube CarPlay or Netflix with CarPlay would require some jailbreak, which would not be advisable for most people due to the complexity and risk of voiding / breaking your phone or vehicle warranty.
CarlinKit AI Box allows you to seamlessly connect without the risks mentioned; it works more as a workaround. This is why you will need a separate SIM card.
CarlinKit AI Box Cons
There are a number of cons you should be aware of if you’re looking to purchase the CarlinKit AI Box, so you are not disappointed when it arrives.
Separate SIM Card Needed for non-CarPlay Apps
If you want to use apps like YouTube or Netflix as conveniently as possible, you’ll need to ensure you have a data-only sim card plan to plug into the device.
Depending on where you are in the world, this may or may not be expensive, but in the US, it’ll cost between $10-$20 per month for a 5GB-10GB of data which should be enough for the average user.
This is a similar sim card that you’d use if you have one in a cellular Apple watch.
Note: For people who do not have a SIM card, you can obtain network data by connecting to your mobile phone hotspots or mobile WiFi. But a dedicated SIM is more advisable.
If you wish to do this, refer to the video below:
Wide Design Compared to Other Wireless Carplay Adapters
When comparing the CarlinKit AI Box to other wireless CarPlay adapters, it stands out due to its larger size. Although it isn’t particularly thick, its length may require more consideration for placement. To prevent the dongle from appearing out of place, especially if the USB connection port is prominently located on the console, carefully plan the best position to maintain a seamless aesthetic.
High Price Point
Again, when compared with other wireless CarPlay dongles, the CarlinKit AI Box is usually around double the price, which could be quite a significant amount of money.
However, the price may be justifiable if the pros mentioned in this article are worth it.
The bootup time from when you start the engine for the CarlinKit AI Box can take around 30 seconds, which is slower than a wired connection, but in parallel with other wireless CarPlay adapters.
This can be pretty annoying and confusing when you first start using the device.
CarlinKit AI Box Compatibility & Getting Started
Prior to purchasing the dongle, it’s crucial to confirm its compatibility with both your device and vehicle, as well as ensure that you possess the required accessories for optimal functionality.
Necessary items include:
- Compatible iPhone
- Compatible wired CarPlay vehicle
- Data Plan SIM card that can be inserted into the CarlinKit AI Box – View some of the best data-only sims here
- A Micro SD card for storage – The Lexar 128GB Micro SD Card is a great option
Please see an overview below of compatible devices, but if you are unsure, check with the manufacturer.
iPhones running IOS 10+. From an iPhone 8, upwards. It may also work on older devices. However, this wouldn’t be advisable as it could be extremely slow and buggy.
Works with all Android phones running Android 11.0+.
The CarlinKit AI Box is only complete with an original car that has wired CarPlay, and a touchscreen display. If these two conditions are not met, it is not compatible. It also won’t work with aftermarket head units or cars with only Wireless CarPlay.
Is the CarlinKit AI Box Worth It?
If you’re looking for a wireless CarPlay adapter with the functionality of video streaming YouTube, Netflix, and more, the CarlinKit AI Box is one of the best options.
However, if you are just looking for Wireless CarPlay and don’t need the added video streaming features, you should opt for the regular CarlinKit 3.0 or 4.0, as this is usually half the price and contains all of the powerful CarPlay features. You’ll also be able to save a lot of money by not having to pay for a monthly data sim card package.
CarlinKit AI Box – FAQs
What is an AI Box CarPlay?
An AI Box for CarPlay is a dongle or adapter that you can plug into your CarPlay infotainment system, enabling it to work with Android apps such as YouTube, Netflix, or even a web browser.
What is the best CarPlay AI box?
There are several CarPlay AI box options available, but the CarlinKit AI Box stands out as one of the best on the market. Another notable choice is the Ottocast AI box, a reputable brand and long-standing producer of wireless CarPlay dongles.
How do I connect my AI box to CarPlay?
Typically, you’ll connect your AI box to CarPlay via Wi-Fi on your iPhone. Once the box is plugged into your car, wait for the buttons to flash, and then connect through your iPhone’s Wi-Fi settings. Launch CarPlay using the car’s infotainment system, and you should be up and running.
If this process doesn’t work, consult your user manual for further assistance.