Should I buy an Android Headunit from China?

The Android Headunits are made in China. The factories turn out huge numbers of them, and they all need to get to a customer to be fitted to a car, van, truck, or even a boat.

There are 2 main ways they can get to the customer’s country; we look into the problems associated with importing an Android headunit from China by an individual.

Shipping containers

Firstly they can be packed into huge container units and shipped worldwide. Taxes on the imports are paid, and the headunits are sent for retail in the country they are being sold. Typically the cost is the Android Headunit + retail profit, plus any delivery cost. They are then sold in shops and online businesses in the same country as the purchaser.

Little Boxes, Little Boxes.

Secondly, they could be sold as retail from the country of manufacture, China, on platforms such as Ali Express. The cost would be the Android Headunit + profit plus the delivery cost PLUS any locally levied taxes or import duties on electrical equipment.

Tax Paid

Buying your Android headunit from within your country or its economic union will protect you from any extra taxes to pay because they have already been paid when the container landed at the dock.

Tax to pay 🙁

Buying your Android headunit directly from a China wholesaler or manufacturer can leave you with a bill to pay. The vendor does not pay the tax or duties levied on the goods. There is no guarantee that you will or won’t have to pay any extra, and this is at the discretion of the local Customs.

You will be notified if there are any customs charges to pay. The package will not be delivered until the charge is paid. Typically the extra to pay is a percentage of the purchase cost. The percentage is around 2.5%, plus the courier handling fee for collecting the money. Different countries have different rules. You should be aware of the rules for your situation.

Notification can be by SMS or a card posted through the door. It is prudent to cross-check the tracking or waybill number. You have a tracking number in the SMS or on the card and one emailed to you by the seller. This ensures you are paying the right person for the right thing.

A good deal?

Don’t be put off importing the headunit yourself from China. Just be aware that not only can the delivery time be long (weeks to months). You may have to pay a small percentage of the overall cost on top of what you paid the vendor through an importation tax. It can still be a worthwhile endeavor, but you must do your due diligence to ensure the cost you expect is the cost you will pay.


The risk of unresolved problems is higher when importing expensive electronics from China. Typically undelivered items are refunded because the courier tracks them.

Incompatible or Incorrect Items

Greater problems arise when your headunit arrives, which is incompatible with your car. Typically CAN BUS issues. This will require you to record a video of the problems you are facing and send this to the vendor. They need to see what you can see rather than translate what you think is happening. It may be possible for the vendor to issue an update, but it can get very expensive if you need to send the headunit back to the seller. International shipping costs are high, unlike a domestic postal return or even returning to the shop that sold it to you.


China Seller Review
China Seller Review example

As shown in the image above, the seller has a rating of 94.3% Positive Review, but the individual products also have more detailed customer reviews.

Reading and understanding the customer reviews can provide an insight into the seller and the product they are selling, in this case, an Android head unit. There could be several pages of reviews, lots of chaff to sort through, but read them all. Look at the pictures the reviewers have kindly left and attempt to understand their comments, even if they have been translated from a different language. Getting the sentiment of the review rather than understanding every word can help you get a general view of the product and company. Reviewers can flag incompatibilities with particular years and models of vehicles, slow delivery times to particular countries, and how well the product performs.


A tip for reading the reviews is to ignore the stars and focus on the words. Many a poor review has five stars. It is what the words are trying to portray to you that you need to pay attention to, don’t be misled by erroneous stars.


Importing electronics from China is not for everyone. There is no Amazon equivalent with its free next-day, no-quibble returns policy. The onus is on the purchaser to be sure they have chosen the correct item, paid for the correct item and included any extra costs that are not the senders’ responsibility.

I am an staff blogger. I have been using Android on my devices for many years and have learned a lot about the features and best hardware to keep up with the latest Android versions. I also make the coffee ☕

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