Wireless CarPlay: Is a low-cost device worth it?

Manufacturers have (finally) given up on invoking their own software to round out the user experience, especially since Apple CarPlay and its rival, Android Auto, have proven to be effective, fast, and have everything we need to make our trip be nice enough.

If your car is compatible with wireless Apple CarPlay, don't worry, the solution costs much less than you think. We compare the main alternatives to have wireless Apple CarPlay and tell you if the cheap devices are really worth it.

In this sense, we are going to compare two products, The first is a dongle that promises CarPlay and Android Auto completely wirelessly for less than €20. We are looking at a product that does not even consist of a specific brand and that promises compatibility with the main vehicle manufacturers.

About its specifications We have practically no information, They simply promise us wireless connection with Audi, Toyota, Mazda, Nissan, Chevrolet, Suzuki, Subaru, Fiat, Ford, Opel, Skoda and Hyundai vehicles. Of course, they warn us that we will not be able to use it with Huawei's HarmonyOS.

The power required for it to work is 300mA, The resolution is adaptive, it has Bluetooth 5.2 and its size is 60 x 60 x 13 millimeters. The package includes the device, as well as two cables, a USB-C to USB-A, and a USB-C at both ends, what more could we ask for for less than €20?

Wireless CarPlay

The opponent is considered a pioneer in this type of product, with a compact device, which we could consider high-end, the OTTOCAST U2Air Pro... In this case Ottocast warns us that it has small problems with Skoda, and that it does not work with BMW. However, it promises 30% more speed than the competition, using 5GHz WiFi.

It has a much more careful design and quality materials, as well as a very interesting LED indicator. At the bottom there is a button that allows us to disconnect the mobile device with a single touch. However, despite the good intention of this button, the reality is that the iPhone reconnects just a few moments later. I understand that this is intended to allow you to disconnect it when you get out of the car, especially for those vehicles that continue to provide power to the USB ports when they are turned off.

Its CPU is a 7 GHz ARM Cortex A1,2 dual-core processor, it has Bluetooth 5.0 and runs on Linux. The contents of the box are the device, two USB-C cables, one of them with a USB-A end, a user manual in several languages, and a double-sided adhesive strip, something that is very appreciated, since it allows us It will allow you to leave the U2Air Pro hidden in the vehicle and prevent it from being thrown away in an accident.

However, Ottocast has not given us any information about the dimensions and weight of the product, although they are similar. 60 x 60 x 13 millimeters. The upper part of it has a piano black coating that gives it a very striking premium look.

Operation and configuration

Both can be considered plug & playThat is, in a FIAT 500 Hybrid (MY21) we only had to take it out of the box, connect the USB-C port directly to the dongle that we have selected, and the other end (in this case USB-A) directly to the vehicle connection.

As we well know, the FIAT 500 Hybrid has Apple CarPlay through the USB port, so the dongle will directly act as an intermediary.

Wireless CarPlay

At this point we just have to enter the Bluetooth setting of our device, search for the wireless CarPlay dongle in question and connect. A code will appear that we must accept, and then we must authorize the Apple CarPlay connection on our device. These are the quick and easy steps for your connection.

Once we have confirmed the settings, our vehicle's screen will show us the Apple CarPlay of our iOS device. In this sense, it is worth noting that Ottocast provides an intermediate welcome screen, something the generic device does not do, so the connection can be considered a few seconds faster.

Worth? Usage experience

I'm not going to take too long with the explanations. I'm going to start by summarizing all those sections in which both devices perform perfectly in the same way, and then the positive and negative points of each. In the case of connection speed, general operation and quality of the content transmitted, I have to say that both devices perform identically. We have not found any delay in the signal, nor interruptions, nor operating problems in this regard.

Wireless CarPlay

Now let's go with the differences. The first is that Ottocast has an intermediate welcome screen that the generic one does not have. However, the Ottocast seems to better determine when the car is off or on, since it doesn't matter when you get in, The Ottocast will quickly connect to the iPhone. However, I have detected that the generic must be disconnected when getting out of the car and reconnected when we get in, since this way we will make the connection faster and more stable.

However, this last detail is something that I consider good to do, especially if we expose the vehicle to high temperatures, where the device could heat up, break down and cause further damage.

The other big difference is that the Ottocast has a delivery within 24 hours and a three-year warranty both on its website and through Amazon. Meanwhile, the generic device has taken 5 days to be delivered in Spain, and makes no mention of a warranty, so we can presume that it does not have one. I have tried to contact the seller about this, but he has not offered me any response.

In this sense, the conclusion is clear: If you are looking to save as much as possible, look for a quick solution and you do not care about the guarantee or the finish of the product, the generic is the best possible option. By purchasing higher-end devices for this function, the only thing you get is a three-year warranty in accordance with regulations, better finishes, and the assurance that the manufacturing process complies with European Union regulations.

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