I've been hankering to upgrade my car's aftermarket Pioneer radio's Apple CarPlay with wireless capabilities for a while now. The Carlinkit 2.0 U2W Plus seemed like a good idea, so I ordered one to try out. It turns out to be pretty nifty, allowing me to use CarPlay without having to plug in my iPhone. It's not without its flaws, though, as it is much slower to connect than when wired.
- Works with Apple CarPlay only
- Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
- 46x12x80 mm
- Supports iOS 9 and above
The Carlinkit 2.0 has a few different versions available, but I chose the U2W Plus, which uses the newer UI. It's reportedly faster than the previous version, but the whole process still takes more than a minute. Maybe this is due to the in-car head unit I'm using, the Pioneer AVH-Z5050BT, which can take a while to boot up. This unit supports both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. A dedicated Apple CarPlay unit may start up quicker. Also it's much faster to just plug in the iPhone directly. Make sure to also delete the Bluetooth connection to your in-car unit, and your phone's previous CarPlay setting. Keeping it on there will confuse the phone and dongle, and make your wireless CarPlay connection take forever (or it just won't).
Once connected, the CarPlay UI defaults to the one that supports steering wheel buttons. I couldn't find an option to change to the buttonless version. That said, it doesn't really quite matter since it still offers the same features. There's no discernible lag and everything works smoothly. Audio quality is supposedly not as good when using a wired connection, but I couldn't feel a difference on my car speakers.
The dongle itself doesn't take much space, you can just hide or leave it in a car tray. You use the bundled USB-C to USB-A cable to plug it into your car unit. There's also a USB-A female port you can use to charge your phone, though that means you can just use it wired. I've not used it though, since I prefer to grab my phone and go once I park the car. Lastly, the Carlinkit 2.0 works with almost every aftermarket unit and car manufacturer radios. You can check out the list here.
Retailing at S$100-ish or more, the Carlinkit 2.0 U2W Plus is a great way to enhance your default CarPlay experience. Note that there's supposedly a 3.0 version, but it's apparently the same as the 2.0 model I reviewed. It's not perfect, but it works well. Get it from Lazada (cheapest), Shopee, or Amazon.
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