CarlinKit Review 3.0 & 4.0: Is it a Good Option?

Having to connect your phone with a USB cable whenever you use CarPlay can be irritating when driving. The wires can go all over the place and may interfere with your driving.

Fortunately, you can use the CarlinKit to enable wireless CarPlay for cars that don’t already have this feature. 

The CarlinKit 3.0 is ideal for connecting your phone wirelessly to CarPlay. It has an easy setup process, works smoothly, and uses the universal USB cable to connect to any vehicle’s system. The only downside to CarlinKit is that it doesn’t have a 100% connectivity rate and decreases audio quality. I would also only recommend it for short journeys, as on longer trips, it will be better to use a CarPlay lighting cable

Author Tested 4/5
CarlinKit 3.0 Wireless CarPlay Adapter USB for Factory Wired CarPlay Cars (Model Year: 2015 to 2022), Wireless CarPlay Dongle Convert Wired to Wireless CarPlay…
  • This CarlinKit 3.0 product makes wireless CarPlay easy! Super convenient to convert wired CarPlay to wireless CarPlay. 
  • Supports Most Vehicles and Phones
  • Enjoy automatic and wireless connection to CarPlay without the need for USB-cable
  • CarlinKit’s Lifetime Technical Support: 1-year worldwide warranty, Free updates.

The main points:

Overall Rating 4/5
Ease of Use 4.5/5
Setup Process  4.25/5
Affordability 4/5
Performance  4/5

 

CarlinKit Versions: 2.0, 3.0, 4.0

Please note: There are various versions of the CarlinKit range. For the purpose of this review, we have chosen the 3.0, because it’s the most widely used at the time of writing, and the software is robust. The newer model, the 4.0, has only recently been released and is not as stable.

The features are also VERY similar, if not identical, for the average person, which is why I would suggest sticking to the 3.0. 

carlinkit wireless carplay adapter in front of carplay screen

Pros of CarlinKit 3.0

  • The CarlinKit 3.0 works with most iPhones and vehicles that support CarPlay. It’s a great option to access CarPlay wireless if your car’s system doesn’t connect by default. 
  • CarlinKit connects most of the time successfully, and you’ll hardly have to reset it before connecting to your phone. 
  • It supports all features of CarPlay, including phone calls, navigation apps, and messaging. 
  • The CarlinKit device doesn’t cause any major interference in the functions of CarPlay and usually supports playback and touch quality. 

Cons of CarlinKit 3.0

  • It may interfere with audio quality, especially when you’re using Google Maps or Apple Navigation. The radio’s audio quality may also be affected when you connect CarPlay through the CarlinKit dongle. (See my article on Wireless carplay audio quality for more info on this)
  • The range of connectivity is limited to less than a meter. CarlinKit also doesn’t work properly when the phone is covered. Just don’t keep your phone in the trunk, and you should be fine.
  • The connection time is more than when you connect the phone directly via a USB cable. (Up to around 30s)
  • It doesn’t connect most of the time automatically, and you may have to plug it in when the automatic connection doesn’t work. 

 

Is the CarlinKit Dongle Worth It?

carlinkit wireless carplay adapter all parts

When choosing whether you need the CarlinKit 3.0 dongle or not, you’ll have to look at the ease of use and personal preference. Before you decide to buy this product, it’s important to know exactly what it offers. 

The CarlinKit dongle will only work if you already have a CarPlay-compatible vehicle. If your vehicle’s infotainment system isn’t compatible with CarPlay, you won’t be able to use the CarlinKit dongle to install CarPlay. 

CarlinKit helps you use CarPlay wirelessly when your CarPlay system can’t connect to your phone via Bluetooth. This can help you get rid of the irritating wires connecting your phone to CarPlay, and you’ll have a wider range of motion for your phone when driving.

If your car’s USB port is placed in a way that interferes with your driving, the CarlinKit dongle can make your driving much safer. 

What makes it special is that it connects using a standard USB cable, which works with nearly all vehicles. The setup process is also simple, and you can use CarlinKit without having to reconnect or set it up every time you need to use CarPlay.  

In terms of performance, CarlinKit 3.0 is mostly effective. While it does give some input delay due to the wireless connection, the difference is minimal. Also, you don’t have to worry about certain features not working, especially crucial features like Google Maps or radio. While there have been complaints of connectivity errors, most of the CarlinKit reviews are positive. 

*Video is when a connection is already made

The pricing isn’t bad, either. Most CarlinKit dongles cost are reasonably priced, which is more affordable than installing a new infotainment system in your vehicle. 

For instance, the initial versions of CarlinKit only support wireless connectivity with CarPlay and on iPhones. The latest versions support wireless connectivity to CarPlay and Android Auto and work on both iPhones and Android devices. 

To sum up, if you want to get rid of the hassle of connecting your phone to CarPlay with a USB cable while driving, the CarlinKit dongle is definitely worth it.

However, this product may be unnecessary if you don’t mind the USB system. 

When You Should Buy the CarlinKit Dongle

carlinkit wireless carplay adapter box

While it’s a great product, the CarlinKit wireless CarPlay dongle isn’t for everyone.

If your vehicle already supports wireless CarPlay or you don’t see any benefit in switching to wireless, you may not find this product worth the cost. 

However, if you want to get the full benefit of accessing CarPlay wirelessly, you should definitely try it out. 

Check out the following reasons you should get the CarlinKit.

You Want To Upgrade Your CarPlay Connectivity

CarlinKit is a specialty product, and it helps improve the way you connect to CarPlay.

If you want to experience wireless CarPlay connectivity and your vehicle’s CarPlay system doesn’t offer this feature, you’ll benefit from using the CarlinKit dongle. 

For some people, it may seem like an unnecessary addition.

But if you move your phone around a lot while driving and don’t like that it’s bound to the USB cable, this product may give you more freedom to move your phone around in the car without affecting the CarPlay connection. 

You Don’t Mind Spending Money on an Affordable CarPlay Upgrade

Pricing is another strong point of the CarlinKit dongle.

Even the latest models are affordable, which can be a way to add an important feature to your vehicle’s infotainment system.

If you compare it to the alternate solution of replacing the infotainment system, it’s certainly an affordable upgrade. 

Your Vehicle Has an Older Infotainment System

CarPlay was released in 2014, and the wireless CarPlay system was only released recently, so most cars can only connect to CarPlay with a USB cable.

If your vehicle has an older infotainment system, but you don’t want to replace the whole thing, you’ll benefit from the CarlinKit dongle. 

When You Shouldn’t Get CarlinKit

carlinkit wireless carplay adapter inside box

Although there are many advantages to purchasing a CarlinKit, there are times when buying this product isn’t worth it.

Your Vehicle Has Wireless CarPlay

If your vehicle already has wireless CarPlay, there’s no need to get a CarlinKit dongle unless there’s something wrong with the infotainment system.

Since CarlinKit’s only purpose is to provide wireless CarPlay connectivity, it’s obsolete for the latest vehicles. 

You Don’t Mind Connecting via USB

iPhone Cable Connected to CarPlay
 

If you’re not bothered by the USB cable when using CarPlay and don’t mind reconnecting the phone whenever you’re driving, you probably shouldn’t purchase a CarlinKit.

At the end of the day, it’s all about personal preference. 

Instead, if you want to upgrade your USB cable, see my guide to the best carplay charging cable.

Frequently Asked Questions 

 

Does CarlinKit Work With Android Auto?

CarlinKit 3.0 is only designed to work with CarPlay, and you can’t connect it to Android Auto.

However, you can get other versions that work with both CarPlay and Android Auto if your infotainment system supports both. 

Is There Any Alternative to CarlinKit?

The are several alternatives to the CarlinKit products, which are very similar.

These include the OTTOCAST and CPLAY2Air, although the CarlinKit is my personal favorite.

See my guide to the best wireless CarPlay adapters for more information on this.

Final Thoughts 

CarlinKit effectively enables wireless CarPlay for vehicles that don’t have this feature in their infotainment systems.

While it doesn’t enable CarPlay if your vehicle doesn’t have it installed already, it works as an upgrade to older infotainment systems. 

So, instead of replacing your vehicle’s infotainment system, you can enable wireless CarPlay with the CarlinKit dongle.

Alex
Alex

I loved my car but was frustrated with my media system. So I upgraded my stereo, making silly wires and precarious phone mounts a thing of the past. The Apple Car Play stereo was so good I wanted to show more people how this could be done and truly upgrade their cars multimedia system!

Founder
StereoUpgrade.com

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