What is an Android Headunit?

We often discuss ‘what is an android head unit,’ and know the subject causes much confusion.

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 eliminate many preconceptions that come with the phrase ‘android head unit.’

What is an Android headunit is not?

An Android headunit is not a Japanese-made car stereo, and you will not find big brand Japanese names like Kenwood, Sony, Pioneer, or Alpine being linked to an Android headunit. The Android headunits are not made using high-quality audio components, as 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, not an Android headunit.

If the ad mentions only ‘Android’ and is very cheap, with no big audio car 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 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?

This post answers the question ‘What is an android headunit?’.

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


The Android headunit can run apps, and it doesn’t need a phone for the apps. There is no mirroring of the phone screen; you don’t need to bring your phone. (things are better when you share your phone data with the Android headunit), but it is unnecessary.

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, and more is OBD connectivity. More is DAB radio by connecting a USB adaptor to the DAB antenna.

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

Android Headunit vs. Android Auto head unit

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

Suppose 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, you need an Android headunit. While reversing the camera can be achieved in several ways, only the Android headunit will run its apps in Android. All with GPS SAT NAV built-in and 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; an 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 enough to improve the sound of an Android headunit is satisfactory. If it exceeds your audio expectations, you could upgrade to an Android auto headunit and forgo the apps. Just use your phone to mirror, but you will miss out on all that Android fun.

I am an android-headunits.com 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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