Android Auto: Is It Worth Buying an Aftermarket Head Unit?

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Android Auto is still somewhat of a niche product for Google, even though it was opened up to anyone with a smartphone running Lollipop or later. But many are still looking to buy a head unit that supports Android Auto, however, is buying a head unit actually worth it? With Android Auto, you can run it on your smartphone when it is docked in your car, which makes it really cheap and easy to get started with Android Auto. But the issue here is that you're stuck with using your smartphone and for the most part, those displays are much smaller than what you'd find in head units from Sony, Pioneer, JVC Kenwood and even JBL. Which makes the experience a bit less enjoyable.

Typically, head units will cost around a grand to get installed into your car. Even though most of these are around $500, especially the JBL Legend CP-100 and the Sony XAV-AX100, but there are other parts that need to be bought, and then all of the work of ripping out your current system and installing it. Making Android Auto a bit expensive. But is it worth it? Probably. These head units do more than just provide Android Auto compatibility, they also upgrade your audio experience, bring in satellite radio (most cars have this already, but not the older models) and more, depending on the model. So while Android Auto is a big part for buying these head units, there are added features and functionality here.

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Not to mention the fact that it's putting less stress on your phones battery, since the screen isn't on the entire time your driving. Some head units do also have their own GPS signal, which is going to make it even better on the battery as well. But the most important thing here is that it's less distracting. Since you are using a larger screen, it's easier to hit those touch targets without needing to scroll down the screen like you would on your smartphone running Android Auto. And the whole reason for Android Auto is to keep users from getting distracted while they are driving, since that is the cause of more deaths than drunk driving these days.

If you've never used Android Auto, it's a good idea to check it out on your smartphone first, to see how you like it before picking up a head unit for your car – unless you were already planning on replacing that head unit. In short, it may not be worth it to everyone to buy an aftermarket head unit, it's going to depend on your preferences and such, but it is mostly still worth it. It just makes for a much better experience all around with Android Auto. But the ability to launch Android Auto on your smartphone is really good as well, especially if you've gotten a rental car and that car does not have Android Auto, this will help you out immensely. If you're wondering which head unit to pick up, we recently ranked the best ones available right now, so go check that out.