Carplay is an Apple system that allows you to connect your iPhone to your vehicle. Once connected, CarPlay will allow you to use a range of apps, allowing you to make calls, text, listen to music, get directions, and more without having to touch your phone.
Wireless CarPlay, on the other hand, is the ability to connect to your system without having to use the conventual CarPlay lighting cable. This way, you can hop into your vehicle and drive off while your phone automatically connects and wireless CarPlay is launched for you.
To get wireless carplay, you’ll have three main options, which include:
Deciding which method to use will entirely depend on which car model you have and your budget, along with the hassle you are willing to go through to make it CarPlay wireless.
Before we dive into how to make it possible, we want to discuss whether wireless Carplay is the right option for you.
Wireless carplay can be a pain and a hassle to set up, so we’ve outlined the pros and cons of the technology.
Some of the methods we outline will result in a better integration than others as some are Apple-approved while others aren’t.
Drive off and keep your phone in your pocket
It can take time to launch
No jiggly disconnecting wire
Quality can be less consistent or lower
Never forget your phone in the car again
It can be expensive to integrate
Will drain your battery without charging
Some caveats to this are if you have an unlimited budget (probably not) or are looking to upgrade your head unit anyway and just want to make sure the one you’re buying is wireless carplay compatible.
After using wireless CarPlay for months at this point, we would give this frank recommendation:
If you already have CarPlay enabled in your vehicle or are going to use an Apple-approved system, I would 100% recommend setting it up. However, if you’re going to use a 3rd party dongle, I recommend you consider it wisely.
If you regularly use your car to commute on long journeys, for instance, it’s probably best to just stick to wired CarPlay as it’ll keep your iPhone charged and work flawlessly.
But if you are using your car frequently, hopping in and out on short trips, then wireless CarPlay would be a great decision, so you won’t have to be plugging your phone in all the time.
Practically all cars can be set up to use wireless carplay, but a few lucky car owners will have wireless carplay as standard.
Generally, from 2019 onwards, certain car manufactures have wireless CarPlay as standard. However, if you are unsure, you can check your car manufacturer’s website, which should outline which models come with wireless CarPlay or if it comes as an extra.
The following models have wired carplay (some are also wireless), which means, for the most part, you’ll be able to convert them with a third-party adapter such as the Carlinkit 3.0 Wireless CarPlay Adapter.
As we’ve discussed, if you are lucky, your car may already be wireless Carplay compatible. Many new models come with it as standard from the factory. Other models may have it as an addon, so you may need to check.
In our car-specific guides below, we detail setting up wireless CarPlay with your same vehicle manufacture, in most cases also providing a good Youtube video and installation manual where possible.
However, in most cases, the process will be much the same. It will usually follow:
One of the most effective and cheap ways to retrofit wireless CarPlay into your vehicle is to use an adapter or dongle.
While it’s a great option, it’s essential to understand these dongles are NOT from Apple and are effectively retrofitting or faking a wired connection. And because of this, it’s not perfect.
It can be buggy, and music can be patchy, but most significantly, it won’t be an instant connection. It typically takes between 15- 30 secs in my experience, to fully connect from starting the engine to launching.
While this might not seem long, it can feel like an eternity when your just staring at the screen, waiting for it to pop up.
This is why our recommendation still stands; the best option is to get an Apple-approved wireless CarPlay stereo (Option 3), although this is the most expensive route to take.
For Aftermarket Andriod Head Units
List of Compatible Stereo Models:
Compatible with aftermarket Android car stereos installed into your vehicle.
These include the likes of:
For Manufacture installed CarPlay / Android Auto
You should check the Amazon listing or official website to see model compatibility.
See our definitive guide to the: Best Wireless Carplay Adapters
One often undiscussed benefit of adding wireless CarPlay to your car is that you can now add wireless charging for your phone. This then makes it the ultimate experience, so you can get in and go.
Not charging your phone is one of the most significant drawbacks of wireless CarPlay, so we made a guide to adding wireless charging to a car.
A wireless external CarPlay head unit just is like having a mini-tablet on your dash but not built-in.
The main benefit of using an external Carplay display is that you don’t have to worry about ripping out the existing head unit. In addition, it is compatible with almost ALL car models, unlike installing a head unit.
Trust me; It can be a headache if you decide to do it yourself.
This benefit is also one of the main downsides of using an external display. It looks like a mini-tablet, meaning it can be a desirable target for thieves breaking into your vehicle.
There are various models of external CarPlay head units, but we’d recommend the Intellidash Pro Wireless CarPlay Display. They also offer a wired version which is slightly cheaper, but who likes wires!
View the Intellidash Pro Wireless CarPlay Display on Amazon.
Click your car make below to learn how to install wireless carplay in your specific vehicle or scroll down to learn more about wireless CarPlay and Android auto
Having to plug in your phone each time you want to use Apple CarPlay restricts you from freely using your phone while connected to the