As you will see in the comments below, many of our readers have had problems when ordering this product or getting customer services and/or a refund when the unit does not work. It has been suggested by some, that we take down our review so that other people do not order this product.
While we did not experience any issues when we tested this product, it is clear from the comments below, that we cannot recommend this product to our readers. To that end, we think it is more helpful to leave the original post, with the comments on our site, so that other readers can know about the issues. We are also adding this notice at the head of the review, to ensure it has the greatest visibility in the article.
Our Original Post
Since its release on March 10, 2014, CarPlay has become one of the most sought after options in today’s cars. With the exception of some of the newest car models, most vehicle still require a Lightning cable to connect your iPhone to the USB port in your car.
If you have been looking for a wireless CarPlay solution, you may not need to get a new car. Check out CARPLAY2air to experience Apple CarPlay in a whole new way.
Apple Tech Talk Scorecard
|Easy Installation||iPhone does not charge|
|Wide range of supported vehicles|
CARPLAY2air – Unboxing
The CARPLAY2air packaging is about as basic as can be. The white box with the CARPLAY2air picture and logo on the cover is very Apple-like and would look right at home inside your local Apple store.
Inside the box is the CARPLAY2air adapter and a User Manual
The CARPLAY2air adapter measures 3.375” long x 1.5” wide x 0.5” thick. On one end of the adapter is a short cable with an integrated USB-A plug, which measure 3.75”, including the USB plug. On the opposite end of the adapter is a standard USB-A port which can be used to charge the iPhone or update the CARPLAY2air software.
The User Manual, while brief is well illustrated and gives enough direction that installation should go smoothly.
CARPLAY2air – Installation Process
We found the installation process to be quick and easy.
After connecting the CARPLAY2air adapter to the USB port in our 2018 Volkswagen Passat, we opened the Bluetooth settings in our iPhone XS. With the iPhone now in Bluetooth Discovery mode, it took only sections for the CARPLAY2air adapter to be discovered.
We selected the new device and the CARPLAY2air was immediately connected to our system.
That’s all there is too it. With the CARPLAY2air adapter now installed, our head unit now provided an option to use the wireless system.
CARPLAY2air – Test Results
Like other classes of products we often test, CARPLAY2air falls into the category of, it works or it doesn’t. We are happy to report that it worked well.
The CarPlay controls were exactly the same as when our iPhone is connected with a Lightning cable. We did not experience any drop outs or poor connections.
When leaving the vehicle and returning, the wireless connection was automatically re-established, with no need to reconnect or otherwise touch the adapter.
We found no difference in sound quality or functionality of the apps we typically use in CarPlay.
As is probably obvious, using CARPLAY2air means your iPhone is not charging while in use. That is the whole point of a wireless system. Our testing involved mostly short trips over a limited period of time so the battery drain was not really an issue for us. That said, we can imagine that with a period of extended use, your iPhone could run low on power. You should keep that in mind as you plan your trip and either have an extra battery pack available or plan to charge your phone when you reach your destination.
We also appreciate the ease by which you can uninstall CARPLAY2air should you want or need to.
Since CARPLAY2air creates a separate profile in the iPhone CarPlay app, you merely open the CarPlay setting screen and delete that profile.
With just one click, the CARPLAY2air is uninstalled from your car.
CARPLAY2air – Use Case
So why use CARPLAY2air rather than just attaching a Lightning cable to your iPhone?
Beyond the convenience of just being able to get in your car and go, we think there is a big security advantage to using CARPLAY2air.
Many vehicle have the CarPlay USB port readily visible, due in part, to make connecting the cable easier to connect. When we are traveling and stop at a rest stop or a store, we are often concerned about leaving our iPhone in the car since it would be an attractive target for a would-be thief. That means we have to unplug the Lightning cable so we can take the iPhone with us and then reconnect it when we get back in the car.
That may not sound like much but do it multiple times on a trip and it gets to be annoying.
With the CARPLAY2air we can leave the phone in our pocket and leave the vehicle without fear that someone may try to take the phone. And yes, we always lock our car when we leave it.
There is also the convenience of not being tethered to the cable when we need to enter an address into Apple maps or otherwise use our phone while in the car.
This is also somewhat of an insurance policy if you use rental cars often. How many times have you heard about someone using CarPlay in a rental car, only to return the car and forget to disconnect their phone? While the CARPLAY2air is not a “throw-away” accessory, it is much less expensive to replace, compared to the cost of a new phone.
There are probably many other situations you can think of that just make CARPLAY2air a convenient accessory to add to your collection.
The Bottom Line
It’s probably going to be some time before wireless CarPlay becomes a mainstream option from vehicle manufacturers. Until then, you can enjoy the freedom of wireless CarPlay by using the CARPLAY2air.
CARPLAY2air comes with a one-year manufacturer’s warranty, has an MSRP of $159.95 and is available from the CARPLAY2air web site.
A word of caution as you consider making a purchase. You will see many similar looking devices on line, including on Amazon. If you read the descriptions closely, you will see that those adapters are designed to work with Android phones only and will not support CarPlay or iPhone.
We would like to thank the folks at CARPLAY2air for providing a unit for our testing and evaluation. Do you use CarPlay and if so, what are your thoughts on a wireless option? Why not join the conversation and leave a comment below.
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This article was originally published on June 3, 2020 and is being reposted on June 22, 2021 with updated material.