What is an Android Auto head unit?

An Android auto head unit is a car stereo with a display screen capable of mirroring the display on a mobile phone.

Android Auto Head Unit Questions & Answers

What is an Android head unit?

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.

What is an android auto head unit

An Android auto head unit is a car stereo that can mirror the phone screen on its touchscreen display.

Is an android head unit the same as an android auto head unit?

No. An Android head unit is an Android car stereo with its Android system. An Android auto head unit is a car stereo that can mirror your phone onto its screen.

Android Auto Head Unit

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

The slight difference in the name is the word ‘auto,’ This small word makes a big difference to the capabilities and usefulness of 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 than a wired one, and this is for obvious reasons of convenience. A wireless Android auto head unit means no cord links 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 of ‘next,’ ‘previous,’ and ‘pause’ operations on the Android Auto screen.


The most significant limitation of the Android Auto head unit is they are 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.


The essential advantage 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 in-car entertainment. There is no need to restart the Android, or a rogue Android app has slowed the headunit. All of the work, including the google account and security, is provided by your phone.

Key differences

The critical difference between an android auto head unit and the android head unit is the ability for the android headunits to run apps naively.

The Android head units are connected to the car like any stereo, including the Android auto head unit. But the Android headunit runs its 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 processor, RAM, ROM, and Android version to install and run the apps, the Android headunit is independent of the phone for its purpose.

While an android auto head unit needs a phone, it can use for data and Bluetooth calls, but it can also run without the phone.

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 problems that sometimes require a reboot or a reset to continue working. The build quality and performance of the Android head units are variable at best and sometimes a minefield.

Android Auto head unit

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 work, and the phone will have an issue if there is a problem. This is due to a much more limited range of operations and a higher build quality.

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

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