What is an Android Headunit?

We often get into the discussion of ‘what is an android head unit’ and we know the subject causes much confusion.

Even a quick search for ‘what is an android head unit’ will give misleading or conflicting information.

A good start is to say what the android headunits are not. This may seem a bit negative, but it can cut out many of the preconceptions that come with the phrase ‘android headunit’.

What an android headunit is not?

An android headunit is not a Japanese made car stereo. You will not find the big brand Japanese names like Kenwood, Sony, Pioneer or Alpine being linked to an android headunit. The android headunits are not made using very high quality audio components, as found in the top branded audio equipment. An android headunit is not a factory installed option in your ride.

If the ad mentions android and one of the big names in car audio, you will be looking at an Android Auto Headunit and not an android headunit.

If the ad mentions only ‘android’ and is very cheap, with no big car audio brand name then it is a rubbish MP5 Player and not an android headunit.

The flip side

The flip side is to explain what an android headunit actually is now we have explained what an android headunit is not. It would also be helpful to know the pros and cons. The android headunit vs the android auto head unit would help explain the difference between the two. Which is better, the android auto or the android head unit. Which has better sound quality?

What is an android headunit?

The question that this post answers ‘What is an android headunit?’.

An android headunit is a car head unit that runs android operating system. It is like an android tablet, with so much more. The apps are installed from play store right onto the android headunit. You can store music, file, photos and apps in the android headunit and it can play the music through your car speakers.


The android headunit can run apps. it doesn’t need a phone for the apps. There is no mirroring of the phone screen, there is no need to even bring your phone with you. But things are better when you share your phone data with the android headunit, but it is not necessary.

Android tablet ++

Android headunits are like phones or tablets with more. The more is an amplifier and connection to your car speakers. But more is also a reversing camera screen, more is a can-bus connection to the car, more is OBD connectivity. More is DAB radio just by connecting a USB adaptor to the DAB antenna.

Standard phone features like google maps, GPS, FM Radio, and apps are all also standard in an android headunit.

Android Headunit vs Android Auto head unit

If you want the very best quality sounds. Sound that far exceeds the factory headunit, sound that you would expect from an expensive head unit. Then you want an android auto headunit from a top brand android auto manufacturer. This won’t give you native apps, you need to mirror your phone, but the sound quality can be top floor with all the right equipment.

If you want your headunit to run apps with no need to use the phone to mirror its screen. If you are looking for a reversing camera feature but maybe not the most awesome sounding tunes then you need an android headunit. While reversing camera can be achieved in several different ways, only the android headunit will run its own apps, in its own android. All with GPS SAT NAV built in, all with options for DAB digital radio, OBD2 connections, bluetooth and wifi.

Apps or Sounds

Upgrading your car sounds may require more than just a head unit upgrade. The speakers play a big part in the sounds and a amplifier can make a huge difference. Some android headunit manufacturers include digital audio output for connection to an amplifier. This, along with a good amp and the new speakers could be just enough to improve the sound that an android headunit is satisfactory. If it still proves to be below your sound expectations, you could always upgrade again to an android auto headunit and forgo the apps. Just use your phone to mirror, but you will be missing out on all that android fun.

An android-headunits.com staff blogger. I am a multi-skilled dogs-body and I also make the coffee ☕

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