What is an Android Auto head unit

An android auto head unit is a car stereo that has a display screen capable of mirroring the display on a mobile phone.

Android Auto Head Unit Questions & Answers

An android head unit is a car stereo that runs a version of android like a phone or tablet does but also connects to the car like a car stereo is.

An android auto head unit is a car stereo that can mirror the phone screen on its own touch screen display.

No. An android head unit is a android car stereo, with its own android system. An android auto head unit is a car stereo that can mirror your phone on to its screen.

Android Auto Head Unit

The android auto head unit is much like any other car stereo but with the added benefit of the close integration with a mobile phone.

Small difference in the name is the word ‘auto’. This small word makes a big difference to the capabilities and usefulness of the android car stereos.

Wired and Wireless

There are two distinct camps for the android auto headunits. These are down to how the phone communicates with the head unit. The two variants are wired or wireless. A wireless android auto head unit is much more sought after over a wired android auto head unit. This is for obvious reasons of convenience. Having a wireless android auto head unit means there is no cord linking the phone to the headunit. If there is no mention of wireless, it can be safe to assume it is wired and you would need to contact the vendor for clarification before making a purchase.


Apps on your phone can appear on and be actioned with the android auto head unit. The apps run on the phone and all the android work is don’t by the phone.


The sounds come from the android auto head unit internal amplifier that is connected, just as a car stereo is, to your car speakers. This can give the music on your phone a new lease of life but routing it through your car stereo. But with the added benefit on next, previous and pause operation on the android auto screen.


The biggest limitation of the android auto head unit is they are totally reliant on a phone to provide the android environment for the apps to run. The android auto head unit can’t run android apps, it merely mirrors the phone.


Key advantages of the android auto head unit is the locked down system is more suited to providing a good product that can be well supported. No apps can interfere with the android auto head unit leading to a reliable and repeatable enjoyment of the in car entertainment. The are no needs to restart the android or a rogue android app has made the headunit run slow. All of the work, including the google account and security is provided by your phone.

Key differences

The key differences between an android auto head unit and the android head units is the ability for the android headunits to run apps, naively.

The android head units are connected into the car just like any car stereo, including the android auto head unit. But the android headunit runs its own version of android. There is no need to mirror a phone to the android headunit. There is no need for a phone to run an android headunit. With its own processor, RAM, ROM and android version to run install and run the apps, the android headunit is independent of the phone for its purpose.

While a android auto head unit needs a phone, the android head unit can use a phone for data and bluetooth calls but it can also run without the phone should you wish.

Android Head Units

While the android head units can do a lot more than the android auto head units, there is a big difference in reliability and repeatability. The android headunits have their very own set of problems that can, at times require a reboot or a reset to continue to work. The build quality and performance of the android head units is variable at best and in some cases a mine field.

Android Auto head unit

Whereas the android auto headunits are much more reliable and have a repeatable experience every time. It is expected for the android auto head units to just work and it will be the phone having an issue if there is a problem. This is just due to a much more limited range of operations and a generally much higher build quality.

Android HeadUnit
Android HeadUnithttps://android-headunits.com
An android headunit enthusiast with years of experience with in car entertainment installation and design. Encouraging everyone who wants a change to try a different car launcher :)

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